According to legend, these five pieces were installed as Shivalingas at five different temples by, Indra, Surya, Chandra, Vishnu and Kumara Swamy (Murugan) at the respective places. These places (or Aaramas) are as follows:
1. Amararama - Amaravati (Sri Amareswara Swamy)
Amaravati is a historic pilgrimage center and a storehouse of ancient Buddhist sculpture. Amaravati is home to the Amareswara temple which constitutes one of the five Pancharama temples of Andhra Pradesh sacred to Shiva. Amaravati is located about 15 miles away from Guntur near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh.
The temple of Lord Amareswara located on the banks of river Krishna, is rich in Dravidian and Buddist architectures. The Lingam is 15 feet high, carved out of marble. The city was named Amaravati after Indra's capital here. Tradition says that Indra and Devas had worshipped the Lord here. Goddess Shakthi is worshipped as Bala Chamundika Devi.
The white Linga is quite unique and the priests have to ascend the steps for offering abhishekam. As the name Amaravati implies, legend has it that Amaravati was once the abode of the Gods - the Devas, the yakshas and the kinnaras, who performed penances to Shiva to request him to rid the earth of the mighty demon Tarakasura.
Legend has it that Shiva's son Subramanya vanquished the demon. It is believed that the Shivalingam that shattered Into five pieces was a huge one, and the biggest of the five pieces is a fifteen foot long column of white marble which is worshipped as Amareswara at the Amaravati temple (this is very similar to the Shivalingam at the Draksharama temple). Legend has it that it was installed by Indra the king of the Devas, Brihaspati the guru of the Devas and Sukra the preceptor of the Asuras.
The Amaravati temple is located on a small hillock referred to as Krouncha Shaila, alongside the river Krishna which flows for a short distance in a North-Southerly direction, although for the most part, the river heads eastwards towards the ocean. The river Krishna is held in reverence at this pilgrimage site, and a ritual dip in this river here is considered to be meritorious.
The temple has ancient origins, however the structural foundations as seen today, seem to date back to the 11th century CE. The Vijayanagar kings did provide grants to maintain the temple. However it was the local kings of the 18th century CE that provided vast endowments to this temple. The temple is decorated with four lofty gopurams in its outer circumlocutory path.
2. Draksharama - Draksharamam (Sri Bhimeswara Swamy)
Draksharamam is a shaivite shrine 185 km. from Vijayawada, 17 km. from Kakinada, 40 km. from Rajahmundry and 466 km. from Hyderabad. Draksharama is considered to be one of the five
Arama kshetras dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is located in East Godavari District near Kakinada. The place also known as "Dakshina Kasi" (Southern Banaras) along with SreeSailam and Kaleswara constitute the three sacred Shivalingams of the State, giving its ancient name "Trilinga Desa".
The Bhimeswara temple at Draksharama has two prakaras. The inscriptions here suggest that the temple was built by Bhima, the Eastern Chalukyan King of Vengi (9th -10th centuries), when his kingdom was under attack by the Rashtrakootas. The temple art thus shows the influence of a blend of sculptural traditions of Chalukya and Chola styles.
The temple has four entrances in the outer prakara each marked with a gopuram, facing the four cardinal directions. On the south is the entrance to the inner prakara, which is lined by a pillared two-storeyed verandah.
The main temple is twin storeyed. Two flights of stairs lead us into the upper level of the sanctum. This has a pillared pradakshina on three sides and a Garbhagriha. Bhimeswara is enshrined in the form of a ten feet high Shivalingam in this Garbhagriha. Another feature of the temple is the narrow mantapam that is seen in the premises. Shiva's consort here is Manikyamba. The temple walls and pillars are decoratively carved with mythological figures.
Legend has it that the Saptamaharishis (Seven Sages) to achieve the ends of their penance divided the akhanda (unbranched) Godavari river into seven different streams at Draskharama. Bharadhwaja, Viswamitra and Jamadagni streams known as Antarvahinies, were believed to have gone under ground. There is Sapta Godavari Kundam (Seven river pond) near the temple where the devotees bathe. Sivarathri attracts huge crowds of pilgrims.
3. Kumararama - Samalkot (Sri Kumara Bheemeswara Swamy)
Samalkot is located at a distance of 12 km from Kakinada, 52 Km from Rajahmundry in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, which now forms part of Samalkot town, is known as Bhimavara Kshetram with its famous temple of Kumararama - Bhimesvara. The village was known in the past as Chalukya Bhimavaram according to the inscriptions found in the temple.
The temple known as Kumararama at Bhimavaram in Samalkot is one among the five important and popular 'Pancharama' temples of Andhra. There is an episode on the origin of these 'Pancharamas' which is also found in 'Bhimesvarapurana' written by Srinatha (AD 14th - 15th Century).
According to it, Lord Vishnu, in his charming and fascinating incarnation of Mohini started distributing the nectar (amrita) obtained after the hazardous churning of the ocean to both the demons (asuras) and divined (devas) Dissatisfied with the injustice meted out to them in the manner of distribution of nectar, the asuras lead by the lords of Tripuras resorted to severe penance on the advice of the celestial sage Narada and were blessed with boons by Lord Siva. Thus with the power newly acquired through the boons, they inflicted atrocities on the devas, who sought refuge with Lord Siva.
On hearing the pitiable plea of the devas, Shiva killed the asuras with his infallible Pasupata (a spiritual weapon of flame), which reduced them and their kingdoms to ashes. This material aspect of Siva is better known as Tripurantaka. However, a huge stone linga, worshipped by Tripuras, remained intact after the encounter. This was cut into five lingas by Lord himself and distributed for the purpose of installing at five different places which came to be locally known as Pancharams.
4. Somarama - Bhimavaram (Sri Someswara swamy)
Bhimavaram is located 107 Kms from Vijayawada & 270 Kms from Visakhapatanam. Bhimavaram is famous for the Gunupudi Someswara (Somarama) temple, which is considered to be one of the holy Pancharamas. Built during the 3rd century A.D., the Shivalinga in the temple is believed to assume a black-cum-brown colour on no-moon day and a kind of white on full-moon day.
Another unique feature here, is that the temple of Goddess Annapurna was built on top of the Shiva temple, something that cannot be seen anywhere in the country. Surprisingly, the Goddess has the sacred thread around her neck and a baby near her feet.
This temple is an old temple but looks like new one because of colored paintings on the walls and sculptures. In front of the temple there is a pond called Chandrakundam. It is fully covered with lotus flowers. The Shiva lingam in this temple is small unlike in other Pancharamas. There is a speciality in this temple ie. Shiva linga will change its color according to Lunar aspect. At the time of Purnima (Full Moon nights) the shiva linga will be white in color and in Amavasya days (Dark nights) it's color changes to dark shades.
5. Ksheerarama - Paalakollu (Sri Ksheera Ramalingeswara Swamy)
Ksheeraramam, also known as Paalakollu is located near Narasapuram in the West Godavari belt of Andhra Pradesh. It is considered to be one of the five pancharama Shiva shrines of Andhra Pradesh. the five pancharama temples are Draksharama, Kumararama, Ksheerarama and Bheemarama and Amararama.
Legend has it that Upamanyu, the son of Kaushika muni requested Shiva that he be granted the desired quantity of milk for the performance of his daily rituals and that Shiva caused the Ksheera Pushkarini tank to overflow with milk from the mythical Ksheera Saagaram (the milky ocean). Hence the names Paalakollu, Dugdapovanam and Ksheeraramam.
Legend has it that Shiva was worshiped by Rama at this shrine as in Rameswaram.
The white marble Shiva linga worshiped in the sanctum is referred to as Ramalingeswara Swamy as well as Ksheeraraameswaraswamy. Built during the 10th-llth centuries A.D. by the Chalukyas, it represents the south Indian style and has a 9-storey gopuram that soars 125 feet, one of the tallest in Andhra Pradesh.
when describing this tour said simply that God is calling us to these
temples. And that those who are able to participate are blessed beyond
measure. So, please join us on this once of a lifetime journey in the presence of Divine Mother.