Nava Narasimha Temple at Ahobilam is a major pilgrimage site in South India and is one of the 108 Vaishnava Divyadesams. According to the legend, this is where Lord Narasimha blessed Prahlada and killed the demon Hiranyakashipa.
This Ahobila sthalam is also known as "Singavel Kundram". This sthalam is dedicated to Sri Narasimha, one of the Avathaars taken by Sri Maha Vishnu to kill Hiyanyakasibhu. This sthalam is also known as "Nava Narasimha Kshetram" since 9 forms of Narasimhar Moorthies is found.
Ahobilam is situated at a distance of 74 Kms from Nandyal (Kurnool District), around 365 Kms from Hyderabad and around 75 Kms from Tirupathi. Lots of transportation facilities are available. Bus facilities from Cuddapah, Nandyal and Banganapalli are available and frequent.
There are nine temples around the Nallamala Forest range. A few temples can be reached through trekking. Some temples are inside the cave. Some temples are very difficult to trek to. The holy shrines of Ahobilam (all the Nava are Nine Narasimhars) are eulogized by Thirumangai Mannan. Hence, Ahobilam is one of the 108 Divya Desams. The hereditary powers of the temple rest with the Pontiff HH Azhagiyasingar of Ahobila Mutt. Currently the 45th Jeeyar of this lineage is the reigning Pontiff. The Azhagiyasingars have the unique privilege of being Aradhakars to a Divya Desam (a distinction no other Pontiff enjoys). Occasionally when HH Jeeyar performs Mangalasasanam (pays respects at the temple) at Ahobilam, the Serthi Utsavam is performed (the Moolavar of Malola Nrusimhar and the Utsavar) are united.
The Nallamala hills are personified as Adisesha with his head at Tirumala, middle at Ahobilam and the tail at Srisailam.
According to legends it is believed that when the Devas saw the manifestation of Lord Vishnu as half-lion, half-man, they shouted "Ahobala" (great strength) as well as "Ahobila" (great cave in which the current sanctum is). Hence, this place could be called either "Ahobalam" or "Ahobilam". Another legend describes when Lord Garuda did penance to see Lord Vishnu in Lord Narasimha form. Thereafter, Lord Narasimha took nine different forms in this hill. Lord Narasimha in nine forms are
1. Varaha Narasimhaswamy
2. Malola Narasimhaswamy
3. Yogananda Narasimhaswamy
4. Pavana Narasimhaswamy
5. Karaancha Narasimhaswamy
6. Chatra Vata Narasimhaswamy
7. Bhargava Narasimhaswamy
8. Jwala Narasimhaswamy
9. Ahobila Narasimhaswamy
Each of these nine forms have a beautiful story woven with strands of myth, fancy legends and epic tales. According to popular belief, one form of the Lord, the Pavana Narasimhaswamy, when offered the prasad returns half of the offering back to the devotee. On these lines, the Jwala Narasimhaswamy is supposed to be the ferocious form. This form personifies the cumulative and intense anger of the God. It is believed that the original site of shrine of Jwala Narasimhaswamy was the mouth of a volcano and it is only the proxy shrine which is accessible to the devotees.
Belief is that the navagrah's attained their power of being the planet by worshiping these deities of Narashimha. It is believed that the people having malefic effect of any plant could get some reprieve by worshiping Narasimha.
Legend also states that Goddess Mahalakshmi took birth as a human in a tribe, named Chenchu Lakshmi and married Lord Narasimha after the death of Hiranyakashpu. Narasimha Jayanthi will be celebrated with pomp and glory. The annual festival is during the Tamil month of Maasi. The local tribals celebrate the marriage of Goddess Mahalakshmi as ChenchuLakshmi and Lord Narasimha.
Sri Ahobilam Mahatmyam
The Lord Narasimha is a vara prasaddhi (One who bestows blessings readily). The exact legend has it that the almighty God took a form of a creature with body of man and head of a lion with super human strength. The God's motive was to kill the demon and save His devotee. The complex form of the Creature is due to the various talismanic powers and blessings the demon had. He (Lord Narasimha) appears in different forms as Ugra Murthi(aggressive form), Shanta Murthy (tranquil form), Yoga Murthy (in penance) and Kalyana Murthy with his consort Sri Chenchu Lakshmi was found while he was passing in Nallamala forest. After seeing Chenchu Lakshmi devi, he sttopped the ugra narasimha avatar then he tried to marry chenchu girl but she rejected, she said to him if u want to marry me u need to pass some tests, then chenchu girl asked to him can you climb the tree, hills, can you collect honey etc., and also Ahobilam is the exact location of the demon Hiranyakashupu's palace, which the epic stories of Lord Narasimha speak of. This place still has remnants, relics and ruins of the demon's palace. The pillar from which the God arose is marked by its base stone and can be accessed after an almost vertical climb up the hill. It is believed that the entire mountain split up into two, due to the impact of pillar getting shattered by God and God rising from it subsequently. The pillar's base stone is thus, on the edge of the cliff. In between the 2 hills is a deep gorge like a cleft.