Sri Vadakkunnathan Temple is one of the ancient temples in Kerala, India. Located at the heart of Thrissur, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva and consecrated by Parashurama. It is a classical example of the Architectural Style of Kerala, having one monumental tower (Gopuram) on each of its four sides. The Koothambalam inside the temple complex is famous for its Architecture. There are various Mural Paintings inside the temple complex, depicting scenes from the Mahabharata.
There are other deities inside and outside the temple. Inside – “Shiva”, “Parvathi”, “Sankara Narayanan”, “Sree Rama”, “Ganapathi”. Outside – “Goshala Krishnan”, “Nandikeshwaran”, “Ayyappan”, “Vettekkaran”, “Rishabha”, “Simhodara”, “Adi Shankara”. There is a specific order in which one should perform Darshan inside and outside the sanctum of the temple.
The temple is the first temple among the 108 Shiva Temples in Kerala consecrated by Parashurama. The temple was in the custody of “Zamorin Kings” of Calicut which was took over by Shaktan Thampuran. Shaktan Thampuran, the late Maharaja of Cochin (1751-1805) during his period changed the capital of his Kingdom from Thripunithura to Thrissur. He had personal relationship with the Vadakkunnathan Temple. The temple is situated on an elevated hillock in the centre of Thrissur City, covering an area of 9 acres. Massive stone wall surrounds the temple complex.
The southern side of the temple was once a Teak Forest (Thekkin Kadu) which later was cleared by Shaktan Tampuran. It is known as the “Thekkin kadu Maidan” now. During his regime, severe punishment was given to those who do unpardonable sins and crimes. The Teak Forest was inhabited by wild animals and hence those given the death punishment were sent out to the forest opening the southern Gopuram. This was called as “Thekke Nada Kadathal” – meaning sending out through the southern gate. Those who were pushed into the Teak Forest never used to come back.
The Gopurams (Towers)
The Gopurams on the four sides of the temple complex were once the entrance to the temple. But only the Eastern and Western Gopurams are open to the public now. The Southern Gopuram is opened only during the famous Thrissur Pooram. On the Pooram day, the “Thekkottirakkam” – going out to the south side – is done through this Gopuram. The colourful “Kutamaattam” – changing of colourful umbrellas – happens at the southern side of the temple, after the Thekkottirakkam. The North side Gopuram is not opened normally. The diety Shiva faces west and hence the main entrance to the temple is the Western Gopuram. Paramekkavu Devi Temple is situated on the east side of Vadakkunnathan Temple and hence the Eastern Gopuram is also opened daily.
The famous Thrissur Pooram, which is known as “Poorangalude Pooram” happens mainly in and around the Vadakkunnathan Temple. It is almost a 36 long hour festival and the main dieties are Thiruvambadi Bhagavati and Paramekkavu Bhagavati (Devi). Many small Poorams join the main Pooram from the surrounding areas of Thrissur. The “Madhathil Varavu”, “Elanjithara Melam”, “Kutamattam” and “Vetikettu” are the main attractions of the Thrissur Pooram. Elanjithara Melam happens inside the Vadakkunnathan Temple complex under the Elanji Tree.
The Vadakkunnathan Temple has been declared as a National Monument by India under the AMASR Act. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has recommended Vadakkunnathan temple to be in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
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