Vadakkunathan! This is the name which has been given to Lord Shiva in the city of Thrissur, Kerala, India. The Vadakkunnathan temple is the first temple which was created by Lord Parasurama. The temple located at the heart of the city of Thrissur is enclosed by colossal walls of stone under an area of around eight acres. The four directions, East, West, North and South in the temple have been indicated by four Gopurams inside the temple premises. In the centre of the temple there is multi shrined complex, besides the four Gopurams. The three key shrines of the temple have been dedicated to the Vadakkunatham or Lord Shiva, Lord Rama and Shankaranarayana. Lord Shiva who in the hunter form called as the Vettekkaran, besides other places is also worshipped in the Nalambalam area.
As per the archaeological findings, Vadakkunathan temple is one of the oldest temples of the Southern India and is the largest temple of the Kerala which is dedicated to worshipping Lord Shiva. This religious place is an extraordinary example of the classical Kerala style of architecture featuring outstanding murals of the 17th century echoing the story of Mahabharata. The wood carved vignettes are displayed in the Koothambalam and shrines. One interesting thing about the temple is that it is believed to be the place where Tipu Sultan camped, though this fact has been associated with many disputes and many historians have not supported the idea.
Towards the Northern side of the temple a circular structure featuring the idol of the deity is located with the deity facing towards the West. There is also the idol of Lord Shiva and Parvati which faces the East and is located right behind the Shiva idol in the same shrine. In the Southern side there is the double storied Shri Rama’s shrine and it faces west. Also a third one in between these two Srikolvils, the third one, all in circular shape and featuring double storey, is dedicated to worshipping Sankaranarayan and facing the western direction. Apart from that, in front of these three shrines located in the centre, stands Mukhamandapams. The temple’s majesty is celebrated at such a large scale for it featuring Vrishabha, Simhodara, Lord Krishna, Adi Sankaracharya and Dharmasastha.
The deity Adi Sankara is considered to have been born to the couple Aryamba and Shivaguru after long years of prayer to vadakkunathan. He was born as an incarnation of Lord as Kalady. It is said that Lord Shiva came in the dream of both the husband wife asking them for a choice for a son to be born to them. He gave them a choice to choose among a son who will do average in life but will live a longer life or a son who will be extraordinarily brilliant but will have a shorter life. And, after deliberating on the same for many days the couple chose the one with an extraordinary brilliance but having shorter life span. To show their gratitude to Lord Shiva, they named their son Shankara.
The daily Abhisheka of Lord Shiva with Ghee for many years covers the idol of Lord s much so that the idol will hardly be visible to one’s eyes. A portion of the ghee, after Abhisheka is given back to the devotees as it is believed to have miraculous power to kill all the diseases for it being the gift of the Lord. It’s been such a ritual to d the Abhisheka with ghee that, now the sanctum looks as if mount of thirteen foot ghee decorated with thirteen gold crescents with the tope embellished with three serpent hoods. As per the traditional beliefs the mount of ghee represents the abode of Shiva-Parvati, the Mount Kailash.
The temple in addition to maintaining a reputation because of its physical structure also has special significance in terms of the rituals and puja and also in the context of the movement of the devotees flocked to worshipping their favourite deity. The temple is unique for being one such temple where your movement from sanctum to sanctum will be highly organized and monitored by the temple’s guards. There is a certain moving pattern inside the temple and everyone is bound to follow the order. The first timers at the temple should ask somebody about this so as not to get confused.
Two of the murals, Nrithanatha and Vasukisayana present in the temple are unique piece of art and are regularly worshipped. A huge white bullock worshipped as Nandikeswara is present on the Verandah of Nalambalam. In the courtyard of the temple there are place spotted specially to give salutation to Nalambalam, Lord Shiva of Kasi, Lord of Shiva of Rameswara, Lord Bharatha (Koodalmanickam) at Irinjalakuda, Sree Kali of Kodungallur, Chidambaranatha of Chidambaram, Urakam Ammathiruvadi, Sree Vyasa, Sree Hanuman and serpent God. Koothambalam, the theatre in the temple is one of its kinds in the world. Te temple showcases a piece of craftsmanship with the uniquely built four Gopurams along with the large stone built walls all around the temple quadrangle.
For the temple there is no annual festival and the important ceremony being Shivaratri for the temple and the idol of the Lord is not taken out for procession. In vrischikam or in the month of November or December, puja in the morning is performed at the Southern compound of the temple. People believe that on this day, looking out towards the South to see his wife, after taking Thrikkartika bath in the Meenachil River, returning procession. It is believe that Vilwamangalam Swamiyar once, gave visit to the temple on the Thrikkarthika day in the morning and he realized that Lord Vadakkunatha is not present inside the Sreekovil. And thus, he finally found the Lord on the wall of the compound. And thus the Puja at the wall of the Southern compound was started by Vilwamangalam.
Thrissur Pooram is believed to be the most vibrant temple festivals of Kerala which it’s magnificence attract a large number of devotees from across the country and also outside the country. The festival sees spectacular view of the elephants from various neighbouring temples at the Vedakumnathan temple. This festival which is around two century years old gets a spectacular view of the adorned elephants with enthralling performances. This is a marathon of 36 hours consisting of beautifully organized events starting at 6 AM in the morning and lasting till noon on the other day. People on this festival participate irrespective of the caste and religion to which they belong, unlike the other festivals of the temple.
Sri Vadakkumnathan , ShivaOTHER IMPORTANT DEITIES
Sri Krishna, Sri Nandikeswara, Sri Ayyappan, Sri Adi Shankara.TIMING OF THE TEMPLE
Moring – 3:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Evening – 16:00 PM to 20:00 PM