Monday, January 10, 2011

The Vadakkumnathan temple: a classical example of the Kerala style of architecture, temple is one of the oldest temples in the north Kerala

The restraint in the architecture and sculptural beauty of the temples combined with the deep religious beliefs of the people of Kerala leave a lasting impression on the minds of the visitors to the temples of north Kerala.

Vadakkumnathan Temple The Vadakkumnathan temple is one of the oldest temples in the state. It is a classical example of the Kerala style of architecture and contains many decorative murals and pieces of art. It stands on a beautiful hillock at the center of Trichur overlooking the town. The vast ground around the temple is called Tekkinkadu or forest of teak woods. The massive stonewall enclosing an area of nearly 9 acres forms a strong fortification. The our lofty gopuras around the main shrine indicate the four cardinal directions-North, South, East and West. A complex having three principal shrines dedicated to Siva or Vadakkumnathan, Sankaranarayana and Rama are in the center of this vast enclosure.

A striking feature of the temple is the Kuttambalam, which can be seen on the left side as one enters the temple through the western gopuram. This is the theatre hall for staging kuttu, an ancient dramatic form of art famous in Kerala. The temple opens at 3.00 in the morning and closes about 10.30 AM after the morning rites. It opens at 4.00 PM for the evening worship and closes at 8.30 PM at night after the Trippuka, the last rite for the day.

This is the venue of the world famous Pooram festival celebrated annually in April-May. The fireworks at the Pooram Festival are a spectacular sight. Non-Hindus are not allowed entry into the temple.

It is noteworthy that the Union Government under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act has declared the Vadakkumnathan temple a national monument.

The Guruvayoor temple is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centers of Kerala 29 km west of Trichur. The main attraction here is the Sri Krishna temple. The legends said that Guru, the preceptor of the goods, and Vayu, the god of winds, created the temple. The eastern nada is the main entrance to the shrine. The chuttambalam or the outer enclosure has the wajasthambam or the gold plated flag post 33.5 m high. There is also a 7 m high dipastambham or the pillar of lamps with 13 circular receptacles. The square shaped Sri Kovil is the sacred sanctum of the temple and houses the main deity. The temple also has the images of Ganapati, Sri Ayyappa and Edathedathy Kavil Bhagavathy. Only Hindus can enter the temple.

The origin of the temple goes back to the 16th century AD dedicated to Lord Krishna known as Guruvayoorappan or the Lord of Guruvayoor. The idol is said to have been worshipped by Lord Brahma himself at Dwarka. Melpatur Narayan Bhattathiri composed his well-known Sanskrit devotional poem 'Narayaneeyam' at this temple. The temple is also famous for its healing powers.

The walls of the sanctum are adorned with exquisite mural paintings and carvings.

This is probably the only temple in Kerala for several weddings and annaprasanam, the first feeding ceremony of child.

The Triprayar Temple is located towards the south of Trichur and is one of the important temples dedicated to Lord Rama. The temple was originally under the domain of the Zamorin rulers of Kerala and later came under the possession of the Dutch, the Mysore sultans and the rulers of Cochin.

The image of Rama similar to the Chaturbhuja Vishnu form with four arms, holding a conch, a disc, a bow and a garland respectively. It is believed that the deity possesses some of the features of Shiva too. The image is adorned with necklaces and other fine jewelry. Images of Sridevi and Bhudevi are on the two sides of the image. The image of Dakshinamurti in the sanctum faces the south. It is also believed that the Rama portrayed with a garland in his hands is indicative of aspects of Brahma. The deity is considered to be a manifestation of the Trimurtis. An invisible manifestation of Hanuman is worshipped in a mandapam across the hall from the sanctum. There is also a shrine to Ganapati in Triprayar temple. The shrine to Saasta or Ayyappan is in the outer courtyard of the temple. It is believed that the Saasta shrine was placed originally at the place corresponding to the temple's sanctum.

Five worship services are performed through out the day. They are usha, etirthu, panthirati, uccha and athazha. A processional figure of the deity is carried around the temple three times a day.

The delicate woodcarvings, sculptures and wall painting naturally decorate the Triprayar Temple. The namaskara mandapam, which faces the circular sanctum or the Sri Kovil, contains 24 panels of woodcarvings and several ancient frescos. The circular sanctum is decorated with several sculptural representations of scenes from the Ramayana.

The Snake Boat Race is organized during the Onam festival in the months of August / September. The Pooram festival is celebrated for 7 days in the Malayala month of Meenam. Each day of seven days the procession starts from Triprayar for a certain place where the arattu (bathing ceremony) is hold, giving- opportunity to thousands outside Triprayar to offer Worship to the deity. The festival concludes in the Pooram asterism. The Ekadashi festival is also celebrated in the month of November-December. The Ekadasi festival is marked by a procession of Rama flanked by 21 elephants and all the royal paraphernalia.

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