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Onam Celebrations: Visit Kerala Temples For Their Amazing Architecture!

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Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2016, 10:26 [IST]
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The temple architecture that is prevalent in Kerala temples are different from those of the other parts of India. Some interesting aspects make Kerala temples stand out from the rest. Let us take a journey through the temple architecture of Kerala temples!

Let us begin with the roof of the temple. Kerala temples have a distinct way of building the roof, which is also typical to the architecture used for traditional Kerala houses. The roof is generally a steep sloping one that is tiled. A similar roof structure can be seen in some temples in the Himalayan region.


Roof of a Kerala temple
Photo Courtesy: Saran Prasad 

Since the shape of the temple may vary, the structure of the roof also changes accordingly. A square shaped temple would have a pyramidal roof and a circular temple structure is accompanied by conical roof.

Every temple has gopurams facing in the North, East, West and South. The inner sanctorum of the temple is called the sreekovil. This is where the presiding deity is installed and worshipped. The sreekovil is an independent structure, detached from the other structures of the temple complex. The shape of this structure could be circular, square, rectangular or elliptical. Sreekovil is covered with either copper or gold plates.


Sreekovil of a temple
Photo Courtesy: Arunvarmaother 

The holy steps that lead to the sreekovil are called Sopanapadi. On both sides of the steps, two statues are carved, which are known as Dwarapalakas or the Door Guards. This whole structure is called Sopanam, and only the main priest and the second priest are allowed to enter Sreekovil.

Namaskara Mandapam is another structure built facing the sreekovil, which has a roof supported by four pillars. This structure is used for the priest for prostration. Though it is not present in all Kerala temples, you can find it in most of the temples where the idol is placed on a raised platform.


Chuttambalam of a temple
Photo Courtesy: Arunvarmaother 

The sreekovil is covered by a rectangular structure called Nalambalam or Chuttambalam on all four sides. Nalambalam has two halls namely Koothambalam and Agrasala. Agrasala is where the Brahmins are fed and other rituals are done, whereas Koothambalam is used for staging temple arts and to showcase murals.

The kitchen of the temple is called Thidappally. And every temple would have a well placed towards the North-East of the nalambalam. The water from the well is used for temple rituals and preparation of nivedya. A temple also has an Oottupura which is the dining hall of the temple.


Kodimaram of a Kerala temple
Photo Courtesy: Arjun.theone  

Kodimaram is a tall pillar next to the temple, which is visible from a distance. The temple kodimaram has the deity's vahana (vehicle) sculptured on it, from which it is easy to identify the temple deity.

Almost all temples have a Theerthakulam or a temple pond.

Vaikom Mahadeva Kshetram is considered as a Mahakshetram, having al the elements pretqining to temple architecture in Kerala.

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