Srisailam is about 210 kms from Hyderabad by road. It is a beautiful route and on the way, you get to see small villages, sunflower fields, the Dindi dam and reservoir, the dense forests of the Nallamala Hills, the Srisailam tiger reserve, the Srisailam dam and hordes of monkeys.
Srisailam is a small temple town in Andhra Pradesh, and life there revolves around Lord Shiva. There are loudspeakers all over the town, so wherever you are, you hear chants of “Om Namah Shivaya”. We stayed in a hotel for pilgrims called the Karikali Sadan. It was a very basic room, but it was very clean, and had air-conditioning, a television and a great view of the hills. Can't ask for more! From the corridor just outside the room, we could see the Srisailam Dam stretching across the river beautifully. It caters to the irrigation and power needs of Andhra Pradesh.
MALLIKARJUNA SWAMY BRAMHARAMBA TEMPLE
This temple houses one of the twelve Jyothirlingas of India. It is a lovely temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, that finds mention in the Puranas. The sacred tree (called the sthala vriksha) of this temple is called the Triphala Tree and has three different kinds of leaves growing out of it - Raagi, Medi and Juwi. On closer inspection, we saw that the trunk had three distinct trunks twisted into a rope.
To reach this temple deep inside the Nallamala forests, you need to ride 10 kms into the jungle in a Commander jeep on the bumpiest, rockiest path on the planet! It takes about an hour to get there, and the scariest part, besides the steep ups and downs and the jagged rocks, was that there are tigers in that forest! I was hoping we wouldn’t bump into one, but was also very disappointed when we didn’t! By the end of the ordeal, every muscle in my body was aching, but it was incredible fun! The deity in the temple, Ishtakameshwari, is believed to make wishes come true.
The Paladhara-Panchadhara are mountain springs that symbolize the streams that flow out of Lord Shiva’s forehead. Here, you are allowed to bathe the Shivalingam with water from the streams. The forests around the place are gorgeous, and apparently, Sri Adi Shankara meditated and wrote his Soundaryalahari and Sivanandalahari here.
This Shiva temple is the highest point in Srisailam, and the view from here is to die for.
SAKSHI GANAPATHI TEMPLE
This is a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha, and the belief is that when you visit Srisailam, it is He who marks your attendance. And the cutest part - the idol of Lord Ganesha here has a pencil in one hand and a book in the other!
CHENCHU LAKSHMI TRIBAL MUSEUM
This museum showcases the lifestyle of the adivasis of the Nallamala hills. Definitely worth a visit.
ROPEWAY AND PATALA GANGA
We rode down to Patala Ganga, where the bathing ghats on the banks of the river are, in a cable car. It was so much fun! When we reached the bottom, we went on a boatride to the dam site. It was lovely.
We took this route from Hyderabad:
Rethibowli ring road - Right near Kababish - Tukkuguda Village - Kandukur Village - Amangal town - Dindi - Mannanur Checkpost and Wildlife Reserve - Srisailam.
The drive took us about 6 hours, but we stopped many times on the way.