Couple of my friends visited Srisailam about 3-4 years back and when they told me about the place, I felt an urge to go there. Many times we planned but we couldn’t make it. My mother was hospitalized recently for a minor surgery and she told me that she wants to visit Srisailam once she recovers. So as the destiny would have it, the day came very fast.
I checked for the nearest Airport and Railway stations to Srisailam. Hyderabad is the nearest Airport which is about 200KM away from Srisailam and Markapur Road is the nearest Railway station which is about 80KMs away from Srisailam. We felt Train will be a better option considering the lesser distance by road to Srisailam. There are 3 trains to Markapur Road Station but two of these trains reach there in midnight. That is not the best thing when you are traveling with your family. The third train, Garib Rath, runs only on Saturdays and will reach Markapur Road at 9:30AM. We easily got ticket to this Train in Tatkal. Garib Rath Train is full of AC coaches and runs at a good speed. It goes up to Puri.
As scheduled, we reached Markapur Road at 9:30AM and we took an Auto to the Markapuram Bus Stand. The auto fare is Rs. 15/- per head. There are a good number of buses from Markapuram to Srisailam (I am told it is one every 15 minutes). Our bus started at 10:30AM and we reached Srisailam at 1:45PM. It was a pleasant journey covering farming lands, forest and hilly areas.
Srisailam has many lodges. The Govt. manages a big number of them. Unfortunately, since ours was a last minute decision, we didn’t get a room in Govt. Lodges since all were full. We almost settled for a Dormitory which costed Rs. 500/- per person per day until a person promised us a room at Rs. 500/- with Rs. 200/- extra as his commission. It was a God send, I must say. He took us in his Auto to a private lodge. It was pretty well maintained and good and located close to the temple. As regards to Lodging, I must point out to our readers that there are a good number of Lodges maintained by each Caste. It would be easier to get accommodation there.
Main Temple Darshan
We were told that the evening Darshan can be had at 6:00PM. We got ready and left for the temple at 5:00PM. Just like most other temples in India, you can buy a ticket and secure an easy darshan of the Lord here also. But we opted for free darshan. The queue was pretty long and it took us close to two hours to go near the Deity. I was told that people will come in large numbers only on weekends and during holidays and that it is more easier to have Darshan during other days. As we went near the temple entrance, we saw the half moon right above the Gopuram, something very much related to Lord Shiva who wears the crescent moon on his head. The main Linga is actually very small compared to the other Jyotirlingas that I have seen. But there’s that same intense vibration that can be felt inside the temple. After having the Darshan of the main Linga, we proceeded to have the darshan of Bhramarambha Devi, whose temple is also located in the same campus. It’s very lively.
Later we took our dinner in a nearby hotel and proceeded to the lodge.
Visit to Akka Mahadevi Caves
It was my long time desire to visit Akka Mahadevi caves in Srisailam. To go there we have to first reach ‘Patal Ganga’. There are probably about 300+ steps and may not be possible for old people to climb it up and down. However, there’s a rope way facility available to go there. The tickets are priced at 60 rupees to and fro. Since my mother was more inclined to walk than to take the rope way, we went via the steps. There are two boat operators to take you to Akka Mahadevi Caves – The Govt and the Pvt. We didn’t know that and we went to the private operator. About 20 people came in but they didn’t start since they wanted more numbers. After waiting for close to an hour a group of people left. Later we were asked to get into a smaller boat. From Patal Ganga, you can either go for a local boat ride or visit Akka Mahadevi Caves.
Akka Mahadevi Caves is about 15KMs away from Srisailam and the boat takes approximately one hour to reach there. It’s a majestic view. Pure, clean water surrounded by hills on both the sides and with a clear blue sky above is just an unforgettable feeling. We need to walk for about 15 minutes to reach the Akka Mahadevi caves.
This Akka Mahadevi caves is a stunning place where nature has taken good effort to see that it’s a natural wonder. Huge stones are shaped as if they are an arch for the cave entrance! There’s a photo of Akka Mahadevi at the entrance. It’s very dark inside the caves and for people suffering from breathing problems, it’s not advisable to go too much into the caves. About 100 metres into the caves is spacious and then it becomes congested. You either need to crawl, which I did or need to walk carefully with your head down. There is a beautiful Lingam inside the cave and that is it.
Outside the cave, there is a small Math where a Sadhu is residing and carrying on with his Tapas. I have absolutely no idea how he is able to manage his food there. The place is totally disconnected from the city and probably he is the only person residing there. Now that is India. That’s how our people lived in the past – into seclusion and in contemplation of God.
We reached Patal Ganga after an hour and again took steps to get back to the main city. We went for the evening Darshan again. This time the crowd was less and we could have nice Darshan. We took Prasad from the authorized counters on our way back to the Lodge.
Local Sight Seeing
Next day we went for local sightseeing. There are many jeeps and autos which have a package for local sightseeing. But I was aware that the Govt. of Andhra Pradesh is operating its own sightseeing package. We chose to go with them. There are three buses in a day. You can get more details from http://www.apsrtconline.in. They show the main places around Srisailam. The journey covered Saakshi Ganapathi Temple , Phaladhara, Panchadhara, Hatakeshwara Matham, Shikhara Darashanam and Srisailam Dam. It took roughly 3 hours.
Our bus to Kurnool was at 3:30PM. We took our Lunch in Hotel Thrishul, which I feel is a very good hotel for lunch. Our Bus was fully packed. Thankfully my parents got seats and I had to travel sitting on the Bonnet. Two people sat on the bus steps. There was no other option. The road was not so good and we took close to 6 hours to reach kurnool which is about 200 KMs from Srisailam. We got into our Train in Kurnool and reached Bengaluru at 7:30AM.
Srisailam is an amazing place and I feel it’s a must visit for every Hindu.