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Vadakkunnathan Temple- The Legendary Abode of Lord Shiva

Vadakkunnathan Temple

If you want to experience nature and see art with a touch of divinity, then you must visit Vadakkunnathan Temple of Thrissur in Kerala. Witness the powerful magic of Lord Vadakkunnathan at  Vadakkunnathan temple.

Entrance Vadakkunnathan-templ
Entrance to the Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur.

Built by Parashuram in around 4800 BC, the Vadakkunnathan temple is an ancient Hindu temple in South India. It is also a UNESCO National Heritage Site. The temple is located in the heart of Thrissur city in Kerala. Lord Shiva is the main deity here. In addition, the beauty and serenity of the temple complex are mesmerizing. Hence, many devotees come here to just relax in the lawn and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Vadakkunnathan Temple History

Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu is the founder of Vadakkunnathan temple. It is the first temple built by Parsurama in South India. After this, he went on to build several popular temples in the Southern region.

The temple underwent its first renovation during the reign of prince Rama Verma, an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. The creation of murals and 4 gopurams also started in 1750 AD under the supervision of the best craftsmen from Kerala. Additionally, prince Verma donated 10 acres of land for the temple reconstruction.

Vadakkunnathan Temple Legend

According to one of the tales on the origin of Vadakkunnathan temple, Parasurama had a new piece of land (Kerala) granted to him by Lord Varuna. Parasurama wanted to dedicate this land to Lord Shiva. So, he went to Mount Kailash to urge his guru, Lord Shiva to come to Kerala with his family and bless it. Since Lord Shiva never disappoints his disciples, he traveled to South India on Parsuram’s request. Lord Shiva was accompanied by Devi Parvati and Lord Ganapathi. After a long journey, Lord Shiva sat down under a banyan tree to relax. This place was in Thrissur, Kerala.

Banyan Tree Shree Moolsthan Vadakkunathan Temple
The Shree Moolasthanam where the Shiv Ling was found.

A Shiv lingam was found at the place where Lord Shiva halted. A Shiva lingam is the symbol of Lord Shiva; it was depicted as a sign of the Lord’s presence. The spot came to be known as Shree Moolasthanam, as a consequence.

The ruler of Cochin kingdom shifted this Shiva lingam from Shree Moolasthananm to a temple. It was a difficult task to reinstall the Shiva ling. However, after a lot of planning, they were able to place it in the temple’s inner sanctum. This temple is now known as Vadakkunnathan temple after Lord Vadakkunnathan or Lord Shiva in Malayalam.

The Temple’s Architecture

The Vadakkunathan Temple is a valuable architectural monument. The murals on the walls depict stories which are thousands of years old. It has taken the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) 10 years to bring the murals back to their original form.

The temple complex covering 8 acres is surrounded by stone walls on all four sides. There are four gopurams, one in each direction. Each gopuram is for a different god. Gopurams are huge towers which you will find in most South Indian temples.

On one side of the complex is the Koothambalam or temple theatre. It is for staging various art forms of Kerala like Koothu.

The Theatre Vadakkunnathan-Temple Koothambalam
Koothambalam – The temple’s theatre area.

Lord Shiva- The Main Deity

The main deity of this temple is Lord Shiva or Vadakkunnathan in Malayalam. The statue of Lord Shiva, the Shiva Lingam is in the center of the temple. Once you enter the central sanctum, you see mountains of ghee around the Shiva Lingam.

Other important deities in the temple are Lord Rama, Lord Ganpati, Lord Shankaranarayana (an amalgamation of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu) and Goddess Parvati in the inner sanctum. Idols of Sri Krishna, Sri Nandikeshwara, Sri Ayyappan, and Sri Adi Shankara are present in the outer sanctum.  You must have darshan of each deity in the order prescribed by the priests. This is a sacred rule at the temple.

Vadakkunnathan Temple Dress Code

There is a strict dress code at the Vadakkunnathan temple. All visitors to the temple must follow this dress code. Men have to be shirtless and wear a dhoti around their waist. They have to wear a white pancha on their shoulders. Women have to wear a saree with a blouse. They can also wear a salwar kurta with dupatta, in addition to the saree. They must cover their head and cannot wear Western garments inside the temple.

Vadakkunnathan Temple Pooja Details

The pooja and abhisheka (with ghee) of Lord Shiva takes place every day.  Thus, the repetition of the process has resulted in the accumulation of ghee on the Shiva Lingam. These mounds represent mountains of Kailash where Lord Shiva resides with his family. Also, this is the only place in India where the Shiv Linga is not visible. The consumption or application of this ghee frees anyone from all diseases and illnesses. Hence, devotees receive a portion of ghee that they offer to the Shiva Lingam.

Additionally, you must follow the strict rule with respect to movement from one sanctum to another. Also, when visiting the temple for the first time, you must follow the local customs.

Vadakkunnathan Temple Timings

Darshan at this temple takes place in one to two hours slots. The temple’s morning timing is 4:00 am to 10:00 am and the evening time is 5:00 pm to 8:20 pm.

Lamps Lighting at Maha Shivratri at Vadakkunathan Temple
The magnificent Vadakkunnathan temple during Maha Shivratri.

October to March are the best months to visit Vadakkunnathan Temple. Also, Maha Shivratri is an important festival at this temple. Thus, you can experience lighting of one lakh lamps on this day to celebrate Lord Shiva’s marriage anniversary.

There is also the Thrissur Pooram- a colorful festival of Thrissur. Locals and tourists come together in the temple complex to witness Elanjitharamelam. Elanjitharamelam is a two-hour percussion performance with five instruments where the best artists from Kerala take part. However, there are no other special poojas in the temple during this festival.

How To Reach The Temple

By air, Cochin’s airport is the nearest one to reach Thrissur. As a matter of fact, it is at a distance of 53 km. One can also reach Thrissur by train. Additionally, Thrissur’s railway station is 2 kilometers away from the temple. Therefore, you can take local transport from the railway station to reach the temple. Also, buses and private cars are available to all parts of Kerala, and other southern states from Thrissur.

Nearby Places

In addition to Thrissur, the neighbouring cities have several temples which are centuries-old. The Guruvayur Shri Krishna temple is 27 km from Thrissur. Also, the Athirappilly waterfalls is 60 km away.