Impressive Vadakkunnathan Temple. a heritage site, Thrissur

Vadakkumnathan Temple, Thrissur, Kerala,

Koothambalam (dance hall). vadakkumnathanTemple Trissur, 

 Unlike the Hindu temples of other parts of India, the ones in Kerala  are unique in their own way, Mostly made of fine wood, there are not tall towers (Gopurams) with images of deities from the Hindu pantheon. Nor are there any huge  monolithic stone-carved image  like the bull (Nandi) at Brahadeswarer temple of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu and La Pakshi, Karnataka. The stone images in the temple are very simple. The Kerala temple architecture is simple  but very impressive and inspiring,   especially the Koothambalam - the theater space on the temple premises and the display of rows of brass oil lamps around the outer walls of the shrines. The designs come within the purview of the Hindu Agama Sastras, without compromising on the sanctity of the temple. That is the reason why they architecturally stand apart from other Hindu temples. Simplicity in elegance is the hall mark of Kerala temple architecture. Apart, this type of design and style is in tune with Kerala's geography and the two monsoon seasons they face every year. The extended  slanting outer-roof of the temple all around protects  the walls from heavy rains. 

Vadakkunnathan Temple, an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in the city of Thrissur, Kerala state of Southern India  exemplifies  impressive Kerala type of architectural style  that is quite appropriate for regions where rains are vigorous. As  per popular local lore, this is the first temple built by Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu. 

Vadakkumnathan Temple

Above image:  Lamps of faith - a view of the Vadakkumnathan Temple in Thrissur which was decorated with one lakh oil  lamps on the Velakku Madam fitted on the outer temple wall. The Lakshadeepam offering is part of Sivaratri celebrations.........

It is one the  UNESCO recognized World Heritage Sites in S.India. The temple has  a beautiful ''Kuttambalam'' - separate temple theater for dances, etc., and  monumental towers on all four cardinal directions. This temple is equally famous for  inspirational and impressive mural paintings, depicting various episodes from the Mahabharata and the  Kuttambalam has exquisite  wood - carved  vignettes, Tekkinkadu Ground, that surrounds the Vadakkunnathan Temple, is the main venue of the famous Thrissur Pooram festival held every year in the month of April or May (Malayalam month Medam. This  seven-day festival attracts  more than a lakh of people, including foreigners.

Vadakkumnathan Temple, Thrissur.

Above image: A view of the huge, tall brass lamp in front of Vadakkumnathan Temple, Thrissur city,- one of the largest and oldest Shiva temples of Kerala........

The temple built in an elevated hillock in the center of Thrissur city  is  enclosed  by    massive  boundary walls made of stones on all sides.  The total area of the temple complex is  nearly  nine acres (36,000 m2).

According to Legend the land called ''Keralam'' was created  out of the sea by Parasurama, the God-incarnate at the request of Varuna, the God of rain. Then Parasurama, who wanted the new land to be consecrated, went to his Guru's abode - Lord Shiva and pleaded him  to take abode in Kerala and thereby bless the region. Accepting the request, Lord Shiva along with his consort Parvati and sons Vinayaga and Subramanar (Muruga or Karthic)  accompanied Parasurama. At last,  Shiva stopped at a spot, now  called Thrissur, supposedly the place where he could be worshiped. The Lord and others disappeared and Parasurama saw  a bright and radiant Shiva Linga (aniconic symbol of Shiva) at the foot of a huge banyan tree. This place later came to be called the Sri Mulasthana.  In the later period the ruler of Cochin Kingdom shifted the Linga to a more convenient location after facing some impediments on account of the presence of a huge banyan tree. He finally installed the Lingam as per temple Agama Shastras. The temple, it is believed,  came up during the time of  Perumthachan from Parayipetta Panthirukulam - 7th Century.  The temple initially was under the control of the Brahmins of Kerala, the Nambudiris,  known as   Yogiatiripppads. In the later period,  the Maharajah of Cochin was the presiding authority over the temple.

During the invasion of Tipu Sultan in Kerala in 1789, he destroyed many Hindu temples, but never attacked Vadakkunathan Temple. He stopped at Thrissur for rest  and borrowed vessels from the temple to cook food for the  resting army and  before leaving, he returned them  to the temple  along with a big bronze lamp as a token of his gratitude.  As for Tipu's excess against the Hindus, Historians claim, it was a cock and bull story propagated by the  British to create enmity between the Hindus and Muslims so that they could make Tipu weak politically. That time, the British East India company's  preoccupation was to get rid of Tipu and his powerful army to achieve full control over the SW part of India.

It is believed that Adi Shankarar, the great Hindu Philosopher attained Videha Mukti ("freedom from embodiment") in the Vadakkunnathan temple. One tradition, expounded by Keraliya Shankaravijaya, places his place of death as the temple.