Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple located is one of the major Shiva temples in Kerala. This temple is in fact more than 2,000 years old. Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva temple is famous for the various manifestations of Lord Shiva, who is also the main deity of the temple. The Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple also has many minor shrines dedicated to various Gods and Goddesses.
There is a Namaskara Mandapam, with 16 pillars in front of the Sreekovil, which is one of the major attractions of this temple. The Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple is well stored with ancient murals, wood carvings and Salabhanjikaas (sculptures) which are worth seeing.
Devotees attend Palliyara poojas held just before the Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple closes on the full moon nights. Devotees pray for a happy married life and are blessed with children. The idol is considered to be of Uma Maheswara as revealed to Sage Parasurama. The Siva idol is just about 4 inches above the ground level and is in the form of a half-circle. Among the Siva temples, the Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple is called Arathali temple with its abridged form of Sivalingam in ‘Vadakkekottaram’ ( palace in the northern side).
History of Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple
This place was the capital of Chera dynasty ruled here till the 13th century. The ancient seaport town Musiris and the Sree Kurumba Bhagavathy temple are the first things one notice in Kodungallur. The Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple is believed to be built by Cheraman Perumal, a legendary Chera king.
It is also believed that Cheraman Perumal and his minister and friend Sundaramoorthy Nayanar left their life in the temple. There are two idols in Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple, considering as two ‘upadevas’ (sub gods), of them. This is the temple having the largest number of Upadevas in Kerala.
Lord Ganapathy, Cheraman Perumal, Sundaramoorthy Nayanar, Brangiradi, Sandhyavelakkal Sivan, Palliyara Sivan, Sakthi Panchakshari, Bhagavathy, Goddess Parvathy, Lord Parameshwara, Prodhosha Nrithya, Sapthamathrukkal, Rishabham, Nandikeshan, Unni Thevar, Lord Ayyappan, Lord Hanuman, Nagaraja, Lord Pashupati, Nadakkal Sivan, Lord Subramanya, Goddess Durga Bhagavathy, Goddess Ganga, Konnakkal Siva, Kottarathil Thevar, Nagayakshi, Dakshinamoorthy, Althara Gopudan Swamy etc are worshipped here along with Lord Shiva.
Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple had undergone several invasions in the flow of time. The Dutch and The Tipu Sulthan of Mysore are the prominent ones, who demolished this temple during their invasions. The Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple was renovated in 1801 AD. It is believed that the main idol of worship, Siva linga is brought from Chidambaram Rameshwara temple. It was one of the most popular Shiva temples in South India.
Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple suffered war damages in 1670 and in the late 18th century. In the late mediaeval Thiruvanchikulam was under the ruler of Cochin but occasionally, the Zamorin of Calicut had usurped the control.
The saint Sundaramoorthy Nayanar and Cheraman Perumal (both were close-friends) worshipped Lord Shiva leading to eternal bliss. They reached Kailas by riding on a 1000-tusked white elephant by Nayanar and on a blue horse by Perumal. Both of them have shrines in the Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple. This event was taken place on Swati day in the month of Karkidakam (July/August) and special Poojas are performed in these shrines.
Umamaheshwara once appeared in this place where Vasuki (serpents) stood guard. The Lingam here is said to have been self-incarnated. It is of 4-inch length, 12-inch diameter and in semi-circle form. There is water around as synonymous to Ganga.
Significance of Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple
Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple has the oldest reference in history in old Tamil Sangam literature. Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple is one of the oldest Shiva temples in South India where Lord Shiva is said to live along with his whole family. This temple has got a healthy relation with Chidambaram temple in Tamil Nadu.
A Brahmin had taken away Vasuki who stood guard to Umamaheshwara in a palm-leaf umbrella to his home for worship with the blessings of Umamaheshwara. This Brahmin family later became rich and their Mana famed as Pampummekkatt (serving of snake) Mana. This Mana is about 6-km east of Mahadeva temple. It is very famous for serpent Gods. People from all over Kerala and beyond visit here for the solution of problems connected with serpents.
The majestic gateway is decorated with carvings of elephants, gods and goddesses. Only the left side of the entrance there is a stone carving of Shiva and Parvathi as right and left respectively. Inside the enclosure, there is a porch with carvings dedicated to the characters of the great Hindu epic of Ramayana.
Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple Timings
- Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple opens at 5 AM and closes at 8 PM. The afternoon break timings are from 11 AM to 5 PM.
- The day starts with Palliyunarthal (waking up of the lord) at 3.00 AM. Then there is escorting the lord and his consort from Palliyara to Mukhamandapa. Other rituals involve Changing of Nirmalyam, Abhishekam (ablutions), and leading them to the Moolasthana, Usha pooja, Dhaara. It is the accompaniment of Rudram. There is Pantheeradi pooja, Navakam, Panchagavyam, Uchapooja and closing of the temple for noon at 11.30 AM.
- The sanctum opens again at 5.00 PM. Changing of Nirmalyam followed by Abhisheka, Deeparaadhana, Athazha pooja, escorting the lord and consort to Palliyara. Finally conducting Palliyara pooja (Dampathi pooja).
Festivals celebrated at Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple
The annual festival is celebrated for 8 days in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February–March). It ends with the Arattuin the sea on the new moon day. Aanayottam is also conducted as part of the festival. The hoisting of the Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple flag atop the flagstaff (Dwajastambham) about 70 feet high marks the beginning of the festival.
Maha Shivaratri: It is the most famous festival celebrated at Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple that attracts a huge number of devotees. Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple houses images of other gods and goddesses in small shrines in the temple premises. The fourteenth day of every lunar month or the day before the new moon is known as Shivratri. Among all the twelve Shivratris that occur in a hindu calendar year, Mahashivratri, the one that occurs in February-March is of the most spiritual significance.
On this night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being. This is a day when nature is pushing one towards one’s spiritual peak. It is to make use of this, that in this tradition, we establish a certain festival which is night-long.
Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple Sevas and Poojas
- The main offering in the Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple is ‘Shankabhishekam’ (pouring ‘Shanku’ flowers on the idol. The main event in the Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple is ‘Dhambathi Pooja’ (couple offering), in which worships the Siva-Parvathy dual and lead them to the ‘Palliyara’ (their personal bedroom).
- It is believed that the ‘Palliyara Darshanam’ give the bliss to overcome hurdles in a good marriage and child fertility.
- The shrikovil walls bear murals portraying Lord Ram and other mythological characters in five panels. The exterior of Palliyara walls also has mural paintings. Out of 274 Shaivite Thiruppathies in India, this is the only one in Kerala.
How to reach Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple
By Air: The nearest airport to Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple is at Nedumbassery International Airport at Kochi. It is at a distance 35 km away. Taxi services are available from Kochi to Kodungallur costing about Rs 500. Kochi airport is well connected to all major airports in India and also connected to many foreign cities. Direct flights are available to Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
By Rail: The nearest railhead to Kodungallur is located at Iringalakuda, at a distance of 16 km away. Iringalakuda is well connected with other major railway stations. It is in the main route connecting Kochi and Palghat. Taxi services are available from railway station to Kodungallur at a fare of about Rs 300.
By Road: Kodungallur is well connected by KSRTC buses and private transport buses. The city is connected to Kochi (35 km), Thrissur (38 km) and Guruvayur (45 km). Tourist deluxe luxury buses are available from many cities including Chennai, Bangalore, Trivandrum and Kozhikode to Kodungallur.
Where to stay
Vedic Village Resort: This resort provides with necessary amenities such as the internet, 24-hour front desk, air conditioning, parking, travel desk, 24-hour security, and doctor on call. Ayurvedic spa of the resort help transforms and rejuvenate your body, mind and soul. Food Court serves authentic Kerala cuisines by re-creating the unique recipes. All the rooms are unique and exude a charismatic appeal.
Aswathy Hotel: All the rooms in this hotel provides with first-class amenities in a warm, relaxing atmosphere. The elegantly furnished multi-cuisine restaurant serves both buffets and menu of Indian dishes. The lobby provides guests sitting facilities for the visitors.
Where to eat
In Kerala food is served on a banana leaf. Almost every dish prepared in Kerala has coconut and spices to flavour the local cuisine. That gives it a sharp pungency that is heightened with the use of tamarind, while coconut gives it its richness.
There are different restaurants such as City Majlis Restaurant, Relax Muziriz Kitchen, Thaninaadan Samudra Family Restaurant, Classic Durbar Greens and many more.
Ayyappan temple: The Ayyappan Temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is a sacred shrine of the town. Lord Ayyappa is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is considered very sacred in South India. Devotees believe that Lord Ayyappa was the foster son of King Pandalam.
Kurumba Bhagavathy Temple: The temple is more known for its fame and mythological importance. The shrine is dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali (an incarnation of Goddess Durga). The idol of the goddess Bhadrakali in the temple is unique as it has eight hands with various attributes. One is holding the head of an Asura, another a sword, next an anklet, another a bell, and so on. The temple also houses the images of Lord Ganapathi and Lord Veerabhadra. Bhagawati Temple is also referred to as the abode of Kannaki. The later was believed to be an incarnation of Kali and as a result, a temple was erected in her memory in Kodungallur.
Mata Amritanandamayi: The Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) is an international charitable organization that aims at the spiritual and material development of mankind. It is also home to an international community of more than 3,000 people. Permanent residents include monastic disciples and families from all over India and abroad. Inspired by Amma, they have dedicated their lives to attaining the goal of Self-realisation and serving the world. It is here that they live with Amma, imbibing her teachings, practising meditation and participating in selfless service.
Sivakrishnapuram Temple: Sivakrishnapuram Temple is one of the oldest temples near Kodungallur in Edavilangu. In front of the Sanctum Sanctorum is the Namaskara Mandapam with six pillars. The sanctum Sanctorum has Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati posing together. Lord Shiva is locally called “Uma Maheshwara”. It comes under the Cochin Devaswom Board and is managed by the devotees of Edavilangu. The temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and Lord Krishna.
Kottappuram Cathedral: The Kottappuram Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church. The church is beautifully built in the typical Roman style of architecture and is extremely well-maintained. There is a missionary school in the church premises for the underprivileged. This particular church has a deep relationship with the ancient port city Cranganore(Muziris). Cathedral was in the name of Arch Angel Saint Michael.