Thrissur derives its name from the original "Thiru Shiva Perur", that is, Lord Shiva's town. The town traces its history back to the 9t century, during the reign of the Kulasekharas of Mahodayapuram. It is built around a hillock. Sri Vadukkanathan temple, in Thrissur, is the best known temple in town. It is famous for its Pooram festival.
Unlike Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple, in Thiruvananthapuram, Sri Vadakkunnathan temple is a calssic example of the Kerala-style of temple architecture. The temple, known as Then Kailasam (south Kailash), is one of the largest and oldest of Shiva temples in the state. Located in area of nine acres, in the heart of Thrissur town, it is considered the repository of Kerala's culture and heritage. The central shrine, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is embellished with exquisite sculptures, carved in wood. The murals here depict scenes from the Mahabharattham. Two other principal shrines are dedicated to Sri Rama and Sri Sankarayanarayana (Shiva and Vishnu as one). There are also shrines for Sri Krishna, Parvathi, and Lord Ganesh. Shiva is also worshipped here as Vettekaran (hunter). The shrine for Lord Vinayaka is opposite the temple kitchen, and appam (sweetned rice cake) is one of the important offerings to Him here. Legend has it that the original temple was built by the puranic hero, Parasurama. This temple has four Kerala-style gopurams, in the four directions. Near the western tower is the Koothambalam, a hall meant for staging koothu and Koodiyattam, two ancient dramatic art forms. There is also a museum of ancient wall paintings , wood carvings and art pieces.
The Shiva Lingam, in the sanctum, is covered by a nearly five-metre (16feet) fall mountain of ghee (clarified butter), accumulated over a period of time. Strangely, the cumulated ghee emits no odour, despite its age. At the apex are thirteen gold crescents, and three serpent hoods that represent Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva. There are shrines here for Dharmasastha (Lord Ayyappa), Parasurama and Adi Sankara. Sankara, it is said, was born after his parents, Sivaguru and Aryamba, offered prayers to Vadakkunnathan.
The temple, as mentioned earlier, is famous for its pooram festival, now an international pageant, watched by hundreds of thousands of people. The vast Thekkindadu (Teak forest) Maidan around the temple comes alive during this time, as idols of Gods and Goddesses from various temples are brought here on elephants, to the accompaniment of drums and pyrotechnics. The highlights of the festival is the spectacular pageant comprising about fifty richly caparisoned elephants, with equally colorful parasols, to the rhythmic beat of the panchavadyam (a combination of five percussion and wind instruments). There is also a dazzling fireworks display, lasting three to four hours. The festival, which lasts for about 36 hours, was started in 1798 by the Kochi ruler, Raja Rama Varma, popularly known as Shakthan Thamburan.
Sri Vadakkunnathan temple is a nationa monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. Temple timings: 3am to 10.30 am and 4pm to 8.30pm.
How to get there
Thrissur is a major station on the southern Railway network. It is also on the national Highway and is well connected by bused. Kochi International Airport is 58km away, while the Kozhikode International Airport is 80km from Thrissur.
Plenty, to suit all purses, and near the railway station, bus stand.
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