Jonnawada Kamakshi Temple
By Smitakshi Guha
Located in Nellore district on the banks of River Penna in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Jonnavada is a popular Hindu pilgrim town, widely renowned for housing the Jonnavada Kamakshi Temple, the establishment of which dates back to an era as early as the year 1150 AD.
According to the legend, it is said that when Marichi’s son Kasyapa Prajapati made his mind to perform a Yagna, he started looking for an appropriate place in the entirety of southern India. Seeking for the same, he reached a place called Rajathagiri, which lies right on the northern phase of the Penna River. There, he performed the yagna and installed three yagna gundam, which were: Daskhanagini, Aahananiyagni, and the Aaraspathyagni. It is believed that Lord Shiva was extremely elated with Prajapati’s dedication and devotion in the yagna and hence, he emerged from the yagna gundam in the form of a Shiva Linga.
According to mentions in the holy epic Skanda Purana, the same place where the yagna was held was called Jannada, and hence, the place’s name as on today turned out to be Jonnavada.
Additionally, it is also believed that Goddess Parvati—the beloved wife of Lord Shiva, came to Jonnavada looking for her husband. That is when Lord Shiva asked her to stay in Jonnavada. Complying with her husband’s request, the goddess transformed herself into an idol form and resided on the banks of Penna River. The idol soon grabbed the attention of the fishermen and the local people who would often pass through the water routes and soon they started offering their prayers and worshipping the goddess’ idol.
It was only later in the 4th century that popular Indian theologian and philosopher Adi Shankara, who also has a list of other pilgrim places in the country to his credit, was passing through the river and came across the idol. He immediately installed the idol of Goddess Parvati alongside Lord Shiva’s in the temple that as on today attracts pilgrims from all over the country.
It is also believed that a true devotee who sleeps a night in the temple premises is blessed with good health and fortune. The temple also has a nearby lake called the Kasyapa Theertham, wherein it is believed that whoever takes a dip in the holy waters of this river happens to get his sins washed away.
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