Dakshina Kailasam Thrissivaperoor Sree Vadakkunnatha Temple
Back to 108 Shivalaya
This is the first Shiva temple created by Lord Parasurama. Shiva here is more popularly known as Vadakkunnathan. Vadakkunnatha Temple is situated at the heart of Thrissur city. The name Thrissur is derived from 'Thiru-Shiva-Peroor', which literally translates to "The city of the sacred Shiva". Thrissur was also known as Vrishabhadripuram, Vrishachala and Thenkailasam or Dakshina Kailasam(Kailasa of the south) in ancient days.
Vadakkunnathan temple is surrounded by a massive stone wall enclosing an area of nearly 8-9 acres. Inside this fortification there are four gopurams indicating the four directions - North, South, East and West. Apart from these four gopurams there is a multi-shrined complex in the center with three principal shrines dedicated to Shiva or Vadakkunnathan, Shankaranarayana and Rama. Lord Vettekkaran (Shiva in a hunter form) is also worshipped within the nalambalam enclosure.
In the northern side there is a circular structure with the deity facing west. The figure of Shiva-Parvati faces east and is just behind Shiva,in the same shrine. The two-storied shrine of Sri Rama facing west is located in the south. Between these two srikovils stand a third one, circular and double storied in shape, dedicated to Sankaranarayana and facing west. There are mukhamandapams in front of all the three central shrines.
The idol of Shiva, which is not visible, is covered under a mount of ghee, formed by the daily abhisheka (ablution) with ghee over the years. After abhisheka a portion of the ghee is returned to the devotees and they take it home as the ghee has miraculous powers to cure all diseases. A devotee looking at the sanctum now sees a thirteen-foot high mount of ghee embellished with thirteen cascading crescents of gold and three serpent hoods at top. According to traditional belief, this represents the snow-clad Mount Kailas, the abode of Parvathy and Parameswara.
Outside the nalambalam, there are shrines for Lord Krishna, Vrishabha, Parasurama, Simhodara, Dharmasastha and Adi Sankaracharya. Adi Sankara is believed to have been born to the Shivaguru-Aryamba couple of Kalady in answer to their prayers before Vadakkunnathan, as amsavatara(incarnation) of the Lord. Legend has it that Shiva appeared to both husband and wife in their dreams, and offered them a choice: a mediocre son who would live a long life, or an extraordinary son who would not live long. Both Shivaguru and Aryamba chose the latter. The son was named Shankara, in honour of Shiva.
Not only in the case of physical structures, but also in the matter of rituals, poojas and even in the order of movement of a worshipper from sanctum to sanctum, the temple maintains a uniqueness of its own. It is believed that you have to follow a certain order when moving between the temples. It is advisable to ask somebody inside this temple for this. 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.
The murals in the temple are known for its rarity and two of them - Vasukisayana and Nrithanatha - are even worshipped regularly. A fairly large white bullock on the verandah of the Nalambalam is worshipped as Nandikeswara. In the temple quadrangle, there are specified spots at which the devotees can offer their salutations to Lord Shiva of Kasi and Lord Chidambaranatha of Chidambaram, Lord of Shiva of Rameswara, Sree Kali of Kodungallur, Urakam Ammathiruvadi, Lord Bharatha (Koodalmanickam) at Irinjalakuda, Sree Vyasa, Sree Hanuman and serpent gods.
The temple theatre, known as koothambalam, has no parallel to cite anywhere else in the world. The four magnificent gateways called gopurams and the lofty masonry wall around the temple quadrangle are also imposing pieces of craftsmanship and skill.
Lord Ganesh in the temple is positioned facing the temple kitchen and offering of Appam (sweetened rice cake fried in ghee) to Mahaganapathy is one of the most important offerings at Vadakkunnathan temple. Propitiating Ganapathy here is believed to be a path to prosperity and wealth. The devotees revere elephants as Lord Ganesh incarnate. It has been the regular annual practice at the Vadakkunnathan Temple for the last 20 years to conduct a large-scale Ashta Dravya Maha Ganapathy Havana and Aanayoottu (ceremonial feeding of elephants) on the 1st day of karkkidakom month as per the malayalam calendar. Gajapooja also is conducted once in four years.
Vadakkunnathan temple is one of the oldest in South India according to the archaeologists. Vadakkkunnathan Temple is one of the largest temples in Kerala that is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture with beautiful murals of the seventeenth century delineating graphically the story of Mahabharata. The shrines and the Koothambalam display exquisite vignettes carved in wood. It is said that Tipu Sultan camped near this temple during his raid on northern Kerala. But this fact is disputed by a number of historians.
There is no annual festival for Vadakkunnatha. The important ceremony of this temple is Shivarathri and the idol of Vadakkumnatha is not taken out for procession. On the Thrikkarthika day in Vrischikam(November-December) morning poojas for Vadakkunnatha are conducted at the Southern compound wall.It is believed that on this day Lord Vadakkunnatha will sit on the compound wall looking Southwards to see his wife's(Kumaranalloor Kathyayani Devi) return procession after the Thrikkarthika bath in Meenachil river. Vilwamangalam Swamiyar once visited this temple in the morning on Thrikkarthika day. He realized the absence of Vadakkunnatha inside the Sreekovil. So he went around and found the Lord on the compound wall. It was Vilwamangalam who started the pooja on Southern compound wall on Thrikkarthika day.
The sprawling Thekkinkadu maidan, en circling the Vadakumnathan temple(Thrissur Swaraj Round), is the main venue of the Thrissur Pooram in Medam(April-May). Vadakkunnathan is a mere spectator at this festival, lending its premises and grounds for the great event. The pooram is celebrated by mainly other two temples and Vadakkunnathan is not taking part in the festival or in the procession. Thrissur Pooram is the most colourful temple festival of Kerala and it attracts large masses of devotees and spectators from all parts of the state and even outside. It consists of processions of richly caparisoned elephants from various neighbouring temples to the Vadakumnathan temple. The most impressive processions are those from the Krishna Temple at Thiruvambadi and the Devi Temple at Paramekkavu which is quite a significant event for its devotees.
The Pooram Festival is celebrated by two rival groups representing the two divisions of Thrissur Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi vying with each other in making the display of fireworks grander and more colourful. Each group is allowed to display a maximum of fifteen elephants and all efforts are made by each party to secure the best elephants in South India and the most artistic parasols, several kinds of which are raised on the elephants during the display. Commencing in the early hours of the morning, the celebrations last till the break of dawn, the next day.
The procession of the Thiruvambadi Pooram to the grounds of Vadakkumnatha Temple and back is not only important, but also quite enlivening. The marvellous as well as magical effect of the Panchavadyam, a combination of five percussion and wind instruments is to be felt and enjoyed. Among the varieties of festivals celebrated in Kerala, Thrissur Pooram is the most thunderous, spectacular and dazzling. The main attraction of the pooram is the Elanjitharamelam, a two hours Chendavadyam ( with five instruments ) near koothambalam, by the top most artists in the state. The fifty and odd caparisoned elephants gather out side South gopuram face to face, known as "Koodikazhcha" with the accompaniment of Panchavadyam. Then the Kudamattom ( Changing of parasols ) is performed. The ornamental silken parasols unfurled, of several types and colours changed competitively. It is an expression of popular fascination for sound and colour, and because of the pageantry, it appeals to all people. The images of the deities from all temples of the village are taken on elephants to the main temple. The climax of the festival is the exhibition of thirty elephants and the famous fireworks at 2.30 am local time.
The two century old festival of spectacular procession of caparisoned elephants and enthralling percussion performances in a never ending succession is an 36 hours marathon event of incredible beauty, a feast for the eye and the ear, unfolding between 6 a.m. to noon the other day. Different from the usual temple festival, Thrissur Pooram is participated and conducted by people across all barriers of religion and caste.
Before the advent of Thrissur Pooram, the largest temple festival during summer in central Kerala was the one-day festival held at Arattupuzha, 12 km south of the town. Temples in and around Thrissur were regular participants of this religious exercise until they were once denied entry by the responsible chief of the Peruvanam area of Cherpu, known for its Namboodiri supremacy. As an act of reprisal and also in a bid to assuage their wounded feelings, Raja Rama Varma (1751-1805), also known as Sakthan Thampuran the ruler of the Cochin state invited all these temples to bring their deities to Thrissur where they could pay obeiance to Lord Vadakunnathan. Further he directed the main temples of Thrissur, Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu, to extend all help and support to these temples. It is this historical background that determines the course of the Pooram program and it is specifically the ruler's antipathy to the Brahmin aristocracy to open Thrissur pooram for the common man.
Adhering to the medieval Peruvanam tradition, the festival is confined to the temples of Devi (goddess) and Sastha (divine combination of Shiva and Vishnu). Ten deities from the neighboring temples pay obeisance to the presiding deiety of Thrissur and only spectator of the Pooram events, Lord Siva at the Sree Vadakkunnathan temple.
Principle participants are Paramekkavu and Tiruvambadi. Also participating and known as 'Cherupooram' are the suburban temples at Kanimangalam, Karamukku, Choorakkattukara, Laloor, Ayyanthole, Neithilakkavu, Chembukkavu and Panamukkampilly altogether 8 deities.
The Vadakkunnatha temple is currently being renovated under the auspices of the ASI (Archeological Survey of India) with the help of liberal grants from the TVS group.
For more details and images visit the Pradakshina page
If you have any aditional information/photo of Vadakkunnatha Temple, please mail to firstname.lastname@example.org