A famous Hindu temple of South India.This ancient, well-visited temple is in Andhra Pradesh near Tirupati. The Shiva Linga here represent the element Vayu or the Air.
There is a legend behind this temple which is very similar to that of Tiruvanaikavu, near Tiruchrapalli- another Panchabhootha temple representing Water.
Long ago a Serpent, an elephant and a spider worshipped a Shiva Linga at this place with deep devotion. But, their method of worshipping contradicted with each other. This eventually led to a clash among them and in the end they killed each other.
Being ardent devotees, all of them entered Kailas- the abode of Lord Shiva. Only, the spider took a re-birth as a King of the Chola dynasty who built many temples around his Kingdom.
The name Sri Kalahasti was derived out of these three devotees. Sri represents the spider; Kala means Serpent and the Hasti meaning elephant.
Another legend is associated with a Saint called Kannappa. He is one of the 63 Saivaite Nayanmars. According to the story, to test his devotion, Lord Shiva caused the Lingam at this temple to bleed profusely from the eyes.
Seeing this, Sri Kannappa offered his own eyes to the Lingam. But the bleeding continued. Then, showing exemplary devotion, he started offering the second eyes too. At this time, Lord Shiva said to have appeared before Sri. Kannappa. The Lord restored the eyesight of his devotee. He blessed Sri.Kannappa by giving special status in this temple along with Lord Shiva.
The main Linga is untouched by human hands till now. All pujas were offered to the Utsava-Murthi, not to the main Lingam.
There is a lamp inside the Sanctum that is constantly flickering despite the lack of air movement inside the sanctum. One can see the flames of several ghee lamps flicker as if blown by moving air.
The temple is also famous for Rahu and Kethu worship.
The temple has a peculiar architecture. It is covered by hills on two sides and a river-Suvarna Mukhi washes the West wall of the temple. In fact, it appears that the temple is carved out of an adjacent hill.
The foundation of the present structure goes back to the Pallava kings. Later, many dynasties like Chola, Viajayanagara and Nayyakkars contributed significantly to the development of the temple. The present temple received a major renovation work in early 20th century.
The temple is about 35 kilometers from Tirupati and four to five hours straight drive from Chennai. Frequent buses are there from Tirupati.