Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva Temple, Kerala - here Tamil saint Sundaramurthy Nayanar had moksha - salvation

Thiruvanchikulam  Mahadeva (Shiva) Temple, Kerala   photo-gallery#lg

Located i2 km from  Kodungallur in Thrissur district of Kerala state,  is  an ancient  Shiva temple which is believed to have been built  during the Chera period.  Thiruvanchikulam Siva Temple  is a popular place of worship where the God is worshipped  as  Mahadeva; his consort being   Parvathi as Umadevi. The presiding deity is in the form of lingam which is a  symbolic representation of the formless Universe.  The oval-shaped stone symbolizes the Universe, and the bottom  the Supreme Power that holds the entire Universe in it. Lingam  is a formless reality; an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu god Shiva in Shaivism.

Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva Temple, Kerala

Considered as an important  and only Paadal Petra Sthalam in Kerala, this  temple was  glorified by Tamil Saivite saints  Nayanmars  in their   7th  century Tamil Saiva canonical work called  Tevaram.  This kshetram is one among  the 276 temples that find mention in their  devotional work.  It is said to be the oldest reference in the  history of this temple.   Periyapuranam,  a fine devotional work in Tamil  mentioned that   Sundara Murthi Nayanar, one of the four great Tamil Shavite saints  ascended  heaven (Kalilash)  through the grace of god of this place.  He  reached   Kailash by sitting on a white elephant (Ayiravatam), sent by Lord Shiva on Adi Swathi day (July/August).  Surprisingly, as per legend,   Seraman Perumal Nayanar followed him on horse back.  While on the way to Kailash Tamil saint  sang a Padhigam in praise of the God and  sent it back to Thiruvanchikulam on his request. The images of Sundarar and Ceraman peruman  that are being maintained at Bhagavathi temple near here  are brought to the temple during Swati festival between  July - August.  Sundara Nayanar's last devotional hymn was  ''Thalaikku Thalai''. There are two temple tanks in the temple and are in the second prakara.  The prakara is not square in plan, instead it in  the form of a circle. All sub deities are enshrined in the prakara.  Here goddess graces with Lord Shiva in the same sanctorum in Sadashiva form.

The temple  has close links with Thillai Nataraja  temple (representing Akash) of  Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. God Mahadeva was the family deity of Chola rulers and it is mentioned the idol  was specifically brought from Chidambaram temple to be consecrated here  in 1801 CE.  As to the  beautiful mural paintings of this temple its origin and artist are  unknown.  The  ASI - the Archaeological Survey of India  is  managing the temple as it is an ancient one. As for temple administration pujas, festivals, etc., the Thiruvanchikulam  Devaswom under the Cochin Devaswom Board is in charge of it..

Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva Temple, Kerala

Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva Temple, Kerala

Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva Temple, Kerala

The Cochin Royal ruling family  members were patrons of  God Shiva. After the decline of Chera Empire,  Perumpadapu Swaroopam family became the rulers of this region and  they considered God Shiva  as the family deity.  The tutelary deity  was very much revered by the  rulers. An interesting historical fact is there is a link between the   national anthem of erstwhile kingdom of Travancore and this temple.  Vanchi Bhumi refers to the deity of this temple, the official deity of imperial Chera Empire from whom the former claim lineage. 

Location of  Thiruvanchikulam, Kerala

Once the capital city  Mahodaya puram of the Kulasekharas,  with palaces, pathways  and streets was well fortified  around the temple against  enemy attacks.   Unfortunately,  when Tipu Sultan of Mysore raided this place in the 18th century, there were extensive damages to  the copper roofing on the sanctum, etc;  apart  gold  jewels, etc  were looted by Tip's army. This place was saved from Tipu's army upon the arrival of  the Travancore Army of Dalawa Keshavadas Pillai. The  damaged  temple was rebuilt by Paliath Achan of Kochi/Perumpadappu Swaroopam.

Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva Temple, Kerala

Thiruvnchikulam temple wood carving in the

Thiruvnchikulam temple wood  carving in the

Like other temples of Kerala, this one was built in native architecture using mostly quality wood.  Laterite stones are used for foundation, etc .,  with   slanting   terracotta tiled roof  supported by wooden frames consisting of beams and cross beams. . The temple being fortified  has four tall towered  entrances in cardinal direction. Srikovil/sanctum  which is at the center of the temple  can be accessed from the flagpole - Dwajasthambam.  The entrance tower, flag pole and the deity in the garbagriha/srikovil form a strait axis - a feature common in all  Hindu temples irrespective of regions.  The flagstaff has images of Asthavidyesavara.  A  well carved stone  Nandi (bull)   is seen in front of  Srikovil. It is said unlike  Tamil Nadu or elsewhere, here devotees are not allowed to touch the  Nandhi idol, Shiva's Vahana. Touching the Nandi and passing on the wishes by devotees  through  his ears to God Shiva   has been a tradition in some temples of Tamil Nadu.  The temple has  small shrines sannadhis  for deities  Vinayaka, Iyyappa Swamy, Sathi Devi, Durga Devi and lord Vishnu.  through out the temple there are intricate wooden  carvings  of deities and other images  done with special care. 

Normally the temple is  open from 4 am - 12 pm and 4-8:30 pm on all days and on festival days it is open the full day. As for daily puja protocol 4 - kala puja is held.  The important festival is ten-day Vaikasipournami Brahmotsavam that falls in  Edavam (May - June) of  Malayalam calendar. The primary offering  to god here  is "Shankabhishekam" (pouring "Shanku" flowers  on the symbol,  (Clitoria ternatea; "Aparajitha" in northern India).  'Dhambathi Pooja'  (offering by couple) to  Shiva- Parvathy deities is done here by lots of couples. Part of the ritual is taking the venerated  divinity to the "Palliyara" ( well decorated  bed room) for night's rest.   The belief has been that  'Palliyara Darshanam' of Shiva-Parvathy gives  marital happiness and bliss,  and help the couple overcome unexpected   obstacles  in their lives. This kind of ritual is quite popular in Sri Thiyagaraja Swamy temple of Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu. Here the deities are taken to the Palliyara to the accompaniment of music, etc.

It is said the shrine dedicated to Shiva's consort Parvathi is opened for 12 days only  every year and   lakhs of devotees in November and December visit this temple to get blessing from Lord Shiva and Parvathi.