Kurmanathaswamy temple, Srikurmam, Andhra Pradesh
|Date built:||2nd century AD|
|Architectural style:||Dravidian architecture|
Srikurmam Rd, Ampolu, Andhra Pradesh 532404
Srikurmam Kurmanathaswamy Temple (also known as Srikurmam temple) is a Hindu temple in the Gara mandal of the Srikakulam district in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is dedicated to the Kurma avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, who is worshipped as Kurmanathaswamy, and his consort Lakshmi, worshipped as Kurmanayaki. According to Hindu legend, the presiding deity is believed to have manifested here in the form of a tortoise-shaped idol upon the wishes of Swetha Chakravarthi. Brahma then consecrated the idol with Gopala Yantra. The temple is famous for ancestor worship.
Srikurmam is the only Indian temple in the world where Vishnu is worshiped in his Kurma avatar. Initially dedicated to Shiva and referred to as Kurmeswara temple, Ramanuja is said to have converted Srikurmam into a Vaishnavite temple in the 11th century AD. Since then, the temple was regarded as an important centre of Vaishnavism in the medieval period along with Simhachalam. The temple has two dhvajasthambas, a rarity for a Vaishnavite temple. 108 ekasila (single-stone) pillars, with none resembling each other, bear few inscriptions related to the royal lineages that existed in this area in the past. A tortoise park has been built to conserve the adult and young star tortoises, making Srikurmam the only conservation centre for this species.Srikurmam follows both Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions of worship. Four daily rituals and four annual festivals are celebrated in Srikurmam, out of which the three-day Dolotsavam is the major one. Gajapathi Rajus of Vizianagaram are the trustees of the temple, which is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Andhra Pradesh. The Indian postal department issued a stamp featuring the temple on 11 April 2013.
Legend / Local stories
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The temple is situated in the Gara mandal of the Srikakulam district, which is located at a distance of 130 kilometres (81 mi) from Visakhapatnam. Considered the only Indian temple where the Hindu deity Vishnu is worshipped in the form of a tortoise, Srikurmam is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) away from Srikakulam town and 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) away from the Suryanarayana temple, Arasavalli. Believed to have been built before the 2nd century AD,the temple is popular among the Tamil diaspora as well because it is a Vaishnavite temple. Initially dedicated to Shiva and referred to as Kurmeswara temple, Ramanuja is said to have converted Srikurmam into a Vaishnavite temple in the 11th century AD.His disciples established Vaishnavism in the temple with the support of Kalinga king Anantavarman Chodaganga, the eastern Ganga king.After this incident, a group of devadasis were employed to sing and dance daily before the deity in the morning and evening.