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This Shiva Shrine in Odisha observes Maha Shivaratri a day earlier

The Mahendragiri temple located at the Mahendra territory on the border of Odisha-Andhra Pradesh in Gajapati district. The temple celebrates the Maha Shivaratri or Jagara festival a day before.

The Mahendragiri shrine is unique in several ways. The temple has marks in Indian Mythology. Millions of people from both the states, AP and Odisha come to visit the Mahendragiri hills to worship Lord Shiva. The Mahendra mountain is associated with the Eastern Ghats.

The temple 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 other means of transport from Paralakhemundi up to Jirang Village or Kainpur Village. The devotees have to stop near Burukhata Pass. The disciples have to walk a distance of 6 km in order to reach the Mahendragiri peak where the celebration takes place.

The dense green forests and natural beauty are most admirable in the Mahendragiri. The hills are referred in both Mahabharat and Ramayana. In Mahabharat, the Panchu Pandavas had stayed for a while and built the idol of Gorakneswar Mahadeva and worshipped the Lord. Legend says that it is the place where Lord Parashurama, a Chiranjeevi staying eternally and doing tapasya. Temples built by Pandavas are seen. The main festival observed here is Shivaratri.

People here believe that, if anyone worships Gorakneswar, all his sins get redeemed. It is associated with mythological stories from the Ramayana as Mahendra Parvata (mountain). It is a ‘Kula Parvata’ along with Malaya, Sahyadri, Parijatra, Shuktiman, Vindhya and Malyavaan. It is said that Lord Rama and his army of Monkeys had begun their expedition to Lanka to release Sita from the Hill.