KERALA Worship


The Chuliyar Bhagavathy Temple here is a popular place of worship. ‘Thirayattu Utsavam’ of this temple acquires special significance because of the different types of Theyyam performances.


Ananthapura, 12 km north-east of Kasargod town, is known for its lake temple. This holy temple is believed to be the original seat (‘moolasthanam’) of Anantha Padmanabha of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram


The Mahaganapathy Temple at Madhur near Kasaragod is a well- known place of worship. This temple has some unique style of architecture.


Thaliparambu, about 20 km north-east of Kannur, is famous for its Thiruchambaram Vishnu Temple dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu. This temple, which dates back to the 10th century, is an example of medieval temple architecture.


Parassinikadavu on the banks of the river Valapattanam, is 18 km away from Kannur. The place has become famous for its Sri Muthappan Temple

The presiding deity of this popular temple is Muthappan, the reincarnation of Lord Shiva. This is the only temple in the state where Theyyam, the ritual dance form of Kerala, is performed daily. Another distinguishing feature of the temple is its unusual ritual of offering fish and toddy to the deity. Kathakali is also performed at the temple by the Kathakali Club on request.


Kottamunda is on the slope of Vellarimala 20 km from Kalpetta, the Headquarters of Wayanad district. The place acquires significance because of the Glass Temple here. The temple is  dedicated to Parswanatha Swami, the third Thirthankara of the Jain Faith. The mirrors inside the temple walls, reflect thousands of beautiful image patterns of the icons in the temple sanctum sanctorum


Thirunelli is a beautiful spot 42 km from Mananthavadi in Waynad district. Here, the panoramic view of the Brahmagiri hills offers an idyllic charm to the enchanting nature around. Thirunelli is not only a beautiful spot but also famous for the Maha Vishnu Temple here. It is popularly known as the ‘Kasi of the South’. It is also believed that the idol of Vishnu in the temple was installed by Brahma himself. Waters in the Papanasini river here is said to have mystical powers. It is believed that bathing in the river will wash away one’s sins.


Thiruvangoor in Kozhikode district is famous for the Sree Mahaganapathy Temple, dedicated to Lord Ganapathy. The annual festival ‘Sivaratri Utsavam’ here lasts for two days. Cultural and ritual art forms Kerala are performed all nights during the festival. The ritual festival Theyyam is performed on the second day. It is watched by a large gathering of devotees who in the end receive ‘blessings in person’ from the ‘Theyyam’.


It is the Headquarters of the Latin Catholic congregation in Malabar. Built in the Gothic style, the church is a tribute to the beauty of Italian architecture and the skill of Indian craftsmen. It is said that Italian architects were brought to Kozhikode to design the church. The church is a mute witness to the chequered history that followed the landing of Vasco da Gama at Kappad when the flood-gates of the Indian shores were opened to European navigators. History has it that the Zamorin, who had encountered the Portuguese in many a conflict, was himself the donor of the land on which the church stands today.


Tanur in Malappuram district is a coastal fishing town of historical importance. It was one of the earliest settlements of the Portuguese in India. It is believed that St. Francis Xavier visited the place in 1546 A.D.and converted the local Chieftain to Christianity. Keraladesapuram Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu near here is one of the oldest temples in Kerala.


‘Thunchan Parambu’, the birth place of Thunchath Ezhuthachan is in Tirur. Tirunavai, 8 km south of Tirur, is a place of historical and religious significance. The Sarvodayamela is held here every year in January at the Navamukunda Temple. This temple, which is called the Benares of the South, is believed to have been founded by nine great saints. The popular Mamamkam festival used to be held here every 12 years. In the olden days there was a grand assembly for rulers of Kerala. This festival is said to have been started by Cheraman Perumal and the last performance was in 1755.


The Punarjani Guha, in Palakkad district, is a natural tunnel 15 meters long in the rocky cliff. It is situated 2 km from the Thiruvilwamala Temple. The chief presiding diety is Sri Rama. The idol is believed to be ‘swayamboo’ ie. born on its own. It is believed that by performing ‘noozhal’ or crawling through the tunnel from one end to the other will wash away all of one’s sins and thus attain rebirth. Only men are allowed to do the ‘noozhal’ and women can only visit the cave. This ritual is practised only one day in a year on Guruvayur Ekadashi.


Guruvayur, 33km north-west of Thrissur, is one of the most famous religious centres in South India and one of the most important pilgrim centres in India. It is also known as the Dwaraka of the south. The temple which dates back to the 16th century, is dedicated to Lord Krishna who is known as Guruvayurappan here. Legend has it that the temple was created by Guru, the preceptor of the Devas and Vayu, the Lord of the winds. The idol is said to have been worshipped by Lord Bramah himself at Dwaraka. It is at this temple Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri composed his well- known Sanskrit devotional song, ‘Narayaneeyam’. Thousands of devotees flock here every day with offerings of different kinds to appease ‘Guruvayurappan’ for his blessings.


The St. Thomas Church at Palayur is the oldest church in India. It was built by St Thomas - the Apostle in A.D.52. St. Thomas, the Apostle arrived in A.D.52 at Crangannur {now Kodungallur} with Jewish merchants for the propagation of Christ’s message and through the sea route reached Palayur in 52 A.D. and built the Church here. This famous Palayur pilgrim centre is at Chavakkad, near Thrissur.


The Vadakkunnathan Temple at Thrissur is one of the famous temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the largest temples in Kerala. Adi Sankaracharya is supposed to have spent his last days in this temple. This temple is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture. The shrines and the Koothambalam (Temple theatre), display exquisite vignettes carved in wood. Legend says that this temple was built by Parasurama. This temple is famous for its April/May Pooram Festival, which includes colourful and magnificent processions, brightly decorated elephants, fireworks etc.

Other attractions in Thrissur town are the Zoo, State Museum, Archaeological Museum, Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral, Puthenpalli Church etc.


Malayattur, 45 km from Ernakulam, is famous among the Catholics. This church is dedicated to St. Thomas and is set atop the 609 metre Malayattur Hill.

This holy shrine is one of the most important Christian pilgrim centers in Kerala attracting devotees in very large numbers not only from Kerala but also from the neighbouring states. This famous church is situated at Kurisumudi, a verdant hill in the Western Ghats girdled partially by the river Periyar.

Legends credit St. Thomas as having established about seven and a half churches in Kerala (here half is only indicative of a church smaller in size.) These seven churches were established at Kodungallur, Palayur, Paravur, Kokomangalam, Niranam, Chayal, and Kollam. The Malayattoor Church and the Tiruvamcode Church in the Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu are considered to be the half church. But some believe that the Malayattoor Church is one of the major churches built by St. Thomas and they argue that the churches at Kokomanagalam and Paravur must be regarded as one.

The first Sunday after Easter is a very important day at Malayattoor. Pilgrims, chanting the name of the Apostle, ‘Ponninkurisumala Muthappa’, climb Kurisumudi, the steep hill to visit the holy shrine. The Church has a life-size statue of St. Thomas and the imprint of the feet of the Apostle on a rock.


Kalady is the birth place of Adi Sankara. This pilgrim centre, situated on the banks of the river Periyar, is 45 km from Ernakulam. There are two shrines in memory of Adi Sankaracharya –one dedicated to Adi Sankara as Dakshinamurthy and the other to Goddess Sharada maintained by Sringeri Mutt. There is also an ancient Shri Krishna Temple and another temple known as the International Temple, built with hope that it would ultimately become a temple for all religions and an abode of peace.


Kochi has an entirely different look compared with the modern town of Ernakulam across the Vembanad Lake. Once Kochi flourished as the most prosperous business centre of Kerala by virtue of its location and the all weather natural harbour.

Kochi is the Home of a tiny JEWISH COMMUNITY descended from Jewish settlers who fled Palestine 2000 years ago. The nomadic tribes of Jews are said to have made their appearance in the north-west Mesopotamia in 1800 B. C. Abraham was their leader. They migrated to Palestine led by Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, and occupied that land. Driven by famine, some of them had to migrate to Egypt after 1700 B. C. They lived a miserable life as slaves until they were saved by Moses who led them back to Palestine.

The COCHIN SYNAGOGUE built in 1568 is the oldest in India. The great scrolls of Old Testament, the copper plates in which the grants of privilege made by the rulers of Kochi were recorded and the exquisite Chinese hand painted tiles etc. are of great interest. The Jewish Town surrounding the Synagogue is a popular trade centre for spices. There are several interesting curio shops on the street leading up to the Synagogue.


It is India's oldest European built Protestant church. The Church was built in 1503 by the Portuguese Franciscan friars. It became an Anglican Church after the occupation of Kochi by the British in 1795. Vasco da Gama, the first European to reach India, died in Kochi in 1524 and his tomb Stone can be seen inside the Church even though his mortal remains were transferred to Portugal 14 years later.


Built in 1902, this magnificent Church has a fantastical and bewitching interior.


It is a famous place of worship. This temple is 35 km south of Kottayam on the rail /road between Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam. This temple is famous for the traditional KATHAKALI performances almost every night of the year.


Vagamon is situated at an elevation of 1100 metres above sea level. It is about 60 km from Kottayam and 30 km from Pala. The important attractions here are the Kurishumala hill and the small church atop the nearby Kurishumala Ashramam, which is a monastery for Christian ascetics, who follow the Christian faith along the Indian spiritual traditions and the Gandhian thought. Vagamon is a popular spot for trekkers.


Vaikkom, 40 km away from Kottayam, is historically a famous town situated on the eastern bank of the expansive Vembanad lake. It was once the capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Vadakkumkur. The ancient Mahadeva Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva here has carried its name far and near. The Mahadeva Temple at Vaikkom is a sacred place of worship. According to legend, It was constructed by Parasurama, the mythological creator of Kerala. The 12 day ‘Ashtami’ festival here (November/December) is renowned for its elephant processions, religious discourses, and traditional dance and music perform


This church at Athirampuzha near Ettumanur is famous for its annual 8 day feast known as ‘Athirampuzha Nercha’, which attracts a large number of devotees from all over Kerala.


This ancient temple, which is 17 km away from Kottayam, is a famous place of worship. There are mural paintings of high order and beautiful sculpture of intricate workmanship inside the temple.


It is an important Christian pilgrimage centre where the mortal remaints of Sister Alphonsa (1916-1946) was interned in a chapel next to the St. Mary’s Church. This 1000- year old church features an attractive Grotto of Virgin Mary.

Places of attraction in and around KOTTAYAM


The St. Mary’s Church, known as Valiya Palli, in the town was built in 1550 A. D. It is famous for its 8th century Persian Cross with the Pahlavi inscription on it. Near to this Valia Palli is situated the Cheriya Palli (St. Mary’s Church) which was built in 1579 A. D. It houses some murals and paintings depicting Biblical and other themes.


This ancient temple in the town is a sacred place of worshipn for the Hindus. There are some wall paintings. The annual temple festival (March/April) attracts a large number of people.


8 km from Kottayam. It is an important Syrian Christian centre. There is St. Joseph’s Monastery which is associated with Fr. Kuriakose, one of the saintly figures of the Syrian Catholic Church of Kerala. One can also see here one of the oldest Printing Presses in the state- the St. Joseph’s Press which printed ‘Nasrani Deepika’, one of the oldest newspapers in Kerala.


This temple, which is 10 km from Kottayam on the way to Changanacherry, is a famous one dedicated to Goddess Saraswathy. The Navaratri festival here attracts quite a fascinating crowd.


It is a little town 14 km south of Alappuzha, famous for Sri Krishna Temple. The Ambalappuzha Palpayasom- a sweet porridge of milk, rice and sugar – offered to the diety is very popular. The annual temple festival is in March/April. The temple has also another significance. It was in this temple that the 16th century poet Kunjan Nambiar staged his first Ottan Thullal, a solo dance performance with high social content.


It is a known pilgrim centre near Cherthala, 22 km north of Alappuzha. The St. Andrew’s Church better known as Arthunkal Church was established by the Portuguese missionaries.


It is situated 13 km from Pathanamthitta on the banks of the river Pamba. The place is famous for the MARAMON CONVENTION, the biggest religious gathering of Christians in Asia, held in February-March on the banks of the river Pamba. Christians from all over India assemble here to listen to the gospels read and expounded by scholars of Christianity drawn from India and abroad.


This well-known pilgrim centre is in the rugged terrains of the Western Ghats. The holy shrine, situated atop the Sabarimala, is dedicated to LORD AYYAPPA. It attracts millions of pilgrims from far and near. The 5 km stretch from Pamba to the shrine can only be reached by trekking. The main pilgrimage season is November to January.


Aranmula is 10 km away from Chengannur on the Thiruvananthapuram - Kottayam route. It is a little temple town in Pathanamthitta District, surrounded by undulating green hillocks and girdled by the holy river Pampa. Its rural outskirts form part of the ‘Kozhencherry Gulf Belt’ and the modern concrete houses that one sees all around bear testimony to the affluence brought to the area by the Gulf boom. Aranmula is famed for its hand-made mirrors of polished metal called ‘Aranmula Kannadi’. Aranmula is also a popular pilgrim center with its Lord Krishna Temple and the annual snake boat races held in connection with the temple festival during August-September.


Kanya Kumari (also known as Cape Comorin), about 90 km south of Thiruvananhapuram, is the southernmost tip of the Indian sub-continent where the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea mate together. Once it had been part of the erstwhile Travancore state. After the re-organization of the states in India in 1956, it became part of the Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu.

Kanyakumari is a very famous tourist and pilgrim centre. The famous shrine of the goddess DEVI KANYA, Gandhi Memorial, Vivekananda Memorial built on the rocky islands are tourist attractions.

The Temple at Suchinram 13 km north- west on the rail /road route from Kanya- Kumari to Thiruvananthapuram is an important place of worship. The temple with its large entrance Gopuram is quite magnificent. There are pillared Halls all around the inner Sanctum where there is the triple image of the Lords Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. The 10-day annual chariot festival is famous.


It is a beautiful beach resort and pilgrim centre 40 km north of Thiruvananthapuarm. SIVAGIRI MUTT here devoted to SRI NARAYANA GURU who preached 'One caste, One religion, one God for man' is a pilgrim center for the Guru's followers. There areYOGA and MASSAGE centres offering traditional Ayurvedic and Swedish massage and Swedish Massage techniques.


A famous pilgrimage centre and one of the major attractions in Thiruvananthapuram city. The Maharaja of Travancore built this famous temple with its seven-storey carved gopuram in the Dravidian style in 1733. There are innumerable pillars, intricate carvings and mural paintings of natural pigments. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu who reclines on the sacred serpent Ananda. The image of Vishnu is 18 feet long and a lotus grows from Vishnu’s navel and Brahma is seen in the lotus. Several arts forms like Krishnanattam, Koodiyattom, Pavakkoothu, Nokkuvidya, Velakali, Kathakali etc. thrived under the patronage of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.

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