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Shreya Mohan

Feb 10, 2019

The Vadakunnathan Kshetram in Thrissur

A Royal House of Worship




A Temple which has the main deity amidst Ghee that doesn’t melt during the hottest of summers! 

Thrissur is known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala, for its amazing set of festivals and beautiful temples that bless the citizens of the city. One of the highlights of the city is the Vadakunnathan Temple that is situated on a hillock and forms the epicentre around which is the Thekkinkadu Maidan. The circle is also commonly known here as the Thrissur Circle.

Folklore that follows!

The temple is estimated to be around 1,300 years old, or maybe even older. It is said that the temple was built by Parashurama, the sixth avatar among the Dasavatars by Lord Vishnu. All the murals inside the temple depict various episodes of the Mahabharata.

According to one of the versions of the story behind the temple, it is believed that some sages approached Parashurama at the end of his yagna (Hindu ritual), and requested him to give them some land. He then asked Lord Varuna (God of Oceans) for the same. He then gave Parashurama a winnow and asked him to throw it into the sea, and as he did that, a huge mass of land arose from the sea. This territory that rose out of it was Kerala.

The Adi Shankara samadhi also lies in the temple, and it is believed that he attained his freedom from embodiment here.




Beauty amidst walls

The temple is surrounded by a massive stone wall enclosing an area of approximately 9 acres.

Inside the walls, there are four gopurams (entrances) facing four directions. Between the entrance and the inner temple, there is a huge space and the entrance to the inner temples is through the four gopurams. Among these four gopurams, only two are open to the public and the other two remain shut all the time.

The temple has various paintings and murals, and other art pieces of age old ancient times. There is Koothambalam, a place where ritualistic art forms take place.


The Power that Resides

The main deity is that of Lord Shiva and is completely covered in a mount of ghee. You will be unable to see the deity, but all that you can vision is a mount of ghee that has been piled over years. It does not melt during the toughest of summers either and it is believed that it represents Mount Kailash, i.e. where Lord Shiva resides. It is a 16ft high mount of ghee. When I stood there, I could feel the strong vibes of positivity and power there and I knew what lay beneath that was powerful and vibrant.

There are other deities that reside there as well. There is Krishna, Nandikeshwara (vehicle of Lord Shiva), Parashurama, Ayyappa, Simhodara, Vettekaran (Lord Shiva as a hunter), Serpent deities, Adi Shankara, Lord Ganapathi and Lord Subramanya.


Festivities in Connection

Three of the major festivals that take place here are the Maha Shivratri as Shiva is the main deity in prayer, Thrissur Pooram which is among the biggest and most celebrated festivals in Kerala and Aanayottu that translates to feeding of elephants.

My personal favourite is the Thrissur Pooram which is a color filled, competitive and vibrant festival, but being an animal lover I also despise the use of elephants. But that is a different topic altogether for which I could be thrashed if I speak out down here. The fireworks done for the Thrissur Pooram has always been in discussion and controversy as well.


The Statue of Pride

The statue of the the King is honored by the main elephant itself during the Thrissur Pooram wherein the elephant will walk from the temple entrance to the statue and garland it and then bow down to him. Sakthan Thampuran, the king was the one who brought the Thrissur Pooram into being.. Let’s keep that story for another time maybe !

For now, all I’d say is Thrissur might not have that many places to see, but this temple and the Festival that the city is witness to is a must see because there is nothing like what happens down here.


You could check out my personal favorite selection of a 25 minute vlog/documentary of the Thrissur Pooram covered by 101 In
dia, and my favorite host Roshmin Mehandru - !