The presiding Deities of this Kshetram God Mallikarjuna Swamy is one of the twelve Jyothirlingas and Goddess Bhramaramba Devi is one of the eighteen Mahasakthis and both are believed to be self-manifested. The unique feature of this Kshetram is the co-existing of Jyothirlingam and Mahasakthi in one Temple complex, which is the rare and only of its kind.
At this place the river Krishna flows through a deep narrow valley, approximately 100 meters wide and nearly at a depth of 1000 meters from the hill top. The river flows at a distance of 70 Km to the up of Srisailam and continues to flow in the same valley for a further distance of 80 Km to the down till it reaches Nagarjunasagar. The narrow flow of the river at such deep valley is fine looking and more pleasant near Srisailam where it is called as Pathalaganaga. Actually the river takes two repeated bends at Pathalaganga with in a short distance and makes a large stretch of high Plateau in each bend. The right part of it we have Srisailam and whereas on the left there is ruined Chandraguptanagara which is mentioned in the Skandapurana and also some of the celebrated Literary works of 12th to 16th centuries.
In the traditional Hindu mythology, this Kshetram is identified as the Kailasa on the earth and named as ILA – KAILASAM. Besides its mythical antiquity, Srisailam is also having a hoary historical antiquity. Starting from the Satavahanas who were the earliest rulers of Andhradesa, the region around Srisailam appears as a prominent religious centre and it continues to be so into the present times. The inscriptional evidences available at Srisailam are of the 12th century A.D and afterwards, which is very intriguing. However, the inscriptions belonging to various early historical places found in various parts of the Deccan and Andhra Pradesh, testify to its historical antiquity starting from first century A.D. In this small book the temple complex of Srisailam is analysed from the view point of chronology, art and architecture, sculpture and iconography.
According to pre-historic studies the habitational history of Srisailam goes back to about 30,000-40,000 years. Stone tools of that period are abundantly found at various places of Srisailam. The epigraphical evidences reveal that the history of Srisailam begins with the Satavahanas who were the first empire builder in South India and also the earliest rulers of Andhradesa.
The earliest known historical mention of the Hill-Srisailam can be traced in Pulumavi’s Nasik inscription of 2nd Century A.D. Malla Satakarani, an early member of he Satavahanas got his name after ‘Mallanna’ the deity on this sacred hill. The Ikshavakus (AD 200-300) ruled from their capital Vijayapuri, about 50 Km from Srisailam and so this Kshetram must got their patronage.
The Vishnukundis (AD 375-612) were the devotees of God Sriparvatha Swamy who was none other than Mallikarjuna Swamy, the presiding deity of Srisaila Kshetram. Most of their inscriptions contain the prasasti “Bhagavat Sriparvatha Swamy Padanudhyatanam”.
The Telagunda inscription of Kadamba Santi Varma proves that the Srisailam region was originally included in the Pallava Kingdom (AD 248-575) and subsequently formed the first independent principality of Kadambas (AD 340-450).
A part of the inscriptional evidences, the Architectural features of the temple complex of Srisailam attest the patronage of Chalukyas (AD 624-848). The Kakatiyas (AD 953-1323) contributed much for the growth of the temple. Several steps in regulating the temple management were taken during their period. In the reign of Kakatiya Prathaparudra datable to 1313 AD, the gift of 70 villages to Srisailam temple made from time to time be several emperors, kings etc., was executed properly for the maintenance of the temple. Mailamadevi, sister of Ganapathideva is said to have constructed the vimana gopuram of Mallikarjuna Garbhalayam.
The period of Reddi Kings (AD 1325-1448) is the Golden Age of Srisailam that almost all rulers of this dynasty did celebrated service for the temple. Prolaya Vema Reddy, the Reddi King constructedstepped path way to Srisailam and also Pathalaganga. Anavemareddi constructed Veerasiro Mandapam in which the Veerasaiva devotees cut off their hands, tongues, limbs with devotion and this practice is known as Veeracharam.
The Velama Chiefs constructed flight of steps at Jatararevu, en-route from Umamaheswaram to Srisailam.
The major contributions and renovations at Srisailam were taken up by Vijayanagara Rules (AD 1336-1678). The Second Harihararaya of Vijayanagara empire constructed the Mukhamandapam of Mallikarjuna Temple and also raised a Gopuram on the Southern side of the temple complex. Srikrishnadevaraya visited the shrine in 1516 AD on his return journey after a war with Gajapathis and constructed Salumandaps on both sides of the car street. It also taken the credit of the construction of Rajagopuram of the temple by him. The fall of the Viajyanagara rule witnessed Srisailam and this Kshetram lost its glory.
In the year 1674 AD Chatrapathi Sivaji the great Maratha King visited Srisailam, restored the festivals of the temple under protection of his officers and taken up some renovations.According to tradition the north gopuram of the temple was caused by him, to be constructed.
Later the Moghal Emperors conqured this region and this place was given as Jagir to Nawabs of Kurnool.
After the fall of Moghal Emperors this place came under the control of Nizam of Hyderabad. When the Nizam cede the Kurnool District to the British East India Company in 1800 AD Major Manro took procession of the District and entrusted the management to the authorities of the District Court.
In 1929 a committee was constituted by the British Government for the management of the temple.
In 1949 the temple came under the control of Endowments Department and attained its past glory after it was opened by the road during the year 1956.