Kerala is not only one of the most beautiful places but the state is richly adorned with exquisite and ancient temples. These famous temples in Kerala are worth visiting not only from a tourist point of view but also from the point of view of spiritually, if we consider the various legends and storied associated with them. Decorated with many beautiful embellishment of arts, these temples are also great to visit if one is a keen observer of architecture.
The 8 most famous temples in Kerala
1. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Dating back to 8th century, Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a masterpiece of architecture, being done in the typical Dravidian style. Sree Padmanbhaswamy Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is one amongst the 108 Vishnu temples, also known as Divya Desham. It is one of the most important temples in Kerala with an unmatched beauty.
The temple is said to have been established by the royal family of Travancore. The presiding deity could be seen reclining on the hooded serpent, known as Anantha in the Hindu mythology. It is believed that the foundation of the temple is so old that its mention is found even in the Hindu scriptures such as Skanda Puran and Padma Puran. Indeed the city’s very name, Thiruvananthapuram is based on the name of Anantha.
The temple has a stunning 100 feet high Gopuram and the pradakshina (circumbulation) ways are awesome, bedecked with beautiful stone carvings and murals. It is a must visit place for all the devotees and admirers of architecture.
2. Sabarimala Temple
Situated near the famous Periyar Tiger Reserve, the Sabrimala Sastha Temple is one of the most admired and popular temples in Kerala. It is estimated that more than 50 million people visit Sabrimala Temple every year where the pilgrimage is performed on a large scale. It is believed to be the same place where Lord Ayyapan performed meditation after killing the demon Mahishi.
The temple is situated at height of 1565 feet above sea level and offer amazing sights of the surrounding areas. Sabarimala Sastha Temple is dedicated to Lord Sastha or Lord Ayyapa who was born with the merging of the powers of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. There are strict rules for entry in the temple.
While the women in the menstruating phase of life (age 10 to 50) are not allowed to enter, men have to observe strict religious rules for 41 days before they can enter the temple premises. Moreover the temple is also not open for all days of the year.
It is open during the days of Mandalpooja (15th November to 26th December) and then at the time of Makar Sankranti and the first 6 days of the Malayalam months. Nevertheless, it’s a great place to visit and experience the joy of spiritual aura that surrounds the premises of this temple.
3. Guruvayoor Srikrishna Temple
Also known as the “Dwarka of South India” the Guruvayur temple is an iconic temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. The main idol of the lord is the Krishna, standing with the conch Panchjanya, the mace Kaumodaki, the discus Sudarshana Chakra and a lotus with a Holy basil garland. A tank in the temple, which is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva worshipped Lord Vishnu is considered holy and is a magnet for devotees.
The temple premises are also used to conduct weddings in the outer area. The temple is adorned with a fascinating Deepastambham, which is about 7 meters high and has 13 receptacles for lamps which looks exceedingly beautiful when lighted. There is also a 33.5 meters high Dhwajastambham which looks majestic with its flag.
The temple always remain crowded with devotees and there is great spiritual ambience worth experiencing within the walls of the Guruvayoor Sri Krishna Temple.
4. Thirunelli Temple
Situated 900 meters above sea level, on the side of the Bharamagiri Temple, the Thirunelli Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is believed that the idol of the principal deity here was installed by the Brahma Himself, who is creator of world as per Hindu mythology. The Papnasini stream that flows nearby brings down the essence of the medicinal herbs and a holy dip into these waters washes all the sins as well as skin afflictions.
The temple is quite ancient. In fact its mention has been found in the Puranas and the temple itself is called the Kashi of the South. Besides its religious importance, the temple is also surrounded by exquisite surroundings.
Visiting the temple, one obtains ethereal mental peace and it is a place which is also known for conducting the last rites of the deceased. It is a must visit temple in Kerala from the religious point of view.
5. Ambalapuzha Srikrishna Temple
Believed to have been built during the 15th-17th AD century, the Ambalapuzha Srikrishna Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, who is worshipped here as “Unni Krishna”, whose form is that of a child. The Lord is served with the delicious “Palpayasam” due to a legend associated with the temple. A famous story associated with the temple is that the deity from Guruvayoor was brought here when a raid from Tipu Sultan was expected. The raid however never took place.
The best time to visit the temple is during July during which the famous Ambalapuzha Temple Festival takes place. Besides the Aarattu Festival which takes place during March April is another famous attraction for which visitors come here from far and wide.
For those wanting to visit other locations besides the temple, the exquisite backwater destination of Alappuzha is located just 8 miles away.
6. Attukal Bhagavathy Temple
One of the must visit temples in Kerala, Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is dedicated to Devi Parvathy who is worshipped here as Goddess Kanaki, considered as the mother of all created beings. It is located near the famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple.
The temple is hugely popular due to a ritual on a certain day in Mid-Feb to Mid-March, when women cook Ponagala, which is a mixture of rice, jaggery, ghee and coconut in new mudpots and dedicate it as an offering to the Goddess.
Thus, the temple attracts a large number of women. In fact the temple holds the world record of holding the largest single gathering of women at a time. This sacred place is wonderful to visit and the great sights here are fascinating to behold.
7. Chottanikkara Temple
The temple is one of the most popular when it comes to the architecture of the diverse Hindu Shrines. Chottanikkara Devi, who is worshipped in different forms during the day-Goddess Saraswati in the morning, Goddess Laxmi in the noon and Goddess Durga in the evening-is the presiding deity of the temple.
Besides, Lord Shiva is also worshipped in the temple. On the eastern side, there is a structure called “Keezhkavu Temple” where Guruthi Pooja is held every evening to invoke the Goddess. This is wonderful spectacle to witness.
Due to the Goddess being worshipped with Lord Vishnu, the temple is also called Laxminarayan Temple. There is also a facility of accommodation which is provided by the Chottanikkara Temple.
8. Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple
Adorned with a rich Dravidian architecture, the Ettumanoor Mahadev Temple is an exquisite Shiva Temple. The design of the temple is simply awesome. The inside and outside of the temple is bedecked with beautiful murals and look amazing. Besides there are frescos with Prodosh Nritham painted on the walls. These paintings are believed to be the best in the whole South India.
It is also believed that Adi Shankarachary had written his “Soundarya Lahiri” during his stay at this temple. The temple was renovated in the 16th century. The sanctum is shaped in the form of a cone with a copper plated roof. The idol of the temple faces west, which, it is believed, adds power to the deity. There is also a majestic Golden staff, which is visible from far off from the front of the shrine.