The Kalahateeswara Temple
Sri Kalahasti, Andhra Pradesh, India


Vayu - wind/air

In the Kalahasteeswara Temple
Lord Shiva takes the form of Vayu - air,
one of the five elements, everything in nature comprises of
according to Hindu philosophy.

The Kalahasteeswara Temple is one of the most famous Shiva temples in South India. It is situated 36 km from Tirupati, AP.

The Kalahasteeswara Temple is said to be the site where Kannappa Nayanar, one of the 63 Saivite saints, was ready to offer both his eyes to cover blood flowing from a Shiva Lingam at the same spot. Lord Shiva stopped him and granted him mukti, because he had shown an unshakable devotion.
Kannappa Nayanar was born in a hunting family near Sri Kalahasti. He was a staunch devotee of the Vayu Linga of Sri Kalahasti which he found in the forest while hunting.

"There is a lamp inside the inner sanctum that is constantly flickering despite the air movement inside. The air linga cann be observed to move even when the priests close off the entrance to the main deity room, which does not have any windows. One can see the flames on several ghee lamps flicker as if blown by air. The linga is white and considered Swayambhu, or self-manifested."

The main linga is untouches by human hands, even the priests. Abisheka (bathing) is done by pouring a mixture of water, milck, camphor and panchamrita. Sandal paste, flowers and the sacred thread are offered to the utsava-murti (procession or replacement idol), not the main linga.

Kannappa Nayanar:
The 63 Nayanars:
For more information about the temple and the legends, see also:


The Gopuram

The Gopura over the main shrine with the sacred Vayu Linga

Closer view og the amazing stucco

The templetop is being cleaned


The Five elemental Shiva Temples
 in South-East India

Abroad it is less known to the public that 5 magnificent Shiva temples dedicated to the 5 natural elements: ether (Akasha), air (Vayu), fire (Thejo), water (Jala) & earth (Pridhvi), is situated in the eastern part of South India:
The southernmost temple in Tiruvannaikaival, near Tiruchirapalli is apx. 350 km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. From south going north the other Panch Bhoota Sthalams can be found in: Chidambaram, Tiruvannamalai, Kanchipuram and barely 100km north-west of Chennai in Andhra Pradesh the Sri Kalahasti Temple is situated.

The five natural elements - the "Pancha Bhootas" is a central and most important concept in Indian philosophy and tradition. In Hindu faith it is beleived that these five essential elements created man and the universe.
Lord Shiva, one of the three main Gods in the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, is represented in these temples as the embodiment of these five primary elements.

In the Ekambareswara Temple the Shiva Linga is made of earth.
In Jambukeswara Temple Lord Shiva takes the form of water and the Linga here is immersed in water.
In the Arunachaleswara Temple Shiva takes form as fire.
In the Kaahateeswara Temple Shiva is representing wind or air.
Last, but not least in the Nataraja Temple Lord Shiva takes the form of ether, the most sacred of the five elements.

The Vedic rituals performed in the numerous Hindu temples all over India has been worshipping the Gods using the natural elements in every ritual performed since time immemorial.

Acess for foreigners
These days it is difficult to enter into the Sanctum Sanctorum to see the Shiva Lingam and thereby get the darshan of Lord Shiva. The atmosphere in these magnificent temples is soothing to the heart and just visiting the temple compound itself is a divine experience.  
No photos exists of the Shiva idols inside, only paintings are allowed.

The 5 Shiva temples are as follows:

Sri Ekambeswara Swamy Temple, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu - representing the earth element
Sri Jambukareswara Swamy Temple, Thiruvanaikaival, Tamil Nadu - representing the water element
Sri Arunachaleswara Swamy Temple, Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu - representing the fire element
Sri Kalahasteeswara Swamy Temple, Sri Kalahasti, Tamil Nadu - representing the wind element
Sri Nataraja Swamy Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu - representing the ether (Akasha) element

The Kalahhasteeswara Shiva Temple

The Kalateeswara Shiva Temple

Between two steep hills where the Swarnamukhi river flows by, the huge Sri Kalahasti temple complex are situated. It is one of the most famous Shiva temples in South India and one of the most important pilgrimage centers in Andhra Pradesh.
Dominating one end of the mainstreet is a 36,5 meter high free standing Gopura erected in 1516. Nearby, similar but smaller Gopras provide access to the Kalahhasteeswara Temple - the towns main attraction.
The doorway to the south leads into a crowded enclosure of columned halls, pavillions, colonades, alters and corridors.
In the north corridor are a set of bronces of the 63 Nayanar saints.
The inner sanctum opening to the west, enshrines the Vayu Linga

Effective Pujas
Worshippers have long travelled to this temple to seek relief from the "evil effects" of the planet Saturn. Others come with unmarried daughters in the hope that a special Puja at the temple will help them to find a good husband.

Sri Kalateeswara Swamy Temple is repted as the Rahu Kethu Ksetra. Here the most effective Pujas are performed. Doshas get removed and desired results occur.

Official website

Sri Kalahastiwara Swamy and His consort Sri Gnanaprasunambika Devi

The Vayu Linga, one of the five elemental Lingas of Lord Shiva is a curiously elongated linga protected by a cobra hood made of brass.

A Sri Kalahasti legend
According to a local legend, a spider, a cobra and an elephant worshipped the linga in their own special way. The spider first spun a web around it to protect it from the sun's rays. When the cobra saw the shrine, he got so upset to see the linga covered with dirty cobwebs. He cleaned and covered it with little stones. The last to arrive was the elephant, who removed the stones and cobweb and decorated the linga with flowers.
This continued for some time until the three devotees, each sure that his way of worship was the purest and that the others had comitted sacriledge, desided to confront each other.
In the fight that ensured, they collapsed and Lord Shiva, pleased by their devotion, blessed them and named the shrine after them - Sri (spider), Kala (cobra) and Hasti (elephant).
He also gives Moksha to all three for their selfless devotion.

Several other legends are connected to the glorification of this important temple.


Arriving at the Kalateeswara Temple

After a long journey you have reached the right place ...

Inside the temple compound


The entrance with vendors selling gifts for the deities

The first steps of many as the Kalahaateswara Temple
 is situated on a mountaintop

Large collection of Naga Murtis to the right of the entrance

Mantapa used for festivals

Main entrance to the Vayu linga shrine.
From here you can, as a foreigner or non-hindu, go no further

Flower decorated collonade

Work in progress on the beautifully kept Gopuram sheltering the Vayu Linga

Going up hill

Do not miss the chance to go up hill.

Here you have the most amazing view over the temple,
the compound and the city itself.

Busy people all the way up, sweeping, cleaning, selling milck, begging etc.



The Swarnamukhi river

The temple complex between the two hills
and in close proximity of the Swarnamukhi river


Swarnamukhi river seen through the vegetation up hill



An Avadhuta in the park

Small Shiva shrine at the entrance of the park

Bathing in the teerth - do not use soap!

Bangle offerings adorn a Shiva Trisula

The shrine of Avadhuta Sri Sri Sri Siva Sankara Venugopala Swamy

Sign reads:
"Sri Sankara Venugopala Swamy is supposed to have
come from North India, approximate by 1969 to this holy temple
town, Sri Kalahasti. He used to roam about stark naked in an
ecstatic state. As years roiled by He was recognised as
"Avadhuta" a manifestatation of total renunciation. He was
found to be an Omnicient complete "Yogi".
The 17th November 1977

It is believed that whoever performs all spiritual
activities such as recitation of the holy books, "Dhyanam" (meditation) near by,
and circunambulation of and namaskaram to the tomb of this
Yogi, is benefitted in all ways and belssed profusely.
Note: Swamy's "Aradhana" will be celebrated on
Karthika Suddha Sapthami every year.

Sri Sri Sri Siva Sankara Venugopala
Swamy Avadhuta Bhakra Swamy
Sri Kalahasti."



The goshala

Animals are kept near the big temples all over India.
The cows provide milck for the milck-abishekam.
The buffalo pulls carts and work in the fields.
The calves are kept for future milking.
Lots of milck is used for the abishekam rituals.
Elephants are kept for processions and blessings.

The proud keepers of the goshala - the cow shed.
Cow are holy in India and it's a highly trusted job to keep them.
The last of the 7 upper heavens is called goloka, cow heaven.


Getting there and away

After a long journey the first view of the temple are exhilarating!

Dhobis daily life at the Swarnamukhi River

Sri Kalahasti is situated north-west of Chennai,
just 36 km from Tirupati/
Tirumala and 35km from Pulicat lake, at the seashore of the Bay of Bengal.
As an important pilgrimage place you can get there by all means of transportation,
train, bus, taxi, foot, etc.


Pilgrims on the road to Tirumala


Amongst the numerous pilgrims, several are walking on foot to the Tirumala Balaji Temple.
On all the roads leading to the 7 hills you find pilgrims coming from all over India and abroard.


Other pages on the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams in India on this website:

Sri Ekambeswara Swamy Temple, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu - representing the earth element
Sri Jambukareswara Swamy Temple, Thiruvanaikaival, Tamil Nadu - representing the water element
Sri Arunachaleswara Swamy Temple, Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu - representing the fire element
Sri Nataraja Swamy Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu - representing the ether (Akasha) element




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