Vadakkunnathan Temple



Weather:

Time Required: 1-2 hours

Timings:

3:00 AM - 10:30 PM, 4:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Entry Fee:

No entry fee
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Vadakkunnathan Temple, Thrissur Overview

The Vadakkunnathan Temple, which is an architectural wonder in wood and stone, is one of the oldest temples in the state and stands tall in the heart of Thrissur in the middle of a nine-acre walled patch of green. This temple being centuries old beautifully depicts the rich cultural heritage that Kerala has to offer for which it also received the 'Award of Excellence' at the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. With a collection of beautiful Mural paintings, some of which are more than 400 years old, this gigantic 1000 year old temple and historical structure is famous for the Nataraja Mural near the main gate.

Taking a walk in the serene surroundings of the temple is going to treat you to a thrilling mix of the architectural beauty, culture, history, and heritage of the place. The structure to date displays its original colours without much preservation. The shrine of Vadakkumnathan is also situated there, which is covered completely under ghee for centuries, without any incidence of melting. The shrines of Mahavishnu and Shankaranarayan are also located in the temple. It features one of the largest Dance Hall, called Koothambalam which depict unique Keralan architecture. It hosts traditional performances called Nangyar Koothu. Just outside the temple complex are situated the Thiruvambadi Krishna Temple and Paramekkavu Devi Temple, which are considered to be the sister temples of Vadakummnathan. This Temple is strictly open to Hindus. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside, but they can stand outside and look at the photos from there.

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The history of the Vadakkunnathan Temple can be traced back to 1,000 years when the great scholar of Kerala, Guru Adi Shankaracharya was born to the Shivaguru-Aryamba couple of Kalady after a lot of prayers made by them to God Vadakkannathan. As per legends, Lord Shiva came in the dream of both husband and wife and offered them two choices- the first being that they could have an ordinary son who would live a long and healthy life or an extraordinary son who would die early. The couple chose the second option and named their son Adi Shankara to honour Lord Shiva. It is also believed that Adi Shankara got freedom from the embodiment, also known as Videha Mukti in the Vadakkunnathan Temple.

Vadakkunnathan Temple follows the traditional architectural style of Kerala. Situated on the hillock which is surrounded by a vast stone wall encompassing an area of 9 acres, it comprises four gopurams which face north, south, east, and west inside the fortification. There are four massive gateways known as gopurams and tall masonry wall around the quadrangle of the temple that showcase the craftsmanship and skills put in constructing the place.

In the centre, there is a multi-shrine complex also known as Nalambalam or Chuttamabalam with three main shrines including Vadakkunnathan, Lord Rama, and Hari-Hara or Shankaranarayana. The left of the entrance has a beautiful structure and sloping roof of copper plates along with a theatre known as Koothambalam. Some old ritualistic art forms of Kerala are preserved in the theatre. An old museum is present inside the temple as well which consists of old wall paintings, wood carvings, and art pieces belonging to the ancient times.

The main festival celebrated in the temple is Maha Shivratri with numerous cultural as well as musical programmes held inside the complex. During this time, the temple attracts visitors from all parts of the country to be a part of this grand celebration. Thrissur Pooram is another very colourful festival which is celebrated in the month of Medam which takes place from mid-April to mid-May. Also known as the 'pooram of all poorams', its celebrations last for about 36 hours and also include parasol displays along with firework shows. Anayoottu Festival which involves the feeding of elephants is another major festival celebrated in the temple. During this festival, many unadorned elephants are placed in the middle of people where they are fed and worshipped by devotees who come here from all parts of the world.

This place has a tropical climate and can experience hot summers with heavy monsoons while the winters usually have a quite pleasant climate. The festival of Shivratri is celebrated here with great pomp with thousands of lamps lit all around the temple. The Thrissur Pooram which is held from April to May is the perfect time to visit the temple.

The temple follows a strict dress code according to which all the men need to be shirtless and wear a dhoti while entering the temple.

The temple is located in the middle of the city and can easily be reached via cabs and auto rickshaws. The railway station is situated 2 kilometres away from the temple while the airport is located at a distance of 50 kilometres and is well-connected to all the major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.

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