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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Kanaka Durga Temple : a thousand year old temple of Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh

Kanaka Durga Temple is on the banks of river Krishna, on Indrakeeladri hills, Vijayawada (also known as Bezawada), Andhra Pradesh. Vijayawada has been a famous pilgrim and trading centre situated between the river Krishna and its tributary Budameru since a long time.

This holy shrine of Goddess Durga is the second largest temple in Andhra Pradesh. At the Kanaka Durga temple, the 4-feet-high icon of the deity is decorated in shining ornaments and colourful flowers. Durga’s icon is with eight-arms, each holding a powerful weapon in a standing posture over the demon Mahishashura and piercing him with Her trident. The goddess is the epitome of beauty and valour combined. Adjacent to the Kanaka Durga temple is the shrine of Malleswara Swamy on the Indrakeeladri. At this temple Durga is on the right side of Malleswara as against the tradition of Goddess being on the left side of their consorts.

Itihas

Kaalika Puraana, Durgaa Sapthashati and other Vedic literature contain references about Goddess Kanaka Durga on the Indrakeelaadri and have described the deity as swayambhu, (self-manifested) in triteeya kalpa. It is said Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Shiva at this place with jasmine flowers (Mallika) and hence the Lord Shiva here has come to be known as Mallikeswara. Sri Adi Sankaracharya reinstalled Malleswara Swamy at the northern part of the temple of Goddess Kanaka Durga. He also installed the Sri Chakra and initiated worship of Kanaka Durga in Vedic ways. This is the place where Arjuna obtained the Pasupatha astra after his great penance for Lord Shiva. The installation of the murti of Vijayeswara is said to have been done by Arjuna, to commemorate his war with Lord Shiva who appeared in disguise as Kirata (hunter) and fought with him and blessed Arjuna with pasupatha astra. Murti of Malleswara Swamy was believed to be installed by Yudhishtir after the battle of Kurukshetra was won by Pandavs. The sage Agastya is said to have been the greatest devotee of this deity.

History

Vijayawada is also mentioned in some inscriptions (927-933 A.D.) as Rajendracholapura. Thribhuvana Malla, western Chalukya King of the 10th century A.D., constructed the Kanaka Durga temple. On the southern side of the Kanaka Durga temple, is a hillock with sculptures bearing inscriptions, indicating the names of Gods and Goddesses cut below them. Most of the figures of Goddess Durga sculptures here are according to the mantra sastras. Vijayawada history reveals that Bezawada (Vijayawada) was ruled by King Madhava Varma (one of the kings of Vishnukundina dynasty 440-460 AD). Chalukyas developed the Kanaka Durga temple and constructed Shiva, Durgamalleswara and Kartikeya temples in its precincts. Vijayawada was once the capital of Vengi kings. Later the Cholas ruled from here till Muslim invasion.

The city is noted for its Buddhist culture too. Vijayawada became famous during Vishnukundina dynasty rule. They developed Undavalli, Seetanagaram, Mogalrajpuram and Indrakeeladri caves. Chinese Buddhist scholar Hiuan Tsang stayed few years in Bezawada (Vijayawada) around 640 A.D. to study the Abhidhamma Pitaka (Pali for basket of higher doctrine), the last of the three pitakas constituting the Pali canon, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism ( i.e., the earliest form of Buddhism practiced in South East Asia). Hiuan Tsang, wrote that he has seen many stone inscriptions in the vicinity of the Kakana Durga temple that mentioned historic events. Famous Telugu poet Bharavi‘s literary work “Kirataarjuneeyam” describes the fight between Arjuna and Lord Shiva disguised in the form of Kirata (hunter).

Pujas & Festivals

Special pujas are performed during Dasara (Navaratri). The most significant are Saraswati puja and Theppotsavam. During the festival of Dasara for Goddess “Durga” a large number of pilgrims attend the colourful celebrations and take a holy dip in the Krishna river.

Kanaka Durga is specially decorated as Balatripura Sundari, Gayathri, Annapoorna, Mahalakshmi, Saraswathi, Lalitha Tripura Sundari, Durga Devi, Mahishasura Mardini and Raja Rajeswari Devi on each day of the Navaratri festival. On Vijaya Dasami day, the deities are taken in a swan- shaped boat (Hamsa Vahanam) around the Krishna river, known as Teppotsavam.

The annual Goddess Sakambhari festival is celebrated in Ashadha month with deep piety and ceremonies. During the three-day-long festival goddess, Kanaka Durga assumes the form of Sakambhari or Banasankari, wherein prayers are offered to the Goddess to bless all vegetables, agriculture, and food so that they are abundant and capable of nourishing the people. Sakambhari festival is celebrated from Sukla Paksha Thrayodashi to Purnima, of Ashadha month every year.

Vijayawada is well connected by train, road and air routes. Amaravati, the current capital of Andhra Pradesh is around 18 KMs from Vijayawada.

Featured image : Krishna Chaitanya Velaga 


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Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 14 years of teaching, research and consulting. 100 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. One book in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, two books in Telugu and 20 short stories and 27 articles published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]

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