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Chejerla Kapoteswara Swamy Temple – Shiva Temple Associated With King Shibi Legend

Chejerla Kapoteswara Swamy Temple is the only temple dedicated to Lord Shiva as Kapoteswara. Lord Shiva gets this name after the famous legend of King Shibi of Mahabharata who sacrificed parts of his body as an offering to an eagle which was pursuing a pigeon (kapota) in order to protect it.

Chejerla Village is 32 kilometers northeast of Narasaraopet, in Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh.

Chejerla Kapoteswara temple is aspisdal with a barrel-vaulted superstructure. The edifice, from its rear, presents the look of a stately elephant standing with an upraised trunk. The temple provides a clear idea of the roof pattern of a brahmanical temple of early 4th or 5th century AD. A corbelled arch above the cornice level forms the vault. The narrow top is found to be closed by a row of headers of brick.

The facade of the shikhara is characteristic with a prominent chaitya-kudu feature resembling the dwelling place of Buddhist monks, a simha mukha (lion-faced) gable, and scrolls emanating from the makara vyalas (leonine figures). The figures of Shiva Parvati seated on Nandi flanked by devatas and kinnaras (celestial musicians) at the top display fine workmanship. The sanctum has a limestone linga (symbol of Shiva) with two holes on its crown, placed within a low square base (pitha).

A common feature of the Shaivite shrines is the presence of a hole on the northern wall of the temple, which serves as an exit to drain the abhisheka tirtha (liquids poured over the idols during the puja or prayer ceremonies).

The main temple has undergone various additions and alternation over the years. The complex is within a stone enclosure, which has a southern entrance. This, along with some other brick shrines inside, belongs to the 9th or 10th century AD.

A boabada tree, fifty six feet round the trunk and hollow inside, which collapsed in 1917, was much venerated by the locals.

A series of monolithic model shrines house a linga koshta – group of 17 lingas centrally with votive offerings kept on the eastern side along the wall of the shrine. In front of the main temple, a sahastralinga (thousand lingas) is seen. A flag with a trident as its emblem contains a record of the king Kandara (5th century) of the Ananda gotra (lineage).

A two-armed Vinayaka, two-armed image of Kumara and Surya of limestone are very early specimens of Hindu iconography and Ikshavaku style.