Ahobilam is located in the Nandyal Taluka of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh. It is located at a distance of 40 km from Nandyal, and is conveniently accessibly by bus from Nandyal, Kurnool and Hyderabad. Ahobilam is about 24km from Allagadda. Ahobilam, which is known as Singavel Kundram, is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, the lion form of Lord Vishnu, which he took to kill the demon Hiranyakashyapa. Of the many places of Narasimha worship, this place is unique, being the only place where all the nine forms of Lord Narasimha are worshipped. Hence it is also called Nava Narasimha Kshetra.
The temple is divided into two parts- the lower Ahobilam and the the upper Ahobilam. The lower Ahobilam is the abode of the Prahladavarada Narasimha, the form of Lord Narasimha blessing Prahlada. This temple lies in the center of three Praakaras built in Vijayanagara style. About a furlong from this temple is the Alwar Koneru, a drinking water lake.
An ascent up the hill leads to upper Ahobilam, the lord here is Ahobaleswar. A 9 km. hillpath cutting across virgin hills and forests with several waterfalls and exquisite scenic beauty takes one to Ahobaleswar temple, located at the western side of a sacred stream known as Vavinasi (one who checks ego), which joins the river Krishna.
According to legend it is believed that when the Devas saw the manifestation of Lord Vishnu as half lion half man they shouted "Ahobala" (great strength) as well as "Ahobila" (great cave in which the current sanctum is). Hence this place could be called "Ahobalam" or "Ahobilam".
It is believed that Narasimha manifested Himself in a natural rock cave. This place is considered as one of the 10 divya kshetras of the country. The main temple at the lower Ahobilam consists of a Sanctum, a Mukhamantapam and a Rangamantapam all of which are decorated with excellent sculptures on the pillars. The massive composite pillars in the Rangamantapam are profusely carved with figures Yakshas riding on Yalis and horses with their rear legs mounted on the Makaras.In fact the lower Ahobilam temple may be considered a veritable museum exhibiting some masterpieces from the Vijayanagara Art. Large figures of musicians, sensuous women, divine figures of Rama and Laxmana are pictursque. Apart from this, the Narasa Nayaka figure of Srikrishna Devaraya is very attractive. The exterior of upper Ahobilam is also decorated with excellent sculptures similar to those found on the outer walls of the Hazaramma temple at Hampi.
It is also believed that the Lord appears in the dreams of the devotees and cures diseases as a doctor. This is true and believable. It is hoped that pilgrims will be bestowed with the good health, prosperity along with the blessings on the darshan of the Lord Narasimha Swamy.
Garuda wished for a vision of Lord Nrisimha in the form of the Avathara. To fulfill his wish, the Lord settled in the hills around Ahobilam in the midst of dense forests in nine different forms. For this reason this hill came to be known as Garudadri, Garudachalam, and Garudasailam. Ahobilam is the place where the Lord killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahalada. Mahalakshmi took avathar as Senjulakshmi among the Senju, tribal hunters of the hills, and married the Lord.
The nine forms of Narasimha seen here are 1) Jvaalaa Nrusimha, 2) Ahobila Nrusimha, 3) Maalola Nrusimha, 4) Kroda Nrusimha, 5) Kaarancha Nrusimha, 6) Bhaargava Nrusimha, 7) Yogaananda Nrusimha, 8) Chatravata Nrusimha and 9) Paavana Nrusimha. In addition to the above mentioned shrines, there is a famous shrine dedicated to God Narasimha Swamy in Lower Ahobilam, which is popularly known as Prahlaada Varada Sannidhi. There are another 2 shrines known as Ugra Sthambham and Prahlaada Mettu.
Bhaargava Narasimha shrine : This temple is situated at a distance of two kilometres from Lower Ahobilam, on a hill near a sacred pond known as Bhaargava Theertham where Bhaargava Raama performed His penance. Hence the Lord of the temple is called Bhaargava Narasimha Swaamy.
Yogaananda Narasimha shrine : This temple is to the south-east of Lower Ahobilam at a distance of two kilometres. The popular legend is that after killing Hiranyakasipu, Lord Narasimha taught Prahlaada several yogic postures. Therefore, the Lord in this aspect is called Yogaananda Narasimha.
Chathravata Narasimha shrine : About three kilometres from Lower Ahobilam, the image of the deity is installed under a peepal tree, surrounded by thorny bushes. Hence the Lord is called Chathravata Narasimha Swaamy.
Ahobila Narasimha shrine : The temple, situated on the Upper Ahobilam at a distance of 8 km from Lower Ahobilam, is the main temple and the earliest of all the nine temples here. The Lord here appears in his fierce aspect, called Ugra Narasimha, who is the presiding deity and is known as Ahobila Narasimha. It is firmly believed that the Lord was self-manifest or Svayanbhu here.
Kroda Narasimha shrine : This temple is 1km away from the main temple of of Ahobila Narasimha on Upper Ahobilam. The deity has the face of a boar called Kroda or Varaha and is seen along with His consort Lakshmi. Hence the Lord is called Krodakara Narasimha.
Kaaraancha Narasimha shrine : This shrine is situated at a distence of 1km from Upper Ahobilam and one furlong from the road leading to Lower Ahobilam. The image of the deity is installed under a tree, called Kaarancha Vriksham. Hence the Lord is called Kaarancha Narasimha.
Maalola Narasimha shrine : Nearly 2km from the main temple of Upper Ahobilam, is the famous shrine of Maalola Narasimha. The deity appears here in soumya or graceful form. As the Lord is seen with His consort here, He is called Maalola. Maa means Lakshmi and Lola means beloved. The Utsava murti of this temple appeared to Srimad Aadivan Satakopa Yatheendra Maha Desikan, the founder pontiff of Sri Ahobila Mutt.
Jvaalaa Narasimha shrine : The temple of Jvaalaa Narasimha Swamy lies higher up the above temple on a hill called Achalachalaya Meru. This is about 4km from the Upper Ahobilam temple. This place is said to be the actual spot, where the fierce anger of the Lord reached its culmination when he tore Hiranyakasipu.
Paavana Narasimha shrine : Nearby the above temple is the shrine of Paavana Narasimha, on the bank of the river Pavana and is about six kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple. Hence the Lord of the shrine is known as Paavana Narasimha Swaamy.
Lower Ahobila shrine : In addition to the shrines mentioned above, there is a famous shrine dedicated to the Lord Narasimha Swaamy in Lower Ahobilam known as Prahlaada Varada sannidhi, i.e., the Lord whose grace bestows on Prahlada.
Ugra Sthambham : At a distance of 8 km from the Upper Ahobilam temple, we can see a cleft of the mountain dividing it into two visible parts. It is a long held view that from the cleft, the Lord appeared in the form of Narasimha and this cleft is known as Ugra Sthambham.
Prahlaada Mettu : The small shrine, situated in a cave on the hill is in between Ugra Sthambham and Upper Ahobilam. It is dedicated to Prahlaada Narasimha Swaamy. The image of Prahlaada is installed in a small cave.