Kumararama, Kotipalli

Someswaram or Kotipalli (Kumararama) is an important pilgrimage center in coastal Andhra Pradesh, located near Rajahmundry. Located nearby is Drakshaaraama, one of the five well known pancharaama shrines dedicated to Shiva in Andhra Pradesh.

Koti Palli or Koti Theertham is located at confluenece of the river Godavari with the sea. At the origin of the river is the Tryambakeshwar Jyotirlinga shrine in Maharashtra. The river Godavari is revered as one of the gifts of nature and is held in great regard both at its origin Triambakeshwar and at its confluence with the ocean. Thus, worship at Someswaram or Kotipalli is closely associated with a ritual bath in the river Godavari.

Someswaram is rich in legend and tradition. Shiva is worshipped here as Someswara or Koteeshwara and Parvati as Rajarajeswari. The Mahasivaratri festival is celebrated in great splendour here. Legend has it that the moon God Chandra was cursed by Daksha to lose his brilliance and that he was relieved of his curse after he offered worship to Shiva at Koti Theertham at the mouth of the river Godavari. This legend is very similar to the one held at Somnath Jyotirlinga shrine in Gujarat. It should also be noted that Draksharama - one of the pancharaama shrines, is associated with the legend of the destruction of (the vain) Daksha's ritual sacrifice.

For time immemorial it has been believed that a ritual bath in the river Godavari at Kotipalli is symbolic of a new beginning in life, a change in direction. Legends illustrating this symbolism have a common theme, that of forgiveness of heinous sins committed by repentant souls.

The most classic of these legends is that of Ahalya-Indra saapa vimochanam. This legend occurs in the grand epic Ramayana. Gowtama believed to be one of the foremost rishis of ancient India was married to Ahalya. Indra the king of the Devas lusted after Ahalya and using a ploy, diverted Gowtama and assuming the disguise of Gowtama led Ahalya in his embrace. An enraged rishi cursed his wife who petrified into a rock immediately and was absolved of her curse by Rama (incarnation of Vishnu). Indra the king of Devas was cursed with a life of disease. Legend has it that he lived through his curse and performed severe penances (at the instance of Gowtama rishi) and finally was absolved of his curse and forgiven when his penance concluded with a ritual dip in the Godavari river at Someswaram.

It is to be known that the one of the characters in this legend, i.e. Gowtama Rishi is believed to have brought the river Godavari down to the earth at Tryambakeshwar where the Godavari is referred to as the Ganga.

There are several other local legends associated with Kotippalli, all based on the theme of forgiveness of sins of lust.

A ritual bath in the river is considered special in the month of Kartika, and on Mahasivaratri day earlier on in the calendar year.

It should be noted that Bhimavaram in West Godavari district also bears a temple dedicated to Someswara and it is also considered to be Somaramam. This temple is of historic significance as it was patronized to a great deal by the Chalukyas. This temple is associated clearly with legends related to the moon God Soma. The temple tank here is known as Chandra Pushkarini. The Someswara lingam (crystal) is said to glow with differing levels of brightness depending on the phase of the moon. Ths Shivalingam is 5 feet in height and is housed in a two storeyed sanctum, with Annapurna - Parvati on the 2nd floor.

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