Arasavalli Temple – Andhra Pradesh
Table of Contents
About Arasavalli Temple
Situated near a town called Srikakulam in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Arasavalli is a popular ancient sun temple that was built with the purpose of showing devotion and dedication to Lord Surya—who is known to be a significant Hindu solar deity.
Arasavalli was formerly known as Harshavalli, which literally means “abode of joy.” According to historians, the Arasavalli Temple was built by the Kalinga rulers of the state of Odisha in the 7th Century AD.
According to the legend, the king of all gods, Lord Indra had tried to make a forced entry into the temple of Koteeshwara Shiva and he was apparently not allowed to enter and thrown out by the temple’s gatekeeper, Nandi. Indra went through redemption citing his arrogance and behavior to make a forceful entry to the temple and enshrined the Sun God Surya in a temple and started worshipping him in Arasavalli.
The temple went onto have renovations for the 18th century to finally give it its current structure as of the present day. If beliefs are to be considered then people who suffer from skin and eye diseases are said to be cured after worshipping the lord here. One of the major Hindu festivals that are celebrated in great spirits here is the Ratha Saptami.
About the Ratha Saptami celebrations
The much-fabled and famous Ratha Saptami celebrations are held annually at this temple. Colorful festivities begin in February. These festivities and celebrations honor the Great Sun God Lord Sri Suryanarayana Swamy.
Ratha Saptami begins on the day that Lord Sri Suryanarayana Swamy was born. Locals also refer to this first day as Surya Jayanti.
This day and the Ratha Saptami celebrations mark the day that India emerges from many months of the darkness that fall and winter represent a period of lightness and brightness.
The celebrations acknowledge the fact that all humans’ health will dramatically improve because they will interact with and be exposed to the Sun.
This interaction is believed to stimulate the human body to produce good chemical reactions that dramatically improve its overall health.
Because Ratha Saptami commemorates the birth of the Sun God, it’s thought to be an auspicious event. Old legends say that the Arasavalli Temple’s walls and premises emanate special (Sun) rays and vibrations which are believed to emanate and resonate from Lord Sri Suryanarayana Swamy. Temple visitors and devotees are offered a special offering of food, sweets, and money from the Sun God.
This is called the Teertha Prasadam. Devotees and visitors have a strong incentive for taking this offering because it will bless them with good health and lots of wealth.
The Sun God is very significant in South India and especially in Andhra Pradesh because the great Lord Rama is said to have worshipped him (Sun God) before fighting and slaying the great demon Ravana.
The Sun God himself is depicted as being a supernatural being who rides a one-wheeled chariot. It’s driven by seven horses. Each horse represents the seven colors of Sunlight that are referred to as VIBGYOR.
Why is the Arasavalli Temple important?
Well, the Arasavalli Temple is considered to be one of India’s oldest Sun worshipping temples. That gives it special importance. These are two main reasons why the temple is a popular tourist haunt.
Padmapuranam was a dark age historian. He reported that the great Sage Kasyapa initially put an idol of the God Surya in the Temple. The intention was to promote good health and fortune for all humans who were living at the time and who would be born in the future.
The Sun God thus belongs to the Kasyapa Gotra. Lord Surya is also known as King of the Planets because he’s God of the Sun. The Sun created all of the planets in the solar system and emanates the rays that make life on Earth possible.
Though King Verma initially built the temple in the 7th century C.E. it had to be modified in the 1700s and 1800s. The reason being that the Arasavalli Temple had major flaws in terms of architecture, construction, and design. The wealthy Dusi family funded these renovations.
However, as is the case with all buildings that are made out of stone, the Arasavalli Temple fell victim to neglect and damage from war and the ‘elements!’ Since the temple was in a bad condition, it needed to be renovated.
The great Elamanchilli Pullaji Panthulu helped with the large-scale renovations and reconstruction. This helped restore the original sheen, luster, and attraction that the temple had.
Why visit Arasavalli Temple?
Well, this temple is one of the most significant in Andhra Pradesh. While it may not be an officially designated UNESCO World Heritage site, it has a long and rich history.
Indeed, those who visit the temple say that it’s like going back into time and revisiting a slice of dark age Indian history and more ancient Hindu beliefs!