Temples in Kerala: A Confluence of Nature, Architecture, and Devotion
Kerala, often referred to as 'God's Own Country,' is not just a haven for natural beauty and picturesque landscapes but is also a treasure trove of cultural and religious heritage. With the Western Ghats on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other, the state is dotted with an array of temples that stand as a testament to the region's profound spiritual tradition and architectural grandeur. Let's explore some of these architectural marvels and the legends that make them stand out.
Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple
Perhaps the most famous temple in Kerala, Sabarimala is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. Nestled atop the hills in the Pathanamthitta district, the temple attracts millions of pilgrims every year. The pilgrimage, with its rigorous 41-day vratham (fasting) and the trek through the dense forest, is considered a test of one's faith, devotion, and physical endurance.
Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple
Located in the Thrissur district, this temple is often called the ‘Dwarka of the South.’ It is dedicated to Lord Krishna, worshipped in his infant form. The temple is known for its strict ritualistic traditions and is a prime location for Annaprashana (first rice-feeding ceremony) and marriages.
Situated in Thiruvananthapuram, this temple is an epitome of Dravidian architecture. Lord Vishnu is enshrined here in the "Anantha Shayanam" posture, reclining on the serpent god Anantha. The temple gained global attention when secret vaults filled with treasures were discovered, making it one of the wealthiest temples in the world.
Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple
Dedicated to the Goddess Bhagavathy, worshippers flock here seeking solace from ailments, especially mental disorders. The morning deity is worshipped in her Saraswathi form, at noon as Lakshmi, and in the evening as Durga.
Located in Kozhikode, the temple stands as a fine example of the Kerala style of architecture. It's dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known for its intricate woodwork, sculptures, and the 'Tali Vela' festival.
Parassinikadavu Muthappan Temple
A unique temple in Kannur, it worships the folk deity Muthappan, breaking the traditional temple customs of Kerala. Here, fish and toddy are offered as prasadam, and non-Brahmins serve as priests.
Architectural Beauty and Cultural Fusion
Kerala temples showcase a blend of indigenous Kerala style and the Tamil style (Dravidian architecture). The 'srikovil' (sanctum sanctorum) is typically square and pyramidal in shape, crowned by a decorative kalasam. The temple complexes are often surrounded by a wall, with a majestic gopuram (gateway tower) indicating the entrance.
A unique aspect of Kerala temples is the Koothambalam or temple theatre, a stage designed for performing Koothu and Koodiyattam, the traditional Sanskrit theatre of Kerala.
Kerala's temples are renowned for their colorful and vibrant festivals. The most notable among them is Thrissur Pooram, a spectacle of caparisoned elephants, melodic panchavadyam, and the thrilling fireworks. Another significant event is the Theyyam, a ritualistic dance form that transforms the performer into a deity, blurring the lines between the devotee and the divine.
Conservation and Influence
Many of these temples have undergone conservation efforts to preserve their historical and cultural significance. They don't just serve as places of worship but are also significant centers for traditional arts, music, and dance.
The influence of these temples extends beyond spirituality. They play a crucial role in the socio-cultural fabric of Kerala, fostering community ties and serving as venues for education, cultural events, and more.
|1||Sri Mavilayikkavu Temple||Kerala|
|2||Kottiyoor Shiva Temple||Kerala|
|5||Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple||Kerala|
|6||Vaikom Mahadeva Temple||Kerala|
|7||Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple||Kerala|
|8||Thiruvallam Parasurama Swami Temple||Kerala|
|11||Mangala Devi Temple||Kerala|
|13||Thiruvambady Krishna Temple||Kerala|
|14||Janardhana Swamy Temple||Kerala|
|15||Sarkara Devi Temple||Kerala|
This temple is near the lake and hence it is also called anantapur Lake Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is recognised that Lord Vishnu used to sit on the sheshnag at this place. Not only that, the biggest feature of this temple is a crocodile. Yes, the temple has a crocodile named Babia, which is said to be the guard of the temple and has been guarding the temple for about 150 years.