NELLORE: A 11th century shrine of Sri Udaya Kaleshwara Swamy at Gandavaram village in Kodavalur mandal has been attracting devotees from various parts of the state as people believe that worshipping Lord Shiva in this temple would cure chronic diseases.
The unique feature of the temple is that first rays of the sun fall on the idol of the presiding deity - Lord Shiva - during Uttarayana period (fag end of January to June) starting from auspicious Radhasaptami festival. Archakas in the shrine claim that the rays also fall on the idol every month on the day of sacred Masa Shivarathri too.
The sleepy village, located 15 kilometres away from Nellore town and 5 kilometres from Rajupalem located on NH-16, becomes abuzz with thousands of devotees thronging to the shrine during annual Brahmotsavams which begin four days before Maha Shivarathri festival mostly in the month of February.
As per the scriptures, the temple was built by Krimikanta Chola, a strong opponent of the Vaishnavas, following the instructions of Lord Shiva himself in a dream. It took him a long time to locate the place covered by bamboo trees and ant hills, according to legends. The idol known as Swayambu was guarded by a snake (kala sarpam) and it took six years for the Chola king to complete the construction of the shrine.
“The village was known as Grandhinapuram in the bygone era and it was changed to Gandavaram over the centuries. Unlike in other temples, the shrine is carved out of a single rock and the images of saints apart from events of Ramayana and Maha Bharat are sculpted on the Rajagopuram (dome atop of the sanctum sanctorum). It is known as Rushi Mandapa Prakaram,” said the hereditary priest of the temple, Bandaru Mallikarjuna Sarma.
Mallikarjun said he did a lot of research on the temple and learnt many details about the temple in a book “Grandhinapura Rahasyam’ which he found in a library in Srisailam.
Referring to the ancient Tamil script carved on the outer walls of the sanctum sanctorum, Mallikarjun urged the state archaeology department to study the script for further exploration of temple history....