The belief that a pilgrimage is only for older people or for devout followers is a myth. On a deeper level, a pilgrimage is not just about visiting temples but also feeling the divine energy all throughout the journey. Such a journey makes your pilgrimage even more fulfilling.
I realized this when I accompanied my in-laws to Srisailam. And as a family decision, we decided to stop at all the significant religious sites and temples that fall en route and turn this road trip into a holy experience as well as a memorable trip for all of us!
Planning the trip
Srisailam is known as a pilgrimage town and highly revered for having one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, which I came to know from my mother-in-law, which was the reason for her deep desire to go and visit the temple in person.
Srisailam is in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh and is about 225 Km from Hyderabad city. The night before I managed to book a highly rated cab from Hyderabad from a popular online cab service. The ride was at our doorstep the next morning as early as 6 am.
The total time to reach Srisailam by road is about 4-5 hours via NH 765 and SH 5. But since we had plans to stop, on the way, ours was going to be a longer journey.
For our breakfast break, we stopped at Sri SaiDhaba near Munnanur. A simple, wayside diner with local vegetarian specialty, this is a good family place to refuel yourself with steaming hot coffee and idlis. And since we were on a ‘holy trail’, we couldn’t indulge in any fancy food.
The Pilgrim’s Passage
As we crossed Munnanur, the landscape turned lush green, leaving Hyderabad’s concrete skyline behind. As the sun brightened up the day, it already started feeling heavenly, signifying a good omen of sorts.
Our first religious stopover was at the Uma Maheshwaram Temple, which was a little deviation from the highway, towards Rangapur.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and sits in a corner of the Nallamala Forest. This is one of the important stops on the way to Srisailam pilgrimage and is considered to be the northern gateway to Srisailam. The dense forests of Nallamala are surrounded by its hills, enshrining an ancient stone temple, sitting atop a small hillock as if to protect the deity. We had to walk up the hills to reach the main temple site.
The temple foyer serves as a vantage point to the nearby waterfall and the green valley below, creating a picturesque scene. The main shrine of Maheshwara is enclosed in a protected area in the inner sanctum.
After a heartfelt tour of the place, we headed towards the MallelaTheertham Waterfalls near Mallapur. Although there is no temple here, this waterfall has been referenced in Hindu mythology and is believed to be sacred. All pilgrims who visit Srisailam, ensure they pay a visit to this holy water body. Fed by the Krishna River, this cascade is the highlight of the Srisailam hills which adds to the ethereal charm of the place.
Our last stop before entering the city perimeter of Srisailam was at the SakshiGanapati Temple. It is believed that pilgrims who are on their way to Srisailam, must pay a visit and offer their prayers at this temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesh. As the harbinger of prosperity and good luck, a visit to this temple defines a successful pilgrimage. We left our Hyderabad to Srisailam Taxi and took off from there on our own.
From reaching Srisailam within our estimated time to taking a tour of was indeed a sign that my in-laws pilgrimage tour was a fruitful one. For me, while I did absorb the energy of the religious sites, I also found divinity in the landscape of Srisailam, surrounded by lush greenery of the Srisailam hills and bordered by the Krishna River, turning the entire environment heavenly.