Shri Vallabha Temple at Thiruvalla, Kerala - 29 astonishing facts!!

Sree Vallaban temple, Thiruvalla, Kerala,

part of flag-mast-Sree Vallabha temple Kerala

Above image: A part of  54 foot tall flag-mast  made of stone- metal plated, Sree Vallabha temple Kerala......

Panthanmthitta dist., Kerala.

Shri Vallabha temple temple located  on the banks of the River Manimala at Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala  is a famous  shrine for the Vaishnavites (followers of Sri Vishnu) and an important pilgrimage center in Kerala state. The salient features are the tall stone  flag-mast before the sanctum and the presence of a big idol  of  Lord Vallabha (Sri Vishnu) and  Shee Sudarsana in human form installed in the sanctum. 

Shri  Vallabha Temple at Thiruvalla ( Pthanmithitta district)  is  unique and popular in Kerala  for the following reason: 

01. Dating  back to several centuries  since 59 BCE the temple  has been following the same worship protocol . This puja rituals, erc.,  are rooted in orthodoxy and no  compromise is made on  adherence to  Sastras covering temple rituals.  The Vallabha kshethram is  mentioned in Garuda and Matsya Puranas, confirming the antiquity of this temple.  

02. Two samprathays ( ritual workship)i are  common in many temples  of  Kerala -  Vaidiha Sampradaya established in 4th AD and . Tantra Samuchayam is  practiced in some  Bhagavathy temples of  Kerala. .

03. To the main god  Sri Vallabhan , several offerings are made, one being  the traditional dance of Kerala - Kathakali. It is a ritualistic offering done between 10 pm to 1 am (following morning). This is the only temple in India where the dance offering to God is made almost daily. This practice has been in vogue for centuries. 

 04. The temple priests entering the sanctum/Srikovil must follow the traditional norms set by the temple authorities. They must take bath in the temple tank  Jalavanthy and must wear sandal paste on the fore head.   Sacred Viboothi (ash) is strictly prohibited (this is true of devotees as well)  on the temple premises. The main priest must be  50 plus year old and his  family does not have any hereditary rights  in the Shiva temple. The priests  are changed every three years. Yet another restriction is the priests  entering the sanctum are not allowed to enter other shrines on the temple complex.    

 05. This is the only Vishnu temple where both the deity and the Sri Chakra are worshipped under the same roof.  The Srichakra installed here is an  ancient one and later a shrine had been built by the queen of Cherman . Cherumthevi in 59 BC.

06. The main deity Sreevallabhhan ( Sri Vishnu incarnated as a bachelor to kill a demon) is a  Brahmachari (bachelor), hence women were not allowed inside the temple till 1968 except on a couple of festival days.

07. The  surrounding  compound walls on all four sides  are 4.5 foot thick   and 12 -foot tall, stretching 566 feet  all around  with  a two-tier entry tower (gopura vaasal)  facing  all cordial direction. The boundary wall is made of red granite. 

08. In almost all temples the flag-mast (Dwajasthampam) is made of metal - mostly copper or brass pand also gold in some temples. But, here the tall flag mast  facing the Vallabha shrine is made of monolithic black granite. 

09. The temple water tank is a big one covering  1.5 acres and the temple  complex includes  a  sprawling 8 acres of land  including vacant space.  

10. The  primary idol of Sri Vallabha in the Srikovil - sanctum  is a beautiful  tall  ( 7-foot tall)  massive one in standing posture over a tall platform   The legendary architect  of this temple  was Perunthachan. 

11. A striking feature in this temple is the  54 foot tall Garuda sthambam - flag mast made of stone   was built centuries ago. Some records mention it has been there since   57 BC. . It is mentioned that  it was sculpted by the legendary architect Perunthachan,

12. The temple administration had been under the care of the Brahmin family- Pattillathil Pottimar (Brahmins of ten families) till 1752-1753. - The ruler of Travancore  Marthanda Varma,-  1752-1753  seized control from the Brahmins  and, it is believed, that later Ramayyan Dalawa looted whole temple assets and took them to Thiruvanantha Puram.  So it was once a rich temple.

13. The 10 day annual  festival  in February,  attracts lots of people  During this period  amazingly  12,000 bunches of Padatti Pazham (a variety of bananas) are made as offerings  to the lord on the first day itself.

14. Jalavanthi or Khandakarna theerthem, it is said,  is  self originated pond  is said  to  contain 64 hidden idols of the Lord. This pond is not for the devotees to use it and is for the priests entering the sanctum -Garbagrih. . 

15. The first ever work in the form of prose in Malayalam script  is the Thiruvalla inscription  dated to the first half of the 12th century AD, and came to light only  in 1915. 

16. The Unnuneeli Sandesam of the 13th century AD mentioned in details the  splendor, beauty and  the serenity of the surrounding places. 

17. This place once was a popular center of  spirituality  education.    More than 1000 students were taught  various courses in Vedic scripture. Ayrvedha, astronomy, maths and other courses were offered. The temple management ran an   Ayurvedic hospital with provision to take care of numerous patients. 

flag-mast, Garuda Mandapa and  main shrine, Sree Vallabha temple, kerala, wikipedia

18. With reference to Garuda Sthambam -  atop  flag-mast  there is an  image of  Garuda/eagle, the mount of God Vishnu, For stability, the stone mast  is fixed  below the ground almost touching the water table way down.  The method of transportation  and erection of such a long pillar without any breakage from the  source of rocks is a puzzle, considering the age of the structure.    

2nd passage, west side, Sree Vallabha temple,Thiruvalla,Kerala, en.wikipedia org 

19. The astonishing fact is there are no black granite outcrops either here or in the neighborhood.  Where did they find the rock and how did they  carve out a long  cylindrical pillar out of  a single block is a mystery. 

Shri Vallabha temple, Kerala

Above image: The massive metal image of Garduda atop the roof of the main shrine fainf the flag-mast with metalled cover. .................

20. Another mystifying fact is how did they set the 3 foot  massive metal  idol of Garuda atop the roof facing the mast  Garudadeva  in sitting posture hold his hands in supplication    

21. Vallyambalam ( structure linked to naalambalam at its main entrance and between Naalambalam and balikkalpura)  has two tiers with copper-plated roofs supported  by 16 stone pillars. These pillars and the roof have beautiful   minute carvings done with meticulous care. These features highlight the extraordinary skills of the artisans of past era.

.22. Circular Srikovil - (sanctum or garbagriha) is rare. Here, the main deity Sree Vallabhan facing the Garuda flag-mast,  is installed in the sanctum whose  outer perimeter is 160 feet. It has   three concentric walls.The deity has four arms carrying Chakra, conch (sangu) etc.. 

23. The 7 foot tall  massive idol is placed on a 10 foot platform right under the roof of Srikovil. To see the idol, the devotee has to bend his body to see the crown, but, bottom can not be seen. This is unusual  in other Hindu temples of South India. 

24.  The circular, copper roofed and gold-plated domed  sanctum   is amazingly adorned with finely etched murals of other deities  - Matsya, Kaaliyamardana, Kurma, Dakshinamurthy, Varaha, Venu gopala, Maha Ganapathy,  Besides, the various avatars of Sri Vishnu, goddess Lakshmi, Kali avatar (not yet taken by the lord) and garuda  are etched in a clock-wise manner.

25 .Also installed in the Srikovil is Sudarsana  in human form with eight hands each carrying various attributes of Sri Vishnu and his weapons, etc.. 

Garuda image Sree Vallabhan temple, kerala,

Above image   Garuda image above the roof facing the shrine, Sree Vallaban (Sri Vishnu temple); a divyadesam shrine.  

26. This is the  only/ sanctum in a Vishnu temple where  both Sri Vishnu and  Sudarsana are installed under the same roof. Elsewhere, in many Vishnu temples, there is  separate shrine for Sri Sudarsana.

27. The belief has been that the tall, massive walls all around the temple stretching 550 feet .and the tall stone Garda Sthambam were built   on a sing day (in 57 BC) by the crew of the lord. - apparently boothaganas. -goblins?on lord's instruction 

28. The  architect of this temple designed the Graruda image that was cast in Pachaloka ( a blend of five metals)  and set atop the flag-mast.

29. The place Thiruvalla was once a village among 64  Namboothiri villages in Kerala.  and this temple is the largest (land-wise) and oldest in Kerala state. It is an important divyadesam shrine in Kerala like the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvanantha puram. .