Dakshaarama (popularly modified to Draksharama) is a Swayambhu (self-manifested) Shiva temple in South India. It is one of the Pancharamas, one of the Trilingas. It is regarded in the Andhra desa as among the Jyothirlingas, as well as one of the Shakti Peethas, which make it a unique place.
Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Sri Bheemanatheswara (also called Bheemeswara). His consort is Sri Manikyamba. This is one of the three temples in India where the God and the Goddess have significant sthala puranas (the other two: Varanasi and Srisailam).
The Trilinga Desa is the source of the word, Telinga, Telungu, Telugu. The Trilinga Desa is the land with the three great Shiva lingas, Kaleswaram, Sri Saila – Mallikarjuna and Bhimeswara at Daksharamam. These three Shiva temples are perhaps the most ancient of the temples of the Telugu land.
Daksharama in Sanskit mean the abode of Daksha Prajapati. He is the father of Sati and father-in-law of Lord Shiva. The sthala puranam can be found in Sri Veda Vyasa’s Skanda Puranam. There are many legends associated with this sacred place. When Daksha was beheaded by Veerabhadra, his head fell at this location.
Tarakasura undertook a most intense tapasya and received the Atma lingam as a boon from Lord Shiva. With the blessings of Lord Shiva, Tarakasura committed atrocities against the Devas. The Devas, pleaded with Parvati Devi to put an end to Tarakasura. Parvati Devi killed Tarakasura through her son, Lord Shanmukha or Lord Subramanya. Lord Shiva instructed Shanmukha to destroy the atma linga in Tarakasura’s throat and then kill the demon. The atma lingam broke into five pieces and fell in five locations.
An alternative version of the purana states that, after the destruction of three cities built by Tripurasuras, Siva split the Aadi Linga (also called as Sambhu Linga), formed by the union of these three cities, into five parts. They are now worshipped in the Panchaaramas: Amaraarama (Amaravati), Somaarama (Bheemavaram), Ksheeraarama (Palakollu), Beemaaramam (Samalkot) and Dakshaarama.
The Saptarshis installed the fifth piece that fell at Daksharama as Lord Bheemanatheswara. Upon their prayer, the river Godavari flowed to this site. Several obstacles delayed the task. When they reached the temple, they were surprised to see that Lord Bheemanatheswara was already self-manifested (Swayambhu) at the actual muhurtha that the Rishis set. Since the river Godavari was brought here by the Saptarshis, it is called Sapta Godavari. The story is narrated in Bhagavatam, Gautami Mahatyam, Sapta Saagara Mahatyam, Sri Veda Vyasa’s Bheema Khandam etc.
Sri Maha Vishnu is said to have participated in the establishing of the Shiva Linga and he stands as the dwarapalaka (guardian) at this temple.
Daksha Prajapati once sought to perform a Nireeswara Yaaga (yagnya without Lord Shiva). Although not invited, Sati attended the yagnya, not heeding the advice of her husband, Shiva. Unable to take the humiliation by her parents, she immolated herself at the site of Yagnya. Shiva brought forth Veerabhadra, the fierce warriror whose only purpose was to inflict exemplary punishment upon Daksha. After Daksha was vanquished, and restored to live with a goat’s head, Shiva picked up the Sookshma Sareera of Sati and starts Pralaya Tandava. In order to stop it, Sri Maha Vishnu cuts her body into 51 parts with his Sudarasana Chakra. These parts fell on the earth to become 51 Sakthi Peethas (sacred sites). 18 out of these 51 are major sites and called as “Ashtadasa Shakti Peethas”. Sati’s Left cheek fell at Dakshaarama. This is the 12th Ashtadasa Shakti Peetha.
When Sri Veda Vyasa was banned from entering Varanasi, he came down to Dakshaaramam which is called “Dakshina Kaasi” (Varanasi of the South) to seek solace. His “Bheema Khandham” illustriously describes the powers of the God and the Goddess of Daaksharama.
Sri Adi Sankaracharya has established Sri Manikyeswari on “Meru Prasthara Sree Chakra Bindu”. And hence, simultaneous pujas are performed to Sri Chakram and the Goddess. It only happens here, but not in any of the other Ashtaadasa Shakti Peethas.
In 1 BCE, Hala, one of the Andhra Satavahana Kings, wed Leelavati at Dakshaaramam. Prakruta Leelavaty Kaavyam and Hala’s “Gaatha Saptasati” have references to it.
Chalukya Bheema built the temple. There are 832 royal inscriptions (Sasanaas) on the walls and pillars of the temple. These have references to contributions by various rulers between 11 CE and 15 CE, including Easty Chalukyas, Gangeyas, Kakatiyas, Kondaviti Reddy Kings, Gajapathis, Vijayanagara Kings, Pallavas, Saatavahanas, Mastya Kings etc.
Daksharamam is an ASI Protected Monument.
Srinatha Mahakavi wrote a classical composition named Bhima Khandam in Telugu. This refers to the purana and tradition relating to Daksharamam.