The Mahendragiri temple, located at the Mahendra terrain on the border of Odisha-Andhra Pradesh in Rayagada block of Gajapati district, celebrates Maha Shivaratri one day before than other temples in the country.
Unlike other Shiva temples in the country, the Mahendragiri shrine is unique in several ways. This year also, the temple celebrated Maha Shivaratri on Sunday. While Maha Shivaratri festival is being observed across the nation on Monday, Mahendragiri temple marked the festival on Sunday.
Lakhs of people from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh thronged the Mahendragiri hills to worship lord Shiva. This year due to the suitable weather, the devotees turned up in lakhs. Many of them came from south India.
Mahendragiri is 60 km from Paralakhemundi. There is no other way to reach the hilltop except on foot. However, the devotees can travel by bus or by various means of transport from Paralakhemundi up to Jiranga village or Kainpur village. The devotees have to stop near Burukhata Pass. To reach to the Mahendragiri peak where the festival is celebrated, the devotees have to walk 6 km.
The dense green forests and the natural beauty are most admirable in the Mahendragiri. The hills are referred to in the Mahabharat and the Ramayana. Panchu Pandabas had stayed for a while at Mahendragiri and built the idol of Gokarneswar Mahadeva and worshipped the lord.
According to a belief, if any one worships Gokarneswar, all his sins get redeemed. It is said that lord Rama and his army of monkeys had began their expedition to Lanka to release Sita from the hill.