Vilwadrinatha Temple is a Hindu Temple located in Thiruvilwamala, Thrissur district of Kerala. Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu, and his brother Lord Lakshmana are the main deities of this temple.
About the Temple
The main gate to the temple is from the west. There are more than 50 steps to reach the temple. On the west and east sides, there are remains of two huge gopurams, which once got destroyed under mysterious circumstances. There are two idols of Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu, on both sides of the main gate. There are many trees on the surroundings of the temple, providing fresh air and lush greenery to the atmosphere. Saraswathikund, the place where sage Amalaka is believed to have did his penance, is to the south of the fleet of steps on the west nada. The place got this name because there is a pit here with presence of Goddess Saraswati. There is a huge peepal tree here, and devotees write 'Om Harisree Ganapathaye Namah', the famous mantra chanted during Vidyarambhamceremony, and after that make models of many buildings arranging various stones, bricks, sand and clay. Ramanchira, a small pond, is situated near the entrance to the west nada. Devaswom rest house and cloak room are situated near them. There is no kodimaram (flagstaff) in this temple. The circumbulation path is carved with stone.
The idol of Lord Rama in the west facing shrine is a swayambhu (self-born) image, which means no human intervention has ever taken place. This is the only temple in Kerala where Lord Rama has a swayambhu image. It is around 5 ft tall, and made up of a rare kind of stone, called 'Pathalanjana Sila'. On the top of the idol, Ananta lies as an umbrella. As there is a slight presence of Lord Shiva also in this idol, a lamp is always burnt on the back, thus called 'Pinvilakku'.
The idol of Lord Lakshamana in the east facing shrine is around 3 ft tall. This is one of the rare shrines in India where this brother-cum-companion of Lord Rama is constructed. This idol is around 3 ft tall, and it is also made up of 'Pathalanjana Sila'. There are no special decorations on this idol, just like that in the west nada.
There are two vathilmadams (raised platform) on both sides of the western entrance. On the north-western corner of the nalambalam, there is a store room and a dark room. There was a 'Koothambalam' on the south-eastern side, where, as the name suggests, the temple art forms like Koothu and Koodiyattam were conducted in olden days.
Unlike many temples, there are three balikkallus (altar stone) here. One is on the west nada, and the other two are on the east nada at different locations. There is balikkalppura on west nada. The balikkallu on the west nada is huge in size. The balikkallu on the east nada was also very huge once. It is said that it lowered itself for getting view for the 'untouchables', who were not allowed to enter the temple. The other balikkallu is towards the north of this one, which is believed to have formed itself after the lowering of the original one.
Outside the temple complex, on the eastern side, there is a huge peepal tree. It is a wonderful sight for the devotees, as there is no soil on that place, and still this tree grew up. That point of the hill is called 'Bhoothanmala', meaning 'the hill of the ghosts'. The way to the famous Punarjani cave starts from here. This cave is situated 2 km away from the main temple towards the south-east. This is believed to have been built by Vishwakarma, the divine architect, on request of Brihaspati. Humans can enter this cave only on one day in a year - The 11th day (Ekadasi) in the bright fortnight in the month of Vrischikam (November-December), which is Guruvayoor Ekadasi. All other days are meant for ghosts.
It is believed that the bottom of the temple is also a cave, and a golden vilwa tree exists there, and thus the place came to be known as 'Thiruvilwamala'. There are even some incidents which proved this. One among them is like this: There was a large hole in front of the idol of Lord Rama. The water taken from it was given as 'theertham' to the devotees. One day, a plantain which was to be offered to the Lord fell into this hole. The priest thought that the water has become impure, and thus he tried to take plantain with a writing nail, but at that time, he heard the sound of breaking rocks, and the water was also dried up.
Legend and Stories
Lord Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu, assassinated all Kshatriya clans 21 times with his axe, as a revenge of killing his father, sage Jamadagni (Jamadagni was killed by the sons of the evil kingKartavirya Arjuna, as a revenge to Parasurama who assassinated their father). But after that, he was very sad for doing such act as revenge, and thus he gave all the land he acquired to holy Brahmins. But, some of them were against Parasurama as he massacared thousands of Kshatriyas. After that, he made his own land by throwing his axe to the sea. That land came to be known as Kerala, as it was filled with Kera (Coconut trees. Parasurama gave this land to Brahmins, and made 108 Shiva temples, 108 Durga temples and 5 Sastha temples to them for worship. Later, he went to meditation.
But still, he was not happy. One day, while he was meditating, the ghosts of the Kshatriyas, assassinated by Parasurama appeared before him and asked him to grant salvation. They also told that if they will not get salvation, they will cause huge problems to the people. After that, he began to pray Lord Vishnu. While praying, he heard a message, which stated that Lord Shiva has reached Vilwadri (Sanskritised version of Thiruvilwamala) with his full family and guards and he should reach there immediately. Parasurama immediately proceeded to Vilwadri. Lord Shiva presented him and idol of Lord Vishnu, and told that he worshipped that idol in Kailasa. Parasurama found a very suitable place nearby and consecrated the idol there, in a manner of getting darshan for the ghosts.
Around the same time, a sage named Amalaka, the son of sage Kashyapa, conducted huge penance praising Lord Vishnu on the same spot. It is believed that Amalaka got this name by eating only amla (gooseburry) fruit. When he was doing penance, the devas (gods) believed that he had wish on taking heaven away from them. They sent heavenly damsels and made blasts near him, but he never woke up. When they complained Kashyapa about this incident, he told that his son was not interested in any worldly pleasure. Then, the asuras (demons) had problem. They all came in a row to break Amalaka's penance. Amalaka opened his eyes. Fire smashed out of them. The asuras all got burnt and together they became a huge rock, called 'Rakshasappara'. Amalaka continued his penance and Lord Vishnu appeared before him with his consorts Sri and Bhumi, and his bed Ananta as umbrella. He told his wish that the Lord should remain there for the well-being of the worldly people. Thus, the Lord turned himself into a swayambhu idol, with his consorts and Ananta.
After both the idols were consecrated, the power of Lord Vishnu spread throughout the village. Hearing this, the asuras became again furious. They sent one of them to destroy those idols. He went in the form of a holy Brahmin. During those days, Brahmins in the temple were fed twice a day. This asura also joined them. During the daytime, he remained like a normal Brahmin, but during night time, he changed his form. After that, he began to eat the cows donated to the temple and threw their bones northwards. Thus, the place came to be known as 'moorikkunnu' (moori means cattle and kunnu means hill in Malayalam). He also ate some sleeping Brahmins. But no one knew the real killer, as there is no any carnivorous creature nearby. People thought it is any ghost who is eating the cows. Finally, the 11th day (Ekadasi) in the dark fortnight of the month of Kumbham (February-March) arrived. The asura considered that time the most suitable to fulfil his task. One midnight, after all poojas were completed and everybody slept, the asura entered the sreekovil by destroying the pillars.
Lord Vishnu appeared from one of the pillar in the form of Narasimha, his fourth avatar, and killed the asura in the same manner he killed Hiranyakashipu. After hearing the thundering sound made by the asura, all people woke up and rushed to see what happened. After seeing the ferocious form of the Lord, many people fainted. Some people prostrated on the ground and chanted the names of the Lord. They did not have the courage to look upon the ferocious form of the Lord. At that time, sage Amalaka came there and chanted the names of the Lord. After that, the Lord came back to his original form, and blessed his devotees. To prevent from further attacks, some power of Lord Shiva was also disposed in the idol, thus a concept of Lord Shankaranarayana also appeared. Even on special days associated with Lord Shiva, like Mahashivaratri, Pradosha vrata and Mondays, many people visit Thiruvilwamala Temple.
History of the Temple
In the early days, the temple was under the control of six Moosad families, called 'Parasudayavar'. They came to be called so because it is believed that Lord Parasurama gave their right to control the temple with his axe. The eldest of the six administered and others assisted him. During those days, there were two huge Gopurams on the western and eastern sides, both seven-storied, but in clear Kerala style of architecture. Scenes from various puranas were depicted on them beautifully, and people came from many parts of the world to see them.
A special kind of lamp was always kept burnt on these gopurams. It is believed that they could be clearly seen even from the peepal tree in front of Thirunavaya Temple, another famous temple on the banks of Bharathappuzha, situated 68 km from Thiruvilwamala, as there were no huge buildings then. One day, when the priests were sleeping after performing daily poojas, a person came in their dreams and asked: 'Hey Mr., why these lamps are kept burnt here? Because they can be seen from Thirunavaya Temple. It is auspicious to worship both temples on the same day. If you don't believe it, please go there'. The next day, the priests told their dream about parasudayavars, and they immediately went to Thirunavaya by taking a boat. After worshipping Lord Navamakunda (Vishnu), they went to the peepal tree. Then, they saw both lights burning at the eastern end (Thirunavaya is to the north-west side of Thiruvilwamala). But, on the next day, both gopurams became pierced to two by a huge thunderstorm. An Ashtamangalya Prasnam was conducted later, which proved that the Lord wants his devotees directly coming to Thiruvilwamala, and not looking from Thirunavaya. Thus, both gopurams were never renovated. Now, only basement can be seen.
Later, the temple came under the Zamorins (Samoothiri) of Kozhikode. During those days, the Ushapooja was in the name of Kollengode Valiya Thampuratti, Uchapooja on the name of the King of Kochiand Athazhapooja under the Zamorin. Many litres of Palpayasam were offered by the Zamorin. Later, the King of Kochi took the charge, after continuous revolts with the Zamorins. Once, Tipu Sultan came to attack the temple, but left the place because he knew that the place was under the control of the King of Kochi, who was close to him. Once, the Lord had huge wealth in the form of gold coins, paddy fields and other plantations. Many of them were lost after the Land Reforms Act of 1970. But in 2012, there spread many rumours that there are still lots of wealth here, just ike that in Padmanabhaswamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram.
The temple had burnt thrice. One occurred in 1827, and it was after that the golaka was made for the Lord. The next two were in 1861. After the first fire, there occurred plans to renovate the temple, but before that day, it again got burnt. The eastern sreekovil did not have any problem, and the idol was taken out of it, to get poojas. The western sreekovil got burnt completely, but the idol did not have any damage. The current temple was built in 1883 by the King of Kochi. Now, the temple is administered by Cochin Devaswom Board.
Daily Pooja and Rituals
There are five poojas and three seevelis daily in Thiruvilwamala temple. The temple opens at 4 AM, in a peaceful and auspicious atmosphere made by blowing conch seven times. The first darshan on the day is called 'Nirmalya Darshanam', that means the darshan with the decorations of the previous day. After removing those decorations, Shankhabhishekam (A special abhishekam conducted by taking holy water on rightward conch) and other abhishekams are conducted. Then the idols are decorated with new clothes and sandal paste. The temple closes at 12 PM after all rituals.
The temple reopens at 5 PM. Deeparadhana is conducted at the dusk according to the sunset of each day. During Deeparadhana, a special act called 'Sandhyavela' is also performed by the devotees, who chant the names of the Lord many times. At 7:30 PM, Athazhapooja (Night/dinner pooja) is conducted. Appam, Ada and Betel leaves are offered to the Lords at this time. Later, Athazhaseeveli is also conducted. After this seeveli, the final darshan called 'Thrippuka', in which the sreekovil is filled with holy smoke (The name itself has that meaning), is conducted. The temple closes at 9 PM.
Rules for Darshan
A devotee coming from the west nada should not enter directly to the nalambalam. First, he/she can take a bath or wash his/her feet on the temple ponds, and after reaching the temple, he/she should worship Lord Rama from outside. Later, he should proceed to the east nada via north nada. At that time, while reaching North West, he/she has to worship Lord Navamukunda. Before entering the nalambalam, he/she should worship Lord Hanuman, and with his consent only can he enter the nalambalam. After worshipping Lord Lakshmana, he/she should proceed to Lord Ganapathi shrine. Then only he/she can worship Lord Rama. After that, he/she should circumbulate both sreekovils. Then, he can exit.
After coming out of the nalambalam, one has to proceed to Lord Ayyappa shrine. After worshipping the Lord, who resides here with Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati, serpent gods & Brahmarakshass, he/she should worship the peepal plant with the presence of many deities. After that, he should turn to the south-east for worshipping Lord Muruga at Palani temple and south-west for worshipping Lords Wadakkumnathan and Guruvayoorappan. Then, he/she should proceed to Saraswathikundu, and after worshipping Goddess Saraswati, should write Harisree beneath the peepal tree standing there. Finally, he/she should arrange some stones together, as a symbol of three acts - Bathing in the holy river Ganga, circumbulating the mountain and visiting almighty. Thus, a darshan is completed.
Thiruvilwamala Ekadashy and Sri Rama Navami are important festivals. Guruvayur Ekadashy day is also important for passing through Punarjani.
Palpayasam, Udayasthamana Pooja, Sankhabhishekam, Sahasranamarchana, etc. are the main offerings for the main deities. Lord Hanuman's main offering is Avil (beatan rice). Mahaganapathy Homam is the main offering to Lord Ganapathi. Lord Ayyappa has Neerajanam and Neyyabhishekam as main offerings.
How to Reach Viwadirnatha Temple, Thiruvilwamala
The nearest airport to the Viwadirnatha Temple is the Cochi International Airport (90.2 Kms) and Calicut Airport, Mannapuram. The nearest railway station is at Lakkidi, just on the opposite bank of Bharathappuzha, but the major railway stations nearby are at Ottappalam (14 km), Shoranur (20 km) and Wadakkanchery (25 km). The temple is situated around 50 km away from Thrissur city, the district headquarters, and 35 km away from Palakkad.
Thiruvilwamala Vilwadrinatha Temple / Sree Rama Temple,
Temple Rd, Thiruvilwamala, Thrissur District, Kerala,
India, Pincode – 680588.
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- For salvation
- To perform rites for ancestors
- To pray for timely weddings
Achutham Keyshavam Rama Narayanam Krishna Damodaram Vasudevam Harim Shridharam Madhavam Gopika Vallabham Janaki Nayakam Ramachandram Bhajey
Meaning -Oh Lord who cannot be perished, who also has names like Keshava, Rama, Damodara, Narayana, Sridhara, Madhava, Krishna, Ramachandra the beloved of Janaki, let me say your name regularly.
Vasudeva Sutham Devam Kamsa Chanoora Mardhanam Devaki Paramanandham Krishnam Vande Jagathgurum
Meaning -I bow to you O Krishna, the ultimate guru, Devaki and Vasudeva's son, and the destroyer of Kamsa and Chanur.
Adharam Madhuram Vadanam Madhuram Nayanam Madhuram Hasitam Madhuram Hridayam Madhuram Gamanam Madhuram Mathuraa Dhipate Rakhilam Madhuram
Meaning -Meaning - Sweet are Your lips, sweet is Your face, sweet are Your eyes, sweet is Your smile, sweet is Your heart, sweet is Your gait, O Lord of Mathura, everything about You is sweet.
Alokya Mathur Mukha Madarena Sthanyam Pibantham Saraseeruhaksham Sachinmayam Devam Anantha Roopam Balam Mukundam Manasa Smarami
Meaning -I think of this Balamukundan as the one who looks lovingly at his mother's face while taking milk from her, who has eyes similar to the red lotus, who is the embodiment of truth and intelligence and other forms.
The temple is open from 04:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 05:00 pm to 09:00 pm.