During their Arsnyavaas, the Pancha Pandavas came to Darukavana, where Vedavyasa met them, and told them that one of them should perform Tapascharya in praise of Lord Siva, and obtain from him, the Pasupatastra as a boon, so that they may easily conquer their enemies. Arjuna was chosen for this task and he betook himself to the top of the Indrakila hill (which is said to be the same as the Indrakila hill of Vijayawada) and was performing intense Tapascharya, with his arms upraised, and standing on one foot, and surrounded by the Pancha Agnis or five fires, with four artificial fires around him, and the fifth being the Sun God himself above him. Being pleased with the great Tapascharya of Arjuna, Lord Siva wanted to further test his sincerity, before granting him the desired boon, and therefore took the form of a Kirata or hunter. Parvati also dressed herself as a huntress and the Sivagana of the Lord also came in several disguises. Accompanied by all these, Lord Siva was hunting on the Indrakila bill, driving a wild boar in front of him.
The wild boar came to the side of Arjuna, and Arjuna being a great warrior, took up his bow, and shot it with a single arrow. At the same time, Lord Siva who was following it also shot it with an arrow, and being struck by both the arrows, the boar fell down dead in the middle. Both the Lord and Arjuna claimed the boar as their kill, and a -controversy arose between them, as to whom the boar should belong. Words led to physical quarrel shortly, and the Lord and Arjuna began to wrestle with each other. An experienced and powerful wrestler though he was, Arjuna was no match before the Lord himself, and was soon exhausted. Even in the midst of that desperate struggle, he never lost his one-pointedness of mind and devotion to the Lord.
To invoke divine aid in his favor, he made a Shivalinga out of the earth, worshipped it, and offered prayers to it. He saw the flowers, with which he worshipped the Linga, as physically falling on the hunter before him and he thereupon realised that the hunter was none other than the Lord himself. The hunter immediately disappeared and the Lord appeared before Arjuna, in all his glory. Arjuna prayed to him and his prayer was granted, and Pasupatha was given to him by Lord Siva, As a commemoration of this great event, Arjuna is supposed to have installed the Vijayeswara temple here, in the Indrakila hill.
In the Indrakila there are several rock-cut temples. These were supposed originally to be ancient temples, but during the course of time, they were completely buried under debris. When quarrying for stone and road metal was done, they were revealed, and the rock-out temples were preserved as protected monuments. In the temple there is an excellent stone sculpture, which contains in all its four faces, the story of Kiratarjuneeyam.
There are interesting legends about the origin of the Malleswaraswamy temple also. It is stated that, prior to the Kaliyuga, the sage Agasthya had named the Lord at Vijayawada as Jayasena.The Mahabharata hero Arjuna, who was a great wrestler or Mallayoddha, called the Lord as Malleswara. The thus famous Lord Siva so goes the legend, graces with his presence and blesses the town Vijayawada on the banks of the sacred Krishna River.
There is another legend about this in which it is stated that in the Kaliyuga, as early as Saka year 117, there was a king famous on earth by name Madhava Varma. The son, of this King inadvertently killed child of a woman who earned her livelihood by selling the fruits of tamarind trees (Intrini-Jeevini). The king, who meted out justice according to the principles of Dharma, sentenced his own son to be hanged, in order to uphold the principles of justice. Pleased at this impartial attitude and the adherence to principles of Dharma, of this king, God Malleswara came down and showered gold on him, which brought back to life the deceased prince and the dead child.
Thus the great Lord Malleswara,established in this world, the name of the great King Madhava Varma. Later on a pious devotee by name Panditharadhya came here, and proclaimed to the world that the devotees of Lord Siva were superior even to the sages. He illustrated the truth of this, by bundling up live, coal in a piece of cloth, with the tender twig of a Sami tree, without burning it. God Malleswara was pleased with it and manifested himself to this devotee. This Lord according to the popular legend, is Mahadeva Malleswara, “the endless one ‘ the lover of his devotees and worshipping whom the lords of the earth prospered of old”.
Kanaka Durga is specially decorated as Balatripura Sundari, Gayathri Annapoorna. Mahalakshmi, Saraswathi, Lalitha Tripura Sundari, Durga Devi, Mahissura Mardini and Raja Rajeswari Devi on each day of the Narvarathri festival. On Vijaya Dasami day, the deities are taken in a swan-shaped boat around the Krishna river, popularity known as “Theppotsavam”.
Though a ghat road was laid in 1969, most of the pilgrims prefer to climb the steps leading to the temple an arduous task for women and children. Some devotees climb the hill, decorating the steps with turmeric powder and vermilion to redeem their pledge of Metla Pooja.
The number of pilgrims visiting the temple has been ever increasing and its present annual income is touching Forty Crores. A second prakara Mandapam is constructed with first floor on the North and West, besides under-taking several other works, for beautification and works related to public convenience.
For the first time in the living memory “Sathachandiyagam” was performed in the temple from 28-12-1987 to 2-1-1988, for the benefit of mankind, as also to protect them from all evils.
This temple is under the administrative control of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, and is presently managed by an Executive Officer of the rank of I.A.S.,
Vijayawada is practically the centre of Andhra in all its aspects. It is an important junction in the Madras-Calcutta, Madras – Delhi routes, and probably the foremost town of Andhra. It contains three ancient temples viz., the Kanakadurga temple, the Malleswaraswamy temple and the Vijayeswaraswami temple. These are the three temples of Vijayawada.