The Temples of Kerala
Kerala, also known to be a tropical paradise, is a state of India with beautiful palms and beaches. Kerala is recognized for its beauty and climate, but one thing that signifies Kerala from others is its diversity of religions. One can find Hindu temples, mosques, churches, and even synagogues in Kerala. With over 3000 temples and other religious spots, Kerala is a main attraction to the tourists.
Kerala is a destination to spirituality and divinity. The temples offer great architecture, amazing festivals, and rituals, scriptures, tradition, and examples of faith. The divine ambiance of these temples attracts the ones looking for soothing. The temples mentioned below are worth a visit if you are one of those. Here is a list of top 20 temples of Kerala.
Sabarimala Sastha Temple
Sabarimala is one of the most ancient temples of Kerala attracting millions of tourists every year. About 17 million to 50 million devotees visit this temple every year, making it the site of the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. It is situated in a deep, dense forest on the virgin hill of Sabari, in the Ranni-Perunad village of Pathanamthitta, Kerala. It is one of the most famous temples of Kerala and also India. The temple is surrounded by 18 hills and can only be reached on foot. One has to cross River Pampa first and then a 4 km trek through a thick forest gives the tourist a cleansing through nature. The deity worshipped here is Lord Ayyapa. The devotees follow Varatham prior to the pilgrimage. It is a 41 day period in which devotee takes vow which includes strict rules.
The pilgrims are considered equals, irrespective of caste, color or wealth before Lord Ayyappa. All of the pilgrims address each other as Ayyappa or Swamy. Another mythology states that Lord Ayyappa killed a powerful demon Mahisihi and was then meditating by Lord Shasta at Sabarimala and later they became one.
AmbalaPuzha Srikrishna Temple
Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple is a Hindu temple in Ambalappuzha, Alapuzha district of Kerala, India. The idol at Ambalapuzha is Sri Krishna and is likened to Parthasarthi with a whip in the right hand and a Shankhu (sacred conch) in the left. The temple exhibits the Kerala style of architecture. There is a pond beside the temple. The legend has it that Lord Krishna appeared before the king of the region in the form of a sage and challenged him into the game of chess.
The king was passionate about chess and considered himself a great player. He accepted the challenge and asked sage for the prize in case the king loses. Sage’s demand was quite odd. He asked for a few grains of rice as the grains would be placed in the first box and would be doubled in the next box. The king didn’t think this through and started the game which he lost. It was time for sage’s prizes. When the grains were measured until the end of the board, they equaled trillions of tons of rice. Then the sage revealed its true form. He told the king he doesn’t have to pay the debt right away. The King had to serve Paalpayasam freely to the pilgrims until the debt was paid off. Till the date, Paal payasam is served at the temple is believed that lord comes himself to accept the offering.
Yearly, festivals are conducted in order to bring Lord Krishna to the temple.
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The Chottanikkara Devi Temple also known as Sree Bhagavathi. The temple is located at Chottanikkara, a southern suburb of the city of Kochi in the state of Kerala, India and is one of the most popular temples in the state. It is believed that Lakshmi Devi resides in the temple with Lord Vishnu. It is also said that she resides in the form of all three devis i.e draped in white as Saraswati in the morning, in red as Lakshmi in the afternoon and in blue as Durga in the evening. It was built by Vishwakarma sthapathi along with Sabarimala temple. Different pages and offerings are made in the temple of the people. Bhadrakaali is believed to exorcise evil spirits from devotees. There’s a pond by the temple where it is believed, Devi beheaded Raktha Rakshassu.
Apart from the main deity, the temple complex consists of a Kizhukkavu Bhagavathy temple, temples for Shasta, Siva, Ganapathi, Nagas and other Upa-Devas. It is one of the most famous temples of the Krala and is celebrated by millions as it is believed that Devi relieves everyone of the overburdening anguish and agonies. It is believed that even life-threatening diseases are healed here by the steady worship of deities.
Guruvayoor Srikrishna temple
The deity of Guruvayoor Srikrishna temple is lord Guruvayurappan and is located in the town of Guruvayur in Kerala, India. It is one of the most famous temples to worship in Kerala. The temple itself is breathtaking and its scenic beauty is the main attraction to the tourists. Lord Krishna or Guruvayoorappan is adorned with Tulsi garland and pearl necklace every morning. Hence, a radiant representation of Lord Vishnu blesses the tourist every day.
The idol of Lord is made from a rare stone called Patala Anjana. A 33.5 feet gold plated flag post-Dwajasthamba and a 7-meter high Deepasthambam (pillar of lamps), which is lighted in the evening make the temple give a mesmerizing look. To enter the temple, a strict dress code must be followed. Men have to wear mundu around their waist, without any dress covering their chest. Women are to wear saris and girls can wear long skirts and blouses. There are five poojas and three seevelis daily in Guruvayoor Temple. The place is also home to the largest population of captive elephants. The architectural styles and the elements inside the shrine are also a beautiful repreesentation of the place.
The images of Ganapathy, Lord Ayyappa and Edathedathu Kavil Bhagavathy are also found in the temple. The only Hindus are allowed inside the temple.
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is a very famous temple of Kerala. It is a temple for Hindu god Shiva. This temple along with two other temples “Ettumanoor Shiva temple” and “ Kaduthuruthy thaliyil Mahadeva temple” is considered a powerful trisome and the belief of Hindu people is that if a person worships at these three temples before “ucha pooja”, all his/her wishes are fulfilled. Shiva in the Hindu religion is the Lord of Lords and God of Gods. This temple is one of the biggest Shiva temples in Kerala covering about 8 acres of land
The myth about this temple is that on Ashtami day Lord Shiva appeared with his consort Parvati and said that this place shall be known as Vyaghrapada Burma and from that day onwards Vaikathashtami and all other important holy festivals are observed here.
The temple is located in South India and it has its border shared with Vembanattu kayal ( lake) . The most spectacular attribute of this temple is the elephant parade. The offering of food to the devotees is the oldest custom followed here. The vaikom mahadeva temple is locally known as “ Thekkan Kashi”. The temple has an oval chamber which is covered with copper plates and the roof is crowned with a beautiful golden dome (kalasam) . There is an ancient engraved wall painting in the temple which is about 15 to 18 centuries old and it attracts many tourists. A tourist or visitor there can have a view of 129909 nandi which is the vehicle of Lord Shiva . The walls are decorated with lamps on wooden framework. A tourist can find vaikom 40 kms from kottayam town.
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Thiruvanchikulam Shiva temple
Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple is a Hindu temple located about 6 km from Kodungallur in Thrissur district in the South Indian state of Kerala which is the land of temples and Muziris Heritage area . This temple is, in fact, more than 2000 years old. It is famous for various manifestations of Lord Shiva (Mahadeva or Lords of Lords) . There is a namaskaramandapam with 16 pillars in front of Sreekovil, which is the main attraction of this temple. It is well stored with ancient engravings, sculptures, wood carvings, and ancient murals. Devotees attend Palliyaara poojas held just before the Thiruvanchikulam Shiva Temple closes on the full moon nights. This place was the capital of Chera dynasty till 13th century .
This temple is believed to be built by Cheraman Perumal , a legendary Chera king. This temple had undergone many invasions by the Dutch and Tipu Sultan. It is one of the oldest Shiva temples where Lord Shiva is said to live along with his family. The majestic hallway is decorated with carvings of elephants, gods, and goddesses. On the left side of the entrance, there is a stone carving of Shiva and Parvathi as right and left respectively. The annual festival is celebrated here for 8 days in the Malayalam month of kumbham i.e February and March. Maha Shivratri is the most famous festival of Hindu religion that is celebrated here. This temple attracts a huge number of devotees. It is considered that on this night the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in human nature. This myth or belief attracts a lot of devotees and visitors towards this temple.
Ettumanoor is the temple situated near the town of Vaikom. Ettumanoor is a Malaylam word meaning “where the deer was lifted”. The word refers to the myth of temple. It is believed that an Asura got three shivalingas from Lord shiva which he brought to Kerala holding one in his right hand which he consecrated in Kaduthuruthi, one in the left hand which he consecrated in Vaicom and one in his teeth which he consecrated in Ettumanoor. This made him turn into a deer. After becoming the deer he was going to serve the God when God of Ettumanoor took him in His hand and held him there. This led to the name.
The major worship of the temple is the lighting of the lamps. The devotees bring the oil to keep the lamp lit. The temple has a copper roof which is an artistic individuality. The temple is famous because of the belief that the Pandavas and the sage Vyasa had worshipped at this temple. The engravings in the temple show that the temple is 400 years old. The fresco of Pradosha Nritham, one of the most famous paintings in India is also present in the temple. The temple is covered in 14 ornamental tops.
Ettumanoor is a famous temple of Kerala due to its history and myths.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Padmanabhaswamy Temple is located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. The temple is added among the 20 most famous temples of Kerala because of its architectural individuality. The temple follows the traditional Kerala style and also Tamil style in its architecture. The temple has always been unimaginably wealthy as it can be seen in the history that the temple was once named “The Golden Temple”. Many poets and writers when mentioned the temple, mentioned the walls of temple made of Gold. The temple is even written as heaven and the whole city and the temple is said to be made of Gold in some eulogies.
The myth of the temple is about Swamiyar, who resided near Ananthapuram Temple in Kasargod District, prayed to Lord Vishnu for his darshan or “auspicious sight”. It is said that lord appeared in the form of a mischievous boy. Sage missed the opportunity and was then, forced by his desire, dragged to a land far away. He, at last got a sight in three parts.
To perform the puja, one must ascend to mandapam. The deity can be seen through three doors divided into different shrines. It is said the one who prostrates before the shrines, must surrender everything to the deity.
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Sivagiri Mutt, built in 1904, is situated at the top of the hill near Varkala of Trivandrum. This temple is located near the varkala beach. Besides the ethnic beauty of Varkala, people visit this place as a pilgrimage. The Sivagiri Temple is one of the most holy spots of the city. People also call this temple as the Sivagiri Mutt. The shrine is breathtaking with cool breeze flowing through from the Trivandrum- Shornur canal as it is located near the varkala beach. Many myths are heard around this small temple of Varkala. Sri Guru who built this temple was a popular social reformer and saint of Kerala.
Sri Guru came to Varkala in 1904. He liked the beauty of the Sivagiri hill. Therefore, he made a temple on its top. He got the surrounding lands as gifts from the government and from other people. Sri Narayana Guru built the Goddess Saraswati temple within the complex on full moon.
The Sivagiri Temple celebrates many religious festivals i.e Sivagiri pilgrimage , Guru Deva Jayanti , Samadhi Day and other important hindu religious festivals . The Sivagiri temple is only 3 km from Varkala. The Sivagiri Temple has an important place in the hearts of the locals .People from all religions can enter this temple.
The temple is pure white in colour. It shows modern built not like the other ancient temples . The temple and mutt has a shrine inside the complex. The shrine worships Goddess Sarada. This temple has an idol of the Goddess. The idol is pure white in colour. It is on a white lotus. This posture of the Goddess, seating on a white lotus is also symbolic. It means knowledge blossoming on purity. Locals also call her Goddess Saraswati. She is also popular as the Goddess of knowledge and music.The roof of the temple is unique. It rises in steps, resembling a gopuram which is a kind of an entrance tower.
Temple is octagonal in shape. Sri Narayana Guru himself planned the temple.
Mannarasala Nagaraja temple
Mannarasala is internationally known centre pilgrimage of serpent gods. It has over 30,000 images of snake along the paths and among the trees. Different offerings are made to Nagaraja in order to achieve ambitions for example, for wealth and prosperity, gold filled pot is given as offering; for education and fame, different ornaments are offered; for having children, a vessel named Uruli which is made of Bronze is offered. A special turmeric paste is available in temple which is said to have curative powers.
A festival of Mannarsala Aayilyam is celebrated in the temple. All the serpent idols are taken and offerings of Nurum Palum (rice flour and milk), Kuruthi (a red liquid made of turmeric and lime) and cooked rice are made.
Mannarasala temple’s beliefs are different than other temples as the puja pattern is headed by a Brahmin lady. The place is associated with Lord Parashurama, believed to be the creator of Kerala. Legend says that the first priestess of the temple gave birth to a five headed snake which is protecting the temple even today. It is said that the deity here is blessed with the soul of Lord Vishnu. The temple is situated in between the forest so serpents can also be seen at a lot of places.
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Lokanarkavu is famous temple of Kerala for its art and is a comforting sight to the art enthusiast. The carvings found in the temple are breath-taking. Temple is in Memunda 4 km from Vatakara and is located in Kozhikode District, North Malabar region of Kerala state of south India. Lokanarkavu is a short form of Lokamalayarkavu which means lokam (world) made of mala(mountain), aaru (river) and kavu (grove). The deity of the temple is Goddess Durga. This temple is famous for a peculiar dance Thacholikali. Thacholikali resembles with a form of martial arts. The dance is presented on festivals and is quite an experience. The artists seek the blessings of the deity before the debut due to the association of the legendary hero Thacholi Othenan with the temple. The hero used to worship here everyday.
It is the official family temple of the 500 Aryan Nagariks who had migrated to Kerala and their successors.
Attukal Bhagavathy temple
Attukal Bhagwaty holds one of the famous places among other temples of Kerala and South India. The deity of the temple is Goddess Bhagwaty also called Bhadrakaali. Bhadrakali is often referred to as the goddess of prosperity, time and salvation.It is believed that the Goddess was born from the third eye of Shiva. The temple attracts millions of female devotees every year.
The main festival of the temple is Attukal Pongala. The temple holds a world record of largest women gathering, when 1.5 million gathered in 1997 to offer Pongala. The temple broke its own record in 2009 when 2.5 million women gathered to do the same. In 2013, the temple again broke its own record with 2.7 million women offering Pongala. The women devotees testify to the powers of the Goddess and tell how the goddess ended their sufferings. The goddess is represented as a woman with four arms, each bearing a spear, sword, skull and shield.
The architecture of the temple is that of Kerala and Tamil origin. The carvings and the sculptors in the temple are masterpieces of artisans. The temple depicts many stories of the gods and goddesses. The main building of the temple is called Gopura and has many sculptors like that of Goddess Kali, Sree Parvathy, Lord Siva, Rajarajeshwari, and several others.
The Thirunelli temple exists in the village of Thirunelli in Wayanadu district of Kerala State in India. The village is famous in Kerala and all over India for its beauty. It is said that the temple is the only temple in the world where one performs all the rituals of his life starting from his birth and ending at death. They also go up to after death. The stream is believed to have a power of washing away all the sins of the mortality. At Papanasini, there is a sacred rock called Pinnappara where ritual offerings to the spirits of the departed are made (known as bali).
The temple also has a pond, which contains a stone with the foot impression of Lord Shiva. The stone slab with the impression is called Panchatheertham. It is said that the five streams met here in the ancient period. There is also a cave in the temple. The cave is dedicated to Lord Vishnu therefore, it is said that the temple is said to be blessed by all three deities: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva also known as Tridev.
The temple has a peaceful environment which soothes the heart and the mind. The tranquility of the temple attracts hundreds of thousand devotees. The temple is surrounded by greenery and the pond inside the temple is also covered with bushes. Ruins of two ancient villages can also be found near the temple proving that temple is one of the main parts in the history of Kerala.
Aranmula Parthasarathy temple
The peace of the Aranmula Parthasarathy temple is famous among all the other temples. Lord Krishna is the main deity of the temple. It is also one of the 108 temples of Lord Vishnu revered by 12 poet saints. There is also a story behind the name of God. Lord Krishna rode the chariot of warrior Arjuna during a battle. Hence people call Him Parthasarathy.
There is an image of Parthasarathy with a discus in the temple. It is said that during the battle of Mahabharat, Arjuna refused to fight Bheesma which infuriated Parthasarathy so he took discus from Arjuna. Bheesma also surrendered after seeing this. The picture depicts the incident. Aranmula also has a story behind it. Aranmula means six bamboo pieces. It is said that the image was brought on a raft of 6 bamboo sticks, hence the name.
The temple is mentioned in many Tamil classics. You can see sub shrine in the temple complex. People worship Lord Balarama in this shrine.
The temple shows Kerala construction style. It is similar to the Ettumanor Mahadeva Temple structure. The whole temple is on a raised platform. People need to take 18 steps to reach the eastern tower. The northern tower is 57 steps high. The other deities present at the temple are Sastha, Yakshi, Nagaraja and Erangavil Bhagavathy Balarama.
The temple is one of the oldest and most famous temples in Kerala, India. The Vadukannathan temple is an architectural beauty. The temple is known for its unique design and has won ‘Award of Excellence’ last year at the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation for taking great strides in protecting its legacy in architecture. The temple is made from wood and stone and is a peaceful place. It took a span of 10 years to the craftsmen to restore the temple to its original state. The renovation was done in the same style as that of construction. The cravings and the original art of the temple was kept intact and the construction used only organic material in the construction and renovation.
It is believed to be the first temple built by Lord Parasurama. Lord Shiva who in the hunter form called as the Vettekkaran, besides other places is also worshipped in the Nalambalam area.
The temple is not only known for its physical structure but also known for the disciplined ritual performance and movement in the temple. One must follow a specific manner to go through whole temple. There is a certain manner to do so and first timers often get confused. There is no festival of the temple although Shivaratri is celebrated with all the passion by devotees.
Sree Parassinikadavu Muthappan Temple
Sree Muthappan is a Thiyya kuladaiva (ancestral) deity commonly worshiped in the North Malabar region of Kerala and Coorg region of Karnataka, India. Worship here does not follow the traditional Satvic Brahmical form but in fact is according to Shakteyam where Panja-ma-kara are offered including Madhyam ( Toddy) and Mamsam (flesh-fish). They are distributed among the devotees. It is said that the deity is the God of the poor and is a rebel. All his life he worked for down-trodden and forsaken. This temple gives spiritual comfort and relief to all irrespective of their caste creed or religion of the people belonging from Chandragiri puzha to Korapuzha and from Valapattanam to Hunzoor (Karnataka). There are Muslims ,Christians and many foreigners who visit the temple every day.The temple provides free meals and free accommodation to everyone who comes there.
The temple is located on the bank of Valapattanam river and hence brings soothe to the devotees. The temple has a history of 450 years in the books. Two carved bronze dogs at the entrance of the temple are a symbol of bodyguards of the God.
Kaviyoor Mahadeva Temple
It is one of the most beautiful temples of Kerala. The roof of the temple is covered with copper. The temple has a golden flag and the eastern entrance has wide stairs which gives the temple a different look. The temple has the story of ramayana, from Rama’s birth to Hanuman’s Lankadahana carved in three layers. Pallava architectural style is shown in the temple. The temple is triangular in shape.
The temple is a heritage monument. It is believed that the shrine is a thousand years old. Kaviyoor Mahadeva Temple also has sculptures of Dwarpalakas. They are the temple guards. The temple’s architecture show a distinct nature which makes it stand among the other temples. The temple owns different ornaments to add to the beauty. 44 rafter shoes cover main Sreekovil. The ornaments here include golden pots, ezhunnallippu chatams, golden reliefs of deities, golden umbrellas and golden chains.
Ananthapura Lake temple
Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple or Anantha Lake Temple is a Hindu temple built in the middle of a lake in the little village of Ananthapura, around 6 km from the town of Kumbla. Legend has it that this is the original site where Ananthapadmanabha settled down.
The temple is beautiful and unique for it is in the middle of a lake of 302 kilometers. The lake has a continuous supply of freshwater and is always clear. There’s a view of hillocks from the temple. The temple has wood carvings on the roof which depict the stories of Dashavatharam. Some of them are painted too.
A very odd phenomenon is seen here. It is seen that only one crocodile is always present in the lake. When the crocodile dies, another one appears from God knows where. Current crocodile is said to be the third crocodile. The crocodile is called “Babia” and is very popular among the visitors. There is no crocodile in the nearby ponds.
The temple is the most famous among all the other Ganpati temples of Kerala. The exact name of the temple was Kizhakkekara Siva Kshethram. Kottarakkara Ganapathy is often referred to as ‘Vigneshwaran’ which means the one who removes all obstacles. Devotees and tourists of all sects and religions are accepted here. The deities of Kottarakkara Sree Mahaganapathy Kshethram are Lord Shiva, Lord Ayyappan, Lord Murugan, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha, and Nagaraja. Even though the main deity is Lord Shiva, the main priority is given to his son Lord Ganesha and the temple is also known by his name. The temple was owned by two Nampoothiri houses – Akavoor and Oomanpally.
Like everyday in the morning, rituals were taking place in Pandinjattinkara temple and Uliyannor Perumthachan was there chiselling the woods while listening to the manthars. When he looked at the wood it was a carving of Ganesha which he asked to be kept inside the temple. The chief priest refused so Uliyanoor took the carving to Kizhakkekkara Siva temple where the temple priest was preparing offerings for the lord- Unniyappam. Perumthachan asked him to sanctify Ganapathy. The priest agreed. The carving is there till date. Different rituals are performed at the temple. One of the rituals is Abhishekham. It is performed by the priests. Libations are poured on the deity amidst the mantars.
Festivals like Navrathri, Shivarathri, Vinayaka Chathurthy and Vishu are celebrated here.