Fabled to be created by Lord Parasurama, Kerala is aptly called God's Own Country. The paradisiacal landscapes, captivating beaches, the backwaters and the lush green forests and hills attract thousands of tourists every year to the state. The heritage and culture of the state displayed in its renowned temples is also a significant attraction for not only the devotees but also other tourists who come here to admire the architecture and the Mural paintings. Here, we take a look at the most famous temples of Kerala.
Here is the list of 21 Temples In Kerala : Famous Temples of God's Own Country
Known For : Ayyappa Temple | Makaravilakku | Malikkappuram Devi Temple
Best time to visit: November-January Dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, this is the most famous amongst all Sastha temples in Kerala. It is situated on the top of Sabarimala hilltop and is located at the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This temple attracts 45-50 million devotees every year. The temple is famous for its communal harmony with the Vavar Thara, a sub-deity, who was a Sufi saint, in the premises. This temple is open to all irrespective of caste and religion. Makar Jyothi is the most important festival that is celebrated here. The hill reverberates with the chants of Saranam Ayyappa on this festival with the arrival of Thiruvabharanam or the sacred jewels of the Lord.
Best Time : September to Apr
Best time to visit: October-November or April-May The Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram brings together the architectural brilliance of the indigenous Kerala style and the Tamilian style. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Only Hindus are permitted inside the temple. The dress code is to be followed strictly. There are many biannual festivals associated with the temple. The Alpashy festival in October/November and the Panguni festival in April/May last for ten days. Navratri is another major festival celebrated here with a grand celebration. The renowned Swathi music festival is held during this time. The biggest festival here is the Laksha Deepam festival which means a thousand lamps. This unique festival takes place once in six years. Following the chanting of prayers and recitation of three Vedas for 56 days, a hundred thousand lamps are lit in and around the temple. This festival will now take place in January 2020.
Best time to visit: February-March The ancient Hindu temple in Kerala is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Vadakkunnathan Temple displays the splendour of Kerala's architectural style with its monumental towers and a Kuttambalam. Mural paintings depicting episodes from Mahabharata adorn the temple. The temple is declared a National Monument and legends say; it was the first temple built by Parasurama, the incarnation of Vishnu. Only Hindus are allowed inside this temple. Maha Shivratri is celebrated here with great festivities with cultural programs and lighting of one lakh lamps. The second major festival is the Aanayoottu which is the feeding of elephants since elephants are seen as incarnations of Lord Ganesh. The festival usually falls in July. Thrissur Pooram is another major festival.
Best time to visit: April The Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple built in the midst of a lake and is believed to be the Moolasthanam of Ananthapadmanabha Swami. The 302 feet deep lake receives a perennial supply of pure spring water. The exquisite view of the hillocks from the temple attracts many visitors, and so does the legend of Babia, the vegetarian crocodile who is believed to be the temple guardian. The temple offers free lunch to its devotees and has a strict dress code. The major festival of the temple is the Vaarshikothsava which is celebrated during the 14th of Malayalam month of Kumba.
Known For : Punnathurkotta Elephant Palace | Mammiyoor Shiva Temple | Guruvayoor Temple
Best time to visit: October-February This Hindu temple in Kerala is dedicated to the Hindu God Guruvayurappan, a form of Lord Vishnu. The temple is called the Bhuloka Vaikunta, that is, "Holy Abode of Vishnu on Earth". The presiding deity is Krishna whose idol is carved out with the Patalanjana stone known for its medicinal values. The temple is famous for its healing powers however only Hindus are allowed in the temple, and there is a strict dress code. Vishu, Vaishka, Ashtami Rohini and Kuchela's Day is famous festivals celebrated here. However, the most important festival is the grand Guruvayur festival that draws devotees and tourists from distant places in the middle of March. The festival is marked with a spectacle of numerous lamps and elephants that are adorned and decorated splendidly.
Best Time : October to February
Best time to visit: March-April or July This 17th-century temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is believed to be built by the local ruler Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal-Devanarayanan Thampuran. It is directly associated with the Guruvayoor temple. During Tipu Sultan's raids, the idol of Shree Krishna was brought for safekeeping from Guruvayoor temple to the Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna Temple. The payasam or the rice pudding served here is very famous since it is believed that Guruvayoorappan comes here every day during the time of Payasam serving. The Chambakulam Moolam water festival is an important festival which marks the bringing of Lord Krishna's idol. Another famous festival is the Aarattu festival on the Thiruvonam day. It lasts for ten days and is celebrated with processions, martial art and fireworks. Devotees are given a feast and legend says Shri Krishna is present during the festival.
Best time to visit: October-January Dedicated to Goddess Bhagwati, Chottanikara Devi Temple is a 5 feet tall temple famous for its healing powers. It is believed that the Goddess takes away all mental illnesses and disorders of the devotees leaving them with calm and peace. Surrounded by lush green farms, the temple is situated at the top of a hill. Chottanikara Makam Thozhal is the most famous festival here as it is believed Goddess Bhagvathi is present on the day of the festival for her devotees. Make sure to witness the Guruthi Pooja in the 'Keezhkkaavu' temple at Chottanikkara. Navrathri celebrations also attract some devotees.
Best time to visit: April This ancient Hindu temple in Kerala is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The temple exhibits beautiful Mural paintings and carvings. It is the official family temple of the 500 Aryans who had migrated to Kerala. This is the only temple where the folk dance Poorakkali is performed during the festivals. The thirty days Mandala Utsavam and Pooram are significant festivals here. Beginning with flag hoisting, Pooram is celebrated with a lot of joy and festivities. It is believed that Thacholi Othenan, a legendary hero, used to worship at this temple every day.
Best time to visit: October-November This internationally known ancient temple is known for being the pilgrimage centre for the devotees of serpent gods. Nestled in a forest glade, The Mannarasala Temple has 30,000 images of snakes and is especially visited by women seeking fertility. The temple is headed by a priestess and is open to all religions. The turmeric distributed here is known for its healing properties. The main temple festival is the Mannarsala Aayilyam when all the serpent idols are taken in procession to the Illam and offerings of Nurum Palum, Kuruthi and rice are made. The procession is carried with a lot of pomp, and the idol is carried by the eldest female member of the family.
Best time to visit: February-March Also known as the Mahadev temple, the Thiruvanchikulam Temple in Kerala is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is said to have been constructed in the 8th century in true Kerala style of architecture. It is considered as a heritage building for the exclusive Mural paintings on the walls. There are monthly festivals like Amavasai (new moon), Kiruthigai, Pournami (full moon) and Chaturthi. The most important festival is Brahmotasavam. Shivratri is also celebrated grandly with elephant races and the Palliyara pujas.
Best time to visit: December-March This Hindu temple is dedicated to Shree Muthappan, a personification of two Gods, Thiruvappana (Lord Vishnu) and Vellatom (Lord Shiva). The temple does not follow the Satvik, Brahmanical rituals like other temples. Instead, worship is performed through ritual enactment of the characters of Muthappan through the traditional dance, Muthappan Theyyam. Lord Muthappan is offered fish, meat and toddy by the devotees. The Muthappan Thiruvoppana Mahothsavam is the most important festival here which is celebrated in March for three days every year. Puthari Thiruvappana is another significant festival. The temple provides free mean and accommodation to all the devotees.
Best time to visit: February-March The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is a religious shrine dedicated to Goddess Bhagvathi, the mother of supreme power. It is known as the Sabarimala of Women and attracts women devotees in large numbers for its annual Attukal Pongal festival. It reached the Guinness Book of World Records of the largest annual gathering of women with 15 lakh women offering Pongala on February 23, 1997. This number increases every year. This temple in Kerala presents a blend of Kerala and Tamil architectural style. The exteriors are adorned with carvings of sculptures and stories of Dasavatharam, Dakshayaga.
Best time to visit: October or November The Tali temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in Kozhikode. The main deity enshrined here is Umamaheswara, and it is believed that the sanctum was installed at the end of Dwaparayuga by Sri. Parasurama. The temple is replete with stories about the dark side of human nature that is ego, black magic, curses, etc. The Vinayaka Chathurthi Theppa Ratholsavam is an important festival which is celebrated here.
Best time to visit: September-March Surrounded by mountains and green forests, Thrunelli, dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the only temple in the world where the devotees can perform all the rituals of life, from birth to death and even life after death. Devotees often come here to perform ancestral rites called Bali. The Brahmagiri hills, the cave temple of Lord Shiva and the Papanasini known for its divine powers are other attractions that draw some tourists. Puthari, Chuttuvilakku, Navarathri, Shivarathri and Sreekrishnajayanthi are important festivals observed at this temple in Kerala. This shrine is also called the Kashi of South. The Puranas say that Lord Brahma himself built this temple.
Best time to visit: August-September This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is an abode of peace. It is one of the "Divya Desams" that is the 108 temples of Vishnu. Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is one of the stops on the way of the procession to Sabarimala. It is built in Kerala style architecture and is famous for its boat races during Onam. The Ashtamirohini that is the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated with grandeur. It throws one of the largest vegetarian feasts on this day is known as the Vallasadya. Another interesting festival is the Khandavanadahanam where devotees create an artificial forest with dried leaves and twigs and later have a bonfire to show the fire that took place at the Khandavana forest in Mahabharata.
Best time to visit: August-September Established in the 19th century by the religious and social reformer Sree Narayana Guru, the Shivagiri Mutt or temple in Kerala has been built in the modern architectural style with bathrooms and taps with no idol inside the mutt. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Sharada or Goddess Saraswati. Sree Narayan Guru believed in one caste, one religion and one God who was called Oru Jati, Oru Matham, Oru Daivam. He abolished the practice of oil bathing and offering food to the idols. The most important days are 30th December and 1st January when devotees throng the Mutt in yellow attire to show the willingness to abide by the principles of the Guru.
Best time to visit: February-March This is a major Shiva temple is famous for its Mural paintings with the most famous being the painting of Nataraja. The temple is also renowned for its annual Ezharaponnana that is the seven-and-a-half golden elephants kept in the temple vault, which are taken out once a year for darshan by the devotees on the Arattu festival celebrated on the Thiruvathira day. The Thulabharam is an important ritual here where offerings are made to God by a person equivalent to his or her weight.
Best time to visit: December-January The Kaviyoor Mahadevar Temple is an important Shiva temple and is also called the Thrikkaviyoor Mahadeva Temple. The temple is also known for its Hanuman temple. It bears a resemblance to the Pallava style architecture. Legend says the temple belongs to the Treta Yuga, however, the actual time of construction is still a mystery. Important festivals include Chingam Kanni, Ayilyam, Thiruvuthsavam, Hanumath Jayanthy, Uthrittathi Attathirunal, Sivarathri, Kalabhaabhishekam and Sahsrakalasam.
Best time to visit: Vinayaka Chathurthi, August/September Situated at the East Fort, the Pazhavangadi Maha Ganapathy temple is located near the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple. This temple in Kerala is maintained by the Indian Army. Homam, Appam, Modakam along with breaking coconuts is the main form of offerings here. Coconut breaking symbolises the breaking of the human ego to open the mind to a higher realm. Both men and women have to follow strict dress codes. Vinayaka Chathurthi, Ganesh Jayanthi, Virad Chathurthi and Sankashti Chathurthi are the significant festivals that are celebrated here.
Best time to visit: Vinayaka Chathurthi, August/September The Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple is another famous temple named after Lord Ganesha though it is a Shiva temple. Kottarakkara Ganapathy is also known as Vigneshwaran which means one who removes all obstacles. Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated with a lot of festivities and is marked with Mahaganapathy Homam using 1008 coconuts. Other significant ceremonies include Sarvaiswarya pooja, Gajapooja, Annadanam etc. Vishu, Shivaratri and Navratri are other festivals that are celebrated here.
Best time to visit: March to May This temple with striking architecture and admiring turrets and gables is situated in front of the flowing River Madhuvahini giving the temple a mystic charm. The temple is dedicated to Srimad Anantheswara and is also referred to as Madhur Temple or Lord Shiva Temple. The sculptures and wooden carving in the temple depicting the epic Ramayana are awe-inspiring. Also as per the legend, Tipu Sultan who wanted to attack this temple changed his mind after quenching his thirst after drinking the water from the temple well. One can still witness the mark which is believed to have come from Tipu Sultan's sword.
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There are hundreds of other temples in Kerala, each with its own story. So, plan your next trip to Kerala soon and witness the grand festivities and diversity yourself.