Simhachalam is a place of pilgrimage in Visakhapatnam mandal. It is situated on the Simhachalam range of hills about 16 km. from Visakhapatnam connected by both rail and road. The Simhachalam temple, the man lion incarnation of Vishnu is the most famous, the richest and the best sculptured shrine. The word Simhachalam etymologically means the hill of lion.The temple of Varaha Lakshminarasimha is situated on the hill which is 244 meters above the sea level. The way up to the temple runs through the glen covered with pineapple fields besides mango, jack and other fruit trees. Architecturally this ancient temple deserves high praise. It contains a square shrine surmounted by a high tower, a portico in front with a small tower, a square sixteen pillared mandapam facing the portico and an enclosed verandah, all made of dark granite. All these are richly and delicately carved with conventional and floral ornaments and scenes from the Vaishnavite puranas. One of the pillars locally known as the Kappa stambam is believed to possess great curative powers. There is a stone car with stone wheels and prancing stone horses.
The image of the diety is small and always kept covered with sandal paste In May every year the sandal paste is removed ceremonially at the festival called chandana yatra which is attracted by thousands of people allover the country especially from surrounding areas of Orissa state. On the north side of the temple there is an excellent Natya mandapam where Kalyanotsavam is performed. This mandapam is supported by 96 pillars of black stone, exquisitely carved and arranged in sixteen rows of six each. The exact age of the temple is not known, but it contains an inscription dated as far back as AD 1098-99 of the Chola King Kulottunga-1 who conquerred the Kalinga territories. Another inscription shows that a queen of the Velanadu Chief Gonka 111(AD 1137-56) covered the image with gold. A third says that the eastern Ganga King Narasimha-I built the central shrine the Mukhamandapam, the Natya mandapam and the enclosing Varandah in black stone and the other grants inscribed on its walls make it a place of historical importance. The most important festivals celebrated here are 1) The Kalyanam of Varaha Lakshminarasimha (March-April) 2) Chandana Yatra (May) and 3) Visakha Poornima (May) and large number of devotees congregate here during these festivals. Apart from the religious importance attached to the place, Simhachalam is a place of enchanting scenic beauty.
Anakapalli, headquarter of the mandal is situated at a distance of 34Kms. west of Visakhapatnam. This town is importance for wholesale marketing for Jaggery which is exported to various places in the country. It is also famous for sugarcane and guava fruits. The town is also known for manufacture of brass utensils and household utinsils. The shrine of Kanyaka Parameswari and Nookalamma temples are famous and attracting a large number of devotees.
In so far as Sthalapuranam of this Temple is concerned, there is no authentic information. It is learnt that Sri Kanaka Maha Lakshmi Ammavaru is the family deity of the then “Rajas of Visakhapatnam”. The locality where the idol was found is called “Burujupeta” since it was near “Buruju” of the “Fort” of the then Rajas.
According to local story, in the year 1912, the Idol of Goddess Sri Kanaka Maha Lakshmi Ammavaru was taken out from the well and it was installed at the center of the road i.e., amidst the Municipal lane. The Municipal authorities, for the purpose of widening the road, have shifted the Idol from amidst the road to a corner of the road. During which period i.e., in the year 1917 the dangerous contagious disease ‘Plague‘ spread over the town and so many deaths occurred in Visakhapatnam village. The people of Visakhapatnam were afraid of the incident and thought the devastation was due to shifting of idol of goddess ‘Sri Kanaka Maha Lakshmi’ and therefore, re-erected Ammavari Idol to its original place i.e., at the center of the road as it existed now. Owing to re-erection, the ‘Plague’ disease was cured and normalcy was restored. With this, the villagers have a staunch belief that it is all due to miracle of Goddess., and thus from then onwards the Villagers used to worship the Goddess by performing sevas with much devotion. Margasira Masa Sambaralu The Annual Festival in the Devasthanam is Margasiramasa Mahothsvam, which is one month festival. Devotees come and worship Goddess Sri Kanaka Maha Lakshmi Ammavaru in large number during the month of Margasira. The number of devotees that worship her during this month exceeds the number of devotees that worship Her in the remaining eleven months. There will be huge congregation of devotees/pilgrims coming not only from different parts of the State and also from neighboring states. Large number of devotees would visit the temple during Margasiramasa Mahothsvam for darshan, particularly on Thursdays. Thursday is states to be very auspicious to the Goddess.
Bhavatarani Charitable Trust was constructed the famous Kali Temple in 1984 on the Beach road. The Temple architecture is very unique. The uniqueness of Siva Temple is its Linga made of 10 Kgs. single stone called Rasalinga.
The famous Ross Hill on the seashore is a place enveloping for three religions viz., Dargakonda has a mosque and a shrine of a Muslim sage Lashaque Madina and Sri Venkateswara Konda has a temple which was built by Capt. Blackmoor in 1886 and the
third shrine is a holy place for Christians where Lord Velanganimata abode on top of the hill.
This is a small village situated on the coast of the Bay of Bengal at a distance of 18 kms. from Visakhapatnam. Kapilamahamuni is said to have installed the image of Somalingeswara swamy in this village. So it was called Kapilakonda. Formerly fishermen used to live in those places and they called it Apilakonda which is gradually became Appikonda. It assumed religious importance owing to the existence of a Siva temple containing a life size bull carved out of black stone. There are also other small temples around the Siva temple but they are covered with sand dunes and their gopurams along are visible. The Siva temple contains inscriptions of the 12th century AD. These inscriptions mention that this village was granted by a Commander in chief of the Chodas for the maintenance of worship in the temple. The Sivaratri festival celebrated here is attended by a large number of devotees.
The village is located at a distance of one km. from Nakkapalli. On the hill near Upmaka there is a well known shrine of Lord Venkateswara is one of the important worship places for the devotees.
About 3 Kms. South West of Narsipatnam there lies on the Bank of Varaha river a place known as Baligattam. This place owes its importance to the Brahma Lingeswara Temple at the foot of a small hill on the Western bank of the river. Here the shrine like the one at Bananas faces to the West. It is interesting to note that this temple is supposed to have been built by Brahma and that the river is declared to have been made by Vishnu during his incarnation as a boar(Varaha). Therefore the river is known as Varahanadi. The deposits of white clay on the river bank are supposed to be the ashes of a sacrifice performed hereby Bali, the demon king from whom the village takes its name as Baligattam. The river at this place flows from North to South for a short distance. On account of these peculiarities, the place is considered to be very sacred. The sivaratri festival celebrated here every year attracts a large number of devotees.
Padmanatham lies 16 kms. North West of Bheemunipatnam on the left bank of the Gosthani. Padmanabham is known in the local history as the place where the Raja of Vizianagaram was slain in AD 1794 in the fight with the East India Company’s troops and the spot is marked by a small memory erection. The Padmanabheswara Swamy temple of this place is
one of the most important temples of the region. The presiding deity Padmanabha swamy is said to be the lord who readily responds to the desires of his devotees. On the top of the hill which overlooks the place, is the shrine of Padmanabha and the Kalyanostavam of the deity celebrated annually during March-April draws a congregation of large number of devotees.
Matsyagundam is place near Paderu situated in small picturesque valley. A rivulet flows with musical sound in which abundant fish are seen. The wonder here is that the fish come to the surface of the water and take the eatables offered by the visitors. There is a small Shiva Temple and Sivaratri festival will be celebrated every year.
This village is situated at a distance of about 10 kms. North East of Yelamanchili and 24 kms. From Anakapalli, it derived its name from the five Jets of water coming out of five fountains which receive their supplies from a natural perennial spring. Near by thereis lingam on which are carved other lingams in 12 rows of 85 each and which is consequently known as the Kotilingam or Crore of lingams. There are several inscriptions on the pillars of the Mandapam in the temple and two of them dated in AD 1407 and 1428 contain a genealogy of chiefs who claimed Eastern Chalukya ancestry and bore the Eastern Chalukya titles of Sarvalokasraya and Vishnu Vardana.