Kalahasti is a place in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus. In Kalhasti, there is a famous and ancient temple of Shiva, a god of Hindus. The temple is one of the five such temples of Shiva in south India collectively known as Pancha Bootha Sthalams. The other four such temples are at Kanchipuram, Thiruvanaikaval, Tiruvannamalai, and Chidambaram.
In this temple, people worship Shiva in the form of a linga. There are many mythological stories about this linga. One of the stories tell that an elephant, a snake, and a spider used to worship this linga. The god Shiva blessed them with moksha (liberation).
Another story tells about a saint named Kannappa. He took out his eyes and offered the same to the linga. At this supreme sacrifice, Shiva became very happy. He appeared in the form of a human being, and restored the eyesight of Kannappa. Kannappa is worshipped as one of the 63 saiva saints in Tamil Nadu.
Sri Kalahasti temple, 36 km away is famous for its Vayudeva temple, which is the only shrine of the god of wind in India. Constructed in the 12th century by the Chola king, Rajarajendra, Vayu is incarnated as Lord Shiva and worshipped as Kalahasteeswara.
This is an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple has one of the elemental lingas, the vayu (air) linga. There is a lamp inside the inner sanctum that is constantly flickering despite the lack of air movement inside. The air-linga can be observed to move even when the pujaris close off the entrance to the main Deity room, which does not have any windows. You can see the flames on several ghee lamps flicker as if blown by moving air. The linga is white and is considered Swayambhu, or self-manifested.
Kalahasti is surrounded by two sacred hills. The Durgamba temple is on the northern hill. On the south hill there is the shrine of Kannabeswara, in memory of the Sage Kannappa, who offered an eye to the Lord. When he tried to offer his other eye as well, the Lord mercifully stopped him. There is also a temple dedicated to Subramanya on one of the surrounding hills.
The main linga is untouched by human hands, even by the priest. Abhisheka (bathing) is done by pouring a mixture of water, milk, camphor, and panchamrita. Sandal paste, flowers and the sacred thread are offered to the utsava-murti, not the main linga.
This temple is one of the most impressive Siva temples in India. It features an enormous, ancient gopuram (tower) over the main gate. The tower is 36.5m (120 feet) high. The entire temple is carved out of the side of a huge stone hill. It was built in1516 by King Krishnadeva Raya.
The temple is run by neatly dressed Saivite Brahmins.