Vadakkunnathan Temple is located in Thrissur and is one of the oldest shrines of Kerala. It is also a national building. The temple is spread over a large area of 9 acres. It has a paved walkway. The shrine also has a lot of greenery. The vast area outside the temple is Tekkinkadu. This word means teak woods.
The temple is over a hill lock. Tourists can get a beautiful view of the complete Thrissur town. Locals also call the temple as Thenkailasam and Vrishabhachalam. The temple won the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award. It got the award in the Cultural Heritage conservation category in 2015.
History and Legend of Vadakkunnathan Temple
The temple is associated with the golden days of Kerala.
- As per myth, Saint Parasurama built this shrine. After creating Kerala, the saint went to Lord Shiva. He requested Lord Shiva to make Kerala his home. Therefore, Lord Shiva along with Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha, Subramanya and other Ganas came to Kerala. But Lord Shiva suddenly vanished after reaching Thrissur. Saint Parasurama saw the self-manifested Shiva Lingum under a banyan tree. Therefore, people call this place Sri Mula Sthana. Years after this incident, the Thrissur king built a temple to place this lingam. This beautiful temple is the Vadakkunnathan Temple.
- The locals also believe that the Adi Sankaracharya birth history started here. His mother used to walk From Kalady to Thrissur distance to the temple to beget a son from Lord Shiva. Hence, Lord Shiva blessed her with a baby boy. The boy name is Adi Sankaracharya.
Significance of the Vadakkunnathan Temple
The Vadakkunnathan Temple has Kerala architectural style. The different features of the temple are:
- Besides Lord Shiva, there are other deities here; Goddess Parvati, Lord Sankaranarayana, Lord Ganapati, Sri Rama and Sri Krishna.
- The temple is protected by a large stone wall. Also, there are four gopurams within the temple complex. Gopurams are gateways and have amazing carvings. The gateway base is granite. These gateways are at all four sides of the temple. They are at north, south, east and west.
- The main temple and the gateways have wooden carvings and sculptures. The gopurams are like pyramids. They also have many roofs.
- The Shiva temple is circular while the tower has one-tier. There are many pillars which are arranged in a unique way.
- The Shankaranarayana Temple is also called the Harihara temple. This is just beside the Shiva temple. This shrine has two tiers.
- There are three temples within the temple premises. One is for Lord Shiva, the other two for Sankaranarayana and Rama. There is also a separate temple for the Goddess. The temples have a square base.
- The temple is beautiful with mural paintings. These paintings tell the stories from Indian religious books. It also shows stories from Puranas. The temple wall paintings show scenes from Mahabharata. It also has paintings of Lord Shiva in Tandava dance pose.
- The temple also has a large theatre. People call it as Koothambalam. Enter the temple from the western gate to view this theatre. This building has a tilted roof, which is made from copper plates. The hall shows magnificent wooden carvings. It also has bracket figures. Chakyar Kuttu drama performance takes place here. This is a special drama that shows the rich culture of Kerala. This art started in the 9th century at Kerala.
Vadakkunnathan Temple Timings
- The temple opens at 4.00 am and is open till 10.00 am.
- It again opens at 5.00 pm and closes at 8.30 pm.
Vadakkunnathan Temple Food Timings
Devotees can have prasadam after worship. Moreover, the prasadam is free at the Vadakkunnathan Temple.
Dress Code at Vadakkunnathan Temple
There is a specific dress code at the temple.
- Men have to be in white pancha and dhoti.
- Short dresses are not allowed within the temple complex.
- Furthermore, men need to remove shirts before entering the shrine.
- Women have to be in a sari. Punjabi dress and churidar with a dupatta or half sari will also do.
- You cannot bring children below 1 year within the temple complex.
- You have to deposit footwear before entering the temple. There is also a free cloakroom here. People can also park cars.
- Devotees can bring in mobiles but cannot do photography within the temple premises.
Festivals celebrated at Vadakkunnathan Temple
Thrissur is popular for its religious festivals and the largest festival takes place in the vast area outside the Vadakkunathan Temple.
- Thrissur Pooram: This festival takes place during April or May. The festival started in 1750 AD to 1805 AD. Prince Rama Varma introduced this festival. Many devotees, almost in lakhs, visit the temple during this time. The unique part of this festival is that Vadakkunnathan Temple does not take part in the rituals or procession of the festival. There are other two temples that do the festival. One is the Paramekkavi Devi and the other is the Goddess residing in Tiruvambadi. At present many other temples also take part in the celebration. The fireworks during the festival are spectacular. Elephants are painted and decorated for the grand procession. Nettupattam is clothing sewn with almost six thousand gold plated metal pieces. Devotees place this at the forehead of the elephant. The elephant carries three people on it. While one person holds the silken parasol, the other two stand on the back. Music plays for two hours before the procession. The festival starts early morning. It goes on throughout the night and ends the next morning.
- Shivaratri: Vadakkunnathan Temple celebrates Shivaratri with great pomp and show. This festival takes place during February or March. Devotees need to come in white dhoti to worship Lord Shiva. Tailored clothes are not allowed at this time.
- Anayoottu: This festival takes place every year on the 1st day of the Malayalam month, Karkkidakam. It is in July. In this festival, people worship elephants and feed them.
Poojas and Rituals at Vadakkunnathan Temple
Vadakkunnathan Temple has some special customs.
- There is also a defined process of worship at this temple. It is known as Pradakshina.
- As you enter the temple you can hear the continuous chanting of ‘Samb Sadashiva.’
- Every day priests offer 18.5 kilos of rice to Lord Shiva. This offering is Nivedyam.
- Abhishekam takes place every day. Ghee is used to performing Abhishekam, lighting hundreds of oil lamps around the Shiva Lingum. This ritual is taking place for hundreds of years and this has led to a solid ghee mound encircling the Shiva Lingum. Devotees get a scrap of this mound as Prasada. Locals believe this ghee has medicinal and herbal properties.
- Trippuka is the last ritual of the day. It takes place at 8 pm.
How to Reach: Road, Rail and Air
The temple is just at the heart of Thrissur and hence easily accessible from all parts of the country.
By Air: The nearest airport is the Kochi International Airport. It is at Nedumbassery and approximately 53 km from the shrine.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is Thrissur. It is at 3 km from the temple. All trains to Kerala pass through the place.
By Road: Thrissur is easily reachable through roads as well. You can drive from all parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to Vadakkunnathan Temple.
Hotels in Thrissur: Where to stay
KTDC Tamarind Thrissur is a hotel sponsored by the Kerala tourism department. It is just within 2 km from the Vadakkunnathan Temple. The Joys Palace, KTDC Nandanam Guruvayoor, Mayura Residency, Hare Krishna Inn and Hotel Kanoos Residency are the other options for the tourists at Thrissur. These hotels offer clean rooms and basic amenities. The rent at these hotels is also less.
Where to eat
Due to thousands of visitors every year at the Vadakkunnathan Temple, various eat outs are found near the shrine. Reach Us Hotel, Hotel Bharat, Ming Palace Chinese Restaurant, Pathans and Hotel Elite International are within 0.5 km. Ela adai, pazha payasam, appam, puttuand kadalai curry are some special Kerala dishes that you can enjoy here. Thrissivaperror Kaapi Club serves awesome coffee while Fruitage is popular for fresh fruit juice.
Thrissur is a pilgrimage with various temples in and around it. It is also the cultural capital of Kerala.
- Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple: It is at 27 kms from the Vadakkunnathan Temple. Every night numerous oil lamps are lit. It is also famous for Krishnattom dance form, which takes place every evening. The temple also features a unique ritual, Thulabharam offering.
- Irinjalakuda Koodal Manickam Temple: This is just 21 km away. The presiding deity is Bharat. He was Lord Rama’s brother as per the Indian epic, Ramayana. This is a 9th-century temple. The temple celebrates Medam. It takes place for 10 days in April or May. Visitors also witness various Kerala art forms in this festival.
- Paramekkavu Kshetram: This temple is at the foothill of the Vadakkunnathan Temple. This temple also participates in the Thrissur Pooram festival.
- Kodungallur Bhagavathi Temple: This temple is behind the Vadakkunnathan Temple. The deity also has other names, like Kannagi and Bhadrakali. Bharani is the main festival here. The celebration takes place in March or April.
- Thiruvembadi Temple: This temple is in the middle of the Thrissur city. The shrine is for Lord Krishna. This temple also celebrates Navaratri and Sree Krishna Jayanti.
- Peringottukara Somashekhara Temple: This temple worships Lord Shiva. It is at 22 km from the main Thrissur town. Also at this temple, Maha Shivaratri is the main festival.
- Arattupuzha Temple: This temple is 16 km away. Lord Dharma Sastha is the main deity. Moreover, 41 temples participate in the temple festival. A gorgeous procession takes place in the festival. Decked up elephants carry the deities round the temple during the procession.
- Shree Rama Festival: Lord Rama is in the form of Chaturbhuja in this shrine. Locals call the deity as Trimurthy. Furthermore, it is a combination of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
- Urakam Amma Thiuvadi Temple: This temple is 12 km from Thrissur. It is the oldest temple of the place. There is a custom of cleaning the idol with peacock feathers at this temple. Moreover, locals believe that the Goddess can protect the place from disasters.
Besides worshipping at the Vadakkunnathan Temple, tourists can also check out the cultural life of Kerala at the Cheruthuruthy dance school. This is just at 30 km from the temple.