India is an abode of Maharshis with their tapas and teachings. The ancient rishis selected the kshetras orthirthas which are the divine places for meditation (tapas).
Kshethra and thirtha are having seperate meanings in their value. Kshethra is sacred with the statue or murthy (Deva or Devatha) and the Thirtha is sacred with water (Thirtha) which flows through that place.
But this place Mahanandi is sacred and powerful both with the Murthy and the Thirtha (water).
This is situated in Kurnool District within the distance of 15 kms. from Nandyal town in Andhra Pradesh. This is one of the Keshethras in the southern doors of Srisailam.
Once there lived a Rishi in the Nallamala forest named “SILADA”. He built a small cottage and lived in it with his wife. He was always interested in Dhyana orTapas. He was eating silas (stones) as his usual food. So he was named ‘Silada’. He had no children. So his wife requested him for children. He wanted to fulfil her request and so meditated on Sarveswara for a long time. Sankara stayed there in the disguise of a hole. Silada knowing about it, feltvery happy.
After some days Paramasiva appeared before him and asked him what boon he wanted. Silada forgetting his wife’s desire, requested Paramasive to allow him to serve him forever. But the Omni Scient (Sarvajna) knew that he had forgotten his wife’s desire so He wanted to fulfil that one slso. So he told him that he would fulfil the desires of both (couple). He blessed the Rishi and disappeared.
Immediately a male child appeared in the hole or cave. He gave the boy to his wife. Both of them felt extremely happy (joy). So they named him “Mahananda”. Day by day the child was growing up. Gradually he received a good education including the spiritual education from Gurus after Upanayana (initiation rite among Hindus). He askd his parents to allow him to do Tapas about Siva. They felt very happy and blessed him.
Mahananda meditated deeply upon siva. In a short time Parameswara appeared before him with his pariwar (Attendants). The boy did Pranams to Siva in joy and praised him in many hymns.
Parameswara was pleased and ready to give him boon. The boy requested siva to allow him to be his vahava (Vehicle). Parameswara agreed to it and fulfilled his desire. Pointing out the hole, Siva told him, “My dear son ! once I was born in this hole. The place will soon be changed into a powerful and holy river which flows forever. This holy place will become a sacred and famous Keshethra on your name. It is true!”
Saying those words Parameswara transformed him as his Vahana (bull) and went to Kailasagiri. In That place the hole can be seen now in ‘Mahanandi Kshetra’, the most sacred and powerful place.
Once Nanda king, the son of Uttungabhoja of Pandava Race ruled this place residing at Nandyal town. There is a village named Gopavaram (then named Gopitavaram). A Shepherd had a herd of cows. The cows used to graze in the forest everyday. One of the cows in the cattle used to enter into a bush and ooze (discharge slowly) the milk from her udder on the grass and retuen home with its empy udder everyday. The shephard wanted to know the reason and followed the cow carefully on the nextday. The cow entered into the bush as usual. The shephards were observing its movements hiding behind the bush. The cow stood on the grass which covered the hole (ant’s nest). A child came out of the hole and drank the milk of the cow. The cc v returned and came home with cattle.
The Shephards were talking about the event here and there. The spies heard the matter and told the same to the king. The king felt very happy and decided to see the situation. The next day he went to the forest on a horse back only with a servant.
He followed the cattle of the cows observing the mevements with special attention. The cow entered into the bush, stood on the hole and oozed (discharged-slowly) the milk from her udder. The king wanted to see the same clearly and walked towards the cow slowly. The cow was frightened and ran away. Its hoof was sunk in the hole while running in a hurry. The child was vanished. The king went home with a great surprise.
In the night he felt a dream. Parameswara appeared before him and told him in the dream, “I myself drank the milk from the hole. Construct a temple there. I would stay in the places called Navanandis (Navanandulu) within a circle of 80 kms. Ganga Devi also would serve me with her brightness. Your glory will be eternal”.
On the next day the king went to the hole. It was turned into Rock Pallus (Symbolie of Siva). He was very surprised and saw the Siva Linga deeply. It was clear that the hoof of the cow was sunk in the hole. The same can be seen even now.
The king constructed a temple there. He dug a pond in its opposite direction. Within a short time it became the endless flow with Clearwater. He named it Rudra Gunda. He also dug two ponds in both northen and eastern sides. There was plenty of water. He wanted that they must be famous on the names of Thrimurthis. So he named the ponds Brahma Gunda and Vishnu Gunda. Even now we can find the water within the depth of 2 feet whenever we want in this place. The ponds are full of water in all the seasons and the water is supplied for 2000 acres for fertile lands even for plantain crop.
He named the place “Mahanandi” as it was the first and great kshethra among Navanandis (Navanandulu).