Last December 25th, we planned to visit Kanipakam and Ardhagiri. We decided to go some other pilgrim places too in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh and then visit Sripuram golden temple in Tamil Nadu to complete all in a day trip.
We booked a cab and started from Srikalahasti in the morning Via Tirupati, Puttoor. Our plan is to visit Vepanjeri (Near Chitoor) and then to go Kanipakam from there. Vepamjeri is near Gangadhara Nellore and Chitoor which has Asta Lakshmi Temple and Dasavatara temple. Visited Venupopala swami temple in Karvetnagaram, which is on the way to reach Vepamjeri from Puttoor. This is one of the famous temples of historical importance in this district.
Dasavatara temple has idols of Dasavatarams of Lord Vishnu; It also has small temples for many other gods. It has huge 33 feet status of Ranganatha Swami. There is garden with 27 trees representing the 27 stars exercising their sway over the destinies of mankind. And Asta Lakshmi Temple has separate small temples for Asta Lakshmi Matas. Check http://www.vepanjeri.com/ for more details.
After visiting Vepanjeri we had our breakfast @ Chittoor and went to Kanipakam. As it was weekend and holiday there was huge crowd in the temple, we went for special darshan and completed our puja to Lord Ganesha in an Hour. Then we started our journey to Ardhagiri to visit Ardhagiri Sri Verranjanjaneya Swami Temple.
According to legend about Ardhagiri, during Tretayuga, Hanuman brought Sanjeeva Parvatham in order to save Lakshmana during a war when Lakshmana fell unconscious. During the journey, half of Sanjeeva Parvatham fell, and the place where it landed came is known as Aragonda. Aragonda, initially is called as Arakonda (In Telugu language, "Ara" (sounds A'raw)means 'Half' and "Konda" (sounds Kon'Da) means Hill or Mountain). With the time, the people changed their way of pronouncing this word "Arakonda" as "Aragonda" which is now the name of the village under this hill. This hill is famous with name "Ardhagiri" (Ardha means Half and Ge'ree means mountain). In Ardhagiri, it is believed that Sanjeevaraya Pushkarini (pond containing the holy water) never gets dried nor spoiled, even when kept for long periods of time. When devotees drink this theertham (or holy water) from the Sanjeevaraya Pushkarini, all types of diseases are getting cured. We completed our Darshan here very quickly as they was not much crowd on that day. We took some theertham in a can for home.
Our next destination was Sripurm which has Golden temple of Goddess Lakshmi Devi near Vellore in Tamil Nadu. We reached Vellore around 3.30pm from Aragonda and had of Lunch in Vellore. As it was just 4.00pm and as we want to visit Golden temple during lightings we went to Vellore fort to spend an hour or so…
The Vellore Fort's ownership passed from Vijayanagara Kings, to the Bijapur Sultans, to Marathas, to the Carnatic Nawabs and finally to the British, who held the fort until India gained independence. During British rule, the Tippu Sultan's family and the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha were held in as royal prisoners in the fort. The fort houses a Museum, Christian church, a Muslim mosque and a Hindu temple, the latter of which is famous for its magnificent carvings. The Museum was already closed by the time we visited and as we do not have much time we did not visited Temple or Mosque. We just went on thru Fort walls to see surroundings. There is an artificial cannel kinda construction around the fort that might be created as a security measures. Now this cannel is used for Boating.
After the Fort visit, we went to Siripuram Golden Temple. Mobile Phones or any other electronic devices are not allowed inside the temple. You need to walk thru big Star shaped path to reach Golden Temple. The Temple was really beautiful with Lightings around it. And the Shadow of the Golden Temple (Elephants, Pillars etc) in the Small artificial lake surrounding it should not be missed. But one thing I did not like is the high publicity of the ‘Amma’ inside the temple. Check Some photos of the Temple here.