Considered to be the biggest of veerabhadra temples in South India, this temple has the unique distinction of the rays of Sun falling on Lord Veerabadra for five days in the month of March. The rays fall on the feet of the Lord on the first day and go upward each day and touch the face on the fifth day
The Veerabhadra swamy temple itself is 1000-years old. It is said that the great King Krishnadevaraya used to camp at Rayachoti whenever he visited Srivari temple at Tirupati. In old Rayachoti near the river to the west of the town is a stone very conspicuously set up, with a Tamil inscription dated S.S. I155 which corresponds to A.D. 1233. It records a grant to a temple by a certain king, but none of the names given can be identified with any place in the vicinity. The king is called Nissankapratapa Raya, lord of Karkatapura. Another inscription of the same date at Abbavaram, a village included in the Rayachoti constituency, mentions the name of another king, Thomba, who was 'first ruling from Kalukatayapuram and then Marujavaduyandapuram his capital.' It is probable that Karkatapura and Kalukatayapuram refer to the same place and it is possible that Thomba who 'was first ruling' there was expelled there from by Nissankapratapa who calls himself 'lord of Karkatapura.' It is not known to Rayachoti what dynasties these kings or chiefs belonged.
Vijayangara style temple having broad mantapa and exquisitely carved deities inside. Interesting are the nandis and the figures carved on the floor of the mantapam before sanctum, The Medieval brick Gopurams of the Vijayanagar era are now replaced by modern cement structures.
Highlight of this temple is the very tall single rock cut Dhwajasthambham out side main entrance.
Veerabhadra Swamy Temple Rayachoti
Sati was the youngest daughter of Daksha, the chief of the gods. When Sati grew up she set her heart on Shiva, worshipping him in secret. In the Swayamvara of Sati, Daksha invited all gods and princes except Shiva. Sati cast her wreath into air, calling upon Shiva to receive the garland; and behold him stood in midst of the court with the wreath about his neck. Daksha had no choice but to many Sati with Shiva. One day Daksha made arrangements for a great horse sacrifice, and invited all the gods omitting only Shiva. Sati was enraged by this deliberate exclusion of Shiva and set out to attend, and confront her father Daksha. She instructed her father that Shiva was in fact the Supreme Being of the Universe and demanded her father invite Shiva to no avail. Daksha then went on to insult Shiva; and as Sati's rage at the disrespect toward Shiva peaked, she declared to her father, "I will tolerate no more of your filth" and she released the inner consuming fire, and fell dead at Daksha's feet. Then Lord Shiva came to know about this incident through meditation and became furious at the non-righteous yagna. Shiva burned with anger, and tore a lock of hair, glowing with energy in Kailas. At that moment, was born the son of lord Shiva, lord Veerabhadra, the destroyer of agnana, sprang from it, his tall body reached the high heavens, he was dark as the clouds, he had a thousand arms, three burning eyes, and fiery hair; he wore a garland of skulls and carried terrible weapons. Veerabhadra bowed at Shiva's feet and asked his will. Shiva replied, 'Spoil the sacrifice of Daksha'. Then the mighty Veerabhadra, having heard the pleasure of his lord, bowed down his head to the feet of Shiva; and starting like a lion loosed from bonds, despoiled the sacrifice of Daksha, knowing that this had been created by the displeasure of Devi. She too in her wrath, as the fearful goddess Rudrakali, accompanied him, with all her train, to witness his deeds. - In Vayu Purana Shiva directed Veerabhadra: "Lead my army against Daksha and destroy his sacrifice; fear not the Brahmans, for thou art a portion of my very self'. On this direction of Shiva, Veerabhadra appeared with Shiva's ganas in the midst of Daksha's assembly like a storm and broke the sacrificial vessels, polluted the offerings, insulted the priests and finally cut off Daksha's head, trampled on Indra, broke the staff of Yama, scattered the gods on every side; then he returned to Kailas.
This is a temple for Lord Veerabhadra with a tall tower. Daksha appears in worshipping form near the Lord in the sanctum sanctorum. The Shivalinga worshipped by Sage Mandavya is on right of the Lord. First puja is dedicated to the Shivalinga and then to Lord Veerabhadra. During morning hours Lord appears in Bala rupa (youth) and as a hero with a moustache in evening hours. As in Lord Vishnu temples, here too Sadari blessing with the lotus feet of the Lord is offered to devotees. Betel leaf is the prasada in the temple. Sri Nandeeswarar blesses from a shrine with Vimana outside the Rajagopuram. Opposite the shrine of Lord Veerabhadra there are two Nandhis-Veera Nandi and Shiva Nandi for Lords Veerabhadra and Shiva. They are just a little away from the sanctum sanctorum. There is also a Nandi before Ambica Badrakali. Spilling the rice: Following Sivarathri pujas in February-March, Brahmostavam is celebrated for 11 days in the temple. Killing of Daksha event takes place on the eighth day. A quantity of 365 measures of rice is cooked with pumpkins and other preparations as Athirasam and roots. It is heaped as a hill. They spill it throughout the place with the sword of Lord Veerabhadra violently as the yagasala of Daksha was ransacked by Veerabhadra according to the ancient story. This rice is offered as Prasad. During this event, Lord Veerabhadra will have the forehead eye as Lord Shiva