PILGRIM CENTRES IN KERALA
Temple : The temple is located inside the East Fort.
The temple is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of
architecture. It is known for its mural paintings and stone
carvings. This temple a sprawling complex with a magnificent
seventeen storied tower houses the idol of Lord Vishnu in the
form of Ananthapadmanabha (the lord who upheld creation on a
lotus that sprang forth from His navel). The 6 m image of Vishnu
reclining on Anantha the Serpent, partly covered with gold and
embellished with precious stones is viewed in three sections
through three doors. One among the 108 sacred Vishnu temples
in India . Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. Historical
records show that in 1750, The Maharaja of Travancore on being
victorious in a battle, laid down his sword and offered himself
to this temple's deity. Since then, all his successors have
ruled the land as Padmanabhadasas (servants of Padmanabha).
Arattu is an important festival here.
The eastern nada is the main entrance to the shrine. In the
chuttambalam (outer enclosure) is the tall 33.5 mt. high gold
plated Dwajasthambam (flag post). There is also a 7 mt. high
Deepasthambham (pillar of lamps), whose 13 circular receptacles
provide a truly gorgeous spectacle when lit. The square Sreekovil
is the sacred sanctum sanctorum of the temple which houses the
main deity. Within the temple there are also images of Ganapathy,
Sree Ayyappa and Edathedathu Kavil Bhagavathy.
: It is one of the most sacred and imported pilgrim
centers of Kerala. Its main attraction is the Sree Krishna
temple known as 'Guruvayoor Ambalam'. This historic temple
is shrouded in mystery. According to belief, the temple
is the creation of Guru, the preceptor of the Devas, and
Vayu the Lord of Winds.
: This town, located on the bank of the Vembanadu lake,
is famous for its Siva temple, which is one of the oldest Siva
Temple in the world. During the Sabarimala season pilgrims alight
here to worship the 'Annadanaprabhu (Load Siva)'. Vaikom gained
prominence during the Indian freedom struggle, as it was the
venue of the famous Satyagraha staged in 1925 for the admission
of Harijans into this temple. Vaikom is situated about 40kms
from Kottayam town. Two Ashtami festivals are held annually,
one in Kumbam (Feb -Mar) and the other in Vrichikom (Nov-Dec)
of which the latter is more famous. The celebrations last for
12 days and end with an 'Aarattu' at the Subrahmanya Swami Temple
at Udayanapuram, on the day after Ashtami. Prathal (feast) is
the main Vazhipadu here. There is a school teaching temple arts,
known as Kshethrakalapeedhom, attached to the temple.
Attukal Bhagavathi Temple :Attukal
Bhagavathy temple (Mudippura), knows as the Sabarimala of women,
is in Thiruvananthapuram. Attukal Ponkala, the annual festival
commences on Bharani day in Kumbhom (February - March) and continues
for nine days. Ponkala is an offering usually made in Bhagavathy
temples, prepared in the form of payasam ( a liquid food in
Kerala), ingredients are rice, jaggery, coconut kernel and plantain
fruits. The festival begins with thottampattu (a song about
Bhagavathy) which is being chanted for nine days continuously.
On the ninth day, women throng the temple with ponkala pots
and ingredients for cooking. Ponkala preparation starts morning
and by noon would be over, then the melsanthi (chief priest)
carrying Devi's sword goes around the temple sprinkling holy
water and showering flowers over the preparation. After this,
the idol of the Devi is being taken in procession to the Manacaud
Sastha Temple with the accompaniment of thalapoli, kuthiyottom,
annam, vahanam and, caparisoned elephants. Percussion in the
procession include chenda, nagaswaram, band and neyyandi melam.
There will also be Kumbhakudam (pageantry) during the procession.
En route, the procession is received with nirapara (a pot filled
with paddy and decorated with flowers usually arranged in front
of traditional Kerala houses). The procession returns next morning.
confluence of Hindu and Muslim deities in the form of Lord Ayyappa,
and his lieutenant Vavar makes this esteemed pilgrim centre
a model of communal harmony and castelessness. Vehicular traffic
cannot go beyond Pamba and the last 5 kms. to the Shrine can
be reached only by trekking.
Ayyappa Temple, Sabarimala : This is a well known
pilgrim centre in the rugged terrains of the Western Ghats.
The holy shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa attracts crores
of pilgrims from all over India, especially from other
parts of South India.Sabarimala is surrounded by hazardous
hills like Karimala and Neelimala. The devotees known
as 'Ayyappas' negotiate the hills to reach the Shrine
after undergoing 41 days of ' Vrutham' (self imposed devotional
penance). The pilgrimage season, involving Mandala Pooja
and Makaravilakku comes between the latter half of November
and the former half of January, every year.Ablution in
River Pamba is considered as holy as ' Ganga Snanam' .
: Located 40 km from Trivandrum in Varkala, Sivagiri
Mutt in Varkala is the final resting place of the great social
reformer, Sree Narayana Guru. The Papanasham (redemption from
sins) beach here is the place where Narada is believed to have
thrown his valkalam. The 2000 year ols Sree Janardhana Swamy
temple here is famous for the Arattu, the annual festival celebrated
Kalady : Kalady is the birth
place of Adi Sankaracharaya the great Indian Philosopher who
lived in the 8th century is 45 Kms from Cochin. It is situated
on the banks of river Periyar and there are two shrines in memory
of Sree Sankaracharaya. One dedicated to him as Dakshina Moorthi
and the other to the Goddess Sharada. Adi Sankara's Shrined
in Kalady are open to all pilgrims irrespective of Religion
and caste. The spot were Adi Shankara's Mother was cremated
is called Vrindavan. Nearby is an old Krishna Temple, the family
temple of Sankaracharaya. Another Temple known as Sri Ramakrishna
International Temple was built in 1976 with the hope that it
would ultimately become a temple for all religions and an abode
Temple, Ernakulam : This temple is situated in
the centre of the town close to the Cochin Cultural Centre,
very near the Durbar Hall Ground. The presiding deity
is Lord Siva and the annual festival in the temple is
conducted for 8 days during the month of January.
St. Sebastian's Aruthunkal
: One of the most important pilgrim centres of the Christians
in Kerala, popularly known as St. Sebastian Church, 22 kms.
north of Alleppey.This church was established by Portuguese
missionaries, which is near Sherthallai. The feast of St. Sebastian
is held here every January. A well-known Christian pilgrim centre
in Alappuzha coast . The 11-day festival of St.Sebastian is
celebrated in the second week of January. To decongest the festival
days, a low profile festival, Ettamperunal, is being celebrated
on the 8th day after the main festival. A peculiar votive of
the church is Urulu nercha( an offering of a devotee by crawling
on the ground). devotees crawl from the church premise to the
local beach. Material offerings of the festival include gold
and silver replicas of human limbs, bows and arrows. The festival
has also chipped in for communal amity. On January 18, two days
left for the main festival, thousands of Sabarimala pilgrims,
while returning home, bathe from the church tank and pay homage
to St. Sebastian.
: The church is one of the important pilgrim centres
of the Christians in Kerala. The mortal remains of Sr. Alphonsa,
who was pronounced as blessed is kept in this church.The death
of blessed Sr. Alphonsa which falls on the 20th of July is an
Church : Manjinikkara church derives its importance from
the holy tomb of late Ignatius Elias III, the Holy Patriarch
of Antioch. Members of the Jacobite Syrian Church believe that
the Holy Father was a Saint. The Church has now become one of
the foremost places of pilgrimage. A large number of pilgrims
visit the church to receive spiritual and physical healing and
St. Mary's Church
(Cheriya Pally) : There are paintings of Biblical and
non Biblical themes. This church is situated near the Valiapally.
St. Mary's Church (Valiapally) : 5kms. north-west of
the railway station, this church was built in 1515. It is famous
for its Persian cross and Phalvi inscriptions.
Francis Church, Fort Kochi : The first European church
in India, which later became the model for building churches
in elsewhere the country. Vasco da Gama, who died in Kochi during
his second visit to Kerala, was buried in the church in 1524.
later his mortal remains were taken back to his native land,
St. George Church,
Edappally, Kochi : St. George Church, Edappally, Kochi
has a past that touches 593 AD. This is one of the major pilgrim
centres in Kerala where even non-Christians crowd for veneration.
Even during the week- days devotees throng the church to genuflect
before the statue of St. George to express their gratitude for
favours received through the saint. The festival begins on the
23rd of April with solemn High Mass and Litany. With each passing
day divine aura is added to the festival along with colour and
festivity. The parishioners join the pilgrims to take the festival
gusto into its crescendo. Mellifluent music and ear shattering
fire works keep the tempo of the festival. On May Day, the St.
George statue is taken out of its usual podium and pedestaled
on specially decked chariot for procession which has all the
features of a solemn catholic religious function. Curtain comes
down on the festival with the High Mass on 4 May which will
be embedded with a soul stirring sermon.
Mary's Church,Vallarpadam,Kochi : Vallarpadam, an enticing
tiny islet is encircled by picturesque Kochi backwaters. The
church on the eastern end of the island is a jewel on the island
physique. The church was established in 1676 and the famous
picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected by Portuguese
who brought it from their native land. The picture is believed
to have miraculous powers. Being an islet, Vallarapadam had
access only by water. "'Vallarapadath Amma", as the St Mary
of Vallarpadam is called, is believed to have miraculously saved
may lives from shipwreck and violent storms. The feast of Vallarapadath
Amma is held on Sept. 24. The week-long celebration is accompanied
by a big fair quite different. The products traded are country
boats, cars, pots and straw mats.
the King Church, Thiruvananthapuram : Festival of the
Christ the King is on the last Sunday of October. High Mass,
Vespers, a two-hour long Holy Eucharistic procession and benediction
are the highlights of the festival. Nativity feast of the Blessed
Virgin Mary is also celebrated with religious spirit.
Niranam St.Mary's Church : One
of the oldest churches in India, believed to be established
by St. Thomas during his missionary days in the state in AD
53. The Apostle of Jesus is believed to have erected a crucifix
and built a church there. Many local Hindus gradually embraced
Christianity leading to the spread of the religion and later
into the establishment of regional church. In all walks of life
be they social, cultural, literary and political this tiny hamlet
has preserved its traditions. The main religious festival honouring
Holy Mary is on August 15. The birthday of St. Mary is celebrated
on 8th September. St. Thomas Day( July3) is also celebrated
with great zeal.
St. Thomas Cathedral, Pala : St. Thomas Church at Pala
in Kottayam district is known for Rakkuli festival commemorating
the Epiphany feast celebrated on January 6. The festival has
become an occasion for trade related exhibitions. The festival
symbolizes the Biblical account of the three Wiseman from East
who left for Bethlehem to adore infant Jesus.
Dominic Church - Aluva : The feast of St. Dominic's Church
at Aluva falls on the third Sunday after the Easter. The statue
of the saint is taken out in procession on the day. The feast
of "Our Lady of the Holy Rosary" also consists of the spectacular
procession on the Sunday after 8th of December. The procession
route will be canopied with festoons, paper flowers, baskets
Manarcad Church, Kottayam : St. Mary's Church, Manarcaud
is one of the outstanding churches of the Syrian Jacobite Church
of Kerala. The most important festival here is the eight-day
fast in honour of St. Mary, starting on September 1. Holy Mass
is offered on the feast days. On the concluding days, colourful
processions are held.
Cheraman Juma Masjid, Kodungallore : The first mosque
in India. Situated in Methala, Kodungalloor, hardly 20 kilometer
from the Irinjalakuda railway station.Legend says King Cheraman
Perumal of Kodungallor left for Mecca, embraced Islam, accepted
the name Thajudee, married the sister of the then King of Jeddah.
Before his death Thajuddeen handed over to the King of Jeddah
several letters addressed to Kerala Kings seeking their help
to propagate Islam. The Jiddah king came to Kerala and met the
then king of Kodungalloor who helped the former convert Arathali
temple into a Juma Masjid. This mosque was designed and constructed
based on Hindu art and architecture.he first mosque in India.
It was built in 629 A.D. and resembles a temple in appearance.
It is situated in Kodungaloor.
Ottapalam Juma Masjid : Mortal remains of Uthman Auliya,
a revered man in Muslim Community here, is entombed here. Prayers
are held in this mosque on Fridays. Annual festival is held
in January-February. During the festival a grand processions
bringing ceremoniously various articles such as rice, coconut,
etc to the mosque as offerings is held. Next day, a grand feast
is held for the poor.
mosque,Malappuram : The Jama-at mosque is important for
Kerala's Muslims. The annual Nercha festival of the mosque is
celebrated for four days in April. Adjoining the mosque is a
mausoleum of the Malappuram Shaheeds whose brave exploits have
been immortalised in Mappilla Ballads.
Pazhayangadi Mosque,Kondotti : On the way to Malappuram,
18 km east of Manjeri, is Kondotti a prominent pilgrim centre
for Muslims. The Valia Nercha festival at the 500 year old Pazhayangadi
Mosque, celebrated for three days in February-march, draw large
number of devotees.