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Monday, March 7, 2011

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Tiruvananthapuram

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Tiruvananthapuram

The Padmanabhaswamy temple, also known as the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple is a famous Hindu temple of Lord Vishnu, located inside the Fort in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. The temple is one of the 108 divya desam, the holiest abodes of Lord Vishnu. The main deity, Padmanabhaswamy, is a form of Vishnu in Anananthasayanam posture (in eternal sleep of yognidra). This is an ancient temple and the city of Thiruvananthapuram derives its name from the name of the presiding deity enshrined in the temple.Lord Shripadmanabhaswamy is known as Ananthapadmanabhan.


The two annual festivals of the Temple culminate in a grand procession, in which the three deities (Sree Padmanabha,
Narasimha Swamy and Krishna) are carried on flower-deck and aesthetically decorated Garuda Vahanas to the Shankhumukhom beach, for 'aaraattu' (sacramental ablution).. The Idol is maded of Kadusarkkara Yogam, an ayurvedic mixture, with Lord Vishnu sleeping on Anantha with his head pointing towards south and facing east.

The temple Architecture

The temple has a 100-foot, seven-tier
gopuram. The temple stands by the side of a tank, named Padma Theertham (meaning the lotus spring). The temple has a corridor with 365 and one-quarter sculptured granite-stone pillars with elaborate carvings. This corridor extends from the eastern side into the sanctum sanctorum. An eighty-foot flag-staff stands in front of the main entry from the 'prakaram' (corridor). The ground floor under the gopuram (main entrance in the eastern side) is known as the 'Nataka Sala' where the famous temple art Kathakali was staged in the night during the ten-day uthsavam (festival) conducted twice a year, during the Malayalam months of Meenam and Thulam.


In the Garbhagriha, an idol of Vishnu is depicted in a reclining position over the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha. The serpent has his face pointed upwards, as if enjoying the fragnance emanating from the lotus held in his left hand. His right hand hangs over Shiva. Sridevi and Bhudevi, two consorts of Vishnu stand by his side and the Brahma is seen on a lotus, which emanates from the navel of Vishnu. The idol is made up of 10008 Saligram that compose the reclining Vishnu. On top of the Saligram, "Katusarkara yogam", a special ayurvedic mix, was used to make a plaster.. The abhishekam of the Lord is not a traditional ritual. The daily worship is with flowers and for the abhishekam special separate idols are used. The flowers have always been removed using peacock feathers fearing damaging the katu sarkara on the idol

The GarbaGriha is carved out of a single stone and hence called "Ottakkal Mandapam". In order to perform darshan and puja, one has to climb on to the "Ottakkal Mandapam". The deity is visible through three doors - Face of the Lord and Siva Linga underneath his hand in the first door, Brahma seated on lotus emanating from the Lord's navel along with the "Utsava moorthi" and idols of Lord MahaVishnu, Sreedevi and Bhoodevi in the second door and the Lord's feet in the third door..

There are other important shrines inside the temple for Hindu deities Sri Narasimha, Sri Krishna, Sri Ayyappa, Sri Ganesha and Sri Hanuman. Many other small shrines like Kshetrapalan (who guards the temple), Vishwaksena and Sri Garuda are also present.


There are many legends regarding the origin of the temple. One such legend says that Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar alias Divakara Muni prayed to Krishna for his darshan. Krishna came in disguise as a small, mischievous boy. The boy swallowed the Saligrama which was kept in Puja. The Sage became enraged at this and chased the boy until the boy hid himself behind a tree. The tree fell down and became Vishnu in Anantha Shayanam (reclining posture on Anantha the serpent) --but when he did so, he was of an extraordinarily large size. The Sage, recognizing that the tree was Vishnu, pleaded that because of the huge form the lord had manifested before him he could not either have a mind fulfilling darshan or circumbulate him. He then asked the Lord to shrink to a smaller proportion - thrice the length of his staff. Immediately, the Lord Vishnu shrunk himself, and told the sage that he should be worshipped through three doors. These doors are now the doors in the temple through which the idol may be viewed. Through the first door, the worship is offered to Shiva; through the second entrance to Brahma on the Lord's lotus navel, and through the third is Vishnu's feet, which are said to lead to salvation.


Padmanabhaswamy Temple stands at a place considered as one of the seven Parasurama Kshetras; texts including the Puranas, particularly the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, have references to this shrine.

Nivedyam or offering to Perumal

Apart from the usual rice offering various other items are offered including Retna Payasam or offering of Payasam in a Gem studded Golden Vessel, Meni Thula Payasam or the Delicious Rice and Jaggery Pudding entirely made in Ghee, Pal Manga, Otta Thula Payasam, Panthranu Kalam Payasam, and Paal Payasam (Milk and Rice Pudding) which is very famous. During Thursdays, special Panakam is offered to Lord Narasimha. Unni Appam, Mothakam, Aval with sugar is also offered to Lord..

Darshan, sevas and festivals

There are many festivals related to this temple.. The festivals culminate with the Aarat (holy bath) procession to the Shankumugham Beach. The word Aarat refers to the purificatory immersion of the deities of the temple in sea. This event takes place in the evening. The King of Travancore escorts the Aarat procession by foot. The idols of Sri Padmanabhaswamy, Krishna and Narasimha are given a ritual bathe in the sea, after the prescribed pujas. After this ceremony, the idols are taken back to the temple as a procession in the light of traditional torches, marking the conclusion of the festival.

A major annual festival related to Padmanabha temple is the Navaratri festival. The idols of Saraswati, Durga, and Murukan are brought to the kuthira malika palace in front of Padmanabha temple as a procession. This festival lasts for 9 days. The famous Swathi music festival is held every year during this festival.

The biggest festival in this temple is laksha deepam, which means hundred thousand (or one
lakh) lamps. This festival is unique and commences once in 6 years. Prior to this festival, chanting of prayers and recitation of three vedas is done for 56 days. On the festival time, hundred thousand oil lamps are lit in and around the temple premises. The next laksha deepam is slated on January 2014

Darshan times are (before noon) 3.30-4.45, 6.30-7.00, 8.30-10.00, 10.30-11.00, 11.45-12.00; (after noon) 5.00-6.15 and 6.45-7.20. Only Hindus are permitted inside the temple. Devotees have to strictly follow the dress code. Men should remove clothes above waist and deposit in the locker room. No one is permitted to wear dress that displays both legs separately. This means no pants for men or churidhar for women.

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