Thrissur district in Kerala is known for its rich culture and heritage. Being the place that hosts Thrissur Pooram, the festival of festivals, Thrissur also has many other reasons to be proud of. Several unique attractions like Vadakkunnathan Temple, Punnathur Kotta (Palace of elephants) and Kalamandalam make the district one of the culturally strong places in Kerala.
Vadakkunnathan Temple, or Vadakkumnathan Temple, in Thrissur is one of the most popular temples in Kerala. It is believed to be the first Shiva temple built by Lord Parasurama who is the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This temple is however one of the UNESCO recognised heritage sites. The temple is also known as Thenkailasam or Vrishabhachalam.
The West nada of Vadakkunnathan Temple
Photo Courtesy: Rameshng
The temple is built in typical Kerala style architecture, located on a hillock in the heart of Thrissur city. Standing tall in the centre of 9 acres of land, the temple doesn't fail to grab attention of the passers-by. There are 4 gateways called gopurams to the temple facing East, West, North and South respectively.
The temple is known for the rare murals portrayed here that include scenes from Mahabharatha, of which Vasukishayana and Nrithanatha are worshipped daily. Apart from these murals, the temple also houses a museum that showcases ancient paintings, woodcarving and other works of art of ancient times.
The interior of the temple complex
Photo Courtesy: vineethkuruvath
The Koothambalam of the temple, or the temple theatre, is rich in its display of wooden carved vignettes. Koothambalam is used for staging ritualistic art forms of Central Kerala like Koothu, Koodiyattam and Nangyar Koothu.
The three main shrines in this temple are of Sri Vadakkunnathan (Lord Shiva), Lord Shankaranarayana and Lord Rama. Goddess Parvati is also worshipped here.
One for the strange aspects of the temple is that the ghee offered here for centuries doesn't melt, even in scorching summers. It is also believed that if the ghee covering the linga melts, that would lead to a massive disaster.
The temple lit up for Shivaratri
Photo Courtesy: Adarsh Padmanabhan
There are no specific festivals of the temple. However, during Shivaratri, the the temple is lit up with one lakh lamps. This is known as "Lakshadeepam" which is a major offering here during Shivaratri. Aanayoottu, or the feeding of elephants, is another major festival observed here. Though the temple does not take part in Thrissur Pooram, the festival is held at the temple premises.
It is also interesting to know that Thrissur gets its name from this temple. Thrissur is a shortened form of 'Thrissivaperur' which means 'The town with the name of Lord Shiva'.
How to reach Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur
The temple is located just 2km from the city. Thrissur is well connected to all the neighbouring districts via road. The city has a railway station. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport which is around 55km away.