Pushpagiri Temple Complex is located in Kadapa district in Andhra Pradesh, India. Founded around 7th Century CE, it houses some of the oldest temple congregations in the region.
There are multiple legends associated with the origin of the temple complex. One of the legend says that it has come to existence from the Satya Yuga when Garuda in the process of freeing his mother from slavery has inadvertently spilled a drop of ambrosia into the surrounding lake. Another legend claims that during the time of Treta Yuga, Lord Rama worshipped Lord Vaidhyanatheswara here and the flowers used in the process have accumulated so high that a flowery mound is established and hence the name Pushpagiri.
Srisaila Khanda of Skand Purana praises this temple as ‘Nirvriti Sangameswara’ because of its reputation of devotees giving up lives in devotion to Lord Shiva.
Whatever is the legend if is associated, it is now widely acknowledged that the temple of Sri Vaidyanatheswara has been in this temple complex from at least around 7th Century BCE. This is corroborated by various Puranas including the Srisaila Khanda of Skanda Purana and Sriranga Mahatmya of Garuda Purana.
Geographically Pushpagiri temple complex is located on the banks of the Pinakini river that meanders through the District which has origins on Nandi Hills in Karnataka and is at a distance of about 16 kilometres from the district headquarters.
The first mention of Pushpagiri was about the old Indranatha Swamy temple. After the snake sacrifice, King Janamejaya performed a pilgrimage to the South India and in the process visited Pushpagiri. The hamlet of Chintalapatturu has an inscription in old Tamil that talks about the pilgrimage of King Janamejaya.
About 10 kilometres from the confluence of Papagni and Pinakini rivers, there used to be an ashram of Agastya Maharishi. Sage Agastya after crossing the Vindhya mountains, vowed not to return to stop the range from growing in competition with Himalayas. While the sage himself stayed in the South, his disciples installed a Linga in the nearby place and left for the Ganges plains. The temple for the Linga came to be called after the great saint Agastya as Sri Agastheeswara Swamy temple.
There is a lot of documented history about the Pushpagiri Temple Complex.The temple has a mention in the Skanda Purana in Srisaila Khanda, Rasaratnakara of Satyanatha.It has been mentioned as the Dakshina Dwara – Southern gate for the famous Jyothirlinga site of Srisailam in Ikshvaku inscriptions that were later excavated from the site.The place has been considered sacred from the ages of Karikala Chola of the early Chola Dynasty.
It is famous for the architectural styles originating from the Early Cholas culminating in the modern architecture and houses a variety of temples that have varied ages and significance. Since there is a belief among the later kingdoms that reigned the region that from the joyful cosmic dance of God Shiva at the Bhoga Nandeeswara Swamy temple on top of the Nandi Hills, three rivers took their origin. Pinakini or Penna River (in vernacular language), Arkavati and Palar.
While the other two rivers took their course to become the tributaries of the Cauvery river, Pinakini asked God Shiva the purpose of her birth and to what direction she should flow. God Shiva then said that his bow will show the river the way and pointed towards the east and a gorge evolved on the earth giving way for the mighty waters to flow through. Since the bow of God Shiva is named Pinaka, the river is hence called Pinakini after the bow of the God.
Various kings, rulers and local chieftains that ruled the area have endowed the temple complex with grants and monuments.