Friday, August 29, 2014

Vadakkumnatha Temple, Thrissur

Vadakkumnatha Temple of Thrissur in Keala has some unique features and it is well known as 'Dakhina Kailasam' and also 'Vrishabhachalam'.Lord Parama Shiva,Goddess Parvathy,Sankara Narayana,Ganapathy,Sri Rama and Sri Krishna are worshiped in this temple.

The vast temple ground that  surrounds this temple which is known as 'Thekkinkadu Maithanam' (Thekkinkadu Ground) is the venue of the world renowned festival 'Thrissur Pooram' which is held every year during April-May in which millions of spectators and devotees from far and near participates.
It was 'Rama Varma Maharajah'  a ruler of Cochin Kingdom who  earned the title as 'Sakthan Thamburan' who cut down and cleared the Teak wood forest surrounded the temple which was thought to be sinful to be cleared till that period.Since it was the dwelling place of robbers and criminals Sakthan Thamburan ordered to cut down the trees and make that place clean.During his reign itself the 'Thrissur Pooram' was also started in which the deity of Vadakkumnathan Temple do not directly participates but the main temples participating in it are Paramekkavu Temple and Thiruvampady Temple.
The instumental Orchestra held at 'Ilajithara' known as 'Ilanjithara Melam' and  display of colorful umbrellas and changing them frequently by the two temple groups competitively which is known as 'Kudamattam'  is  marvelous to watch.
Vadakkumnatha temple was consecrated by Lord Parasurama and the temple was renovated during the period of 'Perunthachan'(historical Master Craftsman).The temple which is a classical example of Kerala Architecture is  situated in a compound of nine acres surrounded by stone walls and which have massive gateways known as 'Gopurams' has an important position among Shiva temples of India.
This is the only temple where the idol of Lord Shiva 'Shiva Linga' can not be seen by the devotees.The Shiva Linga is beneath a mound of Ghee which is 16 foot tall.The ghee which used for 'Abhishekam' (ablution) to the statue for centuries attained this shape which do not melt even in the summer.It do not have foul odor and do not attract insects of any sort including ants or flies.The devotees can see the  'Ghee mound'  adorned with gold crescents and gold serpent hoods.It is also believed that this represents the holy 'Kailas Mount' which is the sacred abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathy.
This temple has Mural Paintings which are depicting various scenes from

Ramayana and Mahabharatha on the walls inside the temple.The wood carvings on the shrine and the 'Koothambalam'(The enormous theatre to stage art forms like 'Koothu' 'Koodiyattam' etc) are also wonderful masterpieces.
In 2010 an ASI study revealed that one  of the paintings at Vadakkumnatha Temple  which was  thought as 'Vaishnava' till then  is  depicting  Lord Shiva.
One of the painting which was thought as 'Reclining Vishnu' is 'Reclining Siva' (Panivarai Shiva) with Parvathi Devi,Devi Ganga and other deities.
Adjacent to that panel another mural painting depicting 'Nataraja' which has twenty hands holding various objects  is also rare.
In 2012 Archaeological Survey of India has recommended 14 sites including Vadakkumnatha Temple to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kottakkal Siva Temple

Kottakkal is a Municipal town in  Malappuram District of Kerala and is situated 12 km South-West of Malappuram district headquarters and  is 12 km from Tirur Railway station.
Kottakkal has earned a reputed position in the tourist map because of the 'Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala', one of the pioneers in Ayurvedic Treatments.This Ayurvedic Hospital and Institute is well known for all kinds of Ayurvedic treatments especially 'Pancha Karma Treatments' which are suggested for several ailments,treatment for rheumatism and rejuvenation therapy.

There are several other Ayurvedic Hospitals and Ayurvedic centres which provides genuine Ayurvedic treatments throughout the state.

Kottakkal which means 'place of Forts' was a military base of the 'Kingdom of Valluvanadu'.A representative of Valluvanadu Kingdom was in charge of the place and in the first half of 15th century he assassinated  one of the ministers of Kozhikode ruler 'Zamuthiri'(Zamorin).The King of Kozhikode ('Zamuthiri') captured Kottakkal and made it under their rule and a  representative
of the King resided there.
Mural Paintings are found in the old 'Venkatta Thevar Shiva Temple' of Kottakkal.This temple is more than 1000 years old.
Once a sage performed penance in this place to propitiate Lord Shiva  and after a long period God appeared before him and blessed that his presence shall be in that place for ever.The sage consecrated a Shiva Linga Idol in the place, constructed a small temple and worshiped him.Later the temple ruined and the idol was immersed in mud.Once cattle rearing people noticed that cows which were feed on the grass from a particular place gives more milk and they investigated the place.They got the God's idol from beneath the ground and consecrated it.Valluvanad King built the temple in 1200 AD. which came under Zamuthiri's rule later on.
In 'Suka Sandesham' an old poetry text, there is mention about this temple and the name of the temple is given as 'Swetha Durgam' in Sanskrit.This means 'White Fort'.At that period Kottakkal was termed as 'Venkatta Kotta'.

This Shiva temple is having more than 40 mural paintings which are all enchanting and which  delights the viewers.There are rare themes also such as 'Pakshi Durga, Karthaveeryarjuna, Sree Rama's Anantha Sayanam' etc.
The artist's names and date drawn  are also  inscribed and they were 'Elannumadathil Sankaran Nair and Arangote Bharatha Pisharody'.These drawings were done in between 1866 - 1878 AD.
Wholesome subjects are covered full length of the walls, and few are painted in a miniature style.Since these are not very ancient when compared with some other temple murals, these colors are very bright and shining.The colors selected are accurate as per the standards and these bold colors are eye catching and suits the subjects and surroundings properly.The strokes are also crystal clear and marks the genuine mastery in this art work.The spectators feel that these splendid murals transforms a positive energy into their minds which make them calm and refreshed.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Vaikom Mahadevar Temple

Vaikom Mahadevar Temple which is situated in the heart of Vaikom Municipality, in Kottayam District is one of the most important Lord Shiva Temple of South India.It is known as 'Dakshina Kashy (Thekkan Kashy) and the deity, Lord Shiva(Mahadeva)  here is called by devotes as 'Vaikkathappan'.
'Vaikath Ashtami Festival' which is conducted in a grand manner during November every year is witnessed by flocks of devotees from far and near.
             It is believed that the  'Shivlinga' idol  was given by Lord Shiva himself to 'Kharasura' who performed penance for a long period at the place Chidambaram.Bhagwan Shiva appeared before him and assured him salvation and gave him three Shivlingas for reverence and Kharasura traveled with them holding one in his right hand, one in left hand and one under the neck.When he felt tired, he placed the three Lingas on ground for taking rest and the Shivlinga in his right hand was placed at Vaikom, the one in his left hand was placed at Ettumanoor and the one under the neck was placed at Kaduthuruthy.
After taking rest for awhile when he wanted to take the Shivlingas back, he found them stuck firmly on the ground.Kharasura understood that it was God's wish and he worshiped them till he attained salvation.All these happenings were witnessed by a Sage 'Vyaghrapadar' who possessed immense powers by penance and Kharasura before attaining moksha( salvation) entrusted the protection of the holy Shivlingas to 'Vyaghrapadar Rishi'.When Vyaghrapadar performed penance at this place Lord Shiva appeared before him and assured  that the place name would be known as 'Vyaghrapada Puram'.Thus the place name became 'Vyaghrapada Puram' and in the long run it became 'Vaikom'.
Later the Shiv Linga Idol at Vaikom was properly consecrated by Lord Parasurama  abiding 'Tanthrik' rules and rituals to be performed for consecrating.Thus it  is believed that by worshiping at Vaikom Temple, a devotee gets blessings of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
Visiting  Kaduthuruthi Temple, Ettumanoor Temple and Vaikom Temple before 'Ucha Pooja'(Pooja at Noon) will be auspicious and believed that the genuine wishes of the devotee would be fulfilled.
Visiting these three powerful abodes of Lord Shiva in a single day would be beneficial as like visiting 'Mount Kailash' the abode of Lord Shiva.Lord's benign blessings will be showered upon the devotees by visiting the three temples in a single day.
The temple which is built according to Kerala style architecture is very big and situated in eight acres of land with compound wall and 'Gopurams(Towers) at the four sides.The 'Sreekovil'  is round in shape and roofed by copper sheets.The Shivlinga, the Holy Idol is placed inside the holy 'Sanctum Santorium' which is made up of stone and square shaped.There is a 3 feet platform and on that is placed the Holy Idol 'Shivlinga'  which is about six feet high.
It is adorned with crescent,eyes nose etc and other ornaments known as 'Anky'.A glimpse of the deity would fill the hearts of the devotee with deep devotion and happiness.
The deity at Vaikom Mahadevar Temple assumes three forms( Bhavas) daily and up to 'Pantheerady Pooja' in the mornings  he is worshiped as 'Dakshina Moorthy' who is the Lord of all 'Knowledge and Wisdom'.
During noon time he is revered as 'Kiratha Moorthy' who granted boons to 'Arjuna'(Pandava Prince).In this form he bless the devotees to get their wishes fulfilled and removes obstacles on  their way to success.
In the evenings he is believed to be present with his consort Devi Parvathi,son Ganesha and son Karthikeya which is known as 'Shakti Panchakshri Bhavam' and blesses all devotees that approaches  them in their divine form  as 'Jagat Pitha and Jagat Matha'.In this gracious mood Bhaawan and Devi would grant all worldly  pleasures to the humble and firm devotees.
In this Temple several

 Mural Paintings are found which are all stunningly beautiful.On the walls of the round shaped Sreekovil  also these murals are seen.'Aswarooda Parvathy Devi' is one among the paintings found here.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Guruvayoor Temple Murals

Guruvayoor Temple which is dedicated to God Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is situated at  Guruvayoor town in Kerala and this ancient temple is believed to be more than 5000 years old.Guruvayoor temple is the fourth biggest temple in India in terms of the number of devotees visiting there per day.It is as important as 'Puri Jagannath Temple of Orissa,Dhwarakadheesh Temple in Dwaraka of  Gujarat,Balaji Temple in Tirupathy of Andhrapradesh, and Nathdwara Temple of Rajasthan.
Yet Guruvayoor Temple is not among the 108 abodes of Lord Vishnu in India.(Divya Desams).Out of the 108 famous ancient shrines of Lord Vishnu in India   11 are in Kerala which includes five Pandava Mahavishnu Temples in and around Chengannur which are:-
Trichittatt Temple in Mundancavu,Chengannur
Thrippuliyoor Mahavishnu Temple at Puliyoor in Chengannur.
Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple at Thiruvanvandoor, in Chengannur.
Parthasaradhy Temple at Aranmula.
Trikkodithanam Mahavishnu Temple at Thrikkodithanam, near Changanacherry
and other temples in this category are 
Sree Vallabha Swamy Temple at Thiruvalla
Thrikkakara Mahavishnu Temple at Trikkakara.
Thirumoozhikkulam Lakshmana Temple,Thirumoozhikkulam
Thiruvanchikulam Mahavishnu Temple in Trichur
Thirnunavay Mukunda Temple at Thirunavay
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram.

The glory of Guruvayoor Temple is that the idol of that temple was revered by Lord Sree Krishna himself.Lord Krishna worshiped the 'Chaturbahu Vigraha'(idol with four hands) of Lord Vishnu at Dwaraka Palace and before his ascension to Vaikuntha abode he handed over the idol to his devotee Uthava and assured that his presence would be in that idol and he would  bless those who approach him in refuge and devotion.The idol is in standing posture and holding conch Panchajanya in one hand,Lotus flower in the second,Mace

'Kaumodaki' in the third and Discus 'Sudarsana Chakra' in the fourth.Since Krishna said that his presence would be in that idol it is worshiped as Lord Sree Krishna.At the time of Saint  'Aadi Shankaracharya' he modified the 'Pooja rituals' to be followed which was strictly practiced by the 'Tantric Priests' and  still continuing as such.
The idol was later consecrated at 'Guruvayoor'  and worshiped as God Krishna and many devotees felt or literally saw Lord Krishna in his boyhood form.Many devotees like 'Kurooramma,Poet Poonthanam,Manavedan,Swamy Villwamangalam' etc witnessed Lord Krishna.Because of the boons granted by the Lord to firm devotees large number of devotees visit this shrine.
Entry inside the temple is restricted to Hindus only.

In this temple there are ancient mural Paintings which are well preserved.
Guruvayoor Devaswom is running an 'Institute for Mural Painting' very near to  the temple where five year course is conducted for aspirants who want to master this art form.They are given 'Gurukulam' type training by which they get free accommodation and food and have to stay in the premises of the Institute.A stipend is also given to the students during the period of  mural painting course. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Krishnapuram Palace Murals

Krishnapuram Palace is situated at Kayamkulam  at a place known as 'Krishnapuram' which is two kilometers south of Kayamkulam town.It was the headquarters and royal palace of 'Kingdom of Kayamkulam' up to the mid of sixteenth Century.In the sixteenth century to the south of Cochin Kingdom there were small princely states in Kerala such as 'Kottayam,Pandalam,Kottarakkara,Ambalapuzha,Kayamkulam,Poonjar, Attingal and Venadu.
Out of these Kingdoms, Kayamkulam Kingdom was a prosperous state and at that time it  was ruled by 'Veera Ravi Varma'.Kayamkulam army used unique sword with double edged and enemies were afraid of it.
When Marthanda Varma Maharajah of Venad (1729-1758) attained the throne  he intended to expand his Kingdom by defeating these small Kingdoms.In a succession of battles he was victorious to capture all these states and he formed 'Kingdom of Travancore' with headquarters at Padmanabhapuram.His Kingdom extended from borders of Cochin Kingdom in the south  to Kanyakumari.
Marthanda Varma's major difficult task was to defeat the mighty 'Kayamkulam'.
After defeating Kayamkulam Maharajah he renovated the palace situated at Krishnapuram.The existed palace was single storey  building known as 'Ettu Kettu' and Marthanda Varma made additions and attachments and the existing Kerala Architectural style Palace  which is a  'Pathinaru kettu' style  was built by him and it is a miniature replica of the Palace he constructed at 'Padmanabha Puram.
The Krishnapuram Palace was situated in a large compound of 56 acres but now it is situated in 2.5 acres surrounded by a big compound wall and is under Kerala Archaeology  Department.This building is visited by large number of tourists and the old palace with  gabled roof,narrow corridors and dormer windows etc are preserved intact and a museum is functioning there.The special double edged sword used by Kayamkulam Army   is also exhibited there.
The visiting hours : From 09.30 to 16.30 hours except on  Mondays and Public holidays. 
At Krishnapuram Palace the majority of tourists are fascinated by a mural painting existed there which is known as 'Gajendra Moksham'.(Salvation of Elephant King).It is the largest single panel mural painting found in Kerala and dates back to seventh century. It is 154 sq.ft and the height is 3 mts.Lord Vishnu coming on his celestial transport which is a 'Garuda Bird' to save his devotee 'Gajendra' an elephant turned King from the grip of a crocodile is the theme of illustration.
Gajendra Moksham fresco at the palace was existed in the existed  palace of Kayamkulam Maharajah when Marthanda Varma acquired the Kingdom.He when renovated the palace retained the walls of mural paintings as it was existed.
The Gods and Goddess illustrations in Temples and Palaces were revered since it was believed that the presence of the respective deity would be there.
The Gajendramoksham mural painting is near the entrance of the Palace  and was intended for the Maharajahs to do their daily morning rituals after a bath in the pond nearby. 
'Gajendra Moksham' story is based on Hindu mythology and is taken from the "purana' text 'Bhagavatham' which tells the tales of Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.

A King 'Indradyumna'  who was a firm devotee of Lord Vishnu was cursed by Sage Agastya because of a misunderstanding and he turned as   an elephant.The mighty elephant 'Gajendra' lived on a hill and there were pools at the base of the hill which he used to drink water and to refresh himself.One day a crocodile caught hold of one of his rear leg when he entered the pool.The crocodile was not ready to free him from his teeth grip and the elephant spent several days chanting Lord Vishnu's name.Lord Vishnu appeared on the spot and freed him.He gave him salvation and also to the crocodile which was a 'Gandharva'(a celestial being) who was cursed by another sage  to become a crocodile.
While Lord Vishnu appeared near the elephant other Gods and Goddesses witnessed the scene and in the illustration they are also included.