The Vadakkunnathan Temple at Thrissur, dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the largest and ancient temple, situated in Thrissur district of Kerala. Also known as Thenkailasam and Vrishabhachalam, the temple stands majestically on an elevated hillock right in the centre of the city. Hindu traditions say that the temple was built by Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the legend creator of Kerala. Thrissur pooram, which is celebrated here every year in the month of Medam (mid-April to mid-may), witness millions of devotees from all over the land. The temple and the Mural paintings are declared as a National Monument by the Union Government under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.
Vadakkunnathan temple is surrounded by a massive stone wall enclosing an area of nearly 9 acres (36,000 m2). Inside this fortification, there are four gopurams each facing north, south, east and west directions. Apart from these four gopurams, there is a multi-shrined complex in the centre with three principal shrines dedicated to Shiva as Vadakkunnathan, Shankaranarayana and Rama.
Thrissur town gets it name after this ancient Lord Shiva Temple. The real meaning of the name Thrissur is the 'Town with the name of Lord Shiva’.
This temple is a classic example of the architectural style of Kerala and has monumental towers on all four sides and also a kuttambalam. Mural paintings depicting various episodes from Mahabharata can be seen inside the temple. The shrines and the kuttambalam display vignettes carved in wood. The temple, along with the mural paintings, has been declared as a National Monument by India under Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. According to popular local lore, this is the first temple built by Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu. Tekkinkadu Ground, encircling the Vadakkunnathan Temple, is the main venue of the Thrissur Pooram. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter into the temple.
This temple is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture. This temple is famous for its April/May Pooram Festival, which includes colourful and magnificent processions, brightly decorated elephants, fireworks etc.
The construction of the temple was done at the time of Perumthachan from Parayi petta panthirukulam. It is said that Perumthachan lived during the seventh century; so the Koothambalam may be 1,300 years old. According to Malayalam historian VVK Valath, the temple was pre-Dravidian temple Kavu. Later the temple was influenced by Buddhism, Jainism and Vaishnavism. In the early days, Paramekkavu Bhagavathi was also inside the Vadakkunnathan temple. But Koodalmanikyam Temple, Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple and Ammathiruvadi Temple, Urakam is older than Vadakkunnathan temple, according to temple documents.
Location : Vadakkumnathan Shiva Temple, Near Thekkinkadu Maidan, Thrissur, Kerala, India.
Gods : Lord Shiva, Krishna, Nandikeswara, Parasurama, Simhodara, Ayyappan and Adi Shankara
Landmark : Vadakkumnathan Temple is situated in the heart of Thrissur town in Kerala. The temple is around 290 km from Trivandrum, the state capital. Vadakkunnatha Temple is 58 km from Ernakulam. Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur Railway Station is the nearest railway station to reach Vadakkumnathan Temple. Also known as Thrissivaperur Railway Station, Trichur Railway Station is located in the heart of the Thrissur town. Thrissur is well connected by trains to all major stations in India. Nearest Airport: The nearest airport to Thrissur is Nedumbassery International Airport at Kochi, which is 55 km away. Nearest Bus Station: There are 3 main bus stations in Thrissur - the Central Bus Station, Sakthan Thampuran Bus Station and North Bus Station. Thrissur Central Bus Station is operated by Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). Thrissur KSRTC Bus Station operates frequent bus services (long route and interstate buses) are available from all cities in Kerala to Thrissur. Chennai, Salem, Coimbatore and Bangalore buses are also available from Thrissur bus station. Sakthan Thampuran Bus Station and Thrissur North Bus Station operates private buses which connects Trichur with nearby districts including Palakkad, Malappuram Kozhikode, Kannur, and Kasargod.
Maha Shivaratri is the main festival which is celebrated in the temple. Cultural and musical programmes are held in the temple premises. Around one lakh temple lamps are lighted in the festival. The idol of Vadakkumnatha is not taken out for procession.
The Aanayoottu of feeding of elephants, is the second biggest festival held in the temple. The devotees refer to elephants as Lord Ganesh's incarnation. The festival falls on the first day of the month of Karkkidakam (timed against the Malayalam calendar), which coincides with the month of July. It has been the regular annual practice at the temple for the last 20 years to conduct a large-scale Ashta Dravya Maha Ganapathy Havana and Aanayoottu on the first day of the Karkidakom month of the Malayalam calendar. It involves a number of unadorned elephants being positioned amid a multitude of people for being worshipped and fed. A large number of people throng the temple to feed the elephants. Gajapooja also is conducted once every four years.
One of the most colourful temple festivals of Kerala, Thrissur Pooram is conducted in the temple premises but the temple is not a participant in this festival. There is no special pooja or special offering during the pooram day. The main attraction of the Pooram is the Elanjitharamelam, a two hour Chendavadyam (with five instruments) is held near Koothambalam in the temple, by the top most artists from the state.
Appam (sweetened rice cake fried in ghee) to Mahaganapathy is one of the most important offerings at the temple.