After exploring the Belum Caves, we left for Yaganti Cave Temple, which was 1.5 hours (almost 45 km) from Belum Caves. Since, we were all hungry, decided to have lunch on the way. We stopped at River view Restaurant, adjacent to Owk Reservoir. The food was good considering the remoteness of the area. By 3:00 pm, we were on the way to Yaganti. The whole area is dotted with black limestone rock quarries, most probably known famously for Kadappa tiles used for flooring.
Yaganti Temple is located in midst of Yeramalla Hills, dedicated to Lord Shiva called as Uma Maheshwara Swamy (Yagantiswamy) Temple built in Dravida Style of Architecture, dating back to 5th & 6th centuries, with regular additions from Pallavas, Cholas, Chalukyas & Vijayanagara Rulers to the existing Structure.
At the entrance, there is a five storey Gopuram, which was built by the Vijayanagara Rulers. Gopuram is followed by the stone built Temple Structure, consisting of a Mandapam and Garbagriha, which houses the Ardhanareeswara (Shiva & Parvati in one form) carved from single Stone.
As per the legend, it is said that, Sage Agastya performed Penance for Lord Shiva and requested Shiva to appear in Ardhanareeswara Form, hence this form is worshipped here instead of Shiva Linga.
The pillars are beautifully carved with God & Goddesses depicting stories from Ancient texts. There is a Nandi opposite the Garbagriha. Unique feature is, it being growing in size every 20 years by 1 inch. As per legend, Potuluri Veera Brahman Garu, Basavanna of Yaganti, the Nandi will keep growing and when the Kaliyuga ends, it will come out and shout.
There is a constant waterflow from the Yerramala Hills to the Pushkarni. The water flows from the right side of the Gopuram. Devotees are supposed to take dip in the Pushkarni before visiting the temple. Pushkarni Gate was closed, maybe due to Covid restrictions, we couldn’t visit the Pushkarni. Within the temple Complex, there are sub shrines of Veerabhadra Swamy, Viswanatha & Ganesha.
Venkateshwara Guha, Agastya Cave & Veera Brahmam Cave are located on the hillock of Yerramala. There is a Shiva Linga at the top in the Agastya Cave, with a climb of approximately 100-150 proper steps and narrow entrance. The Venkateshwara Cave has a idol of Venkateshwara, whose foot is damaged, hence, it is not worshipped. Third Cave of Veera Brahmam is located more towards the outer side, and can be reached by climbing 50-60 steps, one has to bend over to enter the cave. As per the legends, Saint Shree Potuluri Veera Brahmendra Swamy wrote some of his Kala Gnaanam (Prophecy) in this Cave, hence the name too.
From the top, one can have a beautiful panaromic view of the Yerramala Hills alongwith the Yaganti Temple and Pushkarni below. One has to be careful while venturing around this area, since, there are lots of monkeys, who are generally harmless, unless you carry food or water bottle in your hand. Because one of them grabbed a water bottle from my Friend’s hand. Otherwise, they don’t bother much.
We all wanted to see the sunset from the top of the hills, We saw a zig zag road going over the hills, took the car to the top, got the view from opposite to the Cave temples.
We had Mahanandi in our plan, but driver advised against it, saying it would be very late to reach back. Dropped it for future trip. We had to wake up early next day before going to Gandikota, we had to explore Tadipatri!