Thiruvanchikulam Shiva temple, Kodungallur in Thrissur district -Tamil saint Sudarar attained salvation here!!

Thiruvanchikulam Siva temple,  Kodungallur, Kerala   tourstokerala.orgorg
In Kerala, countless Hindu temples are located in an enchanting and serene landscape, preferably near a pazha / river. In an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity,  far removed from the din of urban life, devotees feel delighted to pray and meditate. They get a big break from the humdrum of mundane and mechanical life.  Thiruvanchikulam Siva temple is one such a place.

Thiruvanchikulam Siva temple,  Kodungallur in Thrissur district  of Kerala was built during reign of Chera rulers in the 8th century. It is the only one  Paadal Petra Sthalams  in Kerala  state glorified by the 7th century Tamil Saivite saints  Nayanmars in their works  Tevaram (a great Tamil canonical work).  It is one  among  the 276 temples /Sthalams found mention in Tevaram.  It was from here Sundara Murthi Nayanar,  attained Mukthi (salvation) - reaching the holy feet of the lord in Kailash according to  Periyapuranam, yet another  a great Tamil canonical work.  Here,  Shiva, who is in the form of a lingam, is worshipped as Mahadeva and his consort Parvathi as Umadevi.   
Thiruvanchikulam Siva temple,  Kodungallur, Kerala
There are  images of Sundara Murthi Nayanar, and of Cheraman Perumal Nayanar  in this temple. It is believed to be one of the oldest Shiva temples in South India where God Shiva is said to live along with his  consort and sons. 
Thiruvanchikulam Siva temple,  Kodungallur,
What is so special about this Shetram?  
01. Saint Sundara Murthi Nayanar reached Kailash, Shiva's abode  from here  by sitting on an white elephant sent by Lord Shiva on Adi Swathi day (July/August) and he  was followed on horse back by Seraman Perumal Nayanar. On his way to Kailash, Sundara Murthi Nayanar sang a Padhigam which was sent back to Thiruvanchikulam on his request. 
Saivite saint Sudarar
Above image: Sundarar (Tamil Sundarar), also known affectionately as Tampiran Toḻan was an eighth-century  poet and was one of the most prominent Nayanars, Tamil Saivite saints.  He was a contemporary of Cheraman Perumal and Kotpuli Nayanar who is among the 63 Nayanmars.  The Periya Puranam, which collects the legends of the Nayanars, starts and ends with him. The hymns of seventh volume of the Tirumurai, the twelve-volume compendium of the poetry of Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta, were composed by him.,........................................

02. The temple is associated with Chidambaram  Sri Natraja temple in Tamil Nadu. It is one of the Pancha bootha Sthalams (five important elements of life)  dedicated to sky.
Above image: The sixth avatar of Sri Vishnu in Hinduism. Born as a Brahmin, Parashurama carried traits of a Kshatriya and is often regarded as a Brahmin-Kshatriya.  He, along with only Hanuman and Indrajita, is considered to be one of the very few Atimaharathi warriors ever born on the Earth. Like other incarnations of Vishnu, he was foretold to appear at a time when overwhelming evil prevailed on the earth....................................

03. It was at this holy shrine, Parasurama, an avatar of Vishnu, worshipped Shiva to atone for  his sin of killing his mother Renuka. 

04. Tamil Saivite poet, Sundaranar  sang in praise of Mahadeva in ten verses in Tevaram, compiled as the Seventh Tirumurari. .It is a Paadal Petra Sthalam - temples that are revered in the verses of ''Tevaram.''

05.  Shiva is the family god of the Cochin Royal Family -Perumpadapu Swaroopam after they came to power following the decline of Chera Empire. 

06. The temple has amazing  old mural paintings of Hindu mythology of beauty. 

07.   It is a protected monument under  the administration of the ASI -  the Archaeological Survey of India.

Mahodayapuram, the capital  the Kulasekharas, existed around the temple and  was protected by high fortifications on all sides connected with  pathways and palaces. Tipu Sultan of Mysore was on a war expedition in Kerala during his hey day in the late 18th century. His violent army  attacked and damaged the temple. The temple had  fine copper roofing and  extensive gold and jewelry collections. Tipu's army   looted them and  fled the place upon  the arrival of the Travancore Army of Dalawa Keshavadas Pillai. The temple was rebuilt by Paliath Achan of Kochi/Perumpadappu Swaroopam.

The temple celebrates three annual festivals, of which the ten-day Vaikasipournami Brahmotsavam festival that falls in the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May - June)  assumes much importance. 

As usual, this temple built in  Kerala style of architecture  has entrance towers on all four sides. The sanctum/Srikovil is in the center of the fortified temple. The sanctum, the flagstaff and  the entrance tower  all fall on the same axial line, a common feature 
in all Hindu temples regardless of architectural style. The 
flagstaff - Dwajasthambam has images of Asthavidyesavara.  
The images of Sundarar and  Ceraman peruman are maintained at Bhagavathi temple near by  and brought to the temple during
Svati festival during July - August. There are two temple tanks
 in the second prathakshana path. 

The temple  administration  is taken care of by the Thiruvanchikulam Devaswom under the Cochin Devaswom Board, Kodungallur town is also famous for Kodungallur Bhagawathy Temple and it  is 3km from  Thiruvanchikulam.