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Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple

The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is one of the Divya Desams, the 108 temples of Vishnu revered by the 12 poet saints, or Alwars located near Aranmula, a village in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala, South India. The temple is dedicated to Parthasarathy, Lord Krishnas role as Arjunas Charioteer in the Mahabharatha war. The temple is on the left bank of the Pampa River. The sacred jewels of Ayyappan (Thiruvabharanam) are taken in procession to Sabarimalai each year from Pandalam, and Aranmula Temple is one of the stops on the way. Also, the Thanka Anki (golden attire) for Ayyappa, donated by the king of Travancore, is stored here and taken to Shabarimala during the Mandala season (late December). Aranmula is also known for the watersports involving a spectacular procession of snake boats. It is also linked with legends from the Mahabharata. It is one of the most important Krishna temples in Kerala, the others being at Guruvayur, Trichambaram, Tiruvarppu and Ambalappuzha. Also, it is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the Mahabharata. The Thrichittat templeChengannur is related to Yuddhishtra; the Tiruppuliyur temple to Bheema; Aranmula to Arjuna; thiruvanvandoor to Nakula and Tirukkadittaanam to Sahadeva). It has been glorified by the Tamil hymns of Nammalwar of the 1st millennium CE. The temple has four towers over its entrances on its outer wall. The eastern tower is accessed through a flight of 18 steps. Descending 57 steps through the northern tower, one can reach the Pampa River. Aranmula is a small village, but is one of the destinations as specified the Discovery channel, one would definitely like to visit. Aranmula is located in Pathanamthitta district, 9 km west to Chengannur. Parthasarathy Temple is one among the Pancha Pandava Temples(Thrichittat, Thirupuliyoor, Thiruvaranmula, Thiruvanvandoor and Thrikkodithanam) in Kerala. The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is vey famous and one of the biggest in Kerala. Aranmula is one among the 64 Brahmin gramams and Parthasarathy Temple is the Grama Kshetram. Lord Mahavishnu gave darsan to Lord Brahma and Vedavyasa at this place. Vishnu revealed the knowledge of creation to Bhrama, from whom the Madhu and Kaitabha demons stole the Vedas. Legends of this temple is associated with Pandavas. After crowning Parikshit, Pandavas left for piligrimage. They visited Kerala during their piligrimage. In Kerala, each of these brothers installed idols of Lord Vishnu on the banks of the Pampa and nearby places(Thrichittat - Yuddhishtra, Tiruppuliyoor - Bheema, Thiruvaranmula - Arjuna, Tiruvanvandoor - Nakula and Thrikkodithanam - Sahadeva) and offered worship. It is said that Arjuna built this temple at Nilackal near Sabarimala to expiate for the sin of having killed Karna on the battlefield, against the dharma of killing an unarmed enemy. Nilakkal was a dense forest and hence it was difficult to perform daily poojas. So the idol was brought here in a raft made of six pieces of bamboo to this site, and hence the name Aranmula (six pieces of bamboo). There is yet another legend associated with Parthasarathy here. On the ninth day of the battle of Kurukshetra, the Kauravas reigned supreme under the leadership of Bheeshma, when krishna motivated Arjuna to take initative and vanquish his foe. Upon his hesitating to do so, Krishna jumped down in rage, and took up his Sudarsana Chakra(discus); seeing this sight Bheeshma surrendered to him and Arjuna beseeched him not to kill Bheeshma, as it would bave been against Krishnas vow to take up arms in his battle. It is believed that it is this image of Krishna that is enshrined here, with a discus. This temple has golden flag staff and has four towers over its entrances on its outer wall. The huge beautiful eastern tower is accessed through a flight of 18 steps. Descending 57 steps through the northern tower, one can reach the Pampa river. This temple is a perfect example for Kerala Temple architecture and its structure is almost similar to that of Ettumanor Mahadeva Temple. Parthasarathy is the owner of 39 villages in and around Aranmula and people in these villages consider Lord Parthasarathy as their protector. There are many legends associated with Lord Parthasarathy. Some of them are acssociated with the famous Uthrattathi Vallamkali(snake boat race) and Thiruvonathoni. The idol of Lord Parthasarathy was brought to this place from Nilackal in a raft made of six pieces of bamboo. Several Chundan Vallams(snake boats) accompanied the procession through Pampa river. The idol was installed in the temple on Uthrattathi day of Malayalam month Chingam(August-September). Uthrattathi in Chingam is the birthday of Arjuna. To celebrate these events people of Aranmula started the famous snake boat race Uthrattathi Vallamkali.

Location : Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, Aranmula, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India.

Gods : Parthasarathy (Vishnu)

Landmark : Aranmula is a beautiful place situated on the banks of River Pampa and located at a distance of 116 Km from Thiruvavnanthapuram. It is a suburb of Kozhencherry in Pathanamthitta District. Aranmula Pardhasaradhi Temple is well connected by road network. Nearest Airport: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (IATA: TRV, ICAO: VOTV) Nearest Railway Station: Chengannur Railway Station (10 Km).

Festivals :

The Aranmula Vallamkali, the world famous water festival is the main important event related to this place.
 
The water carnivals taking place at the temple include a boat race during the Onam season. A tradition of sending an offering of rice and other material required for a feast from a nearby village, on a waterboat relates to the origin of this festival and this tradition is continued even today (this is related to a legend in which a devotee fed a hungry pilgrim, who directed him to send food to Aranmula and disappeared, revealing that he was none other than Vishnu).
Snake boats accompany the sacred boat. The boat race: Snake boats from 39 Karas from Chennithala in the west to Ranni in the east participate in the watersport Vallomkali. These boats assemble at dawn and sail in pairs for about 2 hours. A snake boat is about 103 feet in length. Each boat has about 4 helmsmen 100 rowers and 25 singers. After the watersport there is an elaborate feast in the Aranmula temple.
 
Another festival celebrated at Aranmula Pardhasaradhi Temple is Khandavanadahanam in the Malayalam month of Dhanus. For this festival, a model of a forest is formed in front of the temple with dried out plants, leaves and twigs. This bonfire is lit, representational of the Khandavana forest fire of the Mahabharata.
 
The Malayalam month of Meenam witnesses a festival where Aranmula Parthasarathy is taken in a grand procession on the garuda mount to the Pampa river bank, where an image of the Bhagawati from the nearby Punnamthode temple is brought in procession for the arattu festival.

Offerings :

Vallasadya is a famous offering in Aranmula Temple. On this the offered village will conduct a boat race in the Pampa river and will have a feast at the temple. The feast will have hundreds of items and sweets. But the peculiarity of this offering is that it's not for Brahmins and only Nairs will attend this feast. Other main offerings are Chandanam Charthal, Pushpanjali and Palppayasam.

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