Vadakkumnathan temple

This post was written by Mahi-Bhat on May 17, 2009
Posted Under: Temples

Vadakkkunnathan Temple is one of the largest and ancient Shiva temples in Kerala. It is situated on an elevated hillock right in the centre of Thrissur overlooking the town. This temple is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture with decorative murals and pieces of art. It is also known as Thenkailasam and Vrishabhachalam.

This is one of the oldest temple in Kerala. The vast ground around the temple is called Thekkinkadu or forest of teak woods. According to popular lore, the temple was built by Parasurama. This temple is surrounded by a massive stone wall enclosing an area of nearly 9 acres. Inside this fortification there are four gopurams each facing north, south, east, and west directions. A complex having three principal shrines dedicated to Shiva or Vadakkumnathan, Shankaranarayana and Rama are in the center of this vast enclosure. There are mukhamandapams in front of all the three central shrines. In the northern side there is a circular structure with the deity facing west. The figure of Shiva-Parvati faces east and is just behind Shiva, in the same shrine. The two-storied shrine of Sri Rama facing west is located in the south. Between these two sreekovils stand a third one, circular and double storied in shape, dedicated to Sankaranarayana and facing west. The shrine is circular in forms and the tower has only one tier. The pillars are arranged in an interesting manner. The comparatively low, tiled roofs and the liberal use of wood harmonize with the natural environment.

The statue of Shiva, which is not visible, is covered under a mount of ghee, formed by the daily abhishekam with ghee over the years. A devotee looking into the sanctum can now see only a sixteen-foot high mount of ghee embellished with thirteen cascading crescents of gold and three serpent hoods at top. According to traditional belief, this represents the snow-clad Mount Kailas, the abode of Parvathy and Parameswara. Generations of devotees have poured ghee by way of offering, which is never removed, has solidified into a pyramid. With continuous ‘Abhishekam’ with ghee over the years, it has the appearance of a mount of ghee almost three metres around the core of the Linga. It is strange that the ghee does not melt even in the hot tropical climate of summer or with the heat of the hundreds of bright oil lamps burning nearby. The ghee mount does not get spoilt even though it is a collection of several hundred years.

Immediately to the left of the entrance is the theatre hall called ‘Koothambalam’ and has no parallel to cite anywhere else in the world. It is a remarkably beautiful structure with elegant sloping roof of copper plates. Within this is staged the ancient dramatic art form of ‘Chaakyar Koothu’. The tall and spacious koothambalam is an impressive structure, containing exquisite vignettes of wood carving and interesting bracket figures. These are imposing pieces of craftsmanship and skill.

The temple opens at 3.00 in the morning and closes about 10.30 AM after the morning rites. It opens at 4.00 PM for the evening worship and closes at 8.30 PM at night after the Trippuka, the last rite for the day.

The sprawling Thekkinkadu maidan, is the main venue of the world famous Thrisur Pooram festival celebrated annually in April-May. Elephant procession (Kudamattom) is the major attraction of this festival, which witnesses the participation of elephants from various temples of Kerala. Apart from this splendid procession, other attractions of Thrissur Pooram festival include a spectacular display of colorful fireworks, parasol exchanges, an umbrella showing etc. The event dates back to the reign of Sakthan Thampuran and was a means for the two main geographical regions of the town – Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi – to display their strength. It is also called ‘festival of all festivals’.

Photo Gallery
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Getting there:-

By road : Bangalore-Thrisur or Managalore-Thrisur.

By train : Nearest railway station is Thrisur.

By air : Nearest airport is Cochin international airport.

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