Kerala Divya Desam shrines - dedicated to Sri Vishnu - 03

This is continuation of my post on the Divya Desam shrines in Kerala, South India

08. Thirumittakkod Anchumoorthy Temple, Kerala:

Thirumittakkod Anchumoorthy Temple wikipedia 

The temple is known by: Thirumittakkod Anchumoorthy Mangalam Temple | Anchu Murthy Kshetram | Uyyavandha Perumal Temple

Thirumittakkod Anchumoorthy Mangalam temple, on the banks of  Bharathapuzha in Palakkad district, symbolizes the unity of Vaishnavism and Shaivism and here, stands  before the Vishnu temple is a Shiva temple.  One among the 11 Divaya Desams in Kerala, the temple is dedicated to Sudharshana Chakra, a magical weapon of Sri Vishnu, which is consecrated in the sanctum. There are other Hindu deities such as  Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Ganapathy etc.  The  temple's name   Anchumoorthy comes from the fact that five  deities are given due importance here, one dedicated to God Shiva, rest are dedicated to God Vishnu (in Tamil and in Malayalam Anchu means five).   

 Kashi Vishwanath shrine located here with Lord Vishnu and also Brahma,  gains importance because lots of Hindus come here to do pithrukaryam (Pithru therpanam is an important Hindu religious duty)   to pay respect to the departed forefathers. They performs the rites on the banks of the near-by river as in Varanasi where the Ganges flow. Believed to have been worshipped by God Parasurama, it is  one of the 108 Shiva shetrams in Kerala. Once a sage took a bath in the near-by river leaving behind the Umbrella on the bank. On his return, he found the Shiva Linga in the place where he had kept the umbrella. He decided to install the Shiva linga there as  he found the place was a sanctified one.  

As for the Vishnu temple,  this Divya Desam  shrine was built during the Mahabharata time and after the Pandava brothers emerged victorious in the Kurushetra war against their wicked cousins Kauravas, they came to this area on pilgrimage and had the Vishnu idol installed.  Vaikuntha Ekadasi is  a main festival in this temple. The deities' names are: Thiruvithamdappan (Shiva), Abhaya Pradhan(Vishnu), Uyyavantha Perumal(Vishnu), Padmasini (Lakshmi). Thus both Vaishnavites and Shivaites come here to get blessed by the Gods.


09. Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple, Kerala:

  Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple,Kerala.

Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple, Kerala.

The Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu and is in Alappuzha District.  It is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the legend of Mahabharata, where the five Pandavas are believed to have built one temple each; This temple was built by  the  Pandava brothers - Nakula to honor Sri Krisha who stood by the side of Pandava brothers in their struggles against their evil  and jealous cousins Kauravas.   The main deity is refereed to as   Paambanaiappan named after the river Pampa, on the banks  of which lies Sri Krishna  (the  tutelary god ) temple built by Arjuna, the other Pandava brother.  The legend has it the temple is believed to have been consecrated by sage Bhrigu. This is a Diva Desam shrine and the Azhwar saints sang in praise of the deity here. 

Stone inscriptions on the temple premises suggest this temple came into being during the  second Chera reign (800 - 1102 AD). The famous Azhwar saint Namazhwar (800 AD)  glorified this temple in his chaste devotional hymns. 

Built in Kerala style of architecture, the layout of this temple is in line with the Kerala tradition and has  two-story gateway gopurams/towers. The upper story has wooden trails and the hall is called ''Kottupura'' - the hall of drum beating. This hall comes alive on the festival days and the drum is  played from here.  The raised square platform called Namaskara Mandapa between then entrance of Nallambalam and Srikovil (sanctum) has a conical shaped roof.   the devotees prostrate before the God with reverence symbolic of surrender to the all-pervading almighty. The Srikovil is on a raised platform with a conical roof supported by quality wooden frame. 

The main deity is enshrined in the Srikovil -sanctum in the central shrine. Unlike Hindu temples of other south Indian states, here only the main priest -Thantri  and his assistant -Melshanthi can enter the Srikovil to perform puja rituals, etc. The unique feature of the central shrine that has a circular base it is made of granite and  the superstructure built of laterite stones. The Circular conical roof is made of   terracotta tiles   firmly supported  from inside by a high- quality teak wood. The  4-foot tall  stone  Sri Krishna deity is nicely portrayed  in Vishvarupam (in his giant form) just the way the Sri Krishna appeared before Arjuna during the Kurushetra war when Arjuna was depressed to fight against his own cousins.  In the second hall there are various  shrines of  Sastha, Yakshi, Nagaraja, Bhagavathy  and others.  

Gajamala procession, Thiruvanvandoor Gajamela’

Vaishvavite saint Namazhwar (9th C)   thehistoryofsrivaishnavam

At this temple the annual  Thiruvaimozhi festival takes place on a grand scale to commemorate  Nammazhwar, the Tamil Azhwar saint who composed Thiruvoimozhi, a great devotional work on Vishnu. It is a  long-drawn  51 day colorful festival celebrated with devotion and reverence. The festival celebrates the  installation of the  idol of Sree Krishna  and it  concludes with Gajamela, which is a parade of 21 caparisoned  and decorated elephants. The fete includes several  colorful  floats depicting  important  episodes from the Hindu mythology  accompanied by  a galaxy of music players performing various instruments - mostly percussion. The highlight of this festival is the playing of  Pancharimelam  by a group  of professional performers. Yet another great event in the same evening is the fascinating Kathakali dance performance by artistes who take themes from our ancient Puranas.  Lots of people and devotees attend this festival that is held with true religious fervor.