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Sri Padmanabhaswami Temple

 
Place
: Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala
Significance
:

One of the most famous Vaishnava temples in India.

Best Time to Visit
:

February/March.

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Sri Padmanabhaswami Temple is one of the most famous Vaishnava temples in India. Located inside the East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala State, it stands as the city's historical landmark. The word 'Thiruvananthapuram' literally means - the land of Sree Anantha Padmanabhaswamy. Thiruvananthapuram takes its name from the presiding deity of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, who is known as Anantha.

Architecturally, a blend of the Chola, Pandya and Kerala style of architecture, this temple is the best example of south Indian Dravidian architecture particularly the gigantic impressive seven - story gopuram (tower) on the east. Sri Padmanabhaswami Temple has a great spiritual significance as it is one of the important Mahakshetrams (sacred places) in India. The temples is under the direct control of the erstwhile Travancore Royal Family.

Recently, a treasure trove of gold, diamonds and precious stones, unearthed from secret vaults of the famed Sree Padmanabhaswam.

Golden chains studded with gems, Necklaces' worth several crores believed to be worn by Kings of Travancore, golden crowns, numerous golden staffs, golden plates, Belgium diamonds and idols, precious stone studded thrones and crowns, golden umbrellas, pots, silver pots, various diamonds including emeralds, rubies etc were also found.

The magnificent temple, known for its architectural elegance and long rows of granite columns with exquisite engravings, has Lord Vishnu reclining on the thousand-headed serpent Anantha as the presiding deity.

The Navaratri Mandapam, located to the east of the temple, is the venue for the annual 10 day Navaratri (Navaratri is the nine day festival in the month of October) Celebrations.

The Temple has references in Epics and Puranas. The Padma refers to the temple of Ananatasayanam, where the Lord, lying on the primordial Serpent, Adisesha, is in His cosmic sleep. The Skanda includes it among the most important pilgrims it among the most important pilgrim centers of its time. The Bhagavatha says that Balarama visited 'Syanandurapuram' in the curse of a pilgrimage. The Brahmananda also refers to the place under that name.

Srimad Bhagavatha says that Balarama visited this Temple, bathed in Padmatheertham and made several offerings. Nammalwar, 9th century poet and one among the 12 vaishnavite saints of the Alvar tradition, has composed ten hymns in praise of Lord Padmanabha. Some well known scholars, writers and historians, like the Late Dr. L.A.Ravi Varma of Travancore, have expressed the view that this Temple was established on the first day of Kali Yuga (which is over 5000 years ago). The legends of the Temple are handed down through the centuries.

Many legends are associated with this temple's origins. But much of the present temple dates from the 18th century, When Marthanda Varama , the king of Travancore dynasty, took the steps to renovate the Temple. In 3rd January 1750, Maharajaha Marthanda Varma surrendered the kingdom of Travancore to Lord Padmanabha. Marthanda Varma vowed that the royal family will rule the state on behalf of Lord and he and his descendants would "serve" the kingdom as the Servant of Lord Padmanabha. The Royal family in Travancore inherited his devotion to the full. Lord Anantha Padmanabha Swamy continues to be the family deity of Travancore royal lineage, and the members of the royal family continue to pay obeisance to the Lord through special entrance in the temple every morning and evening.

He constructed the sanctum. The wooden idol, known as Katusarkarayogam, contains 12008 Salagrams within it. He also rebuilt the mandapa in front called the 'Ottakkal Mandapam' out of one huge slab of granite at Thirumala. And the eastern gopura for which the foundation had been laid in 1566, was built during this period. It is said that 4000 masons, 6000 labourers and 100 elephants worked for a period of 6 months to finish the construction of the sreebalippura (the oblong corridor). An 80-foot golden flag staff, which is of teak in front of the main shrine was later enclosed in gold, was brought on elephant back from a site about 48 km away. The Padma Theertham , the holy tank outside including the flight steps was also undertaken during this great rulerís time.

Kulashekara mandapam and Navaratri Mandapam built in 1758, during the reign of Sree Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma are also a marvelous architectural work on stone. Kulashekara mandapam also known as Aayiramkal Mandapam and Sapthaswara Mandapam. It is supported by 28 balustrades of pillars. Every pillar carries a figure of a girl bearing a lamp. The pillars on the four corners are musical pillars, each of which produces a unique musical note when tapped. Entrance to this corridor is through the gopura.

Surrounded by massive fort walls, the temple's main shrine is a of rectangle shape. This richly sculptured structure of 260-year-old also famous for its murals and carvings. The deity is visible through three doors - the face in the south, the navel in the center, the feet in the north. Outside the main shrine there are many smaller ones.

There are two annual festivals here - one in the month of Pankuni (Pisces-Meenam) March 15-April14, and the other in Aippasi (Tulaa-Libra) (Oct-Nov). Thousands of devotees witness this grand ceremony.

Another celebrated festival is the 'Arattu' when the Maharaja and the other officials of the state, and members of the royal family walked in procession from the temple to the Arabian Sea, 5 km away. The images would be bathed in the sea and brought back in an illuminated procession.

Puja Timings-

Morning hours:

03:30 a.m. to 04:45 a.m.
06:30 a.m. to 07:00 a.m.
8.30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
10:30 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.
11:45 a.m. to 12:00 Noon

Evening hours:

05:00 p.m. to 06:15 p.m.
06:45 p.m. to 07:20 p.m.

Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple and they have rules of clothing for male Hindus, who must enter wearing only a white dhoti and should not wear shirts of any kind, and women need to wear sari, mundum neriyathum (set-mundu), skirt and blouse, or half sari.

   






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