Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temples in Kerala.

 

 

Ananthapura Lake Sree Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple

 

 AP-1



Kerala has 2 temples dedicated to Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Lord Vishnu, is one of the three main gods of the Hindus known as the thrimurthis (3 gods). The thrimurthis are the lord Brahma – the creator, Lord Vishnu - the sustainer, protector or the benevolent and Lord Siva - the god of Death and destruction. Of the two temples dedicated to Thiru Anantha Padmanabha Swamy, Ananthapura Lake Temple is one at the North end and the Thiru Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple of Thiruvananthapuram is at the Southern end of Kerala State.

The Ananthapura lake temple is located as the name indicates, in the middle of a lake known as the Ananthapura Lake. The deity is of course Anantha Padmanabha Swamy – the lord resting on the Anantha the Serpent king with 7 hoods as a cushion/bed. While the lord in Ananthapura Lake is in a sitting posture, the lord of Thiruvananthapuram is in a reclining (lying in deep meditation – yoga nidra) posture.

Ananthapura Lake Temple Location

 

The temple is located in the Kasargod District of Kerala State. It is 5 km from Kumbla, a small town in the district and 13 km north of Kasargod town along the National Highway. The temple is in a beautiful lake, situate on a calm, tranquil and beautiful rocky hill. From the top of the hill the places around can be seen as a beautiful green natural scenery. The temple houses a beautiful of the deity of Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy seated on the Adi Sesha. This shrine is an ancient one with a known status from 6th century onwards. The shrine is having a prakaram (Chuttambalam) all around with walls like an enclosed veranda. The walls decorated with murals. There is a cave which ends in a pond. It is believed that the level of water in the pond will be at the same level at all seasons without increasing or decreasing. Near to the temple there is a rivulet known as papanasini. It is believed that the papanasini has the divine powers and will cleanse the souls by removing the sins. This temple has one of the best Koothambalams in Kerala. The shrine is supported by 30 granites and the floor is made by square granite blocks.

The unique attraction and feature of Ananthapura lake temple

It is believed that there is crocodile in the temple. This is the main attraction and uniqueness of Kerala's only lake temple. The local call it as Babia and believe that the crocodile is there to guard the temple and the hidden treasure believed to be there in a cave in the lake. It is also believed that there will only one crocodile at any time. If one dies another mysteriously comes from somewhere. According to the local people and one of the trustees Sri Ramachandra Bhatt, the present crocodile is about 60 years old, though some people believe it to be 150 years old. This crocodile is supposed to be purely vegetarian. It eats the offerings of the temple given to it after the noon offerings. The main item is the nei payslip (rice porridge with jaggery and ghee). The locals and the temple authorities say that there are fishes the lake but the crocodile does not eat them nor does it hurt anybody. They also feel that the crocodile gives indications if any impending unhappiness is going to take place in the area.

Another feature of the temple is that the original idol of the deity is made of a compound about 70 medicinal substances known as kadu sarkara yogam. This original idol is kept near the present one made of Pancha loha metal in 1972.

One more unique feature of the Ananthapura Lake Temple is that any one from any religion, caste or creed is allowed here.

Legend about the connection of Ananthapura lake Temple with Thiruanantha Pdmanabhaswamy

 

It is believed that this is the original seat (Moolasthanam) of Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy of Thiruvananthapuram where he reclines on the serpent. As per one legend, the famous Viluamangalam Swamiyar used to come to the Ananthapura Lake temple, as the swamiyar is a person always on travel from one pilgrim center to another. During his stay he used to perform poojas as he does in all other temples he visit. Viluamangalam Swamiyar was supposed to have the fortune of of seeing the gods and goddesses. In Ananthapura, when he offers pooja to the deity in the form of a lad, a boy used to come and pay mischief with him. The swamiyar used to enjoy the pranks and mischief of the boy and tolerate on most of the time. Even if he is annoyed, he will only mildly persuade the boy to desist. But on one occassion, when the pooja was being done, the body was uncontrollable and the swamiyar was terribly annoyed and pushed the boy and the boy fell in the lake. From there the boy told the swamiyar that if the swamiyar want to see him again, he should go to the Ananthan forest. The swamiyar regreted his action and started the journey in search of the Ananthan Forest, halting at the pilgrim centers like Guruvayur, Chottanikkara etc. Finally he came to the place now known as the Thiruvananthapuram which was a forest at that time. He could see the divine form of Sri Maha Vishnu in a gigantic form in lying posture. He could not see the full form of the lord and he requested the lord to be in a smaller version so that he can see the lord fully. The lord agreed and reduced his size to 18 feet in length. Subsequently, he made some schedule as to how the poojas are to be conducted and initiated the structure of the temple.

It is believed that the there is a cave-way connecting the Ananthapura temple with the Thiruananthapuram temple and the cave is having hidden treasures.

The annual Festival is held on one day in April every year. The festival is known as Thepotsavam locally which is known as aaraattu in rest of Kerala.

Getting to Ananthapura lake temple

Nearest railway station: Kasargod, about 12 km is the nearest Railway station, though some trains will stop at Kumbala station.
Nearest International Airport: Karipur International Airport, Kozhikode about 200 km and another airport is Mangalore.
By bus, train or taxi: People can reach the temple easily from Kannur, Kasargod or Mangalore.

 

Thiru Anantha Padmanabha Swamy

 

AP-2 

 

The presiding deity at the Padmanabhaswamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram, capital city of Kerala State in South India. Here, Padmanabha, manifestation of Lord Mahavishnu, is enshrined in the yoganidhra posture, reclining on Aadiseshan, making offerings of vilvam to a small shivalingam on his right, Aadiseshan, protecting the Lord with its raised hoods, lotus raising from the naval of the Lord with Brahma seated on it and the hands typify the chin mudra. The form is essentially Saantakara Rupa and is consecrated on 12,000 salagramams. In this temple, Lord is viewed through three doors in a row - the siras (head) through the southern side, the feet through the northern side and the nabhi (navel) through the middle. Thus the entire sequence of creation, sustenance and destruction is seen in Lord Padmanabha that spans 18 feet, through three separate doors

 

It was believed till recently the idol is made of a special preparation  called Katu sarkara yogam to ward off pests. The abhishekam of the Lord is not a traditional ritual. The daily worship is with flowers and for the abhishekam special separate idols are used. The flowers have always been removed using peacock feathers fearing damage to the katu sarkara on the idol.

 

During renovations in August 2001 , it came to light that Lord Padmanabha's idol is entirely cast in gold except for the face and chest.  The crown of the Lord sporting kundalams in the ears, the huge rudraksha malai adorning the chest and the finely chiseled poonal are in gold. The various ornaments covering the chest and the right hand sporting a huge kankanam shielding and praying to Lord Siva, the left hand holding a Kamalam are in gold. The stalk of the kamalam (lotus) rising out of the nabhi is also in splendid gold. The entire length of the Lord's legs is again cast in gold.

 

The katu sarkara yogam was obviously an ingeniously conceived plan to avoid the prying eyes of the invaders who attacked the city.

 

AP-3

 

The modern Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of the beautiful land of Kerala and was formerly known as Trivandrum. Under the royal rule of the Venad Royal family, it was called Thiruvithamkoor and also known by its anglicized name Travancore.It was one of the oldest inhabited places in India. Located on the west coast of India near the extreme south of the mainland, it was always the political nerve centre of Kerala. Ruled by some of the most powerful and liberal rulers, its life was always centered on the Padmanabha Swamy temple whose presiding deity is Sree Padmanabha or Vishnu. According to the Hindu mythology, the cosmic trinity consisted of Brahma-the creator, Shiva-the destroyer and Vishnu-the preserver. In an innovative more to pre-empt any invasions by local rivals, one of the strongest rulers Marthanda Varma consecrated the "thrippadidhanam" in the 17th century. According to this, the lord Vishnu was crowned as the actual ruler of the kingdom and the king became his servant ‘Padmanabha Dasa". With this, Sri Padmanabha became the "actual" head of the state of Travancore, assuming the title Perumal or the Emperor. The women folk of the royal family were known as "Padmanabha Dasinis" again female servants of the lord Padmanabha. In an orthodox Hindu society, attacking the lord's kingdom would have been sacrilege. People did and do actually believe that the lord has been administering Thiruvananthapuram and acting through the contemporary ruler.  The British Government saluted the Lord with a 21-gun salute, a military tradition of colonial days, which was continued by the Indian Army until the abolition of the privy purses (in a way de-legitimizing any royal claims), by Government of India when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. The royal insignia of the Lord, the Valampiri Shankhu or dextral conch-shell, served as the State emblem of Travancore and even continued so for some time after the re-organization of the States. Sri Padmanabha is still regarded as the presiding deity of Thiruvananthapuram.

 

The name Thiruvananthapuram may be split into three-Thiru- Anantha-Puram, which means the city of the Holy Anantha. Anantha is the mythical, cosmic serpent with a thousand heads, on whose coils Lord Vishnu (Padmanabha) reclines. Though the temple had existed long before, it was rebuilt and brought to prominence by the King Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal family when, in 1745, he shifted the Travancore capital from Padamanabhapuram in the south (today in the neighboring State of Tamil Nadu) to Thiruvananthapuram. As mentioned earlier having done the "thrippadidhanam" he started reigning as 'Padmanabha Dasa', the servant and representative of Lord Padmanabha--perhaps a nobler variant of the 'Divine Right Theory' that the West is familiar with.

 

The ancient land of Thiruvananthapuram was built upon seven hills and having played a vital role in Kerala politics has kept pace with evolution and today has grown into a sprawling metropolis. Yet, she still retains her past glory and old charm, that is visible from the old quarter of the city clustered in and around the East Fort, a protected landmark that dates back to the Royal days. What perhaps is special about the ambience of Thiruvananthapuram is the wonderful blend of the strongly traditional, the nostalgically Colonial and the outright modern elements, be it in architecture, in food or in the dress and manners of her people.

 

Adding to its legend and stature is the belief that the ships of King Solomon landed on ones of its prominent ports called Ophir (modern name Poovar) in 1036 BC. However, the ancient political and cultural history of the city was almost entirely independent from that of the rest of Kerala.

 

The rise of modern Thiruvananthapuram began with accession of Marthanda Varma in 1729 as the founding ruler of the princely state of Travancore. Thiruvananthapuram was made the capital of Travancore in 1745. The city developed into a major intellectual and artistic centre during this period. The golden age in the city's history was during the mid 19th century under the reign of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal (the great musician) and Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal.

 

With the end of the British rule in India in 1947, the glory days of the royal rule were finally over and Travancore (the kingdom was originally called such) was merged with the Indian union. The state of Kerala was formed on November 1, 1956 and in accordance with its stature, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of the new state.

 

Despite a royal past, Thiruvananthapuram has kept up with the times. Apart from having the pride of being the capital of India's most literate and socially developed state, Thiruvananthapuram is a strategically important city in Southern India. With a fledgling country desperately wanting to establish itself in the field of science, chose Thiruvananthapuram to be the cradle of India's ambitious and now successful space programme. The presence of Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in 1962, the first Indian space rocket was developed and launched from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) located in the outskirts of the city in 1963. Several establishments of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) were later established in Thiruvananthapuram. It is also important from the military logistics and civil aviation point of view falling under the international air route. It is also very close to the international shipping route and East-West shipping axis. 

 

The establishment of Technopark—India's first IT Park in 1995 helped in its metamorphosis as a modern city. Technopark has developed into the largest IT Park in India and third largest in Asia and is home to some of the global IT giants and has fostered the development of the "knowledge warrior". It employs more than 50,000 such warriors and these highly paid people have also contributed to its economic uplift. Thiruvananthapuram was and will always remain a prominent and contemporarily important location on the map of India.

 

Geography:

 

Located at 8°30?N76°54?E? / ?8.5°N 76.9°E? / 8.5; 76.9 on the west coast, near the southern tip of mainland India, Thiruvananthapuram is built on hills by the sea shore. The city and the suburbs cover an area of about 250 square kilometers, sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The average elevation is 16 ft from the sea level. District Area: 2192 km².

 

The area can be divided into two geographical regions, the lowlands, midlands and highlands. The lowland is a narrow stretch comprising shorelines, rivers and deltas, dotted with coconut palms. Vellayani Lake, biggest fresh water lake in the district is in the suburbs of the city. The major rivers that flow through the city are the Karamana River, and the Killi River. The midland region comprises low hills and valleys adjoining the Ghats. The eastern suburbs of the city fall within the highlands, whose highest point in the district is the Agasthyakudam which rises 1890 m above sea level. Ponmudi and Mukkunimala are hill-stations near the city.

 

The regal land is blessed with a long shoreline, dotted with internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage converting this into a much sought after tourist destination. With a tradition dating back to 1000BC, lies on a small strip of land with plenty of coconut & palm trees, and an active trading post for spices, sandalwood, ivory etc.

 

Culture

 

Thiruvananthapuram has a rich cultural background thanks to the rulers of erstwhile Travancore, who took an active interest in the development of arts and culture. Thiruvananthapuram has produced several great artists, the most famous ones being Maharaja Swathi Thirunal (musician) and Raja Ravi Varma (painter). Maharaja Swathi Thirunal was a great composer and played a vital role in the development of Carnatic music. There is a music college in his name in the city - Swathi Thirunal College of Music. Raja Ravi Varma was an illustrious painter of international renown. His contributions to Indian art are substantial.

 

Ancient history

 

While most parts of Kerala were dominated by the Brahmin Namboodhiris, Thiruvananthapuram was under the Ay dynasty, a clan known for its rich traditional and religious heritage. The Ays were the leading political power till the beginning of the 10th century A.D. and its writ extended from Nagerkovil in the South to Thiruvalla in the North. The Ays were caught in between the constant and recurring tussle for political power between the Chera-Chola dynasties (powerful entities of south India fighting for dominance of the region) wars from 999 to 1110 A.D.  All of the regions were attacked and sacked by the Chola army, till they were forced to retreat to Kottar in 1110 A.D. The annihilation of the Ay dynasty led to the emergence of the rulers of Venad. Under the Ays, the most prominent city was Vizhinjham which had a famous port of the same name and also housed a famous university (Kanthalur Salai). The Venad rulers set up efficient administrative systems and the kingdom saw its pinnacle under the King, Udaya Marthanda. The Venad rule brought about development of Kerala into a capital of art and learning. Ravi Varma Kulashekhara was a renowned scholar and musician. He became the mentor for artists, musicians, poets of Thiruvananthapuram. A great writer himself, he has penned the Sanskrit play "Pradyumnabhyudayam". The pro-active rule of the Venads made Thiruvananthapuram, the region then known by the name of Travancore, a bustling trading center.

 

According to legends, the Padamanabhapuram temple existed from earlier times thus lending the land a certain divine sanction. Though the Venad royal family remained the last ruling family in the region, establishing its authority was not an easy affair. Since Padmanabhaswami temple was the pivot around which life revolved, acquiring control of its affair was a strategic prerogative. The tussle between royalty and the traditional administrators of the temple was inevitable. During their rule, the trustees of the temple (Ettarayogam) became powerful enough to challenge the authority of the rulers. The king Raja Aditya Varma was poisoned by them, and five out of six children of Umayamma Rani were murdered by them. After the death of Aditya Varma, the kingdom was under the regency of Umayamma Rani. During this time, Travancore was invaded by a Mughal adventurer, Mughal Sirdar, forcing the Rani to take refuge in Nedumangad. The Sardar camped in the suburbs of the present day Thiruvananthapuram, till he was defeated by Kerala Varma, a prince from the Kottayam royal family, adopted into the Venad royal family. The Rani was brought back in triumph to Thiruvananthapuram, but in 1696 A.D., Kottayam Kerala Varma the hero was assassinated by the temple trustees within the precincts of his own palace in a daring act. Though eventually, through deceit, blood and iron, the control of the temple affairs came to the hands of the royal family thus eventually offering their rule legitimacy. The temple has always remained the key for sanctity to rule.

 

The regency of Umayamma Rani was crucial in the history of Thiruvananthapuram since it was during her regency in 1684, that the English East India Company obtained a sandy piece of land at Anchuthengu (land o the five coconut trees-Anjengo (anglicized) on the sea coast, about 32 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city, for erecting a factory and fortifying it. The place had earlier been frequented by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch. It was from here that the English gradually extended their domain to other parts of Thiruvithamkoor anglicized as Travancore. One may say this transaction with the British eventually proved a turning point for the Venad royal family as the British eventually took control of the affairs of the region with very limited powers left in the hands of its original rulers.

 

Though Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on the West coast of Kerala in the early sixteenth century, it was the Dutch who built dominated the trade. By the middle of 1600, the Dutch had entrenched themselves firmly in Travancore. Their dominance was disturbed by the invasion of the Mysore strongman Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. With the ascension of Marthanda Varma and his strong rule literally drove the Dutch out from the region. The exit of the Dutch led the way for the British domination. With south Indian rulers weakened by constant wars, the British saw an opportunity for itself. They started their campaign to oust all the European countries trading in the region by the end 1600s they ended up not just as dominant traders but as rulers of most parts of the Kerala including the Travancore. The only resistance to British dominance was put up by the French which was effectively thwarted. The East India Company had finally "arrived" in Kerala. It was a long journey "having started with a small "factory" at Anchuthengu-a small sandy strip, bought from then ruler Umayamma Rani, they ended up as rulers. Though the Venad family continued as regal heads with diluted powers mainly related to agrarian affairs, till the independence of India on 15th August, 1947, it was the British who were truly kings.

 

Conclusion: Despite the ascendancy of some strong rulers like Marthanda Varma, the politics and economy of Kerala was dominated by foreign powers predominantly Europeans. Even "God" who was the "real" ruler couldn't prevent this domination by foreign powers. In a way, Thiruvananthapuram's history is Kerala's history in turn India's history.

 

Padmanabha Swamy Temple-the axis mundi

 

A must on every tourist's itinerary, the ancient Padmanabhaswami temple is believed to be one of the 108 shrines (divyadesams) sacred to the Vaishnavites (followers of God Vishnu) in India.  Architecture has the power of dominating the mind of the masses and the sheer size of its 100-feet-high (with seven stories) gopuram (tower) soaring majestically skywards does not fail to evoke an awe-inspiring experience. Within its hallowed precincts, the main pavilion impresses with its 400 beautiful pillars carved out of granite. The temple has a corridor with 365 and one-quarter sculptured granite-stone pillars with elaborate carvings. This corridor extends from the eastern side into the sanctum sanctorum.The stone basement of the tower is covered with elaborate sculptures and the masonry above is replete with ornamental works of figures from the Puranas and other ancient Hindu scriptures. Tapering towards the top, it bears the statue of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. The temple stands by the side of a tank, called Padma Theertham (meaning spring of the lotus). An eighty-foot flag-staff stands in front of the main entry from the 'prakaram' (corridor). The ground floor under the gopuram (main entrance in the eastern side) is known as the 'Nataka-Shala' where the famous temple art, Kathakali was staged in the night during the ten-day uthsavam (festival) conducted twice a year, during the Malayalam months of Meenam and Thulam.

 

Well-guarded with a number of massive doors, the sanctum sanctorum or Garbhagriha is carved out of a single stone and hence called "Ottakkal Mandapam" (meaning pavilion carved out of a single rock). In order to perform darshan and puja, one has to climb on to the "Ottakkal Mandapam". The deity is huge and is visible through three doors - Face of the Lord and Siva Linga underneath his hand in the first door, Brahma seated on lotus emanating from the Lord's navel along with the "Uthsava Moorthi" and idols of Lord Maha Vishnu, Sridevi and Bhudevi in the second door and the Lord's feet in the third door. The deity, Padmanabha, is depicted Lying in a reclining position over the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha in the form of Maha-Vishnu in Yoganidra posture. This sleep of the lord has been called Anananthasayanam (eternal cosmic sleep). The serpent has his face pointed upwards, as if enjoying the smell emanating from the lotus held in his left hand. The idol is made up of 10,008 Salagramas (stones from water bodies considered to be symbolic of Vishnu). These Salagramas were procured from the banks of the river Gandaki in Nepal, brought with much ceremony on elephants.

 

Only the King of Travancore may perform the Namaskaram, or bow prostrate on this "Ottakkal Mandapam". Since the idol of the Lord is also on this "Ottakkal Mandapam", anybody who bows prostrate, or any material object that is kept here, henceforth belongs to the Lord. Here, the King is called a "Padmanabha Dasa", or a "servant" of Vishnu.

 

There are other important shrines inside the temple dedicated to other Hindu deities like Narasimha, Krishna, Ayyappa, Ganesha, Hanuman, Vishwaksena, Garuda etc. It was recently discovered that the main idol is entirely cast in gold except for the face and chest. Katu-sarkara-yogam, a dark colored ayurvedic paste used to keep flies and pests away was applied on the entire idol in order to disguise its intrinsic medium in order to thwart its looting the Muslim invaders

 

Keeping with its reputation as a centre of power, several kings, queens, other members of royalty and nobility have also built their palaces and mansions in and around the temple. It may be said that the region around the temple formed the sanctum sanctorum of Thiruvananthapuram.

 

Mythology

 

Padmanabhaswami Temple stands at a place considered as one of the seven Parashurama Kshetras; texts including the Puranas, particularly the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, have references for this shrine. According to tradition, it is located on the place where Vishnu revealed himself to sages Divakara Swami and Vilvamangalam Swami. There are many legends regarding the origin of the temple. One story describes that a Pulaya (one of the lowest castes in the discriminatory caste system) couple was given the darshan by Vishnu in the form of a child. The child took morsels of rice from the hands of the couple (in those days when Untouchability was practices, the lord taking food from a Pulaya couple was rather melodramatic).  During this time, the sage Divakara passed by and he recognised the "boy" and he took the first food item he saw which was an Unripe Mango and using a coconut shell as an offering plate, he paid his obeisance.  In memory of this legend, even today the naivedyam or the offering to the laity after a pooja is prepared from rice and is offered to the deity in a coconut shell. Another version describes that the Sage Divakara prayed to the God Krishna for a darshan. Krishna (a manifestation of Vishnu) gave an audience but in the guise as a small, mischievous boy. The boy swallowed the Salagrama (sacred stone symbolizing God Vishnu) which was being prayed to. The Sage was enraged at this act and chased the boy. He in fear hid himself behind a tree. The tree collapsed and took the form of Vishnu in Anantha Shayanam. But the form was of extraordinarily large proportions. The sage was amazed and overwhelmed by this life-altering experience. He was unable to fathom the entire form due to its sheer size and pleaded the form may be shrunk enough for him to see and circumambulate in devotion. The Lord respecting the sage's vision shrink to a smaller proportion - thrice the length of his staff and told the sage that he should be worshipped through three doors. These doors are now the doors in the temple through which the idol may be viewed. Through the first door, the worship is offered to Shiva; through the second entrance to Brahma on the Lord's lotus navel, and through the third is Vishnu's feet, which are said to lead to salvation.

 

Festivals

 

The temple is known for major festivals. Two of them are celebrated bi-annually-the Alpashy festival in October/November and the Painkuni festival in March/April, lasting for 10 days each. These festivals culminate with the performance of the Pallivetta (Royal hunt) and Aarattu (Holy bath) -the two important rituals held as part of the festivals in some of the major temples in Kerala. The uniqueness of the Aarattu at Sree Padmanabhaswami temple is that the head of the royal family of the erstwhile Travancore kingdom still escorts the idols during the procession donning his traditional attire. During Pallivetta the head of the royal family shoots a tender coconut using a bow and arrow. This ritual is symbolic of Lord Vishnu hunting down the demon of evil in a forest and is held in front of the Sundara-vilasam Palace inside the Thiruvananthapuram fort. The Aarat or the holy bath after taken in a procession to the Shankumugham Beach. The idols of Padmanabhaswami, Krishna and Narasimha are given a ritual bathe in the sea, after the prescribed poojas. After this ceremony, the idols are taken back to the temple as a procession in the light of traditional torches, marking the conclusion of the festival. It is also famous for Navaratri festival wherein the mother goddess is venerated in different manifestations including that of Saraswati & Durga. This festival lasts for 9 days. The iconic Swathi Thirunal (a famous musician-king) music festival is held every year during this festival that attracts musicians from all over the country and is a musical-feast.

 

Another biggest festival associated with this temple is the "Laksha-deepam", which means the lighting of a hundred thousand lamps. This unique festival is unique and happens once in 6 years. In preparation of the festival, prayers from the Vedas (holy texts of the Hindus) are recited for 56 days and with the commencement of the festival, a hundred thousand oil lamps are lit in and around the temple premises. The reflection of the bright gopura is visible on the Padma Theertham and is an awesome sight. The last Laksha-deepam was in 2008 and the next one is slated to be held on January 2014.

 

Deities

Sree Padmanabhaswamy

The marvelous idol of Sree Padmanabhaswamy is seen reclined on the mighty five hooded serpent Anantha. The supreme God is in conscious cosmic slumber with the head positioned to the south and the feet to the north. Anantha (or the endless) spreads its hoods above the head of the idol. The three coils represent the three characteristics of mankind Sattva, Rajas and Tamas and its five hoods indicate the Panchendriyas(five senses) or the five elements(Panchabhootas). From the navel of the Lord emerges a lotus on which Lord Brahma, the Creator, is seated. Just below the stretched right arm of the Lord is the idol of Shiva, the Destroyer. Brahma, Vishnu(Padmanabha) and Shiva represent the ‘Srushti, Stithi and Samharam’.

The residing potency was drawn from the original idol which was made of Iluppa wood and infused into the present idol by performing certain complicated religious ritualistic processes. The idol is made up of a highly complex amalgam termed Katusarkara yogam containing within it 12008 Salagramas collected from the bed of the River Gandaki in Nepal. It is believed that Salagrams represent Lord Vishnu. Twelve Salagramas when worshipped together gain the potency of a Mahakshetram(Great Temple). Thus the mighty Ananthasayana Moorthy here gains the greatness and sanctity of a thousand Mahakshetrams.

The sanctum sanctorum has three entrances, through which we can behold the Deity

Vishwaksenan

This idol in sitting posture, facing the South, is given great prominence as Vishwaksenan is Mahavishnu’s Nirmalya moorthy.

Sree Ramaswamy with His consort Seetha and brother Lekshmanan

We can see two sets of idols of Sree Ramaswamy with Seetha and Lekshmanan. Of these one set of idols are in the regal style while the other represent the Lord’s tenure at Dandakaranyam(Forest). The image of Sree Hanuman is there as an orderly to Lord Rama.

Sree Yoga Narasimha Moorthi

A shrine for Sree Narasimha Swamy is located to the South of the main sanctum. Sree Narasimha Moorthy is the fourth incarnation of Lord Maha Vishnu and assumes the form of Man and Lion. The image is in the ‘Ugra roopam’, hence powerful. To pacify Him, Ramayana is being recited throughout the time when the Temple doors are open. This idol, made of Panchaloham, faces the East. This is the second major deity of this temple.

 

Sree Veda Vyasar and Ashwathama

The shrine of Sage Veda Vyasar (who gave life to the great Epic Mahabharatha and other religious texts) with Ashwathama is located on the north of the cheruchuttu. This shrine faces the West. Veda Vyasa shrines are rare in India. Both idols are made of Panchaloham.

Thiruvambadi Sreekrishnaswamy

The Thiruvambadi temple enjoys the status of an independent temple within this temple complex. This shrine has a Namaskara Mandapam with fine display of carvings in wood, a Balikkal and a silver flag pole. The image of Sree Krishna as Parthasarathy is of medium built and is in stone. This is the third major Deity of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.

Kshethrapaalakan

The idol of Kshethrapaalakan in the sitting posture faces the East. His temple is located on the Northern side of the Temple. Kshethrapaalakan is considered as one of the eight Bhairavas of Shiva who perform the role of protector to temples. There is also an idol of Lord Ganesha, in this shrine.

Agrashaala Ganapathi

This idol is installed in the cooking area of the Temple. The belief is that Lord Ganesh witnesses and oversee the Annadanam(offering of free food) organized by the Temple.

Hanuman Swamy, Ashtanaga Garuda Swamy and the Maha Meru Chakram

Near the golden flag pole we see the towering image of Sree Hanuman Swamy in full relief. To His left is Sree Ashtanaga Garuda Swamy. On the ceiling between these images is the Maha Meru Chakram complete with the Bindu or the central point which is engraved in clear focus. This cosmic wheel enhances the spiritual strength of Sree Hanuman.

 

 

Sree Dharma Sastha

The Swayambhu Dharma Sastha in Yogasanam or Yogic posture on the South side of the Temple is an independent shrine. This idol is made of granite and faces the East.

 

Darshan Timing

 

Morning

03.30 am to 04.45 am (Nirmalya Darshanam)

06.30 am to 07.00 am

08.30 am to 10.00 am

10.30 am to 11.10 am

11.45 am to 12.00 Noon

Evening

05.00 pm to 06.15 pm

06.45 pm to 07.20 pm

 

The above-indicated time schedule is subject to changes during festivals and other special occasions. During the festival occasions the darshan time is reduced in order to performing the special poojas.

 

Festivals

Chingam 1st

Malayalam New Year Day attracts many devotees here.

Vinayaka Chathurthi

This event comes on the Chathurthi tithi on Karuthapaksham(New Moon) of Chingam. Special offerings and deeparadhana are conducted for the Ganesh idol in the Sree Rama Shrine. ‘Chirappu’ is observed for the Agrashala Ganapathi. The Valiya Thampuran (eldest male member of the royal family) worships here only on this day and witness the deeparadhana.

Thiruvonam

This is one of the most major celebrations of this Temple by virtue of the fact that it is the Thirunal (Birthday) of Sree Padmanabhaswamy. The Temple celebrates this day in the manner laid down long ago. Of special note is the submission of the Onavillu to the Deities. It has a tradition of centuries behind it.

Ashtami Rohini

Sree Krishna Swamy’s birth day is celebrated all over India in the month of Chingam when the asterism Rohini and the thithi Ashtami coincide. In this Temple special decorations and offerings mark this day. The Temple opens early in the noon by 2 pm. At 2.30pm Abhishekam of milk is performed to Sree Krishna. On this day an exquisitely decorated ivory cradle is placed on the Abhisravana Mandapam and plenty of images of Lord Krishna are kept inside for the devotees to view. It is believed that if prayer is offered to them by childless couple, they will be blessed with infants.

Navarathri Pooja

In connection with the Navarathri festival Sree Saraswathi Amman is brought from Padmanabhapuram Palace in Kanyakumari District and worshipped traditionally in the Navarathri mandapam at the Valiya Kottaram complex. Huge crowd throng for darshan.

Valiya Ganapathi Homam

This is carried out for twelve days starting two days before the commencement of the Navarathri Festival by the Tantries of the Temple.

Alpasi Ulsavam

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple celebrates bi-annual festival in the months of Thulam (Alppasi) and Meenam(Painkuni). A function is conducted for according formal sanction to conduct the Ulsavam(festival). This is known as Anujna. Other functions include Mannuneeru Koral, Mula Pooja, Kalasam, etc. The festival starts with Kodiyettu(flag hoisting) at the gold and silver flag poles. The festival is of ten days duration culminating in the spectacular Palliveta and Arat processions. Kalasams also known as Ulsava Kalasams take place in addition to the routine rituals. Special Sreebalies (Processions) are conducted twice a day, in the evening 4.30 pm and at night 8.30pm.Exception is there on the first day when there is only night Sreebali.

Once during the reign of Sree Anizhom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, an elephant ran amock. Since then, the practice of using elephants to carry the idols in the procession was given up and Vahanas (vehicles) carried on the shoulder by a number of priests came into vogue. Six different kinds of beautiful conveyances are used for these processions. They are the Simhasana Vahanam(Throne), Anantha Vahanam(Serpant), Kamala Vahanam(Lotus), Pallakku Vahanam(Palanquin), Garuda Vahanam(Garuda) and Indra Vahanam(Gopuram). Of these the Pallakku and Garuda Vahanas are repeated twice and four times respectively. The Garuda Vahanam is considered as the favorite conveyance of the Lord. The different days on which the various Vahanams are taken out for the procession are as follows.

1st day of Utsavam Simhasana Vahanam

2nd day of Utsavam Anantha Vahanam

3rd day of Utsavam Kamala Vahanam

4th day of Utsavam Pallakku Vahanam

5th day of Utsavam Garuda Vahanam

6th day of Utsavam Indra Vahanam

7th day of Utsavam Pallakku Vahanam

8th day of Utsavam Garuda Vahanam

9th day of Utsavam Garuda Vahanam

10th day of Utsavam Garuda Vahanam

Sree Padmanabhaswamy’s Vahanam is in gold while those of Narasimha Swamy and Krishna Swamy are in silver. The Vahanams are richly decorated with colourful flowers.

The eighth Utsavam has significance in the sense that ‘Valiya Kanikka’ is offered. During the night Sreebali the Swamiyar offers the first Kanikka followed by the Valia Thampuran(The eldest male member of the Royal Family).

The ninth day festival is called Pallivetta. Pallivetta signifies a Royal Hunt. As the Ruler of the Land, Swamy ventures to hunt down and annihilate all the ills. In a temporarily erected grove, the Maharaja aims an arrow on a tender coconut which symbolizes evil. The Valiya Thampuran and other male members of the Royal Family array outside with swords and shields, and accompany the procession.

The difference in the Garuda Vahanam used for the Pallivetta and Aarat is that during Pallivetta the Anki (outer covering) of the image of Lord Padmanabhaswamy holds a bow and an arrow in the hands.

On the tenth day is the Aarat. After two circumambulations, all the Vahanams are taken out through the Western entrance. The Valiya Thampuran and other male members of the Royal Family escort the Deities with drawn swords and shields.

The Aarat procession slowly proceeds with pomp and pageantry, colour and music, men carrying divine emblems and insignia of total royalty. History and heritage are re-lived. The procession reaches the Sanghumugham beach and the Vahanams are positioned in the Aarat Mandapam. Poojas are performed to the idols by the Tantry (Tantry is of the Tharanalloor Illam. This Illam has held the position of Tantri for centuries) and the holy immersion in the sea takes place. After this, the procession returns to the Temple.

Mandala Chirappu

The celebration for the Sastha begins on the first of Vrischikam. Mandalachirappu falls on the 41st day.

 

Swargavathil Ekadasi

This is an auspicious day for the devotees of Maha Vishnu. On this day people throng the Temple. Special poojas and offerings take place on this day. The Temple remains open for longer duration.

Bhadradeepam

Bhadradeepam is observed on the summer and winter solstices. On these day Bhadradeepappura is opened and special poojas are made.

Kalabham

This is a seven days affair commencing from the last six days of Dhanu and Midhunam. The ablution with sandal paste on the idols is the highlight of the function.

Makara Sreebali

It is the night Sreebali observed on the day of winter solstice.

Sivarathri

This is a day celebrated all over India as an important day for Sree Parameswara. On this day special Abhishekam is done to the Shiva residing in the Sanctum.

Painkuni Utsavam

All the rituals and functions which take place for this Utsavam are same as for Alpasi Festival, the difference being the asterism. While prominence is given to the star Thiruvonam under which alone the Arat takes place for Alpasi, for the Painkuni the emphasis is on the day of Kodiyettu (flag hoisting) on which the asterism is Rohini. In connection with this festival the massive figures of Pandavas are erected in the Eastern entrance of the Temple.

Sree Rama Navami

Special poojas are performed on this day for Sree Rama.

 

 

Vishu

Vishu is an extremely auspicious day for Malayalees. Vishukani is arranged inside the sanctum of all shrines in this Temple complex. The Temple opens an hour earlier for Vishukkani Darshanam.

Karkataka Sreebali

On the first day of the Malayalam month Karkkitakam the Karkkitaka Sreebali takes place. Its procedure is same as the Makara Sreebali.

Sree Veda Vyasa Jayanthi

Sree VedaVyasa Jayanthi is celebrated on the full moon day of Karkkitakam in honour of the great sage Vyasa.

Niraputhari

On the day of Niraputhari sheaves of grain are ceremoniously brought to the Temple. The main priest removes some sheaves from the bundle after performing pooja to the same and takes them inside the sanctum of Sree Padmanabha Swamy and submits them. Some sheaves are spread out on the Ottakkal Mandapam. This procedure takes place in all the other shrines of this Temple complex.

Murajapam

The very term reveals its meaning. ‘Mura’ means turn and ‘Japam’ means chanting. This prayer lays tremendous stress on the chanting of Vedas and the Vishnu Sahasranamam( thousand names of Maha Vishnu). It is celebrated once in six years. It is 56 days long affair of Veda chanting, Sahasranama Japam and rituals.

Lakshadeepam

Lakshadeepam literally translates as one lakh lamps. The entire Temple is adorned with lamps. The Sreebali (Procession) conducted with illumination on the concluding day of Murajapam is known as Lakshadeepam. The maiden Lakshadeepam was celebrated on the 1st of Makaram 925 ME / 14th or 15th of January 1750 AD. The festival was conducted with much pomp and fanfare, in the grandest manner possible by King Marthanda Varma. The latest Lakshadeepam was celebrated in 2008. The next one is due in 2014.

 

Official Link:

 

http://sreepadmanabhaswamytemple.org/History.htm

 

 

 

5 comments:

indiafamoustemples said...

nice blog...

Kullu Manali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Himachal Tourism said...

Great blog on temple in kerala. Kerala is one of the most visited place in south India. Some travelers come for only spiritual work.
Himachal Tourism

Manali Hotels said...

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Jaseef said...

Really liked the informative post. Kerala Tourpedia has some further tourist information about Ananthapura Lake Temple.