Sri Ahobilam – Where Lord Nrsimhadeva Appeared
Ahobilam (Ahobalam) is the place where Supreme Personality of Godhead incarnated Himself as Lord Nrsimhadeva to killed the demon Hiranyakasipu and save His dear-most devotee Prahlada. Here at Ahobilam, Lord Nrsimhadeva emerged from the pillar of Hiranyakasipu’s palace, killed him after a fierce fight, simultaneously honouring the boons that Hiranyakasipu received from Lord Brahma. The pillar from where Lord Nrsimhadeva appeared, the ruins of the palace of Hiranyakasipu, the exact spot where Lord Nrsimhadeva killed Hiranyakasipu, the pond where Lord Nrsimhadeva washed His lotus hands after killing Hiranyakasipu and the school where Prahlada studied still exist at Ahobilam. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited Ahobilam during His south India pilgrimage as mentioned in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya-lila chapter 9 verses 16-17 and Madhya-lila chapter 1 verse 106. Lord Ramacandra also came here and sung five verses named “Narasimha Panchamritam”. Ahobilam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh amidst the majestic hills of the Eastern Ghats range. It is 256 km from Tirupati, 110 km from Cuddapah, 68 km from Nandyal and 24 km from Allagadda. To visit Ahobilam, the best is to travel from Tirupati. It is approximately 5 hours drive from Tirupati to Ahobilam (256 km).
Ahobilam - The Great Strength
Ahobalam means: “Aho Balam (what great strength!)”
When Lord Nrsimhadeva, the half-lion and half-man incarnation of Supreme Lord, emerged out of pillar in His fierce and effulgent form, all the devatas (demigods) exclaimed “Aho Balam (what great strength!)”. Sthala purana mentions this wonderful pastime an additional note to Lord Narasimha Lila mentioned in 7th canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
“aho viryam aho shauryam aho bahuparakramah
narasimham param daivam ahobilam aho balam”
On the plea of Prahlada, Lord Nrsimhadeva continues to reside at Ahobilam on the peak “Garudachala”. Since this place was contaminated by blood of Hiranyakasipu and his army, Lord invoked River Mandakini to clean it. Since the river cleansed the dirt (sins) that causes birth (bhava), she came to be called as River “Bhavanashini”. Laxmi Devi appeared and sat on the folded leg of the lord. The forest grove thus got their name as Laxmivan. Seeing this beautiful sight of Lord and her consort, all great sages assembled and sang praises and hymns from Vedas. The mountain from where they chanted came to be called as “Vedadri”. Ahobilam also got its name because of bila (cave). Long, long ago (even before Lord Nrsimhadeva’s appearance to kill Hiranyakasipu), Garuda once performed severe penance with a desire to see the darshan of Lord in Narasimha form. Pleased with him, Lord guided Garuda to see His Narasimha avatar form in a nearby huge cave. Garuda proceeded and was benedicted to see this beautiful form in this cave. Hence this area also got its name place of beautiful cave “Ahobilam”. The mountain on which Garuda performed austerities came to be known as Garudachala, Garudadri and Garudashailam.
It is very popularly known that the Nallamalai range of mountain (Eastern Ghats) is the manifestation of Sri Adi Sesha - the great serpent bed of Lord Vishnu. On His seven hoods lays Tirupati, on stomach Ahobilam and on the tail lays Sri Shailam. The Brahmanda Purana states that Ahobilam was the dwelling of the demon king Hiranyakasipu who was killed by the Lord. Mention of legends connected with Ahobalam can be found in Kurma Purana, Padma Purana and Vishnu Purana. This place is known by many names: Ahobalam, Nava Narasimha Kshetra, Singavel Kundram, Pancha krosa Kshetra, Garudachala and Vedachala.
Many great devotees like Sripad Ramanujacarya, Vedanta Desika also rendered services here and many of them composed beautiful prayers and songs at feet of Lord Nrsimhadeva. Ramanujacarya visited here in 11th Century A.D and Vedanta Desika in 1268-1379 A.D. The great king, Vikramaditya (1076-1106 A.D) of the western Chalukyas, also worshipped the main deity of the temple. “Sri Laxmi Nrsimha pancaratna stotra” and “Karaavalamba stotra” are two very famous hymns composed by Adi Sankaracharya when he came here. “Angan naalam” - was sung by the great Thirumanghai Alwar.