Kotappa konda is a major pilgrimage site near Narasarao Peta near Guntur town in Andhra Pradesh. The site consists of three hills called the Trikoota Parvatas. The three hills are called
- Rudra Shikharam – location of the Pata kotappa gudi (old kotappa temple)
- Vishnu Shikharam – location of the Papanasaneswara gudi and Papanasana teertham
- Brahma Hill – location of the Kotta kotappa gudi and trikuteswara alayam.
The highest point, pata kotappa konda, in these hills is at 1587 feet, an imposing height towering around the surrounding plains of Guntur. Trikuteswara Alayam the newest of these hills is at 600 feet.
Many princes, aristocrats and millions of commoners have through history made generous donations to the temple. Of particular mention will be Zamindaris of Amaravati, Narasarao Peta and Chilakaluri Peta.
The site was of much antiquity and significance even by the day of Kulottunga Chola, the Chola of Velanadu. There are rock inscriptions from 1172 CE by Murangi Naidu, a subordinate prince under Kulottunga Chola. Sri Krishnadevaraya made magnificient donations in money and land to the temple. In 1761, Sri Raja Malaraju Narasimha Rayudu, Zamindar of Narasarao Peta, built a magnificent staircase of 703 steps leading to the temple complex. This is the most frequented path The family of Narasarao Peta Zamindari have remained the dharma kartas of the temple and have served the temple and the devotees through centuries.
Every year in the Kartika masa, there is a tirunadu (sacred day) at the temple. It is also a popular site for the Kartika vana samavesam. The greatest festival in this location is the annual celebration for Maha Shivaratri. This annual celebration draws many lakhs of devotees to the temple.
Kotappa Konda falls in the village limts of Yellamanda village. And ancient legends recount the devotion of the residents of the village to the deity at Kotappa Konda.
The Brahma Sikhara is the most active of the hills at Kotappa Konda. There are many temples and facilities and activities around this hill. The temples at Rudra Sikharam and Vishnu Sikharam are much less frequented and remote. They must be approached on foot. The ancient temple on Rudra Sikharam demands a climb of almost a thousand feet from the Brahma Sikharam.
After Shiva destroyed the Dakhsa Yajna he returned to Kailasa to continue his Tapasya. Here he assumed the form of Dakshinamurti, the first guru of the spiritual sciences. At Kailasa he instructed the sapta rishis into the science of yoga.
Brahma and Vishnu prayed that he must give them Jnana. Shiva then descended from the Himalayas and took residence at the Trikuta parvatas. Here he assumed the form of Trikuteswara. Here he transferred knowledge to Brahma and Vishnu. Here is located the original site of Siva’s presence in the Trikutas. This is called the Pata Kotappa. A Swayambhu lingam, about one foot in height. The location of this event is the Rudra Sikharam.
Sri Maha Vishnu then settle upon the Vishnu Sikharam. Here he prayed for Shiva’s presence. And Shiva manifested himself in another Swayambhu linga called Papanasaneswara. He also blessed the hill with a pond called the Papanasana Teertham.
Now Brahma was seated on the third hill and he did not have his own shiva linga for his sadhana. So with his yogic powers, he created a shiva linga called the Trikuteswara. Today this is the main temple at Kotappa konda.
Because Shiva assumes the form of Dakshinamurti at this location, no marriagies are conducted at this temple.
The Story of Anandavalli / Gollabhama
In the village of Yellamanda lived a great devotee of Shiva. His name was Salankayya. He was a wood cutter and lived a humble life from his meagre earnings. Pleased by his intense devotion, Shiva assumed the form of Jangama Devara and made it a regular occassion to visit his home every evening and receive his offering of milk. During the course of time, by Shiva’s grace, Salankayya grew wealthy. He was now doubly blessed. But this happiness came to an abrupt end. Shiva stopped visiting his home. Salankayya was now forlorn and distraught.
A golla (cowherd) named Sundudu lived with his wife Kundiri in the village of Kodakapuram south west of the Trikuta hills. They were blessed with a most beautiful baby daughter. And with her birth, they were also blessed with much wealth. The baby was named Anandavalli, she was also called Gollabhama (woman of the Gollas / cowherds). Early in her childhood she became a devotee of Shiva. She wroshipped the deity on the Pata Kotappa Konda / Rudra Sikharam. She forsook domestic life and dedicated herself completely to the worship of Shiva. Salankayya heard of this miracle. A young girl not yet into her teens so drawn into the devotion of Shiva. He implored with her to have Shiva return to his home as was the earlier manner. Anandavalli however was so absorbed in her own devotion, that she could neither remember nor talk of any matter than Shiva himself.
Shiva was moved to grace with her devotion. He gave her darsana and blessed her womb with a pregnancy, though she was unmarried. This was to somehow force her to pay some attention to worldly affairs. Shiva also advised her against such intense devotion.
None of this would deter Anandavalli from her steadfast devotion to Shiva. Neither the struggle against thorns on the rocky path to the temple nor the intense burden of carrying a child in her womb. Shortly Shiva was won over to his devotee’s devotion and offered to walk with her to her home so she may not need to walk up to the temple. But he imposed the condition that she must not turn back to look for him until she had reached home. And where she would turn, there Shiva would seat himself unmoving in the form of a Shiva linga.
As she walked down the hill and was passing by Brahma Shikhara, there Shiva’s damaru made a most incessant beat. This intense percussion excited Anandavalli’s curiosity. She abruptly turned to see what the source of the commotion was. Now Shiva’s condition must be fulfilled. And he entered a cave on Brahma Sikhara and turned himself into a linga. The Brahma Sikhar is therefore also called the Kotta Kotappa Konda (new Kotappa hill). Anandavalli realized that her pregnancy was only a test by Shiva to gauge her devotion. The foetus in her womb merged into Shiva at that very moment. Anandavalli also gained enlightenment and merged into shiva at the same moment. At the spot of her enlightenment, Salankayya built a temple in her memory. This called the Gollabhama gudi.