Kerala’s title God’s own country is generally attributed to the pervasive scenic beauty; we find it apt also because the legend says that Parashurama an incarnation of Vishnu raised the land out of the western ocean. Most Keralites are religious, and for the Hindus a visit to a temple at least on certain occasions is a must. For it is there where he/she re-energizes from the source of supreme Energy of the Deity.
Temples abound all over the State, some going back to centuries. The architecture of Kerala temples upholds certain traditions which are unique to Kerala. Only oil lamps are lit in the sanctum sanctorum.
Here are 10 famous temples in Kerala.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple
This great temple for Vishnu is situated in Trivandrum. It was established by the ruling family of erstwhile Travancore. His Royal Highness Marthanda Varma dedicated the kingdom to the Lord and ruled as His obedient Daasa.(servant).
As the tradition continued, the priceless treasures in the temple vaults still remain safe. The temple has a 100-feet high gopuram built in the Dravidian style. The idol of Vishnu is seen reclining on Anantha, the serpent. The idol is made of a rare combination not seen elsewhere. You have to view the gold plated idol part by part from three windows. The Pradakshina (walking around the abode of the Deity) ways are incredible; the stone carvings are a treat to watch. So are the murals.
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple
Image Credit: Attukal Temple Trust
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is near Padmanabhaswamy Temple. It is dedicated to Devi Parvathy. It has become a huge attraction for women who on a certain day in Mid Feb-to-Mid March, cook Pongala, a mixture of rice, jaggery, coconut and ghee in new mudpots on make-shift fires in the premises to please Devi. Thousands participate in the event; the line of devotees extends to the road.
Ambalapuzha Srikrishna Temple
It is an ancient temple built in the early 17th century. Krishna is worshipped as “Unni krishna” His form as a child. It is well known for the delicious “Palpayasam” served as an offering. The temple is also known for the fact that the deity from Guruvayoor was brought here for safekeeping when Tipu Sultan’s raid was expected. The raid never took place. Alappuzha 8 miles away is a destination for those who want to enjoy a cruise on the backwaters.
Image Credit: Roney Maxwell via Flickr
The deity here is Bhagawati, the divine mother who cares specially for those suffering from mental illness. They are brought here in numbers, and many of them get cured. As Devi is worshiped along with Vishnu the devotees address them together as Lakshminarayana. Devi is worshipped as Saraswati in the morning, Bhadrakali at noon and Durga in the evening.
Guruvayoor Srikrishna Temple
Image by RanjithSiji via Wikipedia
There is no Keralite who hasn’t heard of this great Kshetram (temple). So many weddings are conducted with just the basic rituals in the outer area of this temple and people of any religion can attend the ceremony. The east “nada” is the main entrance. You can see the Deepasthambham, 7 m high with 13 receptacles for lamps. What a sight it is to see all the lamps lit !
Devotees pay for lighting it as an offering. There is a 33.5 m high gold plated Dwajasthambham for hoisting the temple flag during temple festivals. The temple is invariably crowded almost every day, the authorities help in forming lines to enter. There are special entry lines for senior citizens.
Being such a hoary ancient temple there are many legends associated with its origin and also for some of the events and festivals conducted there. Krishnanattam a dance drama about Krishna’s childhood is enacted once a year; it is not allowed to be staged anywhere else. The names of some great singers of south Indian music and Sanskrit and Malayalam poets are associated with the temple; for the healing power of the Lord.
Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple
Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple Entrance
It is an ancient shrine and one of the most celebrated temples of Lord Shiva. History tells us that the temple was abandoned for sometime and was restored by Vilwamangala Swamy who is associated with many other Kerala temples. Renovation was carried out in the 16th century and since then the temple has flourished.
The sanctum is circular in shape with a conical copper plated roof. The idol faces the west which is unusual and is said to add to the power of the Deity. Carvings and murals are exemplary. A golden staff visible from afar is placed in front of the shrine.
The Tali Temple
Image by Choosetocount via Wikipedia
This ancient Shiva temple in the city of Kozhikode, was established by the Zamorins. There are stories of rivalry, feuds, release from curses etc that happened in the past. “Revathy Pattataanam” a confluence of scholars used to be held here , when competitions were conducted and rewards given. The composer of Narayaneeyam was one such recipient. Since a few years this meeting has been revived.
Invasion by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu almost destroyed this temple. In the 18th century the Zamorin of the day renovated the building. The sanctum is two storeyed with stone sculptures and carvings depicting Puranas.
The temple stands on the side of Brahmagiri in Wayanad at an altitude of 900 ft. It is an ancient Vishnu Temple where the idol was installed by Brahma himself. The cold mountain stream Papanasini, brings down the essence of medicinal herbs. A dip in the water washes away all sins. Pilgrims immerse themselves in these waters to cleanse themselves and start anew.
It is a place well known for conducting last rites of the diseased. Going down to the stone and performing the rites is a difficult task, but the mental peace you obtain makes it worthwhile.
Thrissur is known as a temple town. This temple stands in a 9 acre area surrounded by a fortified wall with towered entrances on four sides. It stands on a hillock and the city flows around it. There are 3 shrines one to Rama, one to Shiva and the other to Shankaranarayana. The last mentioned shows that there is no real difference between the Gods worshipped. The circular sanctum is crowned with a conical vimanam. The Shivalingam is covered by a mound of ghee used for Abhishekam, which never melts in spite of all the lamps lit nor does it go or smell bad.
Thrissur Pooram a festival of great dimensions, is held in the vast area around the temple. A Devi temple to the left and a Krishna temple to the right also participate with vigour. All the towns folk have a hand in it. Pooram held in April is a fascinating visual treat.
Sabarimala Sastha Temple
Image by AnjanaMenon via Wikipedia
The temple stands at an altitude of 1565 ft above sea level among dense forests. Sastha, born as the result of merging of the power of Shiva and Vishnu is worshiped here. This is where the young prince meditated after killing the demoness Mahishi and never returned to his palace. The temple is dedicated to Him.
The largest annual pilgrimage of nearly 50 million devotees occurs here. The rule is that only men who observe strict conditions of life for 41 days can visit the place. Women between the age of 10 to 50 are not allowed to enter the premises. It used to be a long trek by rocky paths in dense forests to reach there. The length has decreased, but the last few km has to be traversed on foot.
The temple is not open daily ; only during the days of Mandalapooja (15th Nov to 26th Dec), at the time of Makara Sankranti, and the first 6 days of all Malayalam months does the temple stay open.
I have tried to cover all of Kerala, but I am sure there are many more famous temples. There are literally hundreds of temples in Kerala. When you are planning your Kerala tour, do consult with your tour operator and they can guide you to the famous temples near to the location you are visiting.
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