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Ramagiri is a small village, famously known as Ramagiri hills which is a rocky hill formation interspersed with dense vegetation located in Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh state of South India near the border of Tamil Nadu state. This place, also called Kaalinga Madu Karai or Thirukkaarikkarai is about 5 km from Nagalapuram.
Ramagiri is a beautiful and scenic place nestled between mountains and sylvan scenery. It is surrounded by a lot of green and fresh fields. A calm and serene site with no major buildings, shops, or houses nearby.
Lord Shiva has five faces - Isaana, Thathpurusham, Vaamadhevam, Sathyojaatham and Agoram. There are five Shiva temples (called Pancha Brahma Sthalams), representing each of these faces. They are:
- Isaanam face: Ramagiri
- Tatpurusha face: Pallikondeswaram alias Suruttapalli
- Vamadheva face: Sampangi rameshwarar Vamadhevapuram alias Arani near Periyapalayam (not North Arcot).
- Sathyojaatham face: Varamoorthy Kshethram alias Ariyathurai.
- Agoram face: Kattur near Minjur
Ramagiri village has two temple - one Subramanya temple at the top of the hill, and another at the base of the hill. The Subramanya temple at the top of the hill is a new temple built in 1969. The temple located at the base of the hill is Valeswara temple (or Waleswara temple), which has many legends associated with this. This hamlet is amongst picturesque mountains and is also as known as 'Bhairava', due to the presence of a Kaalbhairava Temple here.
Bhairav of this temple is also called as Santana Prapti Bhairava. It is believed that if the childless couple worship Bhairav of this temple, they will be blessed with child.
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As per the legend, Lord Rama wanted to perform pooja to Lord Shiva in Rameswararm in the Southern Tamil Nadu. He ordered Lord Hanuman to bring an idol of Shiv Linga from Kasi in North India. When Hanuman was returning from Kasi via Ramagiri, Lord Bhairav used his power to make Hanuman sweat and get tired. Hanuman wanted to have water and saw a pond in this site. He handed over the Shiv Linga to a boy without knowing the fact that it was Bhairav. When he returned to take back the Shiv Linga after having water, he found the Shiv Linga installed on the ground. He tried his level best to lift the idol in vain. Ultimately, he cursed the pond to become a hill and went to Kasi to take another Shiv Linga. It is believed that the hill that was created due to curse of Hanuman is Ramagiri. As the Shiv Linga idol was pulled by the tail of Hanuman, it got the name "Valeswara". In Telugu (also in Tamil) language, "Vaal" means "tail". You can find the Shiv Linga idol slightly tilted even today.
There is however another story associated with the same temple. This is associated with the Vanara King Vaali . Vaali had the Habit of doing the Sandhya ablutions in the nearby oceans and the sea in the earlier days was much closer to the present day Temple. On seeing the Lord Shiva manifesting himself there in Swayambhu Linga form, Vaali wanted the same to be installed in his Capital Kishkinta, (the present day Hampii) and tried to take the statue. However he failed in his efforts how much ever he tried. So in a fit of anxiety,he tied his Tail (Vaalam) around the Linga and tried uprooting the same. And Lo! and behold.. He fell down losing all his energy and power and then realised the sacrilege that he had committed. Then he prayed to Lord Shiva and begged for forgiveness of his act. The lord ever so beneign appeared with his consort as a Gypsy complete with dogs etc. and camping outside the temple, taught Vaali the process to regain his energy. The Lord also created this Tank and said whosoever takes a ritual bath in this tank and worships him would regain sound health and lost strength and to this day this tank water has such properties. The statue that we can still see opposite the Lord in the main temple believed to be that of Hanuman is actually Vaali ( Hanuman being Shivamsa would never have committed such a sacrilege). The Durga idol that we see also is in the Vaamachara pose signifying rectification. The same is also corroborated by the fact that Vaalam being tail, the name would be Sree Vallameswarar and not Vaalieswarar. This name is gotten by the fact that the Lord being the benefactor for Valli is aptly called Sree Vaali- eswarar. This temple also has an excellent Deity in Sree Dakshinamoorthy and Sri Shanmuga . A trip to this place is memorable indeed.
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Ramagiri Vaaleeswarar temple is believed to be built by Pallava king in the 9th century AD. Even though it is believed that the temple was built by Pallava king, the current structure of the temple doesn't appear to be of Pallava architectural style. However, the idols of the temple are extremely beautiful and they resemble the ancient idols of Pallava period of other temples.
There is no Raja Gopuram (tower) or flag post in the temple. The temple is basically divided into two divisions. The first division has Bhairav as the main deity whereas the second division has Shiv Linga named as Vaaleeswarar as the main deity.
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The temple pond which is situated in front of the temple, is called Nandhi Theertham. There is a small Shiva Lingam with a Nandhi nearby. Nandhi’s front half is seen protruding from the wall of the pond. The water originating somewhere from the hill, reaches a small well and from there it passes and comes through this Nandhi’s mouth and flows into the pond. Native villagers say that they have never seen this water flow stop, since their memory. Also they are not sure about the source from where the water reaches Nandhi. It is supposedly of medicinal value in treating Neurological problems. Near the Nandi idol, you can find a small Shiv Linga idol. There is also a shrine for Lord Ganesha. Behind the shrine of Ganesha, you can find the steps that take you to the hill top temple of Subramanya.
You can find a lot of temples in North India with Bhairav as the main deity. However, in South India it is very rare to find a temple with Bhairav as the main deity. This is one rare temple having a tall magnificent idol of Bhairav in the main sanctum sanctorum. You can find the idol of dog in front of the main shrine, as dog is the vaahan for Bhairav. Adjacent to Bhairav shrine, there is a separate shrine for the Goddess Kalikamba. The corridor surrounding the Bhairav shrine has small idols of Bhairav in various postures on the walls. The entrance of Bhairav shrine has two Shiv Lings and a Siddhi Vinayaka idol with a different look of trunk.
The other part of the temple is dedicated Lord Shiva named as Valeswara. He is in form of a Linga slightly slanted. Opposite to him is a small Nandi idol and Hanuman idol. You can find Hanuman in front of Rama, but not in front of Shiva. Hence, this also becomes a rare idol. There is also another big artistically beautiful Nandi idol. The entrance of Shiva main shrine has two big idols of Dwarapalakas. Ganesha and Chandramouleeswarar (Shiv Linga) are also found in the entrance.
The corridor surrounding the shrine of Valeswara has a lot of idols on the platforms and walls similar to any other South Indian Shiva temples. But the beauty of this temple is that each and every idol is carved in artistically beautiful way. These idols are definitely not something commonly found in the other temples. Each and every idol has its unique beauty with fine details. The idols of Brahma, Vishnu, Subrahmanya (Shanmuga), Veerabhadra, Durga, Surya, Chandikeswara, Sapta Mata, Dakshinamurthy, Ayyappa, Anjaneya, and Appar are found in the corridor. The idol of the saint Agastya found in a different posture; his head is covered with a hat like covering. There is an idol for Ganesha named as Gajamukha which is a fantastic example for Pallava sculptural style. The idol of Veerabhadra in the sitting posture is a rare idol. The idol of Ganesha near the entrance of main shrine is also looking different and very attractive. There is a separate shrine for the Goddess of the temple Maragadambika. The idol is big and attractive. In the wall, you can find a small carving depicting the scene of Hanuman pulling the Shiv Linga.
This temple is a calm and serene location where you will get the antique feeling and experience tranquillity.
How to reach?
This temple is in Rama Giri, about 5 km from Nagalpuram, situated on the Chennai National Highway 55 km from Tirupati. Ramagiri can be reached either from Chennai or from the pilgrim site of Tirupati. It's located almost at the same distance from Tirupati and Chennai.