Captivating Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, Aranmula, Kerala

Parthasarathy Temple, Aranmula, Kerala, Snake boat in the foreground. www.tripadvisor.

The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple,  located in the village of Aranmula,  Pathanamthitta  District, Kerala,  is one of the prominent 108 "Divya Desams" Vishnu temples  revered by the 12  Tamil  Vaishnavite  saints called  Azhwars. They were pious and scholarly people who had spent their lives singing the glory and exploits of Lord Vishu. The temple  is widely mentioned  in the Tamil classics  Naalayera Divya Prabandham, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints who lived  from the 6th–9th centuries AD.  Here in this temple God Vishnu is worshiped  as Parthasarathy. It is  one of the biggest temples in Kerala. Aranmula is one among the 64 Namboothri Brahmin gramams -villages.

Parthasarathy Temple, Aranmula,tmple
Parthasarathy  is  an incarnation Sri Krishna, who rode the Chariot for Arjuna, a great archer during the Kurushetra war  when Pandavas were  pitted against the Gauravas. He donned an important role by being Arjuna's Charioteer and saved his life from near death.

It is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area and has hoary past.  An historical aspect of this temple is its close  links with the Mahabharata. After  Parikshit had become the  Raja of Hastinapura, the five Pandava brothers went on a pilgrimage and came  down to  the present day Chengannur area. Attracted by the serene and soul-stirring surrounding, on the banks of the Pampa river, it is believed,  each had installed  a tutelary  idol of Lord Vishnu / Sri Krishna and later they became places of veneration and worship  and they are: Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Aranmula temple  by Arjuna, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu temple by Sahadeva. It was here Lord Mahavishnu gave darsan to Lord Brahma and  sage Vedavyasa and, further, he  revealed the knowledge of creation to Bhrama, from whom the demons  Madhu and Kaitabha  stole the Vedas.

In the long-drawn  Kurushetra war when   Bheeshma on the Gaurava  side was gaining an upper hand,  Krishna  asked  Arjuna to  fight tooth and nail and defeat him. Upon Arjuna's refusal to do so against a revered person, his own  relative, enraged  Krishna  took up his war weapon - mystical discus. Taken aback by Sri Krishna's mesmerising and fearful appearance, Bheeshma, realizing his divinity  prostrated before him. Hence Bheeshma was spared.  The idol of  lord enshrined here has his war weapon - Chakra  - disc in one hand.

The temple, built in crisp, impressive  Kerala style architecture, on a raised platform,  has four towers in different directions over the entrances.  The Eastern tower is accessed through a flight of 18 steps and the Northern tower entrance through a flight  of 57 steps from the banks of the Pampa River. The temple has impressive murals on its walls dating back to early 18 century. It is said that the idol was brought here in a river - raft made with aaru ( meaning six) pieces  of  mula (meaning bamboo; in Tamil moongil)  which gave the town its name, Aranmula.
Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, Aranmula,Kerala,
The temple, under the management of Travancore Devaswom Board of the Government of Kerala,  is open from 4 am to 11:00 am and 5 pm to 8 pm. The nearest railway station to the temple is located in Chengannur. Aranmula is about 128 km from Trivandrum and  is close to  Kozhenchery.


01. With a view to preserving and passing on to next generation the ancient  traditional arts,  several  cultural societies at Aranmula run  training  programs in  Kathakali, classical dances, classical music and Kalaripayattu.  Lots of tourists  evince interest and gain  a basic  knowledge of the culture of Kerala. 

02. Aranmula is also popular  for snake boat race held every year during Onam festival and is  linked to the legends of the Mahabharata.

03. During the Mandala season (late December), the Thanka Anki, golden attire of  God Ayyappa,  is taken  to the Sabarimalai. It was  donated by the Maharajah of Travancore and  is kept in this temple here.  Likewise this temple is also a stop-over when the  sacred jewels, called Thiruvabharanam of Ayyappan are taken in procession to Sabarimala each year from Pandalam.