Srikalahasti Temple in Andhra Pradesh is one among the Pancha Bhootha (Five Elements) Sthalas (Places) – five important Shiva Temples in India. It is situated about 36 km away from the famous Tirupati Temple (Balaji Temple) and is famous for the Vayu (Air) Linga. Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Kalahasteeshwara with his concert Parvati as Gnana Prasunambika Devi.
The Hindu Mythology says that an Elephant (Hasti) used to clean the Shiva Deity (Linga) by watering the idol with the help of river-water. It carried the water in his trunk and pray Lord Shiva by placing Bilva (Bael) Leaves. A Spider (Sri) tried to protect the Deity from external damages by weaving a web and providing shelter to the Shiva Linga. A Snake (Kala) also used to place its Precious Gem (Naga Manickam) on the Shiva Linga to adorn the Lord. Thus they three worshipped the Vayu Linga separately without knowing what the other was doing.
The Elephant in his ignorance as well as not knowing that the others are also doing Puja to the Lord, thought that it was the work of some miscreants. He poured water on it and cleaned the Linga. When others knew about it, they found that it was done by the Elephant. It started quarrel between the three.
The Snake punished the Elephant by entering into his Trunk and poisoning him but got killed himself suffocating inside. The Elephant got wild and hit his trunk and head against the Shiva Linga. The Spider also got squashed against the Linga by the Elephant and the Elephant died of the Snake’s poison.
Lord Shiva gives Moksha
Lord Shiva appeared then and gave Moksha to all three of them for their selfless devotion. The Spider took rebirth as a great king and the Elephant and Snake reached Heaven for satisfying all their Karmas. It is believed that the place and the Temple built there got the name Sri-Kala-Hasti due to the Spider, Snake and Elephant.
The King in his rebirth, built a number of Shiva Temples. It is interesting to note that in all these temples he made sure that the Deity is kept beyond the access of an Elephant. The Deity in Srikalahasti Temple is known as Sri Kalahasteeshwara and access to the deity is through a narrow passage in the side of the Shrine. This prevents chances of an Elephant entering or extending his Trunk over the Lord from any side.
Rahu-Kethu, Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Puja
The main offering in Srikalahasti Temple is the Rahu-Kethu Puja. People who have Rahu and Kethu Doshas and Sarpa Doshas as well as unmarried and those have no children offer this Puja. It is believed that offering this Puja clears all their long-standing problems, Sarpa Dosha, Rahu-Kethu Doshas and desired results happen in their lives. Thousand of devotees from India and abroad are coming to Srikalahasti Temple to offer this Puja and they do it even after receiving good results.
How to reach: Srikalahasti is about 36 km away from Tirupati and is easily accessible by rail and road. There are several express trains that travel from Tirupati daily, taking around 30 minutes to reach Srikalahasti.