India is an abode of Maharshis with its tapas and teachings. The ancient Rishis selected the Kshetras or Theerthas which are the divine places for meditation (tapas). Kshethra and Theertha have separate meanings in their value. Kshethra is sacred with the statue or Murthy (Deva or Devatha) and Theertha is sacred with water (Theertha) flowing through that place. But this Mahanandi place is sacred and powerful with both Murthy and Theertha (Water). It is situated in Kurnool district, at a distance of 15 km from Nandyal city in Andhra Pradesh.
This is one of the Kshethras at the southern gates of Srisailam. Once there lived a Rishi in the forest of Nallamala called “SILADA“. He built a small cabin and lived in it with his wife. He was always interested in Dhyana or Tapas. He was eating Silas (stones) as his usual food. That is why they called it “Silada”. He had no children. Then his wife asked him to have children. He wanted to fulfill her request and that is why he meditated on Sarveswara for a long time. Sankara stood there disguised as a hole. When Silada knew it, he felt very happy.
After a few days, Paramasiva appeared before him and asked him what blessing he wanted. Silada forgetting his wife’s wish. he requested Paramasiva to allow him to serve forever. But the Omni Scient (Sarvajana) knew that he had forgotten his wife’s wish, so he also wanted to fulfill it. Then he told him that he would fulfill the wishes of both (Couple). He blessed the Rishi and disappeared. Immediately a male child appeared in the hole or cave. He gave the child to his wife. They both felt extremely happy (joy). So they called him “Mahananda”. Day by day the child grew. He gradually received a good education, including spiritual education from gurus after Upanayana (rite of passage among Hindus). He asked his parents to allow him to make Tapas on Siva. They were very happy and blessed him.
Mahananda meditated deeply on Siva. Before long, Parameswara appeared before him with his pariwar (assistants). The boy made Pranams to Siva with joy and praised him in many hymns. Parameswara was pleased and ready to give him a blessing. The boy asked Siva to allow him to be his Vahana (Vehicle). Parameswara agreed and granted him wish. Pointing to the hole, Siva told him. “My dear son! I was once born in this hole. The place will soon become a mighty and holy river that flows forever. This holy place will become a famous and holy Kshethra in your name. It is true.” Saying those words, Parameswara transformed him into his Vahana (bull) and went to Kailasagiri.
In that place you can now see the hole in “Mahanandi Kshethra”, the most sacred and powerful place. Once Nanda King, the son of Uttungabhoja from Pandava Race ruled this place residing in Nandyal city. There is a town called Gopavaram (then called Gopitavaram). A shepherd had a herd of cows. Cows used to graze in the forest every day. One of the cattle cows used to go into a bush and ooze (slowly discharge) the milk from its udder onto the grass and return home with an empty udder every day. The shepherd wanted to know why and he followed the cow carefully the next day. The cow entered the bush as usual. The shepherds watched their movements by hiding behind the bush. The cow stood on the grass that covered the hole (anthill). A boy came out of the hole and drank the cow’s milk. The cow came back and came home with cattle. Pastors were talking about the event here and there.
The spies heard the matter and said the same to the king. The king was very happy and decided to see the situation. The next day he went to the forest on horseback alone with a servant. He followed the cattle of the cows, observing with special attention the movements. The cow entered the bush, stood in the hole, and oozed (slowly discharged) milk from her udder. The king wanted to see the same clearly and walked slowly towards the cow. The cow got scared and ran away. Its hoof sank into the hole as she ran in a hurry. The boy disappeared. The king went home with a great surprise.
In the night he felt a dream. Parameswara appeared before him and told him about it in the dream. “I myself drank the milk from the hole. Build a temple there. I would stay in the places called Navanandis (Navanandulu) within a circle of 80 Kms. Ganga Devi would also serve me with its shine. Your glory will be eternal. “The next day, the king went to the hole. He became Rock Pallus (Symbol of Siva). He was very surprised and saw deeply the Siva Linga. It was clear that the hoof of the cow was sunk in the hole . The same can be seen even now. The king built a temple there. He dug a pond in the opposite direction. In no time the endless flow of water became clear.
He called it Rudra Gunda. He also dug two ponds on the north and east sides. There was a lot of water. I wanted them to be famous by the names of thrimurthis. So he named the ponds Brahma Gunda and Vishnu Gunda. Even now we can find the water at a depth of 2 feet whenever we want in this place. The ponds are filled with water in all seasons and the water is supplied for 2000 acres for fertile land even for plantation crops. He called the place “Mahanandi”, as it was the first and great Kshethra among the Navanandis (Navanandulu).
APSRTC provide good bus facility to Mahanandi temple.
From Amaravathi: Vijayawada — Mangalagiri — Guntur — Narsaraopeta — Vinukonda — Thripuranthakam — Giddaluru — Gajulapalle — Mahanandi Temple (330 Km)
From Hyderabad: Hyderabad — Shadnagar — Jadcharla — Kothapeta — Pebberu — Kurnool — Panyam — Nandyal — Mahanandi Temple. (285 Km)
From Tirupati: Tirupati — Renugunta — Rajampet — Kadapa — Mydukur — Chagalamarri — Allagadda — Nandyal — Mahanandi Temple (280 Km)
From Srisailam: Srisailam Temple — Dornala — Atmakur — Velugodu — Nandyal Road — Bukkapuram Village — Mahanandi Temple (170 Km)
Gajulapalli Railway Station is very close to Mahanandi temple. Distance from Gajulapalli Railway station to Mahanandi is roughly 6 KM. The next nearest Railway Station is present at Nandyal Junction-19 KM.
The nearest airport is Orvakal (At present no airoplanes are runnig).
Hyderabad Airport: From Shabad Airport to Kurnoo (via Bus and Via Train)
Kadapa Airport: From Kadapa Airport to Nandyal (Via Bus)