Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temples in Kerala by koldbris

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									    Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temples in Kerala.

    Ananthapura Lake Sree Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple




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
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.
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

								
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