Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 18


Kaleshwaram, Mahadevpur Mandal

Aug 22, CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.

Lord Brahma Temple at Kaleshwaram

Another little known temple dedicated to Lord Brahma is found in Kaleshwar, in the Karimnagar area of north central Andhra Pradesh. As in Alampur, this temple is one in a group of shrines predominantly dedicated to Lord Shiva. Kaleshwaram, also known as Manthrakuta, is located 130 kilometers from Karimnagar, in the thick interior forests of A.P., at the confluence of the Godavari River and its tributary, Pranahita. The nearest village is Manthani, 32 kms. away. 'Kaleswara' also refers to the Lord of Death, or Yamaraj.

The antiquity of Kaleshwaram is established in Puranic literature, and it has been a center of Vaisnava, Saivite, and Jain worship over many centuries. The Skanda Purana mentions the importance of Kaleshwaram's placement at the river confluence.

Kaleshwaram Temple complex

The most visited temple in Kaleshwaram is the Mukteshwaraswamy Temple, which is one of the three Jyotirlingas in Andhra Pradesh. The Temple is jointly dedicated to Mukteswara (Shiva) and Kaleswara (Yamaraja), and is famous for the fact that two Shivalingas reside here, situated on a single panivattam (pedestal) in the sactum.

Alongside the Mukteshwaraswamy mandir are several smaller tirthas in the temple complex. Many of these, like the Brahma Temple, have fallen into ruin, their deities or murtis eventually removed and placed in front of the main temple as free-standing murtis. In his book, "The History and Culture of Karimnagar", Dr. J. Ramanaiah describes the Lord Brahma deity.

Tirtha in Mukteswara complex

"There are a large number of loose sculptures placed in two rows outside the temple and beside the southern compound wall. The figures of dancers, archers, horse-riders, Garuda, Mithuna, Arjuna’s Matsya Yantra, Gopikavastrapaharana, Skanda riding on a peacock, lion in action at the back of the elephant holding its upraised trunk, male and female devotees with folded hands, etc., are depicted in different small panels can be noticed on the spot. The Nagas and Naginis found here are similar to those of Polas. Most of these loose sculptures are in red sandstone and can be dated back to 11th and 12th centuries A.D."

He goes on to describe the Brahmadev murti, a catur-mukha linga: "This linga is a fine sculpture in basalt with four faces carved on four sides. The linga is flat topped and it is now placed in the courtyard of the temple. Judging from its smooth polish and accuracy of carving, this sculpture resembles that of the Chaturmukha linga of the ruined Swayambhu temple, which is now placed in the courtyard of the Sambhunigudi in the Warangal fort. A similar Chaturmukha linga is also found at Manikesvara temple in Kalahasti."

Lord Brahma deity, removed from temple ruins

The Shiva temple in Kaleswaram is one of three Shiva temples noted as residing in Trilinga Desham (Land of Three Lingams), the region of the Telugu speaking people of Andhra Pradesh. Kaleswaram forms one of the three corners of Andhra Desha, with the other two main temples being Draksharamam in East Godavari district and Srishailam in Kurnool. The site of the Brahma Temple marks the northernmost border of the Telugu nation.

Kaleshwar is also known as Dakshina Triveni Sangamam, because of the confluence of the two rivers, with are said to meet with a third unseen flow of the Antarvaahini (part of the underground Saraswati River). It is said that a Vaishya once performed abhisheka to Kaleswara Mukteswara here with hundreds of milk pots, and the milk was being produced by the sangam (confluence) of Godavari and Pranahita. Thus, it is also called Dakshina Gangotri.

There are also a number of sacred spots along the river Godavari at Kalesvaram, called AshtaTirthas, which include the Brahma Tirtham, Pichchuka Tirtham, Jnana Tirtham, Vayasa Tirtham, Sangama Tirtham, Narasimha Tirtham, Hanumath Tirtham, and Vyasa Tirtham.

Mukteshwaraswamy Temple Lingas Kaleswara (left) and Mukteswara (right). The Mukteswara linga has two holes, like nostrils. Water poured onto the linga enters these holes, and joins the Godavari River.

Prior to 1975, there was so little facility for transport, that the Kalesvaram temple was far too difficult for most pilgrims to try and reach. It was surrounded by thick forest, and several streams had to be crossed along the way. Only a narrow cart track existed for foot traffic. Over many centuries, probably since the time the main temple was built by the Chalukyas, then renovated by the Kakatiyas during the 12th or 13th century, no effort was made to make Kalesvaram more accessible. That only happened when a government grant allowed a temple committee to be formed in the mid-1970's, and they began temple renovations and created road access.

Today, three big festivals are celebrated in Kaleshwar each year -- Maha Shivaratri, Shiva Kalyanam, and Durga Navratri - and throngs of pilgrims come here during Kartikka. The hermitage of Saint Gautama and his Manthani temple are nearby, along with a famous Lord Nrsimhadev temple, and another dedicated to Hanuman.

78 kms. from Karimnagar along the River Godavari is the 15th century temple town of Dharmapuri, where King Bali Verma performed the Dharma Devta Yagna. A famous 13th century Sri Lakshmi-Narsimha Swamy temple is located here, along with Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple, the Sri Ramallingeshwara Swamy temple where Shiva and Vishnu temples exist side by side, and another Brahma deity we will mention later.

Gopuram of Mukteshwaraswamy Temple


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