Sree Vallabha Temple is located at Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. It is a 400-year-old temple on the banks of the River Manimala. The temple has a beautiful 8 ft idol of Sree Vallabha within the sanctum sanctorum. The legendary architect Perunthachan constructed the unique Garuda Sthambha. 54 ft flag mast is made of a single block of granite.
Sree Vallabha Temple is considered as the most important temple for Vaishnavites all over India due to the presiding deity is Lord Maha Vishnu. As offerings by devotees Kathakali is performed almost on all days in Thiruvalla Temple. It is believed that its bottom touches the water table. Thiruvalla Temple has a Garudathara, which is unique and appeared magnificent. This also has a Garuda’s image atop.
There are sub-shrines around the Thiruvalla temple for Ayyapa, Karuppaya Swamy etc. The idol on the pillar is depicted as like a human form with beaks, and wings stretched and hands bowing. There is a legend that when the Garuda’s idol was erected on those pillar centuries back. It was about to fly off and so placed it in position by chains. It was erected after two years of consecration of Sree Vallabha’s idol. The idol of Maha Vishnu or Sree Vallabha was sculpted by Viswakarma at the behest of Lord Krishna and was given to Satyaki at the end of Dwapara Yuga.
Towards the end of Dwapara Yuga, Lord asked Garuda to keep the idol in safe custody. Keeping this in mind Garuda kept it in Netravati river which flows from Karnataka to Kerala. Later, the royal consort of Cheraman Perumal – the emperor of Kerala had a dream that the idol of Krishna was lying on the bed of Netravati river. All efforts were taken to search the idol.
History and Legend of Sree Vallabha Temple
- In a place called Sankaramangalam nearby, there was a very devout old lady. She was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and was referred to by people as Sankaramangalathu amma. She was very particular about observing Ekadasi. An ogre called Thugala (tholaga) used to trouble her a lot. On Dwadasi day she could not find any Brahmin to partake of her food. Lord Vishnu himself took the form of a Brahmachari and came there as her guest.
- Sankaramangalathamma requested him to take a bath in the nearby well and come in. Lord Vishnu asked her whether there are any rivers nearby. She then told him that an Asura was living near the river and was not allowing anyone to take a bath there. Lord Vishnu went to the river and killed the Tholagasura with his Sudarshana Chakra and washed the Chakra in the river.
- This place is presently referred to as Chakrasala ghat. When the lord returned, there were four more Brahmins. Sankakamangalathamma served food to all the five of them in areca nut sheath. Even today this feeding is done in areca nut sheath and is referred to as Paala Bhojanam.
- Once some Brahmins came to her house and requested for food. She told them that it was Ekadasi, they laughed at her and informed her that the day was Dasami. To prove the same, one of them who was an astrologer, did a Prasna to find out the exact Thithi. The Prasna showed that it was Ekadasi but when they stepped out of the house, it showed it was Dasami.
- It is believed that when Lord Vishnu came as a Brahmachari to the house of Sankaramangalathamma he consecrated His Sudarshana Chakra there. This Chakra has eight corners denoting Conch, wheel, mace, lotus flower, rope, goad, bow and stick.
- Sacred ash called Vibhuthi is given as Prasada in this temple of Chakra. The main deity of this temple is Sri Vallabha. This is an eight-foot-tall idol in the standing pose which faces east. Here sandalwood paste is given instead of sacred ash. There is a story about Sri Vallabha.
- When Cheraman Perumal was ruling Kerala, God appeared in his dreams and pointed out the exact location of the idol and asked him to consecrate it in a temple. The king found the idol and since there was an empty temple in Thiruvalla which was waiting for a suitable idol, the king consecrated the divine idol there. When the original idol ordered for that temple came, it was consecrated in a place called Malayin Keezh.
- Malayin Keezh calls their God as Thiruvalla Appan even today. There is a stone inscription on the temple indicating that it was constructed in the year 59 AD. Padathi Banana was used as an offering by Sage Durvasa when he visited the temple. Even today Padathi Pazham is offered to the God. If one is looking at the face of the idol, one will not be able to see his feet and vice versa. The temple is built in such away.
Significance of Sree Vallabha Temple
- Performing Kathakali is one of the main forms of worship to this Lord. It seems when Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar visited this temple, he found the Lord watching Kathakali along with the audience. Thereafter, whenever Kathakali is performed at this temple, they keep a seat covered with silk. And a lamp-lit near this divine seat.
- Thiruvalla Temple was once a place famous for Vedic schools. There were more than 1000 students and 100 teachers in this Vedic school and was famous as Thiruvalla Sala. It was as famous as Thirumoozhikkulam Sala (Vedic school in Thirumoozhikkulam Temple) and was bigger than Niranam Sala and Kaviyoor sala.
Sree Vallabha Temple Timings
- Thiruvalla Temple is open from 4:30 AM to 11:30 AM in the morning and 5:00 PM 8:00 PM in the evening.
- The Palli Unarthal and Abhishekam is carried out in the temple from 4:00 AM to 5:00 AM. It is followed by the first pooja at 7:00 AM.
- Thiruvalla Temple closes in the afternoon after Ucha Shiveli at 11:30 AM. It opens in the evening at 5:00 PM.
- The Deeparadhana is performed from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM. It is followed by the Naalaam Pooja and Ancham Pooja.
- Thiruvalla Temple closes at 8:00 PM after the Athazha Shiveli.
Festivals celebrated at the Sree Vallabha Temple
Uthra Sree Bali
Vadakkenada remains closed throughout the year except on the day of ‘Uthra Sree Bali’. All the three Goddesses assemble together in the ‘North Nada’. The doors of the north gate tower are opened only at this auspicious time and the Goddesses are received with all spiritual austerity. Thousands of devotees assemble to see the majestic scene and also to offer their worship to the great Lord Vishnu along with the three goddesses. They are supposed to be the part of the almighty himself. All the three goddesses are taken to the ensign where the goddess Padappadu and Karunattukavu. Alumthuruthy goes inside the temple to invite Sreevallabha and Sudarsanamurthy.
One of the most important festivals of the town, Ekadasi Festival is celebrated on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight. The Vrishchika Ekadasi has special importance in the town. A highlight of this festival is the commemorative plaque for Gajarajan Kesavan.
Utsavam or Annual Festival
This festival is celebrated on the day of Pushya in the month of February-March and is meant for the purification and revitalizing the powers of the deity.
Kathakali had become the greatest offering to Sreevallabha. The devotees of Sreevallabha used to offer Kathakali to him. This is the only temple in India where the maximum number of Kathakali are being performed every year.
Poojas and Rituals at Sree Vallabha Temple
- In Thiruvalla Temple the deity is worshipped five times a day in different forms. In the early morning pooja, the deity is worshipped as Brahmachari. In the Pandeerati pooja, he is worshipped as a sanyasi. And during the noon Pooja he is worshipped as Vasudeva dressed in royal attire.
- In the evening Pooja the deity is worshipped as Narayana. During night Pooja he is worshipped as Lakshmi Narayana. While the goddess is dressed in the usual manner, God during this Pooja is dressed as a Sanyasi. There is a custom is to keep all material necessary for doing pooja inside the sanctum sanctorum before closing the door. As it is believed that sage Durvasa would come in the night and do Pooja to the Lord.
- Poojas for Lord Sudarsana is according to Ahirbhudhnya Samhitha. After athazha, pooja Lord’s idol will be decorated with a Kavi Mundu and a long tulsi garland. For ucha pooja nivedyam, there must be truppuli, erisseri, parippu, upperi and uppu manga. After athazha pooja, there is a ritual called Pallikkuruppu for Lord Sree Vallabha and Lakshmi Devi. It is held at Palliyara and closes the doors of the temple. In the morning poojas begin after Palliyyunarthal at Palliyara.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By Air: Trivandrum is the nearest airport. One can also reach the temple from Kochi airport. There are no flights available between Thiruvananthapuram to Thiruvalla, but there are 20 direct trains from Thiruvananthapuram to Thiruvalla.
By Train: Thiruvalla Railway station is about 30kms South of Kottayam on the Ernakulam-Kottayam-Kayankulam rail route. The temple is roughly 3 km from the railway station. It is also well connected to major cities like Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai via Kanyakumari Express, Trivandrum Express, and Kerala Express.
By Road: One can take State transport bus to Thiruvalla. There is Ers Patna Exp from Coimbatore to Srikalahasti if one is coming from Coimbatore.
Where to stay
Thiruvalla has some deluxe accommodation options. Bessota International Hotel (Thiruvalla), John’s Homestay (Thiruvalla) and Hotel Voyage (Thiruvalla) are popular deluxe accommodation options in the city. The hotels are homely and laced with modern amenities.
Where to eat
There are numerous hotels and restaurants for the convenience of the hoards of tourists visiting the destination. Restaurants are the perfect places to eat, drink and be merry. These are restaurants that offer a wide variety of delicacies and most of them are pretty affordable too. It is designed to suit everyone’s budget and taste.
- Hotel Aryaas Park Contact: Deepa Junction, Thiruvalla, India
- The Food Village Contact: Kallisery P.O, Thiruvalla 689124
- Arabian Restaurant Contact: Thiruvalla, India
- Phosphorous Restaurant Contact: No 77, Club 7 Hotel | Scs Junction, Thiruvalla
Kaviyoor Mahadeva Temple: Kaviyoor Mahadeva Temple is one of the most ancient and popular Hindu temples located at the village of Kaviyoor. It is at a distance of 6kms from Thiruvalla town in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala. Aval Nadyam and Vada Mala is the main offering to the presiding deity at Kaviyoor Mahadevar Temple. This can be offered after making a receipt from the counter. There are a number of rituals that are performed to please the presiding deity on a daily basis. Kaviyoor is another noted shrine which stands on a small hillock. It is built in the gable style architecture peculiar to Kerala.