Mahanandi - Mahanandi is one of the holy places of Lord Shiva. Legend is that Mahanandi was ruled by King Nanda who once wished to perform Abhisheka to Lord Shiva with milk. He then orders one of the cowherd to supply milk daily. But that cowherd notices that one of the cow was not giving milk. In order to find out why it was not giving the milk, one day the cowherd follows that cow into the forest and hides behind a bush. He gazes at the cow when it reached an ant-hill and started giving it's milk. There was one young lad in that ant-hill who was drinking the milk. The cowherd conveys the news to the King. The King gets amazed at hearing this and next day he follows the cow. Out of his over excitement at the sight, the cow gets scared looking at the King and it steps on the ant-hill and Lord Shiva who was in the form of that young lad gets disappeared. Because the cow out of scare steps on the ant-hill, it's hoops get marked on Shiva Linga in that ant-hill. King Nanda then constructs a temple in that sacred place when Lord Shiva comes in his dream and asks him to construct a temple and worship him as Maha Nandishwara Swamy. We can see the marks of the hoops on Shiva Linga till date.
This place is surrounded by nine temples of Lord Shiva within 20 kms diameter range which are well known as Nava Nandi Kshetras which have an history of thousands of years back. We visited only 5 nandi kshetras - Mahanandi, Vinayakanandi, Garudanandi, Suryanandi and Shivanandi.