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Lord Ayyappa
Guruvayoor Temple
Padmanabhaswami Temple
Chottanikkara Amma
Thrissur Pooram @ Vadakkumnaatha Temple
Koodalmanikyam Temple

      Kerala has some unique worship places across it's stretch, where the temple's history and devotional rituals are quite different from other parts of India. Some of these specialities include the Ayyappa temple 'Sabarimala' , Parassinikadavu Muthappan temple & the Mannarassala Nagaraja temple. The temple architecture is unique, and it is in harmony with the natural resources and the climatic conditions of the region. Specially decorated elephants are an integral part of the temple festivals and special days.

      Most of the temples are open all days in the year, but some of the temples are open only during special days or seasons. Most of the temples in Kerala follow some dress codes which allow only devotees with traditional dress to get inside the temple. Some temples allow entry for only Hindu devotees.

Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Temple
(Open: About Mid-November to Mid-January & First 3 days of every Malayalam Calendar month)

      The Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala is located at 120 kms from Cochin International Airport. This famous shrine of Lord Ayyappa is surrounded by hazardous hills like Karimala and Neelimala. Devotees visit Sabarimala after undergoing 41 days of ‘Vritha’ i.e., self-imposed devotional penance. They, with irumudikettu (bundle with offerings to Ayyappa) on their head, climb the mountain ranges and cross the forest bare footed repeatedly chanting ‘Saranam Ayyappa’ which means we seek refuge in Ayyappa. This is probably the only famous temple in Kerala, which does not restrict non-Hindus from visiting the temple.

      Lord Ayyappa, born as the son Manikandan of Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu's maya - Mohini, spent his 12 years on earth as the adopted son of the King of Pandalam. After accomplishing his aim of killing Mahishi and relieving gods and humans from her torture, the Lord left the palace to remain for ever in the temple built on one of the hills of western ghats. The temple with 18 Sopanam(steps) was built on Neelimala, where saint Sabari was on penance.

Guruvayoor Sree Krishna Temple

      Located at 32 kms from Thrissur & 80 kms from Cochin International Airport is one of the most important pilgrimage centre,also known as the Dwarka of the south. The Sree Krishna Swamy Temple, which attracts thousands of pilgrims is said to date prior to the 16th century. Tradition has it that the temple was created by Guru the preceptor of the Devas, and Vayu- the lord of winds. The temple is dedicated to Krishna, known here as Guruvayoorappan (the Lord of Guruvayoor) and the idol is said to have been worshipped by Lord himself at Dwaraka.

     It is at this Temple that Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri composed this well-known Sanskrit devotional poem, 'Narayaneeyam' The temple is renowned for its healing power. Several offerings are made to the deity here from the simple 'Archana' (offering of flowers) or 'Thulabharam', where a devotee is weighed against offering of bananas, sugar, jaggery and coconuts. Guruvayoor is also the site for several weddings and 'Annaprasanam' the first feeding ceremony of a child.Non Hindus are not permitted to enter the temple.

Thiruvananthapuram Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple

      Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) gets its name from the grand Ananthapadmanabhaswamy temple, enshrining the tutelary deity - Ananthapadmanabha of the Travancore kingdom. It is one of the grandest temples of Kerala, exhibiting an amalgamation of Dravidian and Kerala temple architectural styles. It is a temple vibrant with tradition, having been associated for years with the arts and music. It is the imposing seven-storied tower built by Raja Marthanda Varma in 1733 A.D, which makes it by far, the most impressive landmark around the city. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu reclining on the Serpent Anantha. A large market lines the street in front, and the pool beside it is for ritual bathing. There are innumerable pillars, intricate carving and mural paintings, inside the temple. It is therefore an excellent example of the Dravidian style of architecture.

      The rulers of Travancore have held this temple in the highest regard. Even today, an elaborate worship protocol is followed in the strictest sense and this is one of the best maintained temples in India. Only Hindus are allowed entry inside the temple and dress regulations are strictly followed. There is a dress code to enter the temple.Gents need to wear "Mundu (Dhoti), without shirt & ladies need to wear Saree,Settumundu or Pavada .Shirts/Pants/Churidars etc are strictly not allowed.

Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple

      It is one of the most important Temple in Kerala. The Divine Mother known as Rajarajeswari (Adiparasakthi) is worshipped here in three forms Saraswathy in the morning, Lakshmi at noon and Durga in the evening. There is an Idol of Mahavishnu on the same pedestal and so the Deity is called Ammenarayana, Devinarayana, Lakshminarayana and Bhadrenarayana also. Along with Lakshmi & Narayana there are idols of Brahma, Siva, Ganapathi (Ganesh), Subramanya and Sastha on the same pedestal. The pleasant atmosphere in the temple give mental peace and harmony to devotees. "MAKOM Thozhal" (worship on the Makom day) is the most important festival of the temple which is celebrated in the month of Kumbham. (Feb / March)

Manmarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple

      This beautiful temple situated 32 kms. Away from Alappuzha near Harippad is dedicated to the king of serpents, Nagaraja. It is an international pilgrim centre and is believed that childless couples, who pray with devotion at this temple, are blessed with children. Also a special turmeric paste, available at the Serpent shrine, is said to have the power to cure leprosy.

      The beliefs and rituals associated with the Mannarasala temple are different from most other temples. It is said that, the pooja and other rituals are performed according to the Serpent God Nagaraja's instructions. Nagaraja was born as the son( now reffered to as 'Muthassan' by the family members) to of a couple who belongs to the family of brahmins who are authorised to give pooja to the serpent gods. When the Muthassan left for the Cellar on his samadhi, he had given certain rights and instructions to his mother. He instructed that his mother herself must offer him worship. Thus this is one rare temples where the pooja pattern is headed by a Brahmin lady, the current 'Valiyamma' of the brahmin house.

Parassinikadavu Sree Muthappan Temple

      At Parassinikadavu on the banks of the Valpatanam River, 18 kms from Kannur is the Sree Muthappan Temple dedicated to Lord Muthappan, believed to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. This is the only temple in Kerala where Theyyam, the ritual dance form of North Kerala is performed daily. The temple's non-conformist nature is also evident in the musical custom of offering dried fish and toddy to the deity. There is also a Kathakali club in the temple that arranges shows on request. The performances begins after 6.00 p.m. and lasts for 2 1/2 hrs. Also near the temple is the Parassinikadavu snake park.

Thrissur Vadakkumnathan Temple

      One of the oldest temples in the state, the Vadakunnathan Temple is a classical example of Kerala style of architecture and harmony decorative murals and pieces of art. The temple also contains the sacred shrines of Paramasiva, Paravathy, Shankaranarayana, Ganapath, Sri Rama, and Sri Krishna. Legend goes that Parasurama founded the temple.

      The city of Thrissur gets it's name for the famous Siva Temples in the city. The full name of the city was Thiru Shiva Perur meanng the city of Lord Shiva. Later sortened to Thrissur. Vadakkumnathan temple is the venue of the world famous Pooram festival, celebrated annually in April-May. The fire works at Pooram are a spectacular sight.

Koodalmanikyam Bharathan Temple

      21 kms from Thrissur, at Irinjalakuda is a temple of Bharatha, probably the only temple in India dedicated to the brother of Lord Rama. Koodalmanikyam Temple is a marvel in architectural beauty. The impressive gateways, round shaped Sanctum Sanctorum, the majestic Koothambalam and the Carvings in wood and stone on the walls all attract students of Art and Architecture. The murals on the walls on either side of the Eastern entry to Chuttambalam also deserve special mention.

      The Temple had also been an important centre of nourishment of the Temple Arts like Kathakali, Koothu, Koodiyattom and Thullal. Koothambalam stage had the rare fortune to witness historic stage shows by the masteros of Ammannoor Chakyar family.

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