Vadakkumnathan Temple

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Vadakkumnathan Temple or the Vadakkunnathan Temple is one of the largest and ancient Shiva temples in Kerala, located at Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala. Also known as Vrishabhachalam and Thenkailasam (the Kailash of the south), Vadakumnathan Temple is situated on a beautiful hillock, facing the Trissur town. Lord Shiva is worshiped here as Vadakkunnathan, the Lord of North. Vadakkumnathan Temple is a typical example of the Kerala style of architecture with beautiful murals and pieces of art including various episodes from the great Hindu epic Mahabharata.

En circling the Vadakkumnathan Temple is the Thekkinkadu Maidan (or forest of teak woods) or Thrissur Swaraj Round, the venue of the world famous Thrissur Pooram Festival. This year, the date of Thrissur Pooram festival 2012 is on 1st May 2012.

Another popular belief is that Guru Adi Shankaracharya was born after his parents - Kaippilly Sivaguru Nambudiri and Aryambya Antharjanam – had prayed to Lord Shiva at Vadakkumnathan Temple.

Temple Architecture

Vadakkunnathan Temple is a 1000 years old temple, built by Lord Parashurama, one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. Vadakkumnathan Temple in Kerala has been declared as a National Monument by the Union Government under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.

A unique feature of the temple is that the idol of Lord Shiva is not visible and is covered under a mount of ghee. This is formed by the daily abhishekam (ablution) over the years. It is said that the ghee offered here for centuries does not have any foul odor. Inside the Vadakkunnathan Temple is a multi-shrine complex called nalambalam or chuttamabalam in the center with three main shrines dedicated to Shiva or Vadakkunnathan, Shankaranarayana or Hari-Hara (a combined deity form of Shiva and Lord Vishnu), and Sri Rama. There is a circular structure in the northern side with the deity facing west. Shiva-Parvati is seen facing east, just behind the idol of Shiva, in the same shrine.

Located in the south is the two-storied shrine of Lord Rama facing west. The idol of Sankara-Narayana faces west and is placed between these two Sri Kovils (sanctum sanctorum). It is circular and double storied in shape. Mukhamandapams are found in front of all the three central shrines. There is a shrine dedicated to Lord Vettekkaran (Shiva in a hunter form) within the nalambalam.

The shrines of Lord Krishna, Vrishabha, Lord Parasurama (sixth avatar of Maha Vishnu), Simhodara, Dharmasastha (Swamy Ayyappan) and Guru Adi Sankaracharya are located outside the nalambalam. Located on the verandah of the Nalambalam is a large white bullock Nandikeswara or Nandi bull.

Vadakkunnathan Temple is a 1000 years old temple, built by Lord Parashurama, one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. Vadakkumnathan Temple in Kerala has been declared as a National Monument by the Union Government under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.

A unique feature of the temple is that the idol of Lord Shiva is not visible and is covered under a mount of ghee. This is formed by the daily abhishekam (ablution) over the years. It is said that the ghee offered here for centuries does not have any foul odor. Inside the Vadakkunnathan Temple is a multi-shrine complex called nalambalam or chuttamabalam in the center with three main shrines dedicated to Shiva or Vadakkunnathan, Shankaranarayana or Hari-Hara (a combined deity form of Shiva and Lord Vishnu), and Sri Rama. There is a circular structure in the northern side with the deity facing west. Shiva-Parvati is seen facing east, just behind the idol of Shiva, in the same shrine.

Located in the south is the two-storied shrine of Lord Rama facing west. The idol of Sankara-Narayana faces west and is placed between these two Sri Kovils (sanctum sanctorum). It is circular and double storied in shape. Mukhamandapams are found in front of all the three central shrines. There is a shrine dedicated to Lord Vettekkaran (Shiva in a hunter form) within the nalambalam.

The shrines of Lord Krishna, Vrishabha, Lord Parasurama (sixth avatar of Maha Vishnu), Simhodara, Dharmasastha (Swamy Ayyappan) and Guru Adi Sankaracharya are located outside the nalambalam. Located on the verandah of the Nalambalam is a large white bullock Nandikeswara or Nandi bull.

Temple Structure

Vadakkunnathan Temple is surrounded within a massive stone wall enclosing an area of around 9 acres. There are four splendid gopurams facing the four directions – East, West, North and South. The temple theatre, known as Koothambalam or Kuttambalam, is on the left side of the temple, if one enters through the western gopuram. This hall is meant for staging Koothu and Koodiyattam, the ancient dramatic art forms of Kerala.

Vadakkumnathan Temple is famous for the rarity of the temple murals; of which the Vasukisayana and Nrithanatha murals are of great importance and are worshipped daily. The temple also has specified spots in the temple quadrangle at which the devotees can offer worship to Lord Shiva of Kasi, Lord of Shiva of Rameswaram, Lord Chidambaranatha of Chidambaram, Lord Bharatha of Koodalmanikyam, Sree Kali of Kodungallur, Urakam Ammathiruvadi of Ammathiruvadi Temple, Veda Vyasa, Hanuman Swamy, and Nagaraja.

Vadakkunnathan Temple also houses a museum of ancient wall paintings, wood carvings and art pieces of ancient times.

Temple Festivals

Vadakkumnathan Temple is famous for the Thrissur Pooram Festival celebrated annually in the Malayalam month of Medam (April – May). One of the most colourful temple festivals of Kerala, Thrissur Pooram is a majestic event which combines the imposing elephant pomp with the furious playing of drums and cymbals. The fireworks at the occasion are fabulous sight.

Besides, there has been a regular annual practice at the temple to conduct Ashta Dravya Maha Ganapathy Havana and Aanayoottu (ceremonial feeding of elephants) on the 1st day of Karkadakam month of Malayalam calendar (July - August). Gajapooja is conducted once in four years. Maha Shivaratri is another major festival celebrated here with much religious importance.

Temple Timings

Vadakkumnathan temple opens daily at 03:00 AM and closes at 10:30 AM. The temple reopens at 04:00 PM and closes at 8.30 PM after 'Trippuka', the last rite for the day.

How to reach:

By Road & Rail: Vadakkumnathan Temple is at a short distance from the railway station and bus station.

By Air: Kochi International Airport or the Nedumbassery Airport at Nedumbassery, near Ernakulam is 58 km from Thrissur.

Karipur Airport or the Calicut International Airport at Kozhikode is 80 km from Thrissur.

 

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