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Stands on the banks of the Bharathapuzha River, Shoranur and Ottapalam are the closest towns to Thiruvilwamala. Noted for its rustic charm, the ancient Sree Rama temple and the Punarjani Caves are the major attractions here.
Thiruvilwamala is also the birth place of many artistes including the noted writer V.K.N. (Vadakke Koottala Narayanan Kutty Nair), Sarvasri Venkichan Swami who modified the percussion instrument, the maddalam. The place is also famous for the handlooms Cloths made in nearby village called Kuthampully.
The temple at Thiruvilwamala Ramabhadra Swamy temple is among the rare Sri Rama temples in Kerala. Since, these hills are called 'Vilwamala', Sri Rama of Thiruvilwamala Ramabhadra Swamy temple is called 'Vilwadrinathan'. It is the most important of all the ‘Beejakshetras’. The temple is associated with many intresting legends.
The main temple houses two temples - one is dedicated to Sri Rama situated on the west and the other is dedicated to Lord Lakshmana situated on the east. Even though people believe the deity as Lord Rama, it is in the form of Lord Vishnu with four arms holding conch, wheel, mace and lotus flower. The other main deities at these temples are Lord Mahaganapathy, Lord Veera Hanuman, Lord Ayyappa with Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi on the same pedestal.
These temples were destroyed twice by dreadful flames, when the temple caught fire. Adjacent to this, there are two more rivers viz Cheerakuzhi puzha.
The magnificient background with calm and peaceful atmosphere adds more charm to this place. Also the Bharathapuzha river and the peepul trees make the temple and its premises a serene divine and blissful.
It is believed that behind the idol of the temple, there is deep hole in which there is a golden Vilwa tree. The name of this place comes from this belief. The shrine of Mahaganapathi can be seen facing the east in the southwest corner of the inner courtyard and to the southeast side is the idol of Veera Hanuman.
Punarjani Guha (cave) is the other major attraction near this temple. It is situated between the Vilwamala and the Bhoothamala, towards the east of the temple. it is a natural 15-meter long tunnel in the rocky cliff. There is a belief that all their sins are washed away if one cross the Punarjanee from one end to the other. Only men are allowed to perform this ritual. This ritual is known as 'Punarjani noozhal'. It will take approx three-quarters of an hour to reach the exit. This cave will be open to the public only on the Ekadasi day which comes before the full moon day in the malayalam month of Vrischikam (November-December).
But, before enter into this cave, one have to touch the Ganapathi Theertham which is situated on the northern side of the mountain.
People believe that Sage Parasurama has consecrated river Ganges in this Theertha .
To cross it is difficult because it involves standing , sitting , lying down and crawling. It is believed that if we cross the Punarjanee on that day, we will not have any more births. Nowadays there are men available who, if paid money would cross the cave on our behalf.
There are many festivals in this temple. The most important one is the Ekadasi on the Vruschiga month (November-December). On this day, the Priests who perform the worship take bath in Bhagavathi Chera before entering the temple.
On that day the men devotees enter perform 'Punarjani noozhal'. The priest of Thiruvilwamala temple , comes there after the main poja and then rolls a gooseberry in side the cave from one side. It easily emerges from the other side. During, Ekadasi day many people observe fast and do not sleep at night and remain in the temple.
The other festivals at this temple include Karkidaga (July-august) month and Niramalai in the month of Kanni (Aug-Sept). Sri Rama Navami also is celebrated in this temple.
Apart from the Thiruvilwaala Ramabhadra Swamy temple, Thiruviwamala has many other temples like Parakkottu Kavu, Cheruthrikkovil, the temples of Mariyamma in Aakkaparambu, Eravathodi, Pattiparambu, Kuthampulli, Soudeshwari Amman temple and Poothanakkara Shiva Temple.
The Parakkottukavu Thalappoli festival is a famous festivla which falls on the last Sunday of the Malayalam month of Medam (mid-May). The firework here would match up to the fireworks of the famous Thrissur Pooram.