Pathanamthitta is a district in the southern part of Kerala. The district headquarters is in the town of Pathanamthitta. Pathanamthitta is one of the richest districts in India with just 1.17% poverty as of 2013, which places the district among top 5 districts in India with least poverty. The district’s name is a combination of two Malayalam words, pathanam and thitta, which together mean ‘array of houses on the river side’. The district capital is located on the banks of the river Achankovil. It is presumed that the regions that form the district were formerly under the rule of Pandalam, which had connections with the Pandya kingdom. When Pandalam was added to the princely state of Travancore in 1820, the region came under Travancore administration. The district was formed on 1 November 1982 in the interest of speeding up development. The formation was done by incorporating various portions of the erstwhile Kollam, Alappuzha and Idukki districts. While the taluks Pathanamthitta, Adoor, were taken from Kollam district, Ranni, Konni and Kozhencherry from Idukki district, Pandalam and Thiruvalla were taken from Alappuzha district. Pathanamthitta being also a land of culture and learning could bring forth the literary talents of two centuries together in single volume named Desathuti: Pathanamthitta Kavithakal. Unnikrishnan Poozhikkad collected 184 poems of different poets of Pathanamthitta starting from 18th century.
Pathanamthitta is a landlocked district, spanning over an area of 2,637 square kilometres. The district is bordered by the districts Kottayam and Idukki in the north, Alappuzha in the west, Kollam in the south. To the east it borders the Tenkasi district of the Tamil Nadu state. Devar Mala is the highest point in Pathanamthitta District. The district can be divided into three natural geographical regions: the highland, the midland and the lowland. The highland stretches through the Western Ghats, where the hills are tall and covered with thick forests. Western Ghats maintains an average altitude of around 800 m. It descends to the smaller hills of midland in the centre and finally to the lowland. The lowland with its abundance of coconut trees, lies along the eastern borders of Alappuzha district.
Pathanamthitta district has a reserve forest area of 1,385.27 square kilometres. This is approximately 50% of the total district area. The forest area can broadly be classified as evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous. The forest is the main source of raw materials for wood based industrial units. Timber is the most important produce. Three important rivers flow through the district. These rivers originate from various mountains of the Western Ghats mountain range. The Pamba, which is the third longest river in Kerala, has its origin in Pulachimala. The Achankovil river originates from Pasikuda Mettu, and Manimala river originates from the Thattamala hills. A small portion of Kallada river also falls in the southern border of the district. Pamba and Achankovil rivers together drain more than 70% of the total area of Pathanamthitta.
Sightseeing Points In Pathanamthitta
Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area located in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Kerala. It is notable as an elephant reserve and a tiger reserve. The protected area encompasses 925 Square Kilometers of which 305 Square Kilometers of the core zone was declared as the Periyar National Park in 1982. The park is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and the Pamba. The park is located high in the Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of the south Western Ghats along the border with Tamil Nadu. It is 4 km from Kumily, approximately 100 km east of Kottayam, 110 km west of Madurai and 120 km southeast of Kochi.
The Sabarimala Temple is located at Sabarimala inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Perinad Village, Pathanamthitta district, Kerala. It is one of the largest annual pilgrimage sites in the world with an estimate of over 40 to 50 million devotees visiting every year. The temple is dedicated to a Hindu celibate deity Ayyappan also known as Dharma Shasta, who according to belief is the son of Shiva and Mohini, the feminine incarnation of Vishnu. The traditions of Sabarimala are a confluence of Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and other Śramaṇa traditions.
The temple is situated on a hilltop amidst eighteen hills at an altitude of 4,134 ft above sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. The dense forest, part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, around the temple is known as Poongavanam. Temples exist in each of the hills surrounding Sabarimala. While functional and intact temples exist at many places in the surrounding areas like Nilakkal, Kalaketty, and Karimala, remnants of old temples survive to this day on remaining hills.
The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandala Pooja (approximately 15 November to 26 December), Makaravilakku or “Makar Sankranti” (14 January) and Maha Vishuva Sankranti (14 April), and the first five days of each Malayalam month.
The worship of Shasta forms part of the very ancient history of south India. At Sabarimala, the deity is worshiped as Ayyappan and as Dharma shasta. The shrine of Sabarimala is an ancient temple. It is believed that the prince of Pandalam dynasty, an avatar of Ayyappan, meditated at Sabarimala temple and became one with the divine. The place where the prince meditated is the Manimandapam.
As per the temple history, the Shasta temple at Sabarimala is one of the five Shasta temples founded by Lord Parasurama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. The other Shasta temples in this group of five includes the Ayyappan Temples at Kulathupuzha, where the Shasta appears as a Balaka or child at Aryankavu where the lord appears as a Brahmachari or young man at Achankovil Sastha Temple, where the lord leads the Grihastha Ashrama life here and depicted along with his two wives Purna and Pushkala at Sabarimala, where the lord is depicted in the Vanaprastha or form of renunciation at Ponnambalamedu the lord appears as a “makaravilakku”.
After the installation of the temple, it was mostly unreachable for about three centuries. In the 9th century, a prince of Pandalam Dynasty, called Manikandan, rediscovered the original path to reach Sabarimala. He had many followers with him, including the descendants of the Vavar (a Muslim warrior whom Manikandan defeated) family. This prince is considered an avatar of Ayyappa, and is believed to have led a pack of tigers to his palace with Vavar and then later disappeared to the Sabarimala temple. The temple was then renovated.
The temple consists of a sanctum sanctorum with a gold-plated roof and four golden finials at the top, two mandapams, the balikalpura which houses the altar. In 1969, the flag staff (dhwajam) was installed. The shrine of Kannimoola ganapathi prathishta is south-west to The Sreekovil of the Sannidhanam. Devotees offer part of the broken coconut (Neythen Ga) to the fireplace (Azhi). Ganapathi homam is the main offering. The Pathinettu thripadikal or the 18 sacred steps is the main stairway to the temple. As per the custom followed, no pilgrim without “Irumudikettu” can ascend the 18 sacred steps. In 1985, the 18 steps were covered by Panchaloha. The northern gate is open for those who do not carry an “Irumudikettu”, as observed in the Kerala High Court judgment of 1991. The temples of Lord Ayyappan’s trusted lieutenants Karuppu Sami and Kadutha Sami are positioned as his guards (kaval) at the foot of the holy 18 sacred steps. The temple of Malikapurathamma, whose importance is almost in par with Lord Ayyappa, is located few yards from Sannidhanam. It is believed that the Lord Ayyappan had specific instructions that he wanted Malikapurathamma, on his left side. Prior to the fire disaster, there was only a Peeda Prathishta (holy seat) at Malikappuram. The idol of Malikapurathamma was installed by Brahmasree Kandararu Maheswararu Thanthri. The Devi at Malikappuram holds a Shankh, Chakram and Varada Abhaya Mudra. Now the idol is covered with a gold Golaka. The temple also was reconstructed in the last decade and now the conical roof and sopanam is covered with gold. The shrine of the Lord of snakes, Nagaraja is placed adjacent to the malikappuram temple. Pilgrims after the Darshan of Ayyappa and Kannimoola Ganapathi, make their darshan and give offerings to Nagaraja. Manimandapam, is the place where Ayyappan Jeeva samadhi. The Sabarimala temple complex include Pampa Ganapathi temple, Nilakkal Mahadeva temple and Palliyara Bhagavathi temple. The Nilakkal Mahadeva temple and Palliyara Bhagavathi temple is as old as the Shasta temple and the deities are worshiped as the parents of Lord Ayyappa. Ganapathi temple at Pampa has Pampa Maha Ganapathi and Athi Ganapathi (lit. old ganapathy), sreekovil where the idol from the first Ganapathy temple is worshiped. Sabari Peedam has a temple of Rama and Hanuman also.
The pilgrimage to Sabarimala starts from the first day of Vrischika month of Malayalam year (month of Scorpio) and ends on the 11th day of Dhanu month (the Month of Sagittarius). This season of 41-days pilgrimage is known as Mandala kalam (season) . The season is in the months of December and January. The devotees are expected to follow a Vratham (41-day austerity period) prior to the pilgrimage. This begins with wearing of a special Mala (a chain made of Rudraksha or Tulsi beads is commonly used. During the 41 days of Vratham, the devotee who has taken the vow, is required to strictly follow the rules that include follow only a lacto-vegetarian diet (In India, vegetarianism is synonymous with lacto-vegetarianism), follow celibacy, follow teetotalism, not use any profanity and have to control the anger, allow the hair and nails to grow without cutting. They must try their maximum to help others, and see everything around them as lord Ayyappa. They are expected to bath twice in a day and visit the local temples regularly and only wear plain black or blue coloured traditional clothing. millions of devotees still follow the traditional mountainous forest path (approximately 61 km) from Erumely, 12.8 km from Vandiperiyar and 8 km from Chalakayam, believed to be taken by Ayyappa himself. The Erumeli route starts from Erumeli to Aludha river, then crosses the Aludha mountain to reach Karivalam thodu. Now comes the sacred Karimala crossing, from there to Cheriyanavattom, Valliyanavattom and finally Pamba River. Then they have to climb Neelimala and enter into the Ganesha-Bettam, Shree Rama-Betta Padam. Then comes the Aranmula kottaram, which is one of the stops of holy journey Thiruvabharana Ghoshayathra (the grand procession of the divine jewelry).
These days people use vehicles to reach the Pamba River by an alternate route. From Pamba, all the pilgrims begin trekking the steep mountain path of Neeli Mala to Sabarimala. This route is now highly developed, with emergency shops and medical aid by the sides, and supporting aid is provided to the pilgrims while climbing the steep slope, which used to be a mere trail through dense jungle. The elderly pilgrims are lifted by men on bamboo chairs till the top, on being paid.
Perunthenaruvi Waterfalls are 36 kilometers from Pathanamthitta It s A Central Travancore region of Kerala State. It is a popular tourist destination situated in Vechoochira Panchayat of Ranni taluk. The one shore of this waterfall is Kudamurutti and Vechoochira is the other. The main route to this waterfall starts from Ranni to Athikkayam To Kudamurutti to Perunthenaruvi. It is a fine place to spend time with family in a very serene atmosphere. The name Perunthenaruvi derived from the two Malayalam words Perunthen (great honey) and aruvi (stream). Located on the Western Ghats of the Sahyadri Range, The waterfalls are known for their wide area, rather than their height. The stream later unites with the Pamba River. It is beautiful and dangerous at the same time.
Kumbhavurutty Waterfall is a famous waterfalls in South India situated near Aryankavu panchayath of Kerala near Tamil Nadu border. Kumbhavurutty falls is one among the few crowd pulling waterfalls in Kerala. During peak times, the daily collection of this tourism spot will cross Rs. 1,50,000. It is about 6.5 km away from Achankovil. This waterfall is a part of river Achankovil. Manalar Waterfall is another important waterfall near to this. The travelers can see wild animals also if lucky. Because the waterfall is very close to the thick Konni Forest area. Palaruvi Falls is another nearby attraction of this falls.
Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is located near Aranmula, a village in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala. Constructed in the Kerala style of architecture, the temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, who is worshipped as Parthasarathy (Partha’s charioteer). Parthasarathy is the other name of Krishna on account of his role as Arjuna’s Charioteer in the Mahabharata war. It is one of the most important Krishna temples in Kerala, the others being at Guruvayur Temple, Trichambaram Temple, Thiruvarppu and Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple. It is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the legend of Mahabharata, where the five Pandavas are believed to have built one temple each; Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Aranmula by Arjuna, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple to Sahadeva.
The sacred jewels, called Thiruvabharanam of Ayyappan are taken in procession to Sabarimala each year from Pandalam, and Aranmula Temple is one of the stops on the way. Also, the Thanka Anki, golden attire of Ayyappa, donated by the king of Travancore, is stored here and taken to Sabarimala during the Mandala season of late December. Aranmula is also known for snake boat race held every year during Onam linked to the legends of the Mahabharata. The temple has four towers over its entrances on its outer wall. The Eastern tower is accessed through a flight of 18 steps and the Northern tower entrance flight through 57 steps leads to the Pampa River. It is believed that Dushasana is the guardian of the eastern Gopuram of the temple. The temples has paintings on its walls dating back to early 18 century. The temple is open from 4 am to 11:00 am and 5 pm to 8 pm and is administered by Travancore Devaswom Board of the Government of Kerala.
Legend Says It is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the legend of Mahabharata. Legend has it that the Pandava princes, after crowning Parikshit as king of Hastinapura left on a pilgrimage. On arriving on the banks of river Pamba, each one is believed to have installed a tutelary image of Krishna; Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Aranmula by Arjuna, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple to Sahadeva. The image of the temple was brought here in a raft made of six pieces of bamboo to this site, and hence the name “Aranmula” (six pieces of bamboo). There is another story, which says it was brought in a raft made of seven pieces of bamboo, out of which one got separated at a place 2 kms upstream of the current Temple’s location on the banks of Pamba. The place is called “Mulavoor Kadavu” meaning “river bank where the bamboo pole came off”. There are still descendants of a family of Ayurveda physicians with great lineage by that name Mulavoor residing there. As per other legend, the place derives its name from arin-villai, a land near a river. Legend has it that Arjuna built this temple, to expiate for the sin of having killed Karna on the battlefield, against the dharma of killing an unarmed enemy. It is also believed that Vishnu (here) revealed the knowledge of creation to Brahma, from whom the Madhukaitapa demons stole the Vedas.
There is yet another legend associated with Parthasarathy here. During the battle of Kurukshetra, Duryodhana had taunted Bheeshma of not using his full might in fighting the Pandavas. This taunt by Duryodhana filled Bheeshma with rage. Bheeshma took a vow to fight with such ferocity the next day that Lord Krishna himself would be forced to break his vow of not using a weapon during the war in order to protect Arjuna. On the ninth day of the battle of Kurukshetra, the Kauravas reigned supreme under the leadership of Bheeshma, when Krishna motivated Arjuna to take initiative and vanquish his foe. Bheeshma was unparalleled with the use of celestial weapons in such a manner that Arjuna could not counter the onslaught. Arrows after arrows fired from Bhishma’s bow breached the defenses of Arjuna and inflicted wounds to his body by penetrating his armour. The string of Arjuna’s bow, the Gandiva was snapped during the battle. Seeing Arjuna’s plight, Krishna jumped down in rage, and took up his discus charging towards Bhishma. Bhishma was overfilled with joy and surrendered to Lord Krishna. Meanwhile, Arjuna beseech the Lord not to kill Bhishma, as it would have been against Krishna’s vow to take up arms in his battle. It is believed that it is this image of Krishna that is enshrined here, with a discus. This symbolizes the Lord’s act of compassion to both his devotees on either side of the battle. Lord Krishna broke his vow to protect Arjuna and also to fulfill the promise that his ardent devotee Bheeshma had made.
Lord Krishna presiding here in the Vishvarupa form is considered as “Annadana Prabhu” (The Lord who provides food) along with other temples like Vaikom Mahadeva Temple and Sabarimala. It is believed that those whose Annaprashana is performed at the Aranmula Parthasarathy temple would never be affected by the pangs of poverty throughout their life.
Aranmula Mirror is also related to the history of this temple. The king of Travancore wanted to donate a crown made of rare metal to the temple and he found a rare combination of copper and lead. It is believed as per the tradition that preparing the metal polished mirror was produced only by a family. In modern times, the College of Fine Arts have started producing it on commercial scale.
The temple is built in Kerala style architecture, which is common in all temples in the South Indian state of Kerala in eastern axis. The temple has an elevated structure reached by a flight of 20 steps. The temple has a two-storeyed gopuram or a gateway tower, with the upper storey having wooden trails covering the Kotturpuram (a hall of drum beating during festivals). A rectangular wall around the temple, called Kshetra-Madilluka, pierced by the gateways, encloses all the shrines of the temple. The metal plated flag post or Dwajasthambam is located axial to the temple tower leading to the central sanctum and there is a Deepastambha, which is the light post. Chuttambalam is the outer pavilion within the temple walls. The central shrine and the associated hall is located in a rectangular structure called Nalambalam, which has pillared halls and corridors. Between the entrance of Nalambalam to the sanctum, there is a raised square platform called Namaskara Mandapam which has a pyramidal roof. Thevrapura, the kitchen used to cook offering to the deity is located on the left of Namaskara Mandapam from the entrance. Balithara is an altar is used for making ritualistic offering to demi-gods and the festive deities. The central shrine called Sreekovil houses the image of the presiding deity, who is a standing four-armed Lord Vishnu worshipped as Parthasarathy. It is on an elevated platform with a single door reached through a flight of five steps. Either sides of the doors have images of guardian deities called Dwarapalakas. As per Kerala rituals, only the main priest called Thantri and the second priest called Melsanthi alone can enter the Sree Kovil. The central shrine has a circular plan with the base built of granite, superstructure built of laterite and conical roof made of terracotta tile supported from inside by a wooden structure. The lower half of Sree Kovil consists of the basement, the pillar or the wall, called stambha or bhithi and the entablature called prasthara in the ratio 1:2:1, in height. Similarly the upper half is divided into the neck called griva, the roof tower called shikhara and the conical kalasam (made of copper) in the same ratio. The roof projects in two levels to protect the inner structure from heavy rains during monsoon. The roof of the temple and some of the pillars have lavish wood and stucco carvings depicting various stories of ancient epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. The outer walls around the sanctum have a series of wooden frames housing an array of lamps, which are lit during festive occasions. The temples have paintings on its walls dating back to early 18 century. The image of the presiding deity is 6 feet tall, making it the tallest among the idols of all Krishna temples in Kerala. Krishna is in Vishvarupa pose, the one he depicted to Arjuna during the Mahabharata war. It is thus considered to be in fierce form.
Kakki Reservoir is a reservoir, located in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, India. The lake, which was created when Kakki dam and Anathode dam were built, is on one of the tributaries of Pamba, the Kakki tributary. The dams were built in 1966 as part of the Sabarigiri Hydroelectric project. Full reservoir level (FRL) is 981.45 meters above sea level according to the operators of the “twin” reservoirs, the Kerala State Electricity Board. The reservoir, which is also a tourist spot, is nestled in the Ranni reserve forest, very close to the Western Ghats.
St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Orthodox Church, Parumala, also known as Parumala Pally, is a parish church of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Parumala is a small stretch of land on the shores of the river Pampa. Malankara Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius wanted to establish a seminary in the area. A two-acre plot of land was donated by Arikupurathu Mathen Karnavar to the Malankara Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius and it’s descendants where Azhippura, was constructed. This was used for teaching church functionaries for the orthodox church , including providing lessons in Syriac. Dionysios eventually passed responsibility for the seminary to Metropolitan Mar Gregorios in order to carry on the Syriac teaching sessions more efficiently and also to help him in other church matters. A temporary church in Parumala was rebuilt by Gregorios and consecrated in 1895. The present church, which can accommodate more than 2000 worshippers, was designed by Charles Correa. It is a circular design with an inner diameter of 39 meters. This circle is again divided into three segments by two chords of 16 meters length. The church contains the tomb of St. Gregorios of parumala, who died on 2 November 1902 at the age of 54. Belief in his saintly qualities caused it to become a centre of pilgrimage and in 1947 he was beatified by the Catholicos of the church, Baselios Geevarghese II.
Adavi Eco Tourism is a major tourist destination in Konni. situated in the banks of Kallar river. Eco-tourism project in Adavi is jointly launched by Kerala Tourism Development Corporation and Department of Forests and Wildlife, Kerala. Rupees 400 is charged for 30 minutes of boating in Kallaar river flowing through dense forest. For those who want to enjoy the night beauty of Adavi, facility for night stay in Treehouses area also available. This area comes under the Konni Range, Konni Forest Division.
Sree Vallabha Temple is a highly orthodox Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Sreevallabhan. It is one of the oldest and biggest Temples of Kerala, and has been a major destination for devotees all over India for centuries. Located in Thiruvalla city, this ocean of orthodoxy is well known for its architectural grandeur and unique customs that can be found in no other temples. There are stone-wooden carvings and mural paintings inside the temple. Being one among 108 Divya Desams, Sreevallabha temple has been glorified by Alvars and many other ancient works. It is considered to be the vallabha kshetram mentioned in Garuda Purana and Matsya Purana. Kathakali is played daily in the temple as an offering, pushing it to the top in India in terms of places where Kathakali is staged in largest number of days per year. Lord Vishnu appeared here as Sreevallabhan for sage Durvasa and Kandakarnan. Pleased by prayers of an old Brahmin lady Sreevallabhan incarnated as a brahmachari and killed the demon Thokalaasuran. Later the deity of Sreevallabhan worshipped by Lakshmi and Krishna has been installed in the temple in 59 BC. From then till date, the temple follows its own worship protocol that is known to be followed nowhere else yet. Sage Durvasa and Saptarishi are said to reach the temple every midnight for worshipping the Lord. The temple had governed one of the biggest educational institutions in ancient time and heavily contributed to the cultural and educational developments of Kerala.
Present Thiruvalla was once a village among 64 Namboothiri villages in Kerala and is one among the oldest human settlements in India. Since this place is situated at the mouth of Manimala River (valla river) it had been known as ‘vallavai’ and later transformed into ‘thiruvalla’. Historical evidences point out the place had been inhabited by humans before 3000 BC. The Thiruvalla inscriptions say the temple for Sudarshana Chakra was built in 2998 BC . Another opinion is that the place was named after sreevallabha temple as sri vallabhapuram and Thiruvalla in colloquial Malayalam. The temple for Sudarshana Chakra was built by Sridevi Antharjanam of Sankramangalathu Illam and it was elaborately rebuilt by Queen Cherum Devi in 59 BC. Sree vallabha temple flourished to a major spiritual and educational centre by AD 1100. The temple had governed a Vedic school (thiruvalla sala) with around 1500 students and 150 teachers. Veda, Vedanta, Tarka, Mimamsa, Jyotisha, Ayurveda, and Kalaripayattu were taught there. The temple also owned an ayurvedic hospital with facilities to admit and treat 100 patients at a time. Addressing lord Sreevallabhan by names Kolapiran, Thiruvazhmarvan and Sundarayan, the Tamil vaishnavite saints Nammalvar of the 5th century AD (2612-2622 in Divya Prabandham) and Thirumangai Alvar of the 9th century AD (pasurams 1806-1817 in Divya prabandham) had praised glory of the temple. Famous Sanskrit poet Daṇḍin (7th century AD) of Kanchi mentioned the temple in his works. The first ever prose work in Malayalam is the Thiruvalla inscriptions dated to the first half of the 12th century AD, which was obtained from the temple during 1915. The Unnuneeli Sandesam of the 13th century AD highlighted the grandeur, beauty, serenity, fame and status of the temple during its time. Other works that glorified the temple are Sreevallabha Kshetra Mahatyam of the 10th century AD, Sreevallabha Charitra kavyam, Thukalasura Vadham Kathakali, Sreevallabha Charitham Kathakali, Sreevallabha Vijayam Kathakali, Sreevallabha Suprabhatham, Sreevallabha Karnamrita Stotram, Yajanavali Sangraham etc.
From the date built, the temple was under control of thiruvalla pattanathil pottimar (Brahmins of ten families) till 1752-1753. Sreevallabha Temple emerged out as a major spiritual destination for devotees all over India centuries before. It had 15 major priests (melsanthi) and 180 sub-ordinate priests (keez shanthi) all the time and another 108 for only daily noon pooja. Temple provided staying and food facilities for all visitors, students, teachers etc. and also used to conduct annadanam (serving food to the poor) daily. Naivedyam of Lord Sreevallabhan for a single time used to be made from 45 para (one para can feed appx 100 persons) rice. In all these years, temple acquired enormous amount of wealth that it even used to serve food in golden banana leaves and throw them considering as the leavings. It also had thousands of acres of land too which are lost now. During 1752-1753 Marthanda Varma of Travancore captured the temple from Path Illathil Pottimar and it is believed that Ramayyan Dalawa looted whole temple assets to Thiruvananthapuram. Up to 1968, ladies and elephants were not allowed in the temple. The temple used to be opened for ladies only during Thiruvathira of dhanu month and Vishu of medam till then. Anyhow now this custom is not in practise. These facts clearly say that how popular and wealthy the temple was in those days.
Legends have their own space in relation with the history of a temple, but they should never be mixed up. While going through the legends related to Sreevallabha temple it is clear that even though Sreevallabhan idol is older, it was the temple for sudarshana built first. These legends can be summarised as below.
Ascend of Sreevallabhan idol to the earth
Before creation, while being in deep meditation at the origin of universe, Virat Purusha appeared to Brahma. Brahma understood the Lord as he could and later on continued worshipping Purusha in an idol created by Vishwakarma from energy concentrated out of extreme power and vehemence of Purusha. Upon request by Samudradeva (god of sea) lord Brahma advised worship protocol of Purusha to him and handed over the idol. Later goddess Adi Parashakti takes birth as Samudra Deva’s daughter named Sreedevi. Sreedevi worshipped the very same idol and lord Vishnu promised to marry her while she comes out during churning of the milky ocean in Krita yuga. This eventually made Vishnu to be known as sreevallabhan (sree-lakshmi, vallabhan-husband) and the goddess incorporated her power also to the idol. Later Vishnu married Lakshmi as he promised.
Tapasya of sage Durvasa
After the churning of milky ocean, sage Durvasa was upset due his own wrathful nature which led to the whole incidents. He sought advice of his father, lord Shiva who directed Durvasa to lord Brahma for getting the knowledge of Parabrahmam. Brahma advised the same as he did to Samudradeva and asked him to worship the Lord. Durvasa along with 63 disciples reached the Earth and found a suitable place and named it as Mallika Vaanam (forest of jasmines). Durvasa did tapas beneath jointly growing mango and sacred fig. Later in treta yuga the Lord appeared to the sage. As lord Vishnu appeared, water sprouts rushed out of earth and Durvasa washed the Lord’s feet with it. Pleased with the sage’s devotion, Vishnu promised to be present at the spot forever on a condition that the sage should do his service whenever he appear in a form that can be visualized by all. (The spot where Durvasa meditated is south-west to the temple and the water sprouts turned into a tank, Jalavanthy)
Kandakarnan and his bells
In spite of being son of lord Shiva, Kandakarnan was a horrible ogre who used to sacrifice animals to please Shiva and never missed any chance to humiliate Vishnu. He had a pair of bells as ear rings so that he can hear only the name of Shiva what he used to chant always. As he didn’t get salvation even after long time, he asked Shiva for its reason. Shiva decided to teach him both Shiva and Vishnu are same advised him to worship Vishnu. Directed by Durvasa, Kandakarnan reaches Mallika Vaanam. There he took bath in Jalavanthy and threw away his ear rings and got a new pair so that he can hear only the name of Vishnu thereafter. During Dvapara Yuga, Vishnu appeared in front of him as Sreevallabhan and he got salvation. By this, Jalavanthy became famous by the name Khandakar Theertham.
Journey of Sreevallabhan idol
Soon after the construction of Dvaraka, Samudradeva gifted many precious things including Sreevallabhan idol to Krishna. Krishna handed it over to his friend Satyaki saying “there is nothing in the world for Vishnu pooja like Sreevallabhan idol. Worshipping Vishnu directly and worshipping this idol are the same always. It has got the power to wash away even sins accumulated through ages”. Satyaki asked Krishna’s permission for building a temple and celestial architect Vishwakarma constructed the biggest temple in Dvārakā. Sage Veda Vyasa installed the idol and Durvasa advised worship protocol. During end of dvapara yuga Sathyaki handed over the idol to Garuda and asked to keep it safe for the use of humans in Kali yuga. Garuda went to Ramanaka island and worshipped it there. Worship of the idol made Garuda free from all his curses. When the time for Garuda to leave the earth reached, he had hidden the idol in the Bhadra deep of Netravati River (in present-day Dakshina kannada dist., Karnataka)
Annihilation of Thokalasuran (Brahmins are envious)
Mallika Vaanam became a human settlement before thousands of years and emerged out as a high-profile spiritual and educational centre with enormous wealth and human power. At that time only Brahmin families were not less than 3000 and Sankaramangalath illam enjoyed top status among them. But Sankaramangalath Illam faced risk of extinction as only an old lady and her younger son Narayana Bhattathiri lived there. Bhattathiri married Sridevi Antharjanam against dreams of others that they will get his wealth too by making their daughters getting married with him. Sreedevi Antherjanam had all good qualities but illiterate. Since literacy was a mandatory for Brahmins and even women were well versed in Sanskrit, being illiterate was a matter of humiliation and envious Brahmins never missed a chance to humiliate Antharjanam to which she never paid any attention. As the couple had no children even long after marriage, they started Ekadashi vrat for the same. The method adopted by Antharjanam for this was the most difficult one which made her to leave food and sleep also and she made her servant Sridevi and her son Mukundan to follow the same. Since they were too wealthy Antharjanam started giving food to anyone at any time which only increased the wrath of orthodox Brahmins.
Humiliation of Antharjanam and miracle
As time passed, Bhattathiri died and Antharjanam was left all alone in the world. Since she regularly performed the Ekadasi vrata, she became a good devotee of Vishnu. However she was deeply troubled that she was unable to do ekadasi as she could not read panchangam (astrological calendar) and that others would humiliate her illiteracy if she were to ask them. But she somehow found an ekadasi day and to mark the days, she would keep a pebble in a pot each day so as to know when 15 days had passed. But many times the actual ekadasi day was either a day earlier or a day later than the one she thought due to the change in the appearance of the moon. This brought on more humiliation and people began associating all sorts of stubborn acts with her name. But one day, to everyone’s shock, two astrologers confirmed the day to be ekadasi at Sankara Mangalath Illam while it was dashami at every other place. Astonished by this incident, people understood and accepted the unconditional devotion of Antharjanam and started calling her “Sankaramangalathamma” or “Chankrothamma” with respect. This led the whole village to perform Ekadashi vrat on the same days Antharjanam did.
Troublesome Thukalasuran and Yakshi
After many years Mallika Vaanam was attacked by a dreadful Asura called Thukalasuran who looted every one and was fond of eating young human flesh. At the same time a yakshi (vampire) also reached western road to the village attacking everyone who come by that way. This made many to leave the place and outsiders to avoid the place. Being too aged, Antharjanam couldn’t go anywhere. But it became very difficult to find a brahmachari (Brahmin boy who is under his deeksha after samavartanam) and thus doing paarana (final, most important event of ekadasi. Washing feet of brahmacharis and serving food to them) also became difficult. One day Antharjanam couldn’t find any brahmachari and she cried in front of her idol of Vishnu requesting not to break her custom that she had been following from many years. By the time a young brahmachari reached there and asked food. Antharjanam became glad to see him and asked him to come after bath since she needed to complete rituals of Ekadasi. Discarding all warnings given by Antharjanam, the young man stepped towards the river where Thukalasuran lived. There happened a big fight between both. Finally the golden pole with the brahmachari turned into Sudarshana chakra and he killed Thukalasuran and his crew. After this, brahmachari washed his chakra in water and installed the Shivling worshipped by Thukalasuran on a hilltop (Thukalassery). Reaching the northern entrance of the village, he conquered and tied hands of yakshi. After installing an idol of Durga on the rock with what he covered the well in which Yakshi was put, the Brahmachari requested Goddess Mahamaya to protect Mallikavanam from all other directions.
Installation of Sudarshana
Later the young man with five other brahmacharis reached Sankaramangalath illam. Antharjanam completed all rituals and served food to them in areca nut leaves as the rakshasa had destroyed all banana plantains. Goddess Lakshmi disguised as a housewife entered the scene and served thrippuli (a kind of pickle) to the brahmachari. Knowing Thukalasuran had been murdered by the brahmachari, people came there to visit him and requested show them his Chakra to salute. Brahmachari installed it in human form with eight hands facing west on the raised land east to them and advised for its daily worship. Sreedevi Antharjanam decided to build a temple there and asked Pathillathil Pottimar to be the administrators. The gathered people paid their oblations to the Chakra and prostrated in front of it. Then the brahmachari removed his uthareeyam (dress covering his chest) showing his chest adorned with Srivatsam and goddess Lakshmi residing there, for Antharjanam to be confirmed that he was lord Vishnu only and on showing his Viswaroopam, Antharjanam, her servant and servant’s son got salvation by merging with Him. This incident happened on 2998 BC and thereafter Mallika Vaanam became famous as Chakripuram. Five brahmachari came along with the Lord were sage Durvasa and his disciples. The place where Thukalasuran lived is now known as Thukalassery, where he has been killed as Konnakkulangara, where brahmachari washed his Chakra as Chakrashaalana kadav, where he installed Durga’s idol as Thiru Erankavu and three abodes of Mahamaya around the area as Alumthuruthy, Karunaattukaavu and Padappaad. The Sankaramangalath illam is still well preserved outside the temple near to its western gate and is considered as the place of origin of the temple. Hence any custom followed in the temple starts here only. The place where the demon’s head fell is called Talaiyaru, arms fell at Muttaru and legs at Kalaru. The place where the Chakra fell is called Chakarak Kaavu.
Installation of Sreevallabhan idol
Around 3000 years after this incident, King Cheraman Perumal visited the temple and his wife Queen Cherum Thevi expressed her wish to build a shrine for Vishnu also attached with it rebuilding the whole structure. They ordered a Vishnu’s idol from Tamilakam after the temple construction. One night the Queen had a dream in which Garuda disguised as a Brahmin informed her about Sreevallabhan idol and asked to install it there. With the help of Garuda and Tulu Brahmins, Cheraman Perumal brought the idol to Chakripuram for installation. But during installation ceremony, the idol didn’t fit to its peetham or seat, the priests felt something supernatural and everyone came out near Jalavann Thy. Then they heard celestial instruments being played and chanting of vedic hymns from inside. As they rushed and opened altar door, they saw the idol installed at right place with blazing light everywhere and a couple of bananas in an Areca nut palm leaf in front of the idol. Two celestial beings came out of the sanctum-sanctorum and disappeared on eastern bank of Jalavanthy and they were Durvasa and Vedavyasa. Thereafter Chakripuram had been renamed as Sri Vallabhapuram. The idol that King ordered had been installed at Sree Krishna temple, Malayinkeezhu, Thiruvananthapuram. Sreevallabha temple had been built by Uliyannoor Perumthachan, the architectural legend. The temple wall and Garuda dhwaja were completed in a single day in 57 BC by the crew of the Lord. Perumthachan had made a panchaloha idol of Garuda which is currently seen over Garuda dhwaja. Soon after the installation, Garuda tried to fly and perumthachan stopped it by cutting its one wing by throwing his axe. The present copper flag is built there where Garuda had fallen during this incident.
Malayalappuzha Devi Temple is a Bhadrakali temple situated at Malayalappuzha in Pathanamthitta in Kerala. It is believed that the temple was built more than 3000 years ago. In the temple, Bhadrakali is seen in a ferocious form soon after the killing of the demon, Darika. The main idol is 5.5 feet high, made from katu sarkara yogam. In addition to this idol, two other idols are also erected inside the sanctum sanctorum; one used for abhishekam and the other for sreebali, a daily ritual.
Malayalapuzha Devi is believed to grant boons for extending prosperity to all the devotees. The goddess is worshiped for protecting the devotee from enemies, getting the unmarried girls married, obtaining job for the unemployed, and helping businesses flourish. This popular belief and faith makes the temple visited by devotees from far locations. The devi is also known as Goddess Ida Thattil Bhagwathi.
Once upon a time, two people belonging to the Namboothiri caste of northern Travancore were meditating at Mookambika temple. They had with them an idol of Bhadrakali. After their meditation for a prolonged period, they received an oracle from Bhadrakali that the idol will have her perpetual presence. The Namboothiris continued their pilgrimage with the idol in their possession. As they became too old to continue their pilgrimage, Bhadrakali appeared before them and advised that Malayalappuzha was the ideal place to erect the idol. Following her advice, the Namboothiris reached Malayalapuzha and erected the idol.
Malayalapuzha Devi Temple features beautiful wall paintings and artistic stone carvings. The temple features a unique statue of Goddess Parvati feeding baby Ganapathy on her lap. An idol of Veera Bhadra can be seen on the entry to the sanctum. Sub deities in the temple are Brahma Rakshas, Nagaraja and a swayambhu Shiva Linga.
The annual festival is celebrated for 11 days. The festival starts on the Thiruvathira nakshatra in the Kumbha masam (February – March). Kathakali is conducted on the fourth and fifth day. The temple is open for darshan from 05:00 AM to 01:00 PM and in the evening 05:00 PM to 08:00 PM.
Kaviyoor Mahadevar Temple is one of the important Shiva temples in Kerala, located in Kaviyoor, Thiruvalla Pathanamthitta District, Kerala. It is commonly called Thrikkariyoor Mahadeva Temple. The main deity is Lord Mahadeva (Shiva) with Parvathi.The temple is well known for the Hanuman temple situated inside the temple complex. Kaviyoor Temple is one of the important Special Grade temples under the Travancore Devaswom Board.
There is hollow of a wide range of legends surrounding the temple. The Main legend is about the origin of this great temple. According to this legend the main Idol of Lord Shiva was installed by Lord Sri Rama in the presence of Sita, Hanuman, Sugreeva and Vibheeshana on his return to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. Lord Sri Rama initiated Hanuman to bring a divine Sivalinga from Himalayas. Hanuman went to Himalayas and searched everywhere for a unique Sivalinga, and took some time for that purpose. As the auspicious time for prathishta neared, Lord Rama decided to do the Prathishta at once and using the earth form that place, he molded a Sivalinga and consecrated it. When he returned Hanuman became very sad seeing the prathishta was already done. So Lord Rama told Hanuman to remove the prathishta and install the Divyalinga he brought in its place. Hanuman tried his maximum, but the newly molded earthen Linga remained as such. Instead, the land surrounding it moved up to form a small hillock. So Hanuman prayed pardon, and sought Lord Rama for permission to stay near the Divya Prathishta done by him for ever. Thus Kaviyoor become Hanuman’s place. It is traditionally known as the most prominent Hanuman temple in South India. A second legend is about the installation of Hanuman prathishta inside the temple complex. Sage Vilwamangalam once visited this temple and on entering the compound he had a vision of Lord Hanuman sitting on the branch of the huge Ilanji (Mimusops elengi) tree in the north- eastern side of the outer courtyard. He prayed to the Lord to alight from the tree top and sit in a comfortable position in the inner courtyard, near to Lord Shiva. Hanuman sanctioned his wish and sat on the sage’s Japa-Kindi in the north western corner of the inner courtyard. Later, as a result of a dream appeared to Maharaja Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma a separate sanctum was built for Lord Hanuman in M.E. 1108( AD 1934).
The Main deity is known as Thrikkaviyoorappan. The Shivalinga is believed to be made of sand and darbha grass. According to the dhyana sloka Lord Shiva of Kaviyoor Temple is in a pleasant form and is sitting in lotus position (padmasana) embracing Goddess Parvati with his left hand, and also surrounded by his sons Ganapathi and Subramanya. The idols of Shiva as Dakshinamurthy and Ganapathi are installed together in the southern side of the main sanctum. Lord Ayyappan is installed at the south-west, facing east In the west Goddess Parvati is worshiped as Sreemoolam Rajeswari. This idol was consecrated in ME 1068 (AD 1893) as per the orders of Maharaja Sri Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma of Travancore. Outside the main sanctum in the north-west corner of the inner courtyard is the position of the Hanuman temple. The idol is small and faces east. This deity has more popularity than Lord Shiva. Outside the nalambalam on the north- east side of the outer courtyard idols Serpent gods (Naga Raja & Naga yakshi) are installed. The Deity of the Keezh Thrikkovil Temple, situated beneath the main temple complex in the north- west side is Mahavishnu. Idol of this temple is made of stone, and is in standing position with four hands.
Though according to the main legend, this temple belongs to Treta Yuga, its actual time of construction is not known. But architectural styles represents the early stages of Kerala temple architecture. The basement of the sanctum sanctorum belongs to the early 10th century or older. Several prominent historians share this opinion says that the presence of two 10th century inscriptions surely certifies this, It is believed to have been constructed in the early years of the 10th century.
One of the inscriptions is of Kali Era 4051 (AD 951) and the second one belongs to Kali Era 4052 (AD 952). The first inscription is about a donation of acres of land to Lord Shiva of Kaviyoor by Makilancheri Thevan Chennan. The Second inscription describes a land donation by two persons named Mangalathu Narayanan Keyavan and Mangalathu Narayanan Kittiran. The total lands donated according to these inscriptions are believed to be equal to 202 acres and was spread over the areas of Kidangara, Kottenkari, Kumarankari and Eera- places several kilometers away from Kaviyoor. These inscriptions are among the oldest inscriptions found in Kerala and bear huge historical importance. Kaviyoor was one of the 64 Brahmin villages in the Parasuraman Kerala 32 Thulu villages and 32 Malayalam villages. The Kaviyoor Mahadevar Temple was the Gramakshethra (Village Temple) of Kaviyoor gramam. The temple was administered by Ten Brahmin families known as Pathillathil potties and was taken over by the Travancore State Government in the year 1899 (ME1075). As per records The Kaviyoor Temple takeover had added a huge wealth to the Travancore treasury since the take-over of more than 2500 temples in the ME 976 (about 100 before the accession of Kaviyoor temple ), by Col. Monroe. The Take over / accession of ME 976 has yielded more than 1,600,000 paras of paddy and almost 50,000 rupees money to the Travancore Treasury (at that time the Travancore King has accessed several major temples of Travancore state including the famous Temples of Kanyakumari, Suchindram, Thiruvattar, Varkala, Haripad, Ambalappuzha, Thiruvalla, Chengannur, Aranmula, Ettumanoor & Vaikom) while Kaviyoor Temple’s annual revenue was 9201 para paddy and 23,334.75 fanams (Madras fanam). The Kaviyoor Temple was accessed to the Travancore State as the 12th First class Major Temple with its enormous wealth, including tens of thousands of acres of fertile lands, tens of thousands of rupees and the huge collection of worthy treasures.
Kaviyoor Mahadevar Temples is one of the oldest structural temples in Kerala. The temple with its copper-covered roof, golden flag mast and the wide steps at the eastern entrance, is one of the most beautiful temples in Kerala. This temple displays perfect architecture. The Sanctum is circular with a diameter of 46 feet. The ancient basement is of five parts and bears peculiarities of the earlier period of temple architecture. The roof of the sanctum is copper covered with a gilded dome. The outer wall of the sanctum is adorned with wooden sculpture panels. There are fourteen panels around and each are with carved stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavatham and Sivapuranam. There are two large panels inside the mukha mandapam just above the sopanam on either side of the main door. Pradosha Tandava in the south and Trivikram Moorthy in the right. 44 rafters support the roof and the rafter shoes are made of bronze with reliefs of gods. Namaskara Mandapam, in front of the sanctum is square shaped. The inner roof of the Namaskara Mandapam is full of beautiful carvings. Navagraha sculptures in the centre and the story of ramayana, from Rama’s birth to Hanuman’s Lankadahanam is arranges here in three layers. The rafter shoes of the Mandapa was also bronze covered, but these 36 pieces are missing now. The inner roof of Vathil Madam (Koothumaadam) and Balickalppura are also abundant with sculptures. Due to the height and small size of sculptures, those on the Vathil Madam are not visible clearly. The Balickalpura sculptures include some poses from Kamasutra too. These sculptures belongs to late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. The wood work of this temple was done by local sculptors, belonging to Thekkethil family. Each and every part of this temple radiates architectural splendor. The Temple has a huge collection of precious ornaments which also shows the artistic excellence of the sculptors of Kaviyoor. These include Swarna prabha mandalam, Golden Nettipattam and ezhunnallunnu chathams, Golden pots, Golden Reliefs of Deities, Golden Umbrellas, Golden Chains and Several materials with precious gems.
According to the revised pathiv (business) of Kaviyoor temple, there were 16 attaviseshams (Annual Festivals. But as on now the main Annual festivals are Panthrantukalabham in Chingam Kanni (July), Ayilyam (September), Thiru Utsavam (Annual festival December January), Hanumath Jayanthi (December January), Uthrattathi Atta Thirunal (January), Sivarathri (February March), Kalabhabhishekam (April) and Sahasra Kalasam (May June).
Panthrandu Kalabham was started in 1951 for Lord Hanuman as wished by Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, in memory of the renovation and upgrading of the Hanuman Temple. The festival starts on the first day of Malayalam month Chingam and ends on the twelfth day. The Ayilyam in malayalam month kanni is for the serpent gods.
The main festival of Lord Mahadeva is in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December January) attracts thousands of devotees from all over the central Travancore region and is of ten-day duration. The idol of the lord is taken atop caparisoned elephant to various places which are related to the temple from the second day to the sixth day of the festival. From the seventh day onward the rituals are held only inside the temple premises. On the tenth day, the Idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi are taken in a grant procession to the Manimala river for Arat.
There is another annual festival in Malayalam month Dhanu (December–January) related to the Hanuman temple, called Hanumath Jayanthi. This festival also attracts thousands of devotees. In the month of Makaram (January February) Uthrattathi thirunal is celebrated in memory of the consecration of the Sri Moola Rajeswary idol. In Malayalam month Kumbham (February March) Shivarathri is celebrated with various rituals. The 8000 lamps on the wall of the Nalambalam are lighted by seven regions of Kaviyoor and Kunnamthanam villages. Sahasra Kalasam is a festival with high importance. This 11 day was started in ME1082 (AD 1907).
The main offerings for Lord Shiva are Dhara, Payasam, Atimakitaththal and Thulabharam. The main offering to Hanuman at this temple are Aval Panthirunazhi and Vadamala. Both these offerings needs advance booking, but small packets of aval nivedyam is available from the counter any time. For Mahavishnu main offering is pal payasam. Other common offerings like Ganapathi Homam and other Hindu rituals are also offered in this Temple.
Chakkulathukavu Bhagavathy Amman Temple, dedicated to goddess Durga. The temple is located in Neerattupuram, Thalavady panchayat, Alappuzha District, Kerala and is one of the most popular temples in the state. Durga is one of the most popular deities in the area. Pilgrims from all over South India visit and worship the Devi. The temple was less known even to the local residents and lay as a family temple of a local resident. This remained until it was renovated a few decades before. Located on the banks of the holy Pampa River, this temple has attracted pilgrims all over Kerala and became one of the most popular pilgrim centers of the state.
The major festival is Pongala which takes place in the temple during the month of Vrischikam (November / December). This is the time when the glory of the Goddess is at its peak. Lakhs of women devotees gather around the temple as early as even one week before the function. The temple premises will be overcrowded and the devotees arrange places for offering the pongala on both sides of the main streets. The queue usually extends to a surprising length of 20 km. Rice, coconut and jaggery are brought by women devotees along with round earthen pots for cooking. The Chief Priest lights the main hearth from the divine fire inside the sanctum sanctorum. This fire is exchanged from one oven to another. Panthrandu Noyambu is another festival celebrated at the temple. This is the type of fasting and prayer that qualifies the devotee for eternal blessings of Chakkulathamma. This fasting starts every year from the first day of the Malayalam month of Dhanu until the twelfth. The other festivals are Naree pooja, Thrikkarthika.
Mor Ignatius Manjinikkara Dayara is a monastery of the Syriac Orthodox Church. It is situated at the top of the hillock in Manjanikkara, near Omallur, Pathanamthitta District, in South Kerala. The monastery was established by Mor Yulios Elias Qoro, Patriarchal delegate to the Malankara Church. The Manjanikkara Dayro is the seat of the Patriarchal Delegate to Malankara and the metropolitan of the Simhasana churches (churches administered directly by the Patriarchate). On 11 February 1932, at the invitation of Kashisho Kuriakose Kavinamannil, the Patriarch Ignatius Elias III arrived at the Manjinikkara Mor Stephanos church from Kallissery. On arriving at Manjinikkara, the Patriarch said, “This place offers us much comfort; we desire to remain here permanently.” He died there on 13 February.
Different opinions arose regarding the final resting place for the Patriarch, a situation that the church in Malankara never had to confront before. It was decided to inter his body in a plot of land to the north of the Mor Stephanos church, the title deed of which was transferred to the Patriarchate. On 14 February, the funeral services for the patriarch were held there. The Mor Ignatius Dayro church was built by the Patriarchal delegate Mor Yulios Elias Qoro over the tomb of the Patriarch. The memory of the Patriarch is preserved by the Syriac Orthodox Church, especially in Malankara where thousands of pilgrims reach the tomb by foot on the annual feast day, 13 February, from all over the world. Ignatius Elias is the only Patriarch of Antioch whose body is interred in Malankara. On 20 October 1987, Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka II was through encyclical E265/87 permitted the Church in Malankara to remember his name in the fifth diptych. The remains of Mor Yulius Elias Qoro and Mor Yulius Yacoub, former Patriarchal delegates to Malankara, are also interred in the church.
Niranam Pally, popularly known as Niranam Valiyapally or St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Niranam, is a church under the Niranam Diocese of the Indian Orthodox Church founded by Thomas the Apostle one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, in AD 54. Niranam Pally is one of the oldest churches in India. It is believed that the church was founded by St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, in AD 54. The church was reconstructed several times since then. The stones in the church shows the reconstruction in 1259. St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ landed at Malankara near Cranganore around A.D.52. He established seven and half churches. Those are, Kodungallur, Palayoor, Kottacave, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Chayal, Kollam and the half church at Thiruvithamcode. On his way from Kollam in northeast direction he arrived at Niranam “Thrikpapaleswaram” by sea. He converted two Hindu Brahmin families named Pattamukkil, & Thayyil and two Nair families named Manki & Malathion to Christianity. These are the first four families which has been converted by St.Thomas to Christianity. He also gives priestly powers to the members of Pattamukkil family. Priests from Pattamukkil family used to stay there and done priesthood and governed Niranam church and its properties in the ancient days. Tharavad is surrounded from three sides of Niranam Church. It is believed to be one of the oldest churches in Kerala and thus in India as well as among the oldest ones in the world. The architecture shows striking similarities to ancient temple architecture. It is believed to have been established by St. Thomas.
Today The present building, supposedly the fourth, was constructed in 1912 and was renovated during the year 2000. There are five altars at Niranam church. The main altar, the central one, is in the name of Saint Mary. This is used for regular services of the church. There are two altars on the north and south of the main one. The altar on the northern side is consecrated to Saint George and the altar on the southern side is consecrated in the name of Mar Behnam. There are two smaller altars, to the front of the main altar. The north among these is in the name of Saint Thomas. It is also the shrine of Mar Thoma II. The southern among the small altars is consecrated to Saint Stephen. This is also the shrine of Mar Thoma V.
Niranam Church celebrate the feasts of Saint Mary in whose name the church is dedicated, the feast of Saint Thomas who is the founder of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Apostle of India and the feasts of Mar Thoma II and Mar Thoma V whose mortal remains are buried in the church.
Feast of Assumption of Saint Mary (Vaangiya perunnal in Malayalam or Shoonoyo in Syriac) – 15 August
Eight Day Lent of Saint Mary Mother of Jesus – September 1-8
Feast of Martyrdom of Saint Thomas – 21 December
Feast of Martyrdom of Mar Behnam – 27 December
Feasts of Mar Thoma II and Mar Thoma V – 10 May
Konni Elephant Reserve is among the most prominent elephant training centres in Kerala. Located in Pathanamthitta district, it attracts visitors in large numbers throughout the year. One of the major attractions here are the giant wooden cages used to house the elephants. Locally known as Aanakoodu, they can house up to 3 to 4 elephants at a time. The primary focus of the trainers here is to deal with the development of baby elephants that have been separated from their herd or been found hurt somewhere. The trainers have traditional methods that have been passed down through generations to deal with these situations. The elephants are taught to obey specific commands and are taken for special exercise walks in the morning, are given baths and specific diets. At Konni, one gets to observe this training procedure in person. The baby elephants love playing with the guests and are especially friendly with children. Bigger elephants are used for rides around the place and are a favourite among all who visit the place.
Poruvazhy Peruviruthy Malanada Temple, popularly known as Peruviruthy Malanada or Malanada is the only Duryodhana Temple in South India. It is located at Edakkad Ward of Poruvazhy village in Kunnathur. This place is the northern border of Kollam district which Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts share the boundaries. The temple is located equidistant from Adoor to the Northeast and Sasthamcotta to the Southeast. It is also reachable from Kayamkulam and Karunagapally on the NH 47 and Kottarakkara on the MC road.
Thripuliyoor Mahavishnu Temple is dedicated to Maha Vishnu and located in Puliyoor, Alappuzha District, Kerala. Constructed in the Kerala style of architecture, the temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th to 9th centuries AD. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Maha Vishnu, who is worshipped as Mayapiran / Thripuliyoorappan. The nearest railway station to the temple is located in Chengannur.
It is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the legend of Mahabharata, where the five Pandavas are believed to have built one temple each; Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyoor Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple by Arjuna, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple by Sahadeva. The temple is open from 4 am to 11:00 am and 5 pm to 8 pm and is administered by Travancore Devaswom Board of the Government of Kerala.
It is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the legend of Mahabharata. Legend has it that the Pandava princes, after crowning Parikshit as king of Hastinapura left on a pilgrimage. On arriving on the banks of river Pamba, each one is believed to have installed a tutelary image of Krishna; Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple by Arjuna, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple by Sahadeva. It is said that this sthalam is constructed and built by Bhima, one of the Five Pandavas. He worshipped this sthala perumal, Maayapiraan. Sapta Rishis Atthri, Vasishtar, Kas Yapar, Gouthamar, Bharadwaja, Vishwamitra and Jamadagni got the seva of this Maayapiraan along with porkodi Naachiyaar and through Indra, it is said that all these Saptarishis got their Mukti towards the Emperumaan.
Once, Virukshadharbi, who was the son of Sibhi Chakravarthy, ruled an empire where there was flood and there was no proper vegetation and the wealth and the beauty of the entire empire seems to be decreasing. At that time, the king thought, if any austerities were given to Sapta Rishis, it might increase the wealth and beauty of the Empire. As a result of this, he invited Saptarishis, the seven important sages. But, the Saptarishis did not accept his charity, since they felt that the reduction of wealth and health in the entire empire were on account of the deeds of the ruling king. But, the king wanted them to accept his donation, and as a result of this, he asked his palace officials to keep some gold inside the fruits and give them that, so that they would accept that and simultaneously his charity is also accepted. But, knowing the truth that some golds are placed inside the fruit through their yogic power, the sages did not accept the fruits also. Virukshadharbi got angry with the Saptarishis and tried them to kill and as a result of this cruel mind, he started an Yagam in which a lady Pishacha by named “Kiruthi” arose and he ordered the demon to kill all them. Knowing this, Emperuman sent Indra to destroy Kiruthi and to protect the sages. Indra killed the demon and all the Sapta Rishis got the seva of the Emperumaan and got their Mukthi.
During Mahabharata war, Bhima underwent penance worshipping the lord here. Bheema was the powerful among the five brothers and this temple is large indicating his largess. Also the Gatha, the weapon used by Bheema is believed to be present in the temple. Earliest references to this temple appear in the poems and hymns composed by the greatest of Alvar saints – Nammalvar, in circa 800 AD. Stone inscriptions in the temple date it back to the Second Chera Empire (800 – 1102 AD). Another of the Azhwars, Thirumangai Azhwar has mentioned Thirupapuliyur in one of his verses in his Siriya Thirumadal.
Paliakkara St.George Church is the ancient church of tiruvalla, which is now the great asylum of all native people regardless of caste & religion as you can see. The church which we can see now was founded in 1815 is now on completion of its renovation. With almost 800 families, the parish is now one of the biggest in Niranam Diocese of Indian Orthodox Church. The murals on the altar of the church has made this a famous tourism destination too.
The members of Paliakkara church before its foundation was generally of Niranam St.Mary’s Church, which was founded by St.Thomas the Apostle in A.D 54. At that time, the town was centralized in kavumbhagom and most of the Christians of the town lived in the Kaavil Street which stretched from Thiru Erankaav temple to Kaavil Temple. Most of the Christians lived here were merchants. They were brought by the local rulers from places like Kuravilangad, Mavelikkara etc. in the 15th Century for enhancement of trading. Also the rulers brought Tamil Brahmins from Madhura who were specialized in textile trading and banking. Both these took the Kaavil Street as their capital place and thus the street developed into one of biggest markets in Kerala (This market came to an end by the beginning of 20th Century).The Brahmins provided their banking facility to help traders. There were restrictions for lower castes to walk through this way (writings on stones with Royal Shell emblem can still found there).
As Niranam church was a little bit far away from Thiruvalla, people felt much difficulty in traveling every week up to Niranam. So the people decided to find a place in thiruvalla itself and build a church there. For this, they located the place where now the church is situated. As a follow up, the christian leaders in thiruvalla jointly submitted a request to the authorities to grant permission to build a church. Then some people came with oppositions. They claimed that the location found by Christians is parallel to the Sri Vallabha Temple, which is the main and famous temple of Tiruvalla. Moreover, they claimed that there was some old worship place in the land where the church was proposed. The Christians didn’t mind this and they proceeded with the preparations.
The rulers of the land of Tiruvalla were a group of Brahmin families called “Pathillathil Potties”. Those who opposed the church formation went to one of the Potties and got a stay order in the subject. Thus a strong dispute got arise between Christians and upper caste-Hindus of the place. Men of the major Christian families like Kovoor, Kanjirakkattu, Thattakunnel, Kizhakkedathu, Kodiyattu etc. met together and planned future actions. One day, there occurred a debate between the Brahmins and several Christians over the issue of church foundation at the Kaavil Street. During the conversation, one of the Brahmins took a pledge that “Thiruvallayappanaane ningal palli Vekkilla” (In the name of Sri Vallabha, I pledge that you will not build the church). Suddenly a gentleman, Kizhakkedathu Panicker ( the men of Kizhakkedathu family had been granted by a degree ‘Panicker’ which was given by the kings to Warrior and Merchant Christians) jumped forward and took a counter pledge “Niranathammayane njangal palli vekkum”( In the name of St.Mary of Niranam, we pledge that we will build the church). Those words rushed as fire into the hearts of Christians and on the very next instant they marched to their proposed place of worship in the leadership of Panicker (This is remembered every year on the last day of the church feast by a procession through kaavil market starting from the church). Within a single day and night, they worked together and built a small church with coconut leaves and bamboos. This was the starting of the now Paliakkara Church and the rest is history.
Story doesn’t end there. Some bad fellows put the small new church into fire on the very next day. The leaders of those who built the church were in fury. They rushed to Trivandrum and told their worries to Rani Sethu Lakshmi Bhai, the regent ruler of the State of Travancore at that time. As Travancore was under strong British influence at that time, they also saw Colonel Monroe, the British resident to Travancore state. At that times, Marthoma (title of metropolitans who ruled the entire Christians of Kerala) used to gain good support and respect from the kingdoms and due to the strong recommendation by the then ruler of the church Marthoma VIII , the regent queen ordered that a new church is to be built at the same place of the old one at the expense of those who fired the temporary church with additional fine of 8000 rupees. She also granted woods from govt. depots for the building and 20000 rupees. Thus the church was rebuilt and the balance amount was donated for the building of Kottayam Seminary which was built in the same period.
There is no existing record for the date of the foundation of the first church, but the permanent church was completed and consecrated on March 20th, 1814 by Marthoma VIII. Later on, this church developed as a big shrine of the far and near, without any bar of caste and religion. Even those who opposed the construction of new church praised it and the land came back to its harmony again.
By 1850’s, the protestant reformation gained much power in the Indian Orthodox Church. It had heart in the central Travancore and led by Kovoor Fr. Iype Thoma. He was vicar of Paliakkara Church for many years and succeeded in bringing many of the folks to the path of Protestantism. He was strongly opposed by several people like those from families like Kanjirakkattu, Kodiyattu, Chalakuzhy etc. They gave a petition to the Malankara Metropolitan H.G Mar Mathews Athanasius. Mar Athanasius was a supporter of protestantism, but he didn’t show it in public. As the petitioners asked him to prevent Kovoor cathanar from performing Holy Qurbana in Paliakkara church, the shrewd Metropolitan asked them to build a wall on the eastern side of the church so that the priest can perform his rituals there. This happened in M.E 1044.The orthodox people agreed to this solution, but Father Iype Thoma continued to use the main altar.
As seeing their efforts going in vein, the above said orthodox leaders when to H.G Euyakim Mar Coorilos who came from Antioch to defeat Mathews Athanasius. With the help of Koorilos, they filed cases in civil courts against the reformation faction who held the major rule in the church and started building a new church inside the Kaavil Market in the land of Kattapuram family. In spite of the petitions from the opposite factions, they completed a church in the name of St.George in 1867.In the same year another church was built on the same street in the name of St.Mulk Youhanon.Both these churches were consecrated by H.G Euyakim Mar Coorilos. Court ordered that Paliakkara church to be shut down until the disputes are over.All these times, the orthodox faction managed to hide the valuable big Silver Cross of the church from the protestants. It was hidden inside the church pond for years until the church got favorable order from court.
Atlast the Royal Court proclaimed a major decision in 1889 covering the entire churches in Malankara by which Orthodox Church was authorized on every assets which resulted in the formation of Marthoma church. Then each faction used the church on alternate weeks. In 1901, Marthoma faction drew out of their claim over the church with a compensation of 1700 rupees. Times of disputes didn’t end there. In 1912, new issues came into existence in Indian Orthodox Church and its waves reached Paliakkara Church too. Again the church was divided for worship over the Patriarch Faction and Catholicos faction. Both of them had their strongholds at Kattappuram and Thekke Puthen Church respectively. At alternate weeks they used either these churches or Paliakkara Church. Still the spirit of people to the church did not decrease. They continued to go to the church and shared their worries and needs to St.George everyday. In 1958, Supreme Court of India ordered in favor of Orthodox Church and Paliakkara Church also became independent. 1968 witnessed an agreement with the three churches- Paliakkara St.George, Kattappuram St.George and Thekke Puthen St.Mulk to join as one parish; which was coordinated by H.H Baselios Augen I Catholicos. This joint system continued until 2003 when they became three independent parishes to develop further.
The specialty of this church is its uniqueness in the architecture. It’s a typical model of churches built in similar period with wings at both sides and with pictures in the high external walls. The murals on the eastern wall of the altar had attracted many tourists and history students to this site. They are of high quality and perfection with natural components and represent the last generation of murals in Kerala. The pictures generally demonstrate the major events in our Lord’s life on earth. Below it is a huge picture of St.George at the center and twelve apostles on either side. Their names are also written in Syriac at the bottom. On either side of the big wooden pieces on the roof, we can see small statues of tigers and elephants. Also some writings were found on the wall above the baptism tub during the renovation process in 2005, which can probably been in the other areas of the church walls also.
Valiakoikkal Temple is the family temple of the Pandalam Royal Family. The temple is located at Pandalam in Pathanamthitta District. It is situated within the Pandalam Palace premises. The main deity is Ayyappan. Procession of the Thiruvabharanam towards Sabarimala shrine starts from the Valiyalukkal temple every year before the Makaravilakku festival. Millions of devotees visit this temple every year during the Makaravilakku festive season.
Pandalam dynasty a royal dynasty emerged from a branch of pandya kingdom which existed in Kerala during the Kollam era. They came to Kerala fearing the assault of a ruler. In Kerala they were given land and status by Kaipuzha Thampan (Kunjunni Varma Thampan of Nilambur Kovilakam a landlord who lived in Amanthur Palace at Kaipuzha from Kottayam Kerala. Today Pandalam is part of Pathanamthitta, Kerala.
The Pandya Kingdom of Tamilakam was once attacked by Malik Kafur, the commander-in-chief of Alauddin Khilji of Khilji dynasty. Upon the failure of Pandiya rajas, two branches of this dynasty fled towards west (Kerala) to secure themselves from the attacks. One branch proceeded via the Western Ghats mountainous regions and settled in Poonjar in Kottayam and established the Poonjar kingdom. The other branch (Chembazhannur) wandered through several places ghats and facing lots of difficulties finally settled in Pandalam. The fleeing Chembazhannur branch at first settled in Valliyur (near Tirunelveli) and enjoyed a privileged position in the society. Later due to the threats of invasion, the royal family shifted to Tenkasi. Thirumalai Nayak, a famed ruler of Madurai wished to see his daughter’s marriage with a prince of Chembazhannur family. But upon the rejection of marriage proposal, Nayak became an enemy of Pandyas. He made huge damages in Tenkasi with his strong Maravappada (army). Knowing that they couldn’t continue a peaceful life in Tenkasi, the family moved to a place named Elathur maniyam and procured the mountainous regions near Puliyankudi. But Nayak continued to torture the royal family which forced them to proceed towards west (Kerala) via places such as Achankovil, Aryankavu, Kulathupuzha and settled in Konni by c. 79 ME, which was according to the Copper deed issued by the Venad raja. The family constructed a shrine for lord Shiva in Konni (Murugamangalam Sree Mahadevar Temple) for their daily worships. This temple is one of the most noted contributions of Chembazhanuur family in Kerala. A number of Mutts, Manas and Koyikkalls were also constructed by the family. The local people fed up with the activities of thieves accepted the family as the ruling class which was named as Chembazhanji kovilakom. Attacks on Travancore by Cholas forced the family to flee Konni and then to settle down in Pandalam which became their permanent capital. A full-fledged kingdom was established by around c. 370 ME (1194 CE) by obtaining the land from Kunjunni Varma Thampan (Kaipuzha Thampan) of Amanthur Kovilakam at Kaipuzha and the local ruler and landlord of the region. The Venad ruler also played a great role in the establishment of this kingdom. People enjoyed a peaceful atmosphere and ideal life under the Pandalam rulers. As of the Travancore state manual, Pandalam kingdom kept friendly relations with the rajas of Travancore. Relation between Kaipuzha Thampan and Maharaja of Travancore was extremely cordial. Pandalam Raja established a good relation with Maharaja of Travancore through Kunjunni Varma Thampan who was the close friend, advisory of Maharaja of Travancore.
The territories of Pandalam kingdom extended to an area of 2,600 Square Kilometers which covered the parts of Konni, Achankovil, Tenkasi and the forest regions of Sabarimala, the abode of Ayyappa. During 345 ME, Aadhichavarman a Venad ruler had given a sizable portion of land to this kingdom. Marthanda Varma, the famed Venad ruler and establisher of Travancore kingdom (925 ME) was named for his annexation policies. But on his conquests in Central Travancore, Pandalam was left independent and wasn’t annexed to his domain. This was primarily due to cordial relations that Travancore had with Pandalam and of the assistance by the royal family in the Kayamkulam conquest of Varma. Pandalam was forced to give a big amount of Rs.2,20,001 to Travancore government towards the cost of wars after Tipu’s conquest in Malabar coast during 965 ME. The amount was paid in various installments. During 969 ME, the income from Sabarimala temple was used to pay as installments by a ruler of Pandalam. By 995 ME, the raja of Travancore made an agreement with the Pandalam king assuring that they would support every member of the royal family if they were allowed to collect revenue from Pandalam. Upon the acceptance of this offer, the kingdom of Pandalam was merged with Travancore and a monthly pension was issued for each royal family member. The administrative rights of temples including Sabarimala within the premises of kingdom was transferred to the Travancore government and later to Travancore devaswom board. Before the formation of Pathanamthitta district, Pandalam was a part of the Mavelikkara taluk of Alappuzha district.
Legend about the relationship with Ayyappa. It is believed that the royal family of Pandalam belonged to the Bhargava gotra while other royal families in Kerala were included in the Viswamitra gotra. The kingdom is famed for its kinship with Ayyappa, the son of Harihara (the fusion of Shiva and Vishnu). Raja Rajasekhara, a king of this dynasty during his hunting expedition heard the crying of a baby near the banks of Pamba. The raja found a glorious looking infant wearing a bead in his neck and surrounded by a halo. The childless raja was doubted whether to take the child with him. But Sage Agastya arrived there and cleared his doubts by telling him that the child is a boon from the Gods and advised him to accept him. He was named Manikanta (Mani means bead and Kanta being the neck). He was given proper education in gurukulam Later Rani gave birth to a son but raja considered Manikanta as his elder son and decided to crown him as Yuvaraja of Pandalam.
Manikanta was not willing to take up the throne as he was destined to crush evil. A greedy minister in the court misled the rani of the palace and partake in his scheme against Manikanta. Following the words of the minister, the rani pretended to be affected by a severe stomachache. The bribed royal physician prescribed the milk of Tiger as the only cure for this ache. The king was quite sure that none of the royal servants could complete the mission of obtaining milk from a tiger, but Manikanta agreed to go deep into the forests to fetch it. In the forests, Manikanta would come to fight and vanquish the demoness Mahishi. On the very next day, he arrived at the palace riding a tiger followed by a group of cubs. Realizing that Manikanta was not an ordinary being, the members of the palace began praising him by calling him Ayyane and Appane, from which the name “Ayyappa” originated. As his mission of slaying the demoness Mahishi was fulfilled, Manikanta determined that he should leave the palace, not before instructing the raja to construct a shrine at Sabarimala where he would be presiding to bless thousands of devotees. He blessed everyone who assembled there once this was done and vanished forever.
The Palace complex Consists.
Pandalam palace is a royal palace of Pandalam located on the banks of Achankovil river was the residence of royal family members. The architectural mixtures of both Pandyas and Keralites can be witnessed in any corner of the palace. Mud, bamboo, stone and wood are the mostly used construction components in the old structures. It was in this palace that lord Ayyappa spent his childhood. In course of time, Many parts of the palace was took away by minor conflagrations and floods. But quite a few structures like Valiyalukkal temple, Kaipuzha temple and Thevarappura remains still which depicts the ancient history and archaeological importance.
Pandalam Valiya Koyikkal Sastha temple situated on the banks of Achankovil river was the family temple of Pandalam kingdom, built in the traditional architectural styles of Kerala. It was built by Rajasekhara raja after returning from Sabarimala for daily worships of Ayyappa. The shrine is placed within the palace premises. A Salagrama (sacred stone) is installed here instead of an idol. The holy Thiruvabharanam procession to Sabarimala begins from this temple every year on 28th of dhanu before the Makaravilakku festival hosted in the month of Makaram.
Kaipuzha temple There are mainly two shrine in this complex, one for Shiva under the palace administration other for Krishna managed by Travancore devaswom board. The Navagraha (nine holy planets) sculptures are portrayed in the shrine of Krishna. Once the idol of Narasimha Murthy was installed in the temple which was very powerful. But due to the unfortunate incidents in the palace, the idol was replaced by the Santhana gopalam pratishta as per the instructions of astrologers and priests.
Kochukoikkal thevarappura The prayer rooms or Thevara Puras of both Vadakkekotta Ram and Nalukettu palaces structured elegantly in wood are still in unblemished condition which keeps the idols of 28 gods and goddess for worshipping. The Pandiyan relation of Pandalam kingdom can easily be noticed from the presence of Meenakshi amman idol.
Srampical palace is placed in the north of Valiyalukkal temple. The Thiruvabharanam (sacred ornaments) of lord Ayyappa are kept here. Pilgrims have the opportunity to worship the ornaments and to view the holy palanquin at times of Mandala – Makaravilakku period. These ornaments are taken out on the morning of 28th Dhanu then moved to the temple and later to Sabarimala temple in a holy procession.
Puthenkoikkal This building is situated near a pond. The pond was once meant for bathing purposes of ladies in the palace. The raja on his way to Sabarimala with the sacred ornaments used to halt at this palace to receive the Vibhuti and blessings of Valiya thamburatti (senior most female member).
Customs and beliefs in the palace itself keeps a number of varied customs and beliefs as sacred. The royal family had the privileges to perform various ritual practices at Valiyakoikkal and Sabarimala temples. Devotees often visits the raja to obtain the blessings in the form of Vibhuti (sacred ash).
Some important customs
The Valiya Thampuran has the privilege of being the last to pray at the Sabarimala shrine on Makaravilakku day
The male children (before upanayanam) and female members (age 10-50) are not allowed to undertake the holy pilgrimage.
The royal members need not carry the Irumudikettu (travel kit) along with them on the Sabarimala pilgrimage.
The Valiyalukkal temple will be closed for 12 days upon the demise of any family member of the Palace.
Kaviyoor Rock Cut Temple is An ancient temple carved on a huge rock and the carved rooms and sculptures are well preserved. The Kaviyoor Thrikkakkudi Cave Temple, also known as the Rock Cut Cave Temple, is of historical importance and is preserved as a monument by the Archaeological Department. The temple was taken over by the Travancore Devaswom Board on 20 December 1967. The temple has a verandah with a sculpture of Lord Ganapathi carved into the wall and inner sanctum containing a tall shivalinga, all carved out a one huge rock. It bears close resemblance to the Pallava style of architecture. The engravings here are among the earliest specimens of stone sculptures in Kerala. Enshrined in a square cave is the main deity of the shrine, Lord Shiva, represented in the ‘ Shivalinga’ which is about three feet high and carved out of rock. The shrine also has idols of Ganapathy, Maharshi and Dwarapalakas. It was constructed during the rule of the Pallava dynasty who reigned over South India from 608 to 850 AD. The rock, housing the cave, is actually called Thiru-kal-kudi Paara. (Thiru= Divine, Kal=Stone/Rock, Kudi=home/settlement, Paara=Rock/Boulder). Literally, this means cave settlement. The land surrounding the rock also was called ‘Kal-kudi’. Still, there is a nearby piece of land by name ‘Kakkuzhiyil’, a corrupt form for ‘Kaladiyil’. More corrupt forms (like Thrikkaakkudi, Thrikkokudi etc.) are doing rounds as newer generations of people, defying rhyme and reason, use words, ignoring their etymological significance.
St. George Orthodox Church, Chandanapally or Chandanapally Valiyapally is one of the biggest churches in South India, located at a village named Chandanapally, Pathanamthitta District in Kerala. Chandanapally literally means the abode of sandalwood trees. The church is named after St. George (also the patron saint of England), who slew the dragon snake. As a village which once had snakes of myriad shapes and venom crawling all over, its residents reposed their faith in the saint to save them from not just snakes but ghosts, demons and other dangers that lurked in the darkness. The first church in Chandanapally was built in 1810. It was renovated in 1875 and consecrated by his holiness Mar Abdullah, the Later Patriarch of Antioch. The wooden planks for the new church were brought from the kodumon forest. The logs of teak and sandalwood could not be carried to the work site as the big stream of the Achankovil River connecting Kodumon and Chandanapally had dried up. Miraculously the stream began to run full to the brim in a torrential rain that lasted for days and the heavy logs could easily be carried to the spot in no time. There was a reconstruction in 2000 which is famous for the huge size of its structure. Indo-Saracenic art of sculpture was used in its construction. It is a blend of Christian, Muslim and Hindu sculptured art, Gothic-style towers, pillars erected according to mathematics and a roof in Persian style, which altogether gives it the beauty of a beautiful sculpture. The new church structure resembles St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The Kalkurishu or cross cut from stone which has carvings of saints and angels is a main attraction and shelter for the pilgrims of the church. Whomsoever shelters under st. George here in this church will be rewarded regardless the caste, creed, religion, colour. Hence, many of the pilgrims are non-Christians who believe in the great healing powers of st.George. This is one of the church in kerala that constantly celebrates its feast on 7 May, 8 and chempeduppu takes place on 8 May. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come from around the world to witness this auspicious and holy ritual. Chembuduppu (meaning picking of copper vessel) is a special ritual that has a place in Kerala’s cultural history. When the old church was built two centuries ago, local Hindus brought rice from different places to feed hundreds of voluntary labourers. They cooked this rice on the bank of the stream and ceremoniously served it to the volunteers. It is in memory of this event that the “Chempeduppu” is celebrated every year. The main offering is rice cooked in a copper pot, which is taken to Kuthirappura by all the pilgrims from different places and the different religions who had gathered there for the celebrations. Later this cooked rice will be taken to their homes by the pilgrims.
The mortal remains of St. George (Geevarghese Sahada) St. Geevarghese Sahada is the local name for St. George. The mortal remains of St. Geevarghese Sahada which were kept in Mardion were received by His Excellency Vattasseril Joseph Mar Dionysius (Malankara Metropolitan) and H.H Moran Mar Baselios Geevarghese II Bava from H.H Patriarch of the Holy See of Antioch and brought to Malankara on 1916 and were kept in Kundara seminary. Later on 6 May 2004 they were received from H.H Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II Catholica Bava and kept in Chandanapally. The consecration of St Sahada’s mortal remains in Chandanapally where the spiritual presence of St Geevarghese is present was done by H.H Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II Catholica Bava on 8 May 2004.
Stone Cross (Kalkurish) is cross cut from stone, which has carvings of saints and angels, is a main attraction and shelter for the pilgrims visiting the church. It is said that whoever prays here, is immediately rewarded. Heartfelt prayers of the pilgrims are heard and showered with blessings. Some even have a vision of Sahada. Those who prayed by lighting candles on certain Fridays near the Kalkurishu were granted their petitions, without delay. The cross was constructed on the same day in which the Lord’s cross was found (14 September). Every year the feast is celebrated on this day. ’Vella Pachoru’, which is cooked with rice and coconut, is given as the offering. The pilgrims going to Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple visiting here is a sight and model for secularism and religious harmony. Many pilgrims shelter here. This cross was carved out from a single stone, hence only it was known as kalkurish (stone cross). This church is also known as chandanapally valiyapally which is world-famous. Whoever shelters under st.george will be rewarded.
St. John’s Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Archeparchy of Tiruvalla. Designed by iconic architect Laurie Baker, the cathedral has a temple-like exterior but a conventional church interior. Aspects of traditional Kerala architecture, temple architecture and Eastern (Syrian) Christian tradition were integrated into the design. The exterior design incorporates elements from the architecture of the old cathedral that it replaced. The cathedral’s interior has a depiction of biblical themes in stained glass. Three key premises that are shown through these biblical themes are: God in search of man, man in search of God, and man in search of the other. The stained glass images depict the story of the Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, The Parable of the 10 Virgins, Zacchaeus, Parables of the Lost Sheep and Coins, the Rich Man and Lazarus, and the Last Judgment; important incidents in the life of Jesus from birth until the resurrection. After the split between the Orthodox faction of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the group that united with the Catholic church, the Catholic group were in need of places of worship. Hence, after overcoming many obstacles, a chapel was constructed. Infant Mary’s Minor Seminary was started on 8 September 1931 and a temporary chapel came into existence near the seminary. After the erection of the Tiruvalla diocese in 1932, the chapel was upgraded to St. John’s Cathedral. In 1943 a new church (third one) was constructed on the same place where the first chapel existed. In response to the call of the Second Vatican Council to regain the cultural heritage of the eastern churches, Bishop Mar Athanasios invited Laurie Baker to design and build a new cathedral in the tradition and culture of Kerala. The circular structure of the church had 12 pillars symbolising the 12 apostles of Christ. There were no pillars in the middle, offering a clear view inside. This cathedral was blessed on 28 December 1972. By the end of the 1990s, the need for the construction of a new cathedral was felt as the old cathedral was on the verge of collapse because its roof was built with wood. The pillars could not bear the heavy load. The current cathedral was constructed on the same place where the third Cathedral (1943) was built, which is a few metres away. This was consecrated in September 2004.
Padanilam Parabrahma Temple is situated at Padanilam. It is one of the major temples in erstwhile Travancore state. Padanilam is the cultural Center of Nooranad region. The temple is dedicated to Lord Parabrahma, also known as omkaram. Padanilam Temple is believed to be swayambhu. Its actual history and the facts about how worship started there are unknown. Padanilam has been the administrative centre of Nooranad and it has the history of intense conflict between various karakal (territories) around the temple. This was for gaining control over the temple administration and thereby controlling the entire village. Due to this pada (battle/conflict), the place is said to have got its name. It is believed that the army troops of Kayamkulam Kingdom was camped near the temple for protecting the kingdom from the attack of neighbouring kings. During this period, the village had some chieftains and their supporters. They include Noorukodi Unnithans, Kadakkal Kuruppans, Vettathasaans and Vettickal Kuruppam. Kayamkulam Raja withdrew his troops about four centuries ago. This initiated tensions between the chieftains for control of the village. Thus they divided into south and north, starting battle. The south side consisted of Nooru Kodi Karuppana and Kadakkal Kuruppans. The other side had Vettath Sans and Vettickal Kurup Pans with them. Twenty-two karakal supported their respective sides. During the battle, many soldiers of both the sides died in large numbers. They were buried in the chira near the temple. Even from very earliest of times, this temple was a blessing for the people in the surrounding areas. It is also believed that the battle was between Marthanda varma King on one side and Kayamkulam King on the other. The twenty-two karakals of Nooranad took side with the two kings. The common people started worrying about the devastation of the war and approached the Pazhoor Panamana Thampuran to find a solution to end the war. He tried to intervene but the parties were not in a position to stop. He made a tent in the eastern part of the temple and started fasting unto death. But that also did not deter the warring parties. But when he was on the verge of death due to the fast, they fearing the Brahmanasaapam, agreed to stop war. They demarcated the boundary in the north-south direction and stopped the war in the name of Parabrahma, the presiding deity of the temple.
Shivaratri is the main festival in the temple. Giant effigies of bulls, known locally as kettukala, are pulled to the temple from 15 territories (kara) of the temple. Some of these have a height of more than 50 feet. Its one of the largest festivals of its kind in Kerala. There are many people in the Nooranad area, who are involved in the making of these colossal effigies. There is a proposal in front of the Kerala Government to recognize this village as the Nandikesh Paithruka Gramam due to its cultural importance. Thousands come to the temple on Shivaratri day to see the kavadiyattam for Lord Subrahmanyan in the morning. Kavady from all parts of the area come separately and meet at the temple. kettulsavam, which is the most spectacular sight of the festival is held at evening. Kettulsavam from the distinct areas of the village come to the temple at around 4 p.m. The rituals and programmes only end at midnight.
The temple has no protective walls or roofs. The priests are not necessarily Brahmins. The temple neither opens nor closes. The rituals like Nadathurappu (opening of the temple in the dawn) and Nada adakkal (closing of the temple during night) is not there in this temple. Non-Hindus are permitted to enter the temple and can even take part in all the celebrations related to temple including Shivarathri kettukazhcha. Religious unity is a trademark of Padanilam and it upholds the real culture of India. Vibhuti (holy ash) is given to devotees instead of Sandalwood paste. There is no proper idol in the temple. Only a stone image of OM and is placed under natural roof formed by tree leaves. Devotees can stay in the temple compound for the first 12 days of the month Vrischikam for doing bhajan for Lord Parabrahman. For this purpose special huts are made in temple premise and devotees lead a holy life these days. The number of huts are increasing year by year. The temple is one of the Idathaavalam of Sabarimala Dharmasastha Temple.The temple provides resting place for Ayyappa devotees coming from various places. Lots of Pamba special service buses are passing through Padanilam. Temple authority is providing dried ginger coffee and light food for Sabarimala devotees.
Rektha Kanda Swamy Temple, Omallur, Pathanamthitta District, known as “Omallur Temple” traces its history to 8th century AD. It is a pilgrim centre on the way to Sabarimala from Pandalam, the birthplace of Sree Ayyappan. The Temple is famous for its annual festival of 10 days in the month of Medom of Malayalam Era. The 10-day festival is celebrated by 10 Karyogamy (village communities) in and around Omallur. During the festival days, there is a customary Arattu procession to the river Achankovil. More than 10 elephants decorated with Nettipattam (a decorated cover on the forehead) will be a speciality of this Arattu. The Temple has a Golden Flagstaff erected in the year 1952 AD. Omallur is 4 km south from the district headquarters Pathanamthitta and 11 km from MC Road (Kottayam – Trivandrum route). Omalloor Temple has many interesting stone carvings. Kallunadasvaram (Nadaswaram made up of stone) and Kalchangala (chain made by stone) are two among them. The History of the temple is related to the village named Kalleli near to the konni Town. From the kalleli, the main deity was thrown to the river achankovil by the local people due to there failure in the game Choothu (traditional game played by the kerala people).
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