Awe-inspiring Koodalmanikyam Temple, Kerala

When it comes to unique architectural style, position of Srikovil (Garbagraha), court yards - prakaras, koothambalam, temple rituals, involving caparisoned elephants and the earth-based  materials used for the temple construction, etc., the Kerala temples stand apart and have attracted the attention of building designers from other parts of the world. They are simple in design, but elegant in form. The choice of presiding deity is also unique to Kerala. For example, there are several temples to lord Vamana, 5th Avatar of Lord Vishnu. Like wise, there are temples dedicated to the brothers of Sri Rama, incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  Koodalmanikyam Temple at Irinjalakuda is one of a kind in this state.

Koodalmanikyam Temple or Kudal Manikkam Temple / Koodalmanikkam Temple, situated in Irinjalakuda, Thrissur district, Kerala state, India is a unique place of worship because it is dedicated to  Bharata, the second younger brother of Sri Rama of the great epic Ramayana; the other brothers being  Lakshmana and Shatrughna (the youngest). The Kerala State has the rare distinction of having independent temples dedicated to each of the four brothers of the Ramayana and they together constitute what is called "Nalambalam".The temple situated in the middle of a serene, lush greenery has a big pond within the walled premises. The other large three ponds are outside the temple. It is a rare Hindu temple that we seldom come across in our country.
Koodalmanikyam Temple.
  Bharatha is the son of Kaikeyi, wife of Dasaratha. When Rama was banished to the forest on a 14 -year exile, a condition demanded by his mother, it was Bharata who ruled the country in the name of his eldest brother by keeping his Paduka (wooden sandals) on the throne. This temple has large ponds in the courtyard and beautiful mural paintings. Some historians believe that this temple was originally a Jain temple dedicated to saint Digambara Jain and later converted into a Hindu temple. This temple, unlike many Hindu temples, has only one deity 
'Dhanwanthara Moorthy,' (Lord Bharatha). Even there is no shrine dedicated to lord Ganesa (Vinayaka) here. Here, it is said that the Tulsi seeds do not sprout, unlike other temples. The presiding deity is often referred to as  Lord Sangameswara.

As for the age of this temple, the inscriptions of Chera king Stanu Ravi Varman dated 854 A.D found in the  Koodalmanikyam Temple, the ruler gave vast expanse of lands to the temple for maintenance, etc., and they suggest that this temple, once upon a time, was a prominent place of worship among the Kerala temples.

It is believed that people with incurable diseases can find a remedy here and if they come and  pray here, they get cured and live happily. Trust is the main factor in such cases. The temple offers 'Brinhal Nivedhyam' to its devotees after every intense prayer. This stuff, it is said, has medicinal properties to cure stomach ailments.
 On the day of Thiruvonam, a ritual fasting is observed in this temple and it is called Thriputhari that falls in the month of Thulam (October-November). Considered as the most auspicious occasion, it begins with is an important occasion in the temple. It begins with the cooking of the freshly harvested rice on the temple premises for the first time and is presented to the presiding deity as nivedthyam - offering and then it is distributed among the devotees. This 11-day temple festival that consists of both Vedic and Tantrik rituals is well attended by the devotees who come here to seek God's blessing. The main offering is lotus garland, made of not less than 108 flowers. Tulasi (ocimum sanctum) and thechi (ixora) are also offered to the deity.
Elephant parade during the annual
The daily temple ritual here is worthy of mention and a fascinating one. Each day, it consists of a seeveli (procession of caparisoned temple elephants) which is held twice, once in the morning and once at night, to the accompaniment of Panchari melam (sacred music, native to Kerala). The amazing thing is the participation 17 trained elephants, including two baby elephants, one standing on each side of the elephant carrying the deity. The headdresses ('Netti pattam' in Malayalam) of seven elephants are made of pure gold, the rest are made of pure silver. Panchavadyam (sacred music from an orchestra of five instruments) is the highlight in the last two days of  the festival that ends at the Thiruvonam asterism.
Koodalmanikyam Temple, Panch vadhyam. Temple Purohit
Koodalmanikyam temple is being visited by lots of people every 
day as the daily temple ritual is done with deep devotion and dedication.


01. In this temple the puja protocol consists of only three poojas. There is no Usha Kaala Puja and Pantheeradi Puja at Koodalmanikyam Temple. The deity is taken out for  a ceremonial procession only during the annual festival. There are plans 
to start deeparadhana here as in  this temple presently no daily Deeparadhana is performed, which is unusual. The reason is not known.

02. The ten-day annual function begins in the month of Medam (April/May) with the flag-hoisting ceremony, a day after the start of the popularThrissur pooram festival.

03. Unlike the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu, elsewhere in Kerala, the temple priests-Namboodri Brahmins are allowed to take part in the temple ceremonies only after cleansing themselves at the "Kuttan Kulam" outside the walled temple and then again have to bathe in "Kulipini Theertham" before entering Srikovil/Garbagraha (sanctum Sanctorum).
Koodalmanikyam temple and Kulipini Theertham
04. The temple was under the control of the Thachudaya Kaimals of Travancore and HH the Thachudaya Kaimal who was 
said to be a chief spiritual leader and a temporal ruler of the Koodalmanikyam Temple and its Estates. The descendants even today enjoy some special rights over the lands and temple. The Thachudaya Kaimals enjoyed spiritual superiority and the rulers of Cochin and Travancore had to pay them obeisance. Even today the ruling spiritual leader has the privilege of being escorted by the Travancore Nayar Brigade. The residence of the Kaimal is the Kottilakkal Palace in Irinjalakuda. The scenario has changed since 1971 with the passing of the 26th amendment of the Indian constitution, the Princely order in India was abolished and the Thachudaya Kaimals lost their ownership of the temple and its estates.  Presently the estate and the temple are managed by a Trust under the District Collector.  Much land that belonged to Koodalmanikyam, it is reported in the media, was subjected to encroachment.

05. The Koodalmanikyam Devaswom (temple administration) gives clarification that the main deity here is believed to be Bharata, but the idol in the Srikovil is that of Lord Vishnu. 

06."Sangameshwara"(Lord of the Confluence) is yet other name associated with the deity at Koodalmanikyam.

 "Koodalmanikyam Irinjalakkuda". Manorama Online. November 29, 2005. Retrieved 2014-01-18.