Srikalahasti is located near the pilgrimage town of Tirupati and is visited by thousands of pilgrims. This temple is also associated with Rahu and Ketu of the nine grahams or celestial bodies in the Indian astrological scheme, also known as the moon's nodes in astronomical terms.
Srikalahasti is a temple town. Its about 38 km from Tirupati, The ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (as Sri Kalahastheeswara) and his consort Parvathi (as Gnanaprasunambika) is one of the Panchabootha Sthalams meaning the temple celebrates Lord Shiva as the embodiment of the primary elements (Fire, Space, Water, Earth, Air), Air being the element here. The temple is also associated with Rahu and Ketu. According to the legend, Lord Brahma was asked by the Lord to create the beautiful and enticing hills of Kailasa. As Brahma was struggling with the task, a piece fell on earth and in the south, and thus was called Dakshina Kailasam.
The other four Pancha Bhoota Stalams are:
The temple dates back to the pre-Christian era. The structure of the temple was built by the Cholas and improvements were made by other Chola kings and rulers of the Vijayanagara kings. The Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagara rulers have made several endowments to this temple.
The temple is built adjoining the Durgamma hill to the north, Kannappa hill to the south and Kumaraswamy hill to the east.
The closest airport is near Tirupati Airport, which is just 25 km. There are daily flights from Hyderabad, Delhi,Bangalore. Tirupati is perhaps the most convenient base for visiting Kalahasti as it is endowed with several modern lodging facilities.
There is a railway station at sri Kalahasthi. There are trains from hyderabad,vijayawada and kolkata .The closest railway junction is Renigunta and all trains plying between Chennai and Mumbai stop at renigunta.The Renigunta is just 25 km from srikalahasthi.
It takes about 5 hours by road to get to Tirupati from Bangalore. Both KSRTC and APSRTC operate buses during the day and night.
It's about 3 hours by road from Chennai. Both TNSRTC and APSRTC operate buses during the day and night.
You can travel either from Chennai-Tada-Kalahasti or Chennai-Tirutani-Renigunda-Kalahasti from Chennai(110 km)
Hyderabad (545 km): HYD-Kurnool-Cuddapah-Renigunta-srikalahasthi or HYD-Nagarjunasagar-ongole-Nellore-Naidupet-Srikalahasthi
Bangalore(300 km) -Bangalore-Mulbagal-Palmaner-Chittor-Tirupati-Srikalahasthi
If well planned, Tirupati, Tirumala and Kalahasti can be covered in a day's trip from Chennai by car. Be careful about Tirumala because sometimes people may have to wait in queue for one day, due to the flocking of people for the darshan of deity especially on weekends!
- 1 Srikalahasti Temple (Srikalahasteeswara temple). Sri Kalahasti is one of the five Panchaboota Sthallas i.e. place representing one of the five elements of nature. Kalahasti represents Vayu (Wind). The temple itself is a magnificent and large complex though not large enough to get lost in ! There are no meal breaks and the temple is kept open continuously throughout the day. The temple is also open to all - regardless of nationality, religious background, etc.
This temple is famous for the Rahu Ketu Sarpa Dosha Nivarana pooja. Though there are other minor poojas also, the Sarpa Dosha Nivarana pooja is classified as a combination of all the other poojas(rituals). So there is no need to buy separate tickets for each pooja if you are buying the Nivarana pooja ticket.
Astrology regards Rahu and Ketu as the only two "planets" which has varying degrees of malefic ( some benefic effect is also present) effects on ALL human beings. Which means that the Nivarana pooja at Kalahasti (for removing the bad effects of Rahu and Ketu) is good for ALL human beings.
The ₹1000/- ticket is highly recommended since they give you "5 star" service (like holding the pooja right within the temple). It takes around 25 minutes to perform the pooja.
No advance booking by telephone or money order is allowed. You can book the pooja only if you are physically present at the temple. And your pooja ticket must be used up on that day itself. If you are particular that the pooja is conducted during Rahukalam (for maximum effect) be at the temple at least an hour or two before the start of Rahukalam and buy your ticket from the appropriate counter located within the temple walls.
Tip: True Rahukalam starts sometime after the official listing ( varying from 1 or 2 minutes to even up to 20 minutes and beyond). i.e. if your calendar shows Rahukalam as starting at around 1:30 PM on Thursday, time your pooja to start at around 2 PM or later so that you finish by at least 3 PM.
A good astrologer may guide you to select the appropriate day and time to visit the temple. Hopefully, he may select a weekday when no festival is being conducted (as the crowd may be unmanageable at other times). Also, check and see if any visit by high profile VIPs are scheduled. Temple entry may be temporarily barred during such visits for security reasons.
CAUTION: Do not purchase pooja materials from the stalls outside the temple. Along with the ₹1000/- ticket, you are also given all the materials that are needed for the pooja. This ticket also entitles you to an exclusive darshan(glimpse)and archana(special pooja) of the main deities within the temple.(i.e. There is no need to stand in the queue since you are taken right into the inner sanctum of the main deities within the temple).
Keep this ticket carefully and don't lose track of it. Also, keep track of the materials given to you for the pooja. And don't hesitate to ask for clarifications when in doubt.
Though it may not be possible to answer philosophical queries, doubts about the conduct of the pooja as well as how to use the materials provided will be immediately answered.
The pooja itself is not a fire ceremony. You are only expected to carefully drop first some flowers(little by little) and then coloured ash on the metal representations of Rahu and Ketu while the priest chants the mantras. (After the pooja, these metal representations MUST be deposited in a special box @ the temple AFTER you give them to another priest in the main sanctum and get them back in a few minutes). The priest (conducting the Nivarana pooja) will want the names(only family members) and nakshatras for conducting the pooja. Up To five members of a family(for ₹1000/- ticket) are allowed to be physically present at the pooja though you are allowed to give a long list of other family members who are not present.
Tipping is inevitable and you may fix a fair amount at your discretion. Reserve your main tip for the priest conducting the Nivarana pooja. (He will ask you for "dakshina").
Though there is a dress code for the pooja, the temple does not seem to be implementing it rigorously.
Needless to add, watch your step in the temple. Slippery floors, dark corners, clothes catching fire, etc. are a common reality in Indian temples. Touts may take you for a ride, so it is better to deal only with authorised temple officials.
- Pathala Vinayakar. Lord Ganapathi in a temple below the earth.
There are number of private and government guest houses. All these accommodations have limited amenities. Preference should be given to hygiene stay rather than luxury, as the later is not available around the temple. Generally, you will not be staying here for a long time. A day's visit with an overnight stay should be sufficient.