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Temples in Kerala

Kerala has a fairly rich mythological heritage and there are temples of several gods and goddesses almost throughout the state. All these temples are not only significant from their religios importance but are also great architectural set ups. Some are huge and richly decorated while others are small with simple decor, but invarianbly all speak volumes about the highly religious temperament of the people.

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple

Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, Located inside the East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of the State of Kerala in India is the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture.

The history of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple dates back to 8th century. It is one of the 108 sacred Vishnu temples or Divya Desams in India. Divya Desams are the holiest abodes of the Lord Vishnu that are mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhvars (saints). The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Vishnu, reclining on Anantha, the hooded Serpent.

Marthanda Varma, the noted among Travancore kings did a major renovation to the temple and it resulted in the present day structure of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. It was Marthanda Varma who introduced the Murajapam and Bhadra Deepam festivals in the temple. Murajapam, which literally means continuous chanting of prayers, is still conducted in the temple once in six years.

In 1750, Marthanda Varma dedicated the kingdom of Travancore to Lord Padmanabha. Marthanda Varma vowed that the royal family will rule the state on behalf of Lord and he and his descendants would serve the kingdom as Padmanabha Dasa or the Servant of Lord Padmanabha. Since then the name of every Travancore King was preceded by the title Padmanabha Dasa. The donation of the kingdom of Travancore to Padmanabhaswamy was known as Thripadidanam. The current head of the Travancore Royal Family is Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma.

Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala takes its name from the presiding deity of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, who is also known as Anantha (one who reclines on the Serpent Ananatha). The word 'Thiruvananthapuram' literally means - the land of Sree Anantha Padmanabhaswamy.

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple as per belief is located at a place that is considered as one of the seven Parasurama Kshetras. And references of this temple are there in texts like the Puranas, viz. the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana. The temple stands close to the holy tank - Padma Theertham, which means 'lotus spring'.

The shrine is currently run by a trust headed by the erstwhile royal family of Travancore. This deity is worshipped in three different forms - as Saraswati in the morning - draped in white, as Bhadrakali at noon draped in crimson, and as Durga in the evening decked in blue.


Only Hindus are permitted inside the temple. There is a strict dress code that needs to be followed while entering the temple. Men need to wear mundu or dhoti (worn around the waist and going down up to the heels) and should note wear shirts of any kind. Women need to wear sari, mundum neriyathum (set-mundu), skirt and blouse, or half sari. Dhotis are available for rent at the temple entrance. Nowadays temple authorities allow wearing of dhotis over pants or churidhar to avoid inconvenience to the devotees.

Chottanikkara Temple

Chottanikkara temple, located near Ernakulam enshrines Bhagawati - the mother Goddess, is one of the most popular deities in Kerala.

On way is the Poornatrayesa temple at Tripunittura. The goddess is worshipped along with Lord Vishnu. People who have mental illness seek refuge in the divine mother, who graciously cures all her devotees. Goddess Rajarajeswari is the presiding deity.
This deity is worshipped in three different forms - as Saraswati in the morning - draped in white, as Bhadrakali at noon draped in crimson, and as Durga in the evening decked in blue.

The image in the shrine is not fixed to the ground and is mounted on loose sand. Water offered during ablution ceremonies percolates underground.

Guruvayoor Temple

Guruvayoor, where the famous Sree Krishna Temple is situated, is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centers of kerala. This is probably the only temple in the state that hosts the maximum number of marriages and rice feeding ceremonies (the ritual first meal for infants).

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'.

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.

Sabarimala Temple

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

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 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.

Vadakkumnathan Temple

Vadukkumnnatha is a prominent Shiva temple, in downtown Thrissur, Kerala. This is one of Kerala's most ancient shrines, which also houses a museum of ancient wall paintings, wood carvings and art pieces of immense historical value.

The 'Pooram festival, falling in April/ May, attracts devotees and tourists from all over the world. It is a spectacular event, combining the majestic elephant pageantry with the frenzied playing of drums and cymbals and rounded off with a fireworks extravaganza.

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