Aranmula Temples

Sri Parthasarathy temple here is said to date back to the Mahabharatha times.  It is one of the 108 Divyadesams, and has been eulogized in the hymns of the Alwars.  Aranmula, also known as Thiruvaranmula, was described by the Alwars as Thiruvaaranvilai,  and te presiding deity as Thirukkuralappan.  The temple is located on the banks of the Pampa.  The moolavar here has both the conch and the chakra, in contrast to the more famous Sri Parthasarathy swamy temple in Chennai, where Lord Venkata Krishnan, the main deity, does not have the chakra, in keeping with Krishna's promise not to wield weapons in the Kurukshetra war. The moolavar, in the nindra tirukolam (standing posture), is also smaller than the gigantic deity in Triplicane. He is giving darshan here to Brahma and Veda Vyasa.  Sri Padmasani Thaayar is the Divine Consort.

According to the sthala purana, the post-Kurukshetra, set off on a country-wide pilgrimage after installing Parikshit as king.  When they came to the region, now known as Kerala, each of the brothers built a temple for Vishnu.  If Yudishtir built the temple at Chengannur, Arjuna is identified as having created the one here, in Aranmula.  It is also said that the original temple was in Nilakkal, near Sabarimala.  The idol was then brought in a raft amde of six pieces of bamboo, giving the place its name, Aranmula: Six pieces of bamboo.  Arjuna built the tempe here to expiate for the sin he committed when he killed his half-brother, Karna, who was nirayudhapani(without weapons) at te time of the slaying.

Long after the war ended, the Karna episode haunted Arjuna that he built this temple in memory of Krishna, who revealed Himself as the Supreme (Viswaroopam) on the battlefield, and as Vamana here.  It is also said that Brahma did penance here.

Every year, before Makarajyoth (mid-January), the Thiruvabharanam (sacred jewels) of Lord Ayyappa are brought here for ritual worship from Pandalam, before being taken to Sabarimala.  Aranmula is also famous for its boat mela during the Onam season.  The boats do not chase each other, but sail in unison, as Lord Krishna is said to be present in every boat.

Besides the temple, the town is also famous for its metallic mirrors.  Made of a bell-metal alloy, these crystal-clear mirrors can hold their own against their more glossy glass counterparts.  Known as Aranmula kannadi (mirror), they are made by a few families, through a secret technology handed down from father to son.

How to get there:

Aranmula is nine km east of Chengannur.  Buses ply at regular intervals.

Accommodation:  There is a Devasom choultry here, but Chengannur is a better choice.

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