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Home > Discover Cochin > Sightseeing > In Kerala > Places of Worship
In Kerala
Places of Worship
Vadakkunnathar Temple

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Guruvayur is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of Kerala, attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists from all over the country. It is at this temple that Melpattur Narayana Bhattathiri composed his renowned Sanskrit devotional poem Narayaneeyam. Guruvayoor enshrines the infant form of Krishna called 'Guruvayurappan'. The temple faces east, and the sanctum can be viewed from the temple entrance. The annual 'mandala ulsavam' (festival) is celebrated in the month of Kumbha (end of each calendar year.), for a period of 41 days and this festival concludes with an elephant race. The temple dates back to the 16th century, and has ever since maintained certain carved rules. For entry, women must wear a sari and the men must wear a dothi (sarong) without a shirt. Non Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple, but a walk around the outskirts gives a good idea of the temple's beauty and architecture. The temple elephants are kept at Punnathur Kota (elephant yard), 3 kms from the temple, and open for visitors everyday between 9 am and 5 pm.



Sabarimala enshrines Sastha or Ayyappan (Hariharaputra) the son of Lord Shiva and Mohini Vishnu-maya. Located in the forests of south-east Kerala is this famous pilgrimage centre, Sabarimala which enshrines Ayyappan as Vanaprasthasramam. The temple attracts thousands of devotes during the months of December and January, the time of the 41 day pilgrimage. Eighteen golden steps are seen leading to the sanctum, and these steps are considered to be very sacred and only those who have observed the 41 day penance are allowed to climb these steps. Each step represents a different sin, as the devotes ascend, they vow to abandon a sin, and receive the deity's blessings. Hindus and Non-Hindus alike may visit the temple provided they have observed the 41 day penance and are men. Women of menstruating age are prohibited. The pilgrims are dressed in black and the route to reach the temple used to be accessible only on foot through forests but now it is mostly motorable road.


Vadakkunnathar Temple at Thrissur

The Vadakunnathar temple is a big temple covering a nine acre area, with entrances on four sides. There are three shrines in this temple - one of Shiva, the other of Rama and the last one is of Adi Sankaranarayana. Behind Shiva's shrine is a shrine to Parvati. There is also a roofless shrine with a Shankh (shell) and a Chakra (wheel) commemorating Adi Sankaracharya. The circular sanctum is crowned with a conical vimanam. The idol of Vadakkunnathar is worshipped in the form of a mound of ghee or butter and this 10 feet high mound of ghee stays solid despite the multitude of lamps in the sanctum.

Koottambalam is massive and a masterpiece structureof the temple near the western entrance, crowned with three kalasams. Shivaratri is a major festival celebrated in the temple.


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