Annavaram is a village situated about 125 Km south of Visakhapatnam in the East Godavari district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The village is famous for the holy hindu shrine of Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swami situated on a hillock in the Ratnagiri Hill range of the eastern ghats about 300 feet above mean sea level.
The temple itself is a short climb from the Annavaram village, and is also accessible by car. Legend has it that the location of the statue of the deity appeared in a dream to a local brahmin E. Prakasam, who with the help of the local zamindar (landowner) Sri Raja I.V.Ramarayanam traced the statue to the top of the hillock and helped to set up the temple in about 1891.
The name Annavaram is a conjugation of the words Anina (Wanted) and Varam (Boom). This temple is now considered to be second only to the famous Venkateswara temple at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The temple is constructed in the classical Dravidian style with two tall towers (gopurams) facing due east and west.
The temple complex offers great views of the Bay of Bengal (on a clear day) 11 miles east of the temple as well as the village of Annavaram 300 feet below.
The large central courtyard of the temple has facilities for pilgrims to bathe, stay or eat, as well as halls and rooms for various religious ceremonies (marriages etc).
A stroll through the temple shows that the temple was constructed and extended over time, with some old buildings and some more recent construction. The oldest part of the temple as it stands today dates to just over 110 years. But if the legends are true, then a temple may have existed in this very place for many centuries before falling into disrepair.
Pilgrims flock to Annavaram from all over the state to fast and pray. On any day of the year, the temple is a hub-hub of activity.
I must confess that I’ve never been inside the sanctum itself in all my visits to this temple. I find the environs of the temple fascinating and love observing the faith and piety in the pilgrims visiting the place. I also find the views in and around the temple beautiful and serene.
Annavaram is definitely worth a visit, even if you’re non-religious, and particularly if you are a practicing hindu. The trip from Visakhapatnam takes about 2.5 hours by hired taxi cab. On a clear day you should also be able to see Bay of Bengal (but I’ve never managed to see this in all my visits).