Famous Shri Vallabha Temple, Thiruvalla, Kerala - some facts

Shri Vallabha Temple, Thruvalla, Kerala.hindudevotionalblog.com

The Kerala Hindu temples are unique in their own way. There are numerous temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Karthikaya and  Goddess Parasakthi or Kaali or Durga. A sense of elation permeates through out our body when we enter such temples where simplicity counts most in the case temple design. Further, temples observe  daily - Nithya puja protocols with utmost dedication and care, giving due importance to religious sanctity and veneration. Once you enter temple you are overwhelmed  by Bhakti and devotion. Shri  Vallabha Temple at Thiruvalla is known for its orthodoxy and strict adherence to temple Agama Sastras, thus enhancing the divinity of the place of worship.

Shri  Vallabha Temple is one of the biggest and most popular temples of Kerala  dedicated to Lord Sreevallabhan, and there is no wonder that lots  of devotees  from many parts India come here to seek the Lord's blessings. This temple, on the banks of the River Manimala , has been known for centuries and is in Thiruvalla town of Pathanamthitta district. It is believed to have been built in 2998 BC (first built) and  later in 59 BC (rebuilt and  expanded). Historical evidences  suggest the presence of human habitation  before 3000 BC. Further,  Thiruvalla was once a village among  64 Namboothri Brahmins  villages in Kerala  and is considered to be one among the oldest human settlements in India. 

The inspiring temple is a good example of grandeur and beauty of Kerala-style of temple architecture that adds zest to the sanctity and divinity of this place.  The  beautiful, intricate stone-wooden carvings and  fine mural paintings inside the temple further enhance our devotion. The temple has a long  and tall boundary wall on all sides 12 feet (tall) x 566 feet ((length) x  4.5 feet (wide)  made of granite stones with a two-storied gopuram (gate tower) on each side. Legend has it the huge, long  boundary wall was built overnight by Lord's servants - Bhoothaganas (spirits). Sreekovil has an outer perimeter of 160 feet and has three concentric walls. Lord Sreevallabhan in the sanctum is  facing east and Sudarshana chakra (sathrusamhaaramoorthy) is facing west.  In no other temples  one can worship  lord Vishnu and lord Sudarsana  together under same roof. There are shrines for Ganapathy, Shiva and Ayyappan in the Nallambalam..

Sri Vallabha temple, Thiruvalla, Kerala ourmet.com

The temple tank covering  1.5 acres is seen in north-eastern direction. The idol of Sri Vallabha in the Srikovil - sanctum  is a beautiful one 8 feet tall. The legendary architect  was Perunthachan. The 54 feet tall unique Garuda Sthambha - flagmast made of a single block of granite is an amazing one, rarely found in other temples. Flag-mast is made of  mostly metal -  brass or copper. In some places it is gold-plated.

It is one among the  108 Divya Desams temples revered by the great Tamil saints Alwars of 6th and 7th century AD. The Tamil Vaishnavite saints  Nammalvar of the 5th century AD ( in Divya Prabhandham) and Thirumangai Alwar of the 9th century AD (paasurams  in Divya prabhandham) had composed devotional hymns in praise of  the temple and addressed him as Kolapiran, Thiruvazhmarvan and  Sundarayan.
 The Garuda Purana and Matsya Puranas consider this place a Punya vallabha Kshetram - a holy place. The tradition here has been that as part of daily sevas to the Lord,  Kathakali  dance is played daily on the temple premises. The dance seva was once prevalent in many Hindu temples in particular in Tamil Nadu  and is no longer followed now due to several social reasons. This place has the unique distinction of having staged Kathakali  the most number of days in a year and the trend continues even today.

Shri Vallabha Temple, Thruvalla.oil lamps  sreevallabhatemple.in

The idols of  Sri Vallabha  worshiped by Lakshmi  and Krishna were installed in the temple in 59 BC. It is believed sage Durvasa and Saptarishi come here every mind night for prayer and worship. It was here  Lord Vishnu appeared as Sreevallabha for sage Durvasa and Khandakarnan. Lord Vishnu  also killed a demon - Thokalaasuran and gave solace to the people  Here the temple Puja protocol differs from other temples. 

Some facts:

01. The temple is open from  morning 4 am to 11.30 am and in the evening 5 pm to 8pm. . Kathakali Puja at 10 pm to 1am (following mooning).

02. Rebuilt by Queen of Cheraman Perumaal Veerakerala Chakravarthy centuries ago.

03. The Thiruvalla inscriptions in Malayalam, first ever prose work, date back to  the 12th century AD, They were first found in the temple  in 1915. 

04. Once a major spiritual center  this temple, for centuries,  had been under the control of Thiruvalla Pattillathil Pottimar (Brahmins of ten families) till 1752-1753.

 05. Marthanda Varma, Raja of Travancore  during 1752-1753  seized control from the Brahmins  and, it is believed, that later Ramayyan Dalawa looted whole temple assets and took them to Thiruvanantha Puram.  So it was once a rich temple.

06. The temple, in the past,  did not allow ladies and elephants  except during  Thiruvathira of dhanu month. Presently this custom is not followed. The reason for the ban was long ago a woman, attracted by the beauty of the lord,  entered the Srikovil to marry him.

07. The temple managed one of the biggest educational institutions in ancient time and made valid  contribution to the cultural and educational developments of Kerala.

08. It is also perhaps the only temple in Kerala where Kathakali  dance is performed as a ritual offering  to the lord every night, a tradition that has existed for several centuries.

09. As for temple worship, rituals, etc.,  Sri Vallabha  temple doesn’t follow Tantra Samuchayam and follows its own School called Pancharaathra Vidhaanam.

10. The temple worship protocol has not been changed ever since the temple came into being. 

11.The 10 day festival held in every  February-March is a strange one and attracts lots of people. During this festival  amazingly  12,000 bunches of Padatti Pazham (a variety of bananas) are made as offerings  to the lord on the first day itself.

12. This temple stands on a land that covers more than 8 acres of land, highest holding among the Kerala temples.