Temples Kerala

The Southern State of Kerala has much to offer in terms of its hoary temple tradition. Kerala temple architecture is unique, and it is in harmony with the natural resources and the climatic conditions of the region. Elephants are an integral part of several of the festivities. A colorful calendar of festivals and strict worship protocols are associated with the hundreds of temples that line the landscape of Kerala.

Guruvayoor Temple - Kerala

A temple, famous all over India as a pilgrim centre, dedicated to Lord Krishna popularly known as Guruvayoorappan. The Sreekrishna idol of this temple is believed to have been worshipped by Vasudevar and Devaki at Dwaraka. This shrine popularly known as ‘Dakshina Dwaraka’ (Dwaraka of south) is in the form of a rectangle. There are a lot of mural paintings around the ‘Shrikovil’ (Shrine).

Guruvayoor, where the famous Sree Krishna Temple is situated, is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of kerala. The walls of the sanctum sanctorum are inlaid with exquisite mural paintings and carvings.

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In Kerala, this is probably the only temple that hosts the maximum number of marriages and rice feeding ceremonies (the ritual first meal for infants). It was also the hub of the 'Guruvayoor Sathyagraha' , a historic movement demanding temple entry rights for the 'so called' lower castes.

The historic temple is shrouded in mystery. According to local belief, the temple was created by 'Guru', the 'preceptor of the gods' and 'Vayu', the 'god of winds'. The eastern 'nada' is the main entrance to the shrine.

In the 'Chuttambalam' (outer enclosure) is a 33.5-m tall gold-plated 'Dwajastambham' (flagpost). There is also a 7 m high 'Deepastambham' (pillar of lamps), whose thirteen circular receptacles provide a truly brillant spectacle, when lit. The square 'Sreekovil' is the sacred sanctum sanctorum of the temple, housing the main deity. Within the temple, there are also the images of Ganapathy, Sree Ayyappa and Edathedathy Kavil Bhagavathy. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple.

Punnathoorkotta, which is at a distance of 2 kms from Guruvayoor is home of 50 temple elephants, offers unusual spectacles of the gentle pachyderm.

Timings: The temple is open 03:00 am to 01:00 pm & 04:30pm to 08:30 pm.

Conducted Tours: DTPC conducts daily tours from Guruvayoor Bhakti Marg Circuit. The tour starts from Guruvayoor in the morning.

It then proceeds to Thriprayar, Koodal Manikyam, Vadakkumnathan Temple, Chettuva and returns to Guruvayoor by late evening.

Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam Temple - Kerala

Situated 21 Km from trissur, and 10 km from Irinjalakuda Railway Station, this ancient temple is perhaps the only one in India dedicated to Bharatha, the brother of Sree Rama. The eleven-day Annual Festival featuring a pageant of thirteen caparisoned elephants (held in April/May), marks the end of the festival season in Kerala.It is open from 03:30 am - 11:30 am & 05:00 pm - 08:30 pm).

SREE KOODALMANIKYAM temple is the embodiment of peace and sanctity,enshining LORD SANGAMESHWARA -God almighty.. The temple is surrounded by four vast ponds . the one inside the temple occupying the entire northern quarter of the ten acre compound is believed to be sanctified by KULIPINI MAHARSHI who had held a great yaga here The pond is known as "KULIPINI THEERTHAM".

Temple is provided with an ancient drainage system which allows no water logging however heavy be the downpour during monsoon.

The popularly known as Koodalmanikam of Sangameswara is supposed to be the Para Brahma moorthy (The God almighty).The sanctum is believed to have the presence of all other godly powers and hence the name KOODALMANIKYAM - Koodal means" joints together".

There is only one place of worship, even Ganapathy is not be found inside the temple. Koodal also means the couplance of rivers.In the ancient past ,Chalakudy river and Kurumali river is said to have flowed through this area and met together on the western side of the temple.Thus the load of the coup lance of this rivers came to be known as KOODLMANIKYM and the place came to be known as "Iru Chaal Koodal".

Seventeen elephants are engaged for the daily ceremonial rounds to the accomplishment of Panchari Melam . The head gears of seven elephants are made of pure gold and rest of pure silver-another uniqueness of this temple.

A widely believed story about the origin of the temple goes like this Long long ago this place was a forest region where many Rishies did their penance. Sage Vulpine performed a great yaga load Almighty (Para Brahma moorthy) appeared and sat in the yagasala.He blessed the Saint by saying that he will be ever present in this place as the god Almighty sat in the Yogasala ,place came to be known as Irinjalakuda(Irunna shaalayil kootu-sat in the yogasala).

There is another believe that idol of this temple is Bharatha-the young brother of Sree Rama -according to this story, for idol of Sree Rama and his three brothers where returned from the sea coast by one Vakkayil kaimal after seeing them in a holy dream-the idol of Sree Rama in Thripryar,that of Bhartha there in Irinjalakuda,Lakshmana in Moozhikulam and Shathrughna in Payammal-Now a days visiting there four temples at or stretching the month of Karkkitakam increasingly popular.

Padmanabha Swami Temple  - Kerala

Padmanabhaswamy Temple : The temple is located inside the East Fort. The temple is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. It is known for its mural paintings and stone carvings. This temple a sprawling complex with a magnificent seventeen storied tower houses the idol of Lord Vishnu in the form of Ananthapadmanabha (the lord who upheld creation on a lotus that sprang forth from His navel). The 6 m image of Vishnu reclining on Anantha the Serpent, partly covered with gold and embellished with precious stones is viewed in three sections through three doors. One among the 108 sacred Vishnu temples in India . Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. Historical records show that in 1750, The Maharaja of Travancore on being victorious in a battle, laid down his sword and offered himself to this temple's deity. Since then, all his successors have ruled the land as Padmanabhadasas (servants of Padmanabha). Arattu is an important festival here.

The temple architecture in Kerala is different from that of other regions in India. Largely dictated by the geography of the region that abounds in forests blessed with the bounties of the monsoons, the structure of the temples in Kerala is distinctive. The roofs are steep and pointed, and covered with copper sheets. The Kerala roof resembles those found in the Himalayan regions and those in East Asia.

The shape of the roof is in accordance with the plan of the sanctum below. With a circular plan, one sees a conical roof, while with a square plan the roof is pyramidal. The roof is constructed with wood and is covered with copper plates. Most of the temples seen in Kerala today, have undergone several phases of renovation, given the perishable nature of the construction materials.

The history of Kerala dates back to the Cheras of the third century BC. The temples of Kerala are referenced in the works of the Tamil Alwar Saints and the Nayanmar Saints. Kulasekhara Alwar and Cheraman Perumaal (one of the Nayanmaars) belonged to the Cheras of the ninth century AD. There are several works on temple architecture written in Kerala during the 15th and the 16th centuries. The Bhakti literature of the 16th century played an important role in the temple culture of Kerala.The Maharajas of Travancore were ardent patrons of temples.

Temples have held an important place in the life of Keralites. Several temples in Kerala trace their origins to antiquity. However, they were renovated frequently and the current structures that are seen are vastly a result of the numerous renovations.

Kodungallur Bhagavathty Temples - Kerala

The Bhagawati temple at Kodungallur is of great renown throughout the state of Kerala. Kodungallur situated on the west coast, was once a great port of the Chera rulers of Tamilnadu, It was known by the Greek as the musris.Tiruvanchikkulam, now a suburb of Kodungallur was a center of great historic significance during the chera period. Cheran Senguttuvan is said to have built the temple to Kannagi - a manifestation of Kaali or Kotravai or Durga, here (Silappadikaaram).

It is believed to have been a Shiva temple originally, as worship is offered first to Shiva before being offered to Bhagawati, and there is a mandapam in front of the shiva shrine, and there is none infront of Bhagawatis. The image of Bhagawati is believed to have been carved out of a jack fruit three. The face of the image is covered with a mask, and the image is decorated with several pieces of jewellary.

Above image is believed to be a personification of Kali, who had killed the demon Daaruka. Daaruka is said to have worshipped Bhrama, and harassed the devas. The goddesses created Bhramani, Vaishnavi, Maheswari, Kaumari, Varahi and Indrani from Bhrama, vishnu, Mahadeva, Kumara, Yama and Indra, and they were defeated by Daaruka, however Shiva created Kaali and she killed Daaruka.The image of Kali faces east.

There is a crimson cloth hung on the western wall of the sanctum and worship is offered here. There is also a secret chamber east of the Kali image, with an underground passage. Also is a shrine to Kshetrapala, the guardian deity and Vasurimala associated with small pox.

The festivals of significance at Kodungallur are Makara Sankaranti and the Bharani Festival.

Makara Sankaranti coinciding with Pongal in Tamilnadu is one of the important festivals at Kodungallur. As in Taminadu, the day prior to Pongal is celebrated with the burning of unwanted belongings in a bonfire.

Makara Sankranti brings with it 4 days of colorful fanfare, with processions twice a day on elephants to the accompaniment of music, fireworks. The final day's procession is marked by the accompaniment of several women carrying plates of rice and coconut. In fact, the centermost entity in the procession, is a plate containing these offerings, on an elephant. A grand reception os offered to this procession when it reaches the temple. The procession rleaves from the original location of the Bhagawati temple, (the Kurumbayamma shrine in Kodungallur).

The Bharani festival at the Kodungallur Bhagawati temple is one of the grandest in Kerala. It is a month of festivities from the Bharani asterism in the month of Aquarius to 7 days after the Bharani asterism in the month of Pisces. Traditionally the temple (especially during the Bharani festival) has been associated with a lot of animal sacrifices. These customs have been done away within the 20th century. The blood of the sacrificed used to be spilled over two stones in the prakaram, and as mentioned above, this practice is now stopped.

Vadakkunnathan Temple  - Kerala

One of the oldest temples in the state, the vadakkumnathan temple is a classical example of the Kerala style of architecture and has many decorative murals and pieces of art. This is the venue of the world famous pooram festival celebrated annually in april - may. The fireworks at the pooram are a spectacular sight. Non hindus are not allowed entry into the temple.

No visitor to Trichur can miss the Vadakkunnathan temple, "one of the most unique, ancient and important" of the sacred shrines of Kerala. It stands on a beautiful hillock at the center of Trichur overlooking the town. The vast maidan around the temple is called Tekkinkadu or forest of teak woods and Trichur town literally revolves round the temple.

The massive stone wall enclosing an area of nearly 9 acres and forming a strong fortification and the fourlofty gopurams overtopping the central shrine and indicating the four directions-North, South, East and West -and above all the dozens of peepal trees scattered on the vast grounds of' the temple gives Vadakkunnathan temple a unique and magnificent appearance.

In the center of this vast enclosure on a level ground is a multi-shrined complex having three principal shrines dedicated to Siva or Vadakkunnathan, Sankaranarayana and Rama.

In the northern side, a circular structure, and the deity facing west. The figure of Siva-Parvati is facing east and just back to Siva, situated in the same shrine. At the southern and is located the two-storied shrine of Sri Rama also facing west. Between these two srikolis stands a third one, circular and double storied in shape, dedicated to Sankaranarayana and it also faces west. This shrine has beautiful murals of the seventeenth century delineating graphically the story of Mahabharata. There are mukhamandapams in front of all the three central shrines.

A striking feature of the temple is the Kuttambalam, which one sees on the left side as one enters the temple through the western gopuram. This is the theatre hall for staging kuttu, an ancient dramatic form of art famous in Kerala

The temple opens at three in the morning and closes about 10-30 after the morning rites. For the evening worship it opens at four and closes at 8.30 at night after 'Trippuka', the last rite for the day. It is a pleasing feature of the times and this temple especially that hundreds of men and women flock to the temple for darshan from the early hours of the morning after taking their bath at all seasons of the year.

It is noteworthy that the Union Government under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act has declared the Vadakkunnathan temple a national monument.

Sabarimala Temple  - Kerala

Sabarimala is a renowned pilgrim centre atop the rugged hills of the Western Ghats. This holy shrine is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The sanctum sanctoram nestles 914 m above sea level, amidst the virgin forest wilderness of the Western Ghats.

The Village of Sabarimala is named after Shabari who did severe penance in order to meet Rama who granted her wish for her devotion and faith during her penance.

The main pilgrimage is undertaken between November and January. Regardless of caste, creed, colour, they wear black dhotis and carry on their heads, bundles containing traditional offerings like coconut filled with ghee, camphor and rice.

The Main Festival: Sabarimala is one of the most important Hindu temples of Kerala. The Sabarimala Temple festival is celebrated in honour of Lord Ayyapan who is revered by all in India.

There are two main pujas called the Mandal Puja and the Makara Sankranti Puja, which are celebrated from November to Middle of January in Kerala, during which time the devotees perform austerities and penance.

The Penance: Devotees undergo rigorous penance and austere living before starting on the pilgrimage. Devotees wear black 'dhotis' and are bare-chested as they prepare for the pilgrimage to Sabarimala.

The temple is at the top of the Neeli hills and the devotees have to climb the treacherous route carrying their meagre provision in a bundle called "Iru Mudi" meaning in "two folds".

The distance from the base of the hill to the top takes about three days to cover and the most important part of the pilgrimage are the final 18 steps, which lead to the temple. The temple dome is covered with gold and the devotees break the coconuts before climbing the steps.

An Unmatched Instance of Religious Tolerance: Opposite the main temple complex, there is a smaller temple for the Muslim god called Wavar, who is an ally of Lord Ayyapa.

Signifying religious tolerance and harmony of the olden days, the devotees pay obeisance to Lord Wavar, on their way to the main temple. After the devotees complete their pujas and offerings, they return to the base of the hill and return to their homes.

The people making the pilgrimage for the first time are known as "Kanni Swamys" and the person leading the group is known as 'Guru Swamy' or the lead person of a team who is incharge of all the rituals.

Devotees take a ritual bath, while climbing up the hill in the holy river Pamba, which is believed to absolve one's sins.

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Restricted Entry At The Festival Time: Only young girls who have not attained womanhood and old women who have reached menopause are allowed to worship at this time.

The men must vow to walk bare foot, not cut their nails and hair, sleep on the floor and practise absolute abstinence during the period of their penance.