Temples of Kerala
Temples have held an important place in the life of Keralites. Several temples in Kerala trace their origins to antiquity.
The temple architecture in Kerala is different from that of other regions in India. Largely dictated by the geography of the region that abounds in forests blessed with the bounties of the monsoons, the structure of the temples in Kerala is distinctive. The roofs are steep and pointed, and covered with copper sheets. Kerala roof resembles those found in the Himalayan regions and those in East Asia.
The history of Kerala dates back to the Cheras of the third century BC. The temples of Kerala are referenced in the works of the Tamil Alwar Saints and the Nayanmar Saints. Kulasekhara Alwar and Cheraman Perumaal (one of the Nayanmaars)belonged to the Cheras of the ninth century AD. There are several works on temple architecture written in Kerala during the 15th and the 16th centuries. The Bhakti literature of the 16th century played an important role in the temple culture of Kerala.The Maharajas of Travancore were ardent patrons of temples.
The earlier temples of Kerala were primarily for Shiva and Vishnu or their manifestations (Krishna, Parasurama, Rama, Vamana). Swayampradhana shrines to Ganesha, Kartikeya are of later origin. In Kerala temple festivals are celebrated with great pomp and show by different temples throughout the year.
Every temple has its own procession. Almost all the processions have one thing in common that is elephants who are adorned with gold and silver plated ornaments.
Some of the famous temples of Kerala are:
Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, is one of the ancient shrines of Kerala. Located in Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, the holy place is charmingly positioned on the left bank of the holy Pampa River.
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, located in Aattukal, Kerala, is one of the oldest shrines of South India. The presiding deity of the temple is Attukal Bhagavathy, who is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi.
Administered by the Cochin Devaswom Board, Sri Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple is a famous Hindu pilgrimage site located in Ernakulam, Kerala. Sri Rajarajeswari, who is an incarnation of Goddess Bhagwathi, is the presiding deity of the temple.
Ettumanoor Temple, popularly known as Ettumaanur Mahadevar Temple, is among the most visited temples of Kerala. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva. It is said that Pandava and Sage Vyasa have also worshipped in this temple.
Kadampuzha Devi Temple
Kadampuzha Devi Temple is a renowned temple and pilgrimage centre in Malappuram District, Kerala. Mighty Goddess Durga is worshipped by number of devotees, in this temple.
Kaviyoor Mahadeva Temple Kaviyoor Mahadeva Temple is one of the most ancient Mahadeva temples in Kerala. Located at the village of Kaviyoor (one of the ancient 64 Brahmin settlements of Kerala), in Pathanamthitta District, the main deity of this temple is Lord Shiva.
Kodungallur Bhagavathy TempleKodungallur Bhagavathy Temple is a renowned temple located in Kodungallur town in Thrissur District of Kerala, India. The temple is also known as Sree Kurumba Bhagavathi Temple Kodungalloor.
Koodalmanikyam Temple Koodalmanikyam Temple is a Hindu temple located at Irinjalakuda in Thrissur/Trichur district of Kerala. Koodal Manikyam is renowned for being the only temple in India, where Bharata (one of the brothers of Lord Rama) is being worshipped.
Kottarakkara Sree Maha Ganapathy Temple
Kottarakkara Sree Mahaganapathy Temple is located in Kottarakkara Taluk in Kollam district of Kerala and is dedicated to Lord Ganapathi.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Mammiyoor Temple is located in Thrissur (Trichur) district of Kerala.
Thirumanthamkunnu Temple Thirumandhamkunnu Temple is one among the earliest and prominent Mahakshethras of Kerala. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, this shrine is located at Angadippuram in Perinthalmanna,
Thriprayar Temple, located in the southern part of Thrissur district of Kerala, is one of most important temples dedicated to Lord Rama in the State. The temple is adorned with a number of precious murals.
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
Located at Vaikom Taluk in Kottayam district of Kerala, the Shiva Lingam installed in this temple is supposed to be dating back to ‘Treta Yuga’.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the most famous and grandest temples in Kerala. The temple enshrines a stately image of Lord Vishnu in the Anantasayanam posture. The temple architecture is a mix of Dravidian and Keralan styles of srchitecture. Steeped in legends, the temple has long maintained its association with festivals, art forms and music. The temple finds its mention in the Tamil hymns of the Alwar saint Nammalwar. The Temple which is now one of the richest temples of the world, is located in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), the capital city of Kerala. Arattu is an important festival of this temple.
Lakshmana Perumal Temple, Tirumoozhikkalam
The presiding deity here is Vishnu. What sets apart this temple from others is the fact that no music is played here. Tamil hymns exalt this ancient temple.
Subramaniya Temple, Haripad The temple enshrines the image of Subramaniya. Kaartikai Deepam and Thai Poosam are celebrated here.
Bhagwati Temple, Kodungallur Originally a Shiva temple, the Bhagwati Temple at Kodungallur enshrines the image of Bhagwati. The image is believed to be carved out of a jack fruit tree. Prayers are offers first to Shiva and then to Bhagwati who is believed to be a manifestation of Kali.
Rajarajeswara Temple, TaliparambaThe Rajarajeswara Temple is situated at Taliparamba in the northern part of Kerala. Taliparamba is also one of the ancient Shaktipeethams (Religious sites of special significance).
Sabrimala Temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. Atop a hill of the Western Ghats Sabrimala Temple is the most famous temple in Kerala, and an important Hindu pilgrimage destination too.
In Guruvayur the famous Sri Krishna Temple is situated which is an important pilgrim centre in Kerala. In the premises of this temple only Hindus are allowed. The walls of the GuruvayurTemple are inlaid with beautiful mural paintings and intricate carvings. It is believed that praying here frees one of all bodily ailments.
Vadukkumnathan Temple Vadukkumnathan Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Thrissur (Trichur). The temple carries rich Hindu heritage along with historical imprints. There is a museum inside the temple which showcases the ancient wood carvings, wall paintings and artifacts which narrate a history of their own. The temple is also known as Kailasam of the South.
Besides these one can also visit Lokanarkavu Temple at Vatakara and Thodeekalam Shiva Temple at Kannur.
The list of temples is simply endless. There are too many to present. So, this time when you are on a trip to Kerala, don’t miss out the temple trove that the state sets forth.
( With inputs from Kerala Tourism )