Kerala Temples : The temples of Keralaare unique in their architectural style wit steep and pointed roofs that are covered with copper sheets like those found in Himalayan and East Asian regions. If the plan of the sanctum below is circular, the roof is conical and if the plan is square, the roof is pyramidal in shape. This is perhaps due to the fact that the state receives heavy rainfalls for most of the year. However, most of the temples in Keralahave undergone several phases of renovation due to the perishable nature of its construction materials. The history of temples of Kerala is as old as the history of Kerala itself, which can be traced back to the Cheras of the third century BC and shares its history with the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.
Perhaps, this is the reason why we found references of the temples of Kerala in the works of the Tamil Alwar and Nayanmar Saints. Besides, Kulasekhara Alwar and Cheraman Perumaal, one of the Nayanmar saints, are said to belong to the Cheras of the 9th century and may have been in touch with the temples. The temple architecture had been thoroughly studied in Kerala during the 15th and the 16th centuries and one can find several works on the subject from that period. The 16th century Bhakti literature also played a prominent role in Kerala’s temple culture. There are several ancient temples in Kerala that have been patronized by the then rulers of the state.
The much-famous temple at Guruvayoor enshrines the youthful form of Lord Krishna. It is known for its interesting legends, traditions and festivals. According to the popular belief the preceptor of Gods, Brihaspati also known as ‘Guru’ and Lord of Winds, ‘Vayu’ founded the temple and hence its name. According to one of the legends that the image of the deity installed here belonged to Brahma, who originally worshipped it. Later, he gifted it to Lord Vishnu who took it to Dwarka, his kingdom during his incarnation as Krishnavataram. Devotees believe that worshipping here can cure all the bodily ailments of a person just as Janamejaya, son of Parikshit was cured of leprosy here and a Pandya King was cured of snakebite.
The Vishwanatha Swamy shrine at kalpathi is said to be the oldest Shiva temple of Kerala and is just 3 km from Palakkad. It is the annual chariot temple festival that attracts the attention of the tourists to this place. The “Rathutsavam’ ot Chariot Festival is a 7-day long festival at Sree Viswanantha Swamy temple. During the last three days, beautifully ornamented temple chariots taken out in a grand procession in the streets with much festivity and merriment. All the three magnificent chariots are decorated with flowers and flags and is mounted by one of the presiding deities of the temple. It is considered a privilege and honor to get a chance to pull the chariots, which is considered very auspicious.
One of the most popular pilgrimage spots of Kerala during the festival season of November, December and January, a pilgrimage to Sabarimala involves trekking through the rocky highlands of the Western Ghats. Said to be the abode of Sastha or Aiyappan, also known as Hariharaputran, the son of Shiva and Vishnumaya, a popular deity in Kerala, the five temples dedicated to him here are considered of great prominence and enshrine Sastha in different stages of life. In Kulathuppuzha, Sastha as a child is enshrined, in Aryankaavu as a young lad, in Achan Koyil as a householder with his consorts Poorna and Pushkala and in Sabarimala as the highest yogi in his middle-age.
The magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Rama at Triprayar to the south of Thrissur has many interesting legends attached to it. 108 Vaishnava Divya Desam temples including the Lakshmana Temple at Tirumoozhikkalam, Bharata Temple at Koodalmaanikkam and Shatrughna Temple at Payammel surround the temple. According to the legend four images of Lord Vishnu believed to be of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna washed ashore here to be discovered by a local chieftan Vakkey Kaimal. It is believed that offering worship at each of these four shrines on a given day is auspicious. The image of the presiding deity Rama is said to resemble Vishnu with four arms, bearing a conch, a disc, a bow and a garland.