Lord Narasimha is the 4th incarnation of Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of a half lion and half man to kill demon Hiranyakashipu. The word ‘Narasimha’ comprises of two words ‘nara’ which means ‘man’ and ‘simha’ which means ‘lion’. He is an iconic symbol of creative resistance, hope against odds, victory over persecution, and destruction of evil. Narasimha Jayanti is celebrated on Vaishakha Shukla Chaturdashi. His legends are revered in Vaishnavism and are celebrated in texts, performance arts, and festivals including Holi. The popular artwork of Narasimha has been found at several sites across Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, dated between 2nd and 4th century CE. On Narasimha Jayanti, devotees take sankalp during Madhyahna (afternoon) and perform puja in the evening before the sunset, as it is believed that Narasimha appeared during sunset. Devotees observing fast on the day are advised to break it next day after performing Visarjan puja and giving a donation to the brahmins. Those observing the fast consume only a single meal a day before Narasimha Jayanti. This year, Narasimha Jayanti falls on May 17.
On the occasion of Narasimha Jayanti, let’s have a look at Narasimha temples located across the country.
Shri Laksmi-Narasimha Temple, Maharashtra
The Shri Laksmi-Narasimha Temple is located in Pune at the confluence of Bhima and Nira river in Indapur taluka. The current structure of the temple was built in 1787 and has been built in Peshwa architectural style in black stone. The temple has three main doors facing towards East, North, and West. It houses two idols of Narasimha – one made of sand and the other of black stone. The temple has a huge bell near the West door. It is said that the bell belonged to the Portuguese church in Vasai. In 1739, after Bajirao Peshwa’s younger brother Chimaji Appa captured Vasai from the Portuguese Empire and then the bell was moved to the temple.
Kozha Sree Narasimhaswami Temple, Kerala
It is believed that the idol in the temple is self-manifested (swayambhu). The temple is located in Thalassery town in Kerala. It is one of the most ancient temples of Kerala. It is said that a jungle-dwelling hunter found the idol in the jungles. The locals worshipped the idol and soon the temple developed into a full-fledged shrine.
Narasimhaswamy Temple, Tamil Nadu
Located in Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, the temple is constructed in the Dravidian style architecture and rock-cut architecture. Taking into consideration the architectural features, historians believe that the temple dates back to the 8th century. The temple houses the image of Narasimha in sitting posture and hence it is called ‘Asanamurthi’. The sanctum has three sculpted cells and two pillars.
Narasinghji Temple, Rajasthan
Located at Prahlad Kund in the Hindaun City in Rajasthan, the idol of Narasimha is established in a cave. There is a strong belief that those who suffer from malignant spirits and black magic get relief after they visit the temple and make an appeal for the relief. It is said that Narasinghji holds a court and awards punishment to the malignant spirit, ghosts, and evil-eyed witches.
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Telangana
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, also known as Yadadri and Yadagirigutta, is located about 120 km from Suryapet and 62 km from Hyderabad. The place ‘Yadagiri’ is named after a sage Yadava who performed meditation to please Narasimha. Being please the Lord gave him darshan in three forms – Jwala Narasimha, Gandabheranda Narasimha, and Yogananda Narasimha. Later sage Yadava requested him to stay on the hill and since then deities of Narasimha in all the three forms reside here. The temple is situated in a cave which is 12 feet high and 30 feet long. One needs to take stairways down into the chamber and then toward the back. The temple also sees silver deities of Lakshmi-Narasimha.
Yoga Narasimha Temple, Karnataka
The temple is built on the Yadugiri rock and overlooks the town of Melukote. The temple stands on top of a hill at a height of 1,777 meters above the sea level and is known for its architectural beauty and serene surroundings. During Narasimha Jayanti, the temple holds special puja and activities. The temple has a huge drum donated by Tipu Sultan, a bell donated by Mysore Parakalamatha and a gold crown donated by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III.