Nalambalam pilgrimage is gaining more and more popularity today. Nalambala Darsanam is an annual pilgrimage to four well-known temples in central Kerala during the Malayalam month of Karkkidakam (July 17 to August 16). Nalambala Darsanam involves offering prayers at the Triprayar Sree Rama Temple, Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam Temple, Moozhikkulam Lakshmana Temple, and Payammal Shathrughna Temple, which are dedicated to Lord Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shathrughna respectively, on a single day. Karkkidakam is the last month of Malayalam Era. Salient feature of Karkkidakam is that it is period of famine and illness. To overcome sufferings people resort to medical treatment and spiritual enrichment. A special way of living and worship of Rama is the general trend of the period. Chanting of Ramamantra and recitation of Adyatma Ramayanam Kilippattu written by Thunchathu Ezhuthachan echoes in each and every house. To get rid of the difficulties of this month, people of Thrissur region started the Nalambalm pilgrimage centuries ago. It’s origin was at a time when vehicles were not available and pilgrimage to these four temples – as a ritual it had to be completed within one day between daybreak and noon - was an ardent task, yet devotees did it right out of their deep devotion. Great pains earned them great gains. Now these four temples are well connected with roads. It has become very easy now to visit these temples in a single day. Tens of thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the State will visit these temples every year during Karkkidakam. These temples also attract devotees from neighbouring States.
It is believed that the idols of Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shathrughna were the pooja idols of Lord Krishna. He worshipped these 4 idols in Dwaraka. At the end of Dwapara Yuga, Dwaraka was swallowed by the sea. These four idols floated over the sea water all together and at last reached the Cheetuva region of Kerala shore. Vakkayil Kaimal, a minister with the Ayirur Kovilakam of Ponnani had a dream one night in which some mysterious person appeared before him and told him about the floating idols. The Kaimal being an ardent devotee hastened to the sea shore. There the fishermen who got the idols handed over them to him. They were duly installed in four temples - Rama at Thriprayar, Bharata at Irinjalakuda, Lakshmana at Moozhikulam and Shathrughna at Payammal - as directed in the dream.
There is special rule to follow during the Nalambalam Yatra. The first temple to be attended is the Triprayar Sree Rama Temple. After the Nirmalyam at 3am there, proceed to Irinjalakkuda to attend the Usha pooja at the Koodalmanikya Swami Temple. From Irinjalakkuda then proceed to Moozhikkulam Lakshmana Perumal Temple to attend Utcha pooja. Devottees must reach the Payammal Shathrughna Temple in the evening to attend Deeparadhana and Athazha puooja there. Devotees must also vist the Hanuman Temple near Chandanakkavu in this yatra.
1.Triprayar Sree Rama Swami Temple
2.Irinjalakkuda Koodalmanikya Swami Temple
3.Thirumoozhikkulam Lakshmana Perumal Temple
4.Payammal Shathrughna Swami Temple
There are three more set of Nalambalams in Kerala. One in Kottayam district, one in Ernakulam-Kottayam districts and another one in Malappuram district. The Nalambalams in Kottayam are in Ramapuram panchayat, within a radius of two kilometres, on the Palai-Koothattukulam route.
1.Ramapuram Sree Rama Swami Temple
2.Amanakara Bharatha Swami Temple
3.Koodappulam Lakshmana Swami Temple
4.Methiri Shathrughna Swami Temple
The third set of Nalambalams are situated in the ancient Vedanaattu Brahmin Graamam (boundary of Eranakulam-Kottayam districts). Among these temples the Shathrughna temple is in ruined state.They are
1.Thirumarayoor Sree Rama Swami Temple
2.Bharathappilly Bharatha Swami Temple
3. Lakshmana Swami Temple
4. Shathrughna Swami Temple
Fourth set of Nalambalams are
1.Mammalasseri Sree Rama Swami Temple
2.Memmuri Bharatha Swami Temple
3.Mulakkulam Lakshmana Swami Temple
4. Nedungat Shathrughna Swami Temple
The Nalambalams in Malappuram are in Puzhakattiri panchayat, within a radius of two kilometres, on the Perinthalmanna-Malappuram route. But these four temples are now in ruins and must be renovated as early as possible. To see the present condition of these temples visit The Hindu page .
Nalambalam Yatra is gaining more popularity in these temples too. In the second and fourth sets of Nalambalams the Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shathrughna temples are located within a radius of two kilometres or they are in a single panchayat. But the Triprayar, Irinjalakkuda, Payammal temples are in Thrissur district and Thirumoozhikkulam temple is in Ernakulam district at a distance of 40km from Triprayar temple. The completion of this blissful Nalambalam journey at a stretch and attending the poojas and rituals performed there will be an experience for the whole life. At this time when vehicles are popular even old people can perform it without much difficulty.