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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Nalambalam Yatra (Pilgrimage to Four Temples)

For more Detailed Information on Nalambalam Yathra visit :

Nalambalam pilgrimage is gaining more and more popularity today. Nalambala Darsanam is an annual pilgrimage to four well-known temples in central Kerala during the Malayalam month of Karkkidakam (July 17 to August 16). Nalambala Darsanam involves offering prayers at the Triprayar Sree Rama Temple, Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam Temple, Moozhikkulam Lakshmana Temple, and Payammal Shathrughna Temple, which are dedicated to Lord Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shathrughna respectively, on a single day. Karkkidakam is the last month of Malayalam Era. Salient feature of Karkkidakam is that it is period of famine and illness. To overcome sufferings people resort to medical treatment and spiritual enrichment. A special way of living and worship of Rama is the general trend of the period. Chanting of Ramamantra and recitation of Adyatma Ramayanam Kilippattu written by Thunchathu Ezhuthachan echoes in each and every house. To get rid of the difficulties of this month, people of Thrissur region started the Nalambalm pilgrimage centuries ago. It’s origin was at a time when vehicles were not available and pilgrimage to these four temples – as a ritual it had to be completed within one day between daybreak and noon - was an ardent task, yet devotees did it right out of their deep devotion. Great pains earned them great gains. Now these four temples are well connected with roads. It has become very easy now to visit these temples in a single day. Tens of thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the State will visit these temples every year during Karkkidakam. These temples also attract devotees from neighbouring States.

It is believed that the idols of Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shathrughna were the pooja idols of Lord Krishna. He worshipped these 4 idols in Dwaraka. At the end of Dwapara Yuga, Dwaraka was swallowed by the sea. These four idols floated over the sea water all together and at last reached the Cheetuva region of Kerala shore. Vakkayil Kaimal, a minister with the Ayirur Kovilakam of Ponnani had a dream one night in which some mysterious person appeared before him and told him about the floating idols. The Kaimal being an ardent devotee hastened to the sea shore. There the fishermen who got the idols handed over them to him. They were duly installed in four temples - Rama at Thriprayar, Bharata at Irinjalakuda, Lakshmana at Moozhikulam and Shathrughna at Payammal - as directed in the dream.

There is special rule to follow during the Nalambalam Yatra. The first temple to be attended is the Triprayar Sree Rama Temple. After the Nirmalyam at 3am there, proceed to Irinjalakkuda to attend the Usha pooja at the Koodalmanikya Swami Temple. From Irinjalakkuda then proceed to Moozhikkulam Lakshmana Perumal Temple to attend Utcha pooja. Devottees must reach the Payammal Shathrughna Temple in the evening to attend Deeparadhana and Athazha puooja there. Devotees must also vist the Hanuman Temple near Chandanakkavu in this yatra.

1.Triprayar Sree Rama Swami Temple
2.Irinjalakkuda Koodalmanikya Swami Temple

3.Thirumoozhikkulam Lakshmana Perumal Temple

4.Payammal Shathrughna Swami Temple

There are three more set of Nalambalams in Kerala. One in Kottayam district, one in Ernakulam-Kottayam districts and another one in Malappuram district. The Nalambalams in Kottayam are in Ramapuram panchayat, within a radius of two kilometres, on the Palai-Koothattukulam route.

1.Ramapuram Sree Rama Swami Temple

2.Amanakara Bharatha Swami Temple

3.Koodappulam Lakshmana Swami Temple

4.Methiri Shathrughna Swami Temple

The third set of Nalambalams are situated in the ancient Vedanaattu Brahmin Graamam (boundary of Eranakulam-Kottayam districts). Among these temples the Shathrughna temple is in ruined state.They are

1.Thirumarayoor Sree Rama Swami Temple

2.Bharathappilly Bharatha Swami Temple

3.Mulakkulam Lakshmana Swami Temple

4.Shathrughna Swami Temple

The Nalambalams in Malappuram are in Puzhakattiri panchayat, within a radius of two kilometres, on the Perinthalmanna-Malappuram route. But these four temples are now in ruins and must be renovated as early as possible. To see the present condition of these temples visit The Hindu page.

Nalambalam Yatra is gaining more popularity in these temples too. In these two Nalambalams the Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shathrughna temples are located within a radius of two kilometres or they are in a single panchayat. But the Triprayar, Irinjalakkuda, Payammal temples are in Thrissur district and Thirumoozhikkulam temple is in Ernakulam district at a distance of 40km from Triprayar temple. The completion of this blissful Nalambalam journey at a stretch and attending the poojas and rituals performed there will be an experience for the whole life. At this time when vehicles are popular even old people can perform it without much difficulty.

Triprayar Sree Rama Swami Temple

Triprayar Temple, located in Thrissur district is one of the important temples dedicated to Lord Rama. Triprayar temple is located 22 kms south west of Thrissur in between Kodungalloor and Guruvayoor in the mid landmass of Chettuva. The temple is situated on the bank of river Theevra. Theevra river is also called Purayar. Hence this place got the name Thirupurayar (sacred river) and later became Triprayar. There is an interesting legend about the origin of this river. Lord Mahavishnu during his Vamana incarnation visited this place while going to Thrikkakkara and he found no water to wash his legs as the whole place was dry and desolate. Vamana took the water from his kamandalu (a small round vessel used by hindu sages to carry water) and poured the water to wash his legs, that source of water never went dry but kept on flowing as the Thiru Purayar or the Thriprayar (river of divine source) as it is called now. Purayar is also called Nandiyar.

Out of the four idols discovered by fisher men, the Sree Rama idol was the most important. Vakkayil Kaimal decided to install it in Triprayar. It is said that when the image of Rama was discovered and was about to be consecrated, it was divinely ordained that a peacock would appear and mark the exact time for installation. Kaimal and his men waited for a long time for the peacock but it didn't appeared. Apparently the Tanthri (chief priest) installed the idol when a devotee bearing peacock feathers appeared. Soon after the installation the peacock appeared in front of the Sreekovil. It is said that the priests and Kaimal regretted their decision later and to make up for this deficiency the sacrificial stone or the valiya balikkallu was installed at the spot marked by the peacock. Hence the balikkal is said to have the same importance as the deity itself. But this sacrificial stone showed a tendency to spin on its axis. It was Naranathu Bhranthan who fixed it at the spot by hammering a nail through it amidst the chanting of mantras. A mark of a nail can still be seen gives credence to this belief.

In order to prevent any decline in the power of the idol on account of the change in its location Naranathu Bhranthan also arranged to install two goddesses on either side of the deity-Sree Devi on the right and Bhumi Devi on the left. Another legend says that it was Vilwamangalm Swamiyar who is associated with several temples of Kerala, installed the Sree Devi and Bhumi Devi images and shut the Western doors of the temple. One day Swamiyar reached this temple and offered prayers to Lord Rama. During his pooja he noticed that Sree Devi and Bhumi Devi were entering the temple from the western gateway to offer prayers to the Lord. In order to set right the fault in location of the idol he requested them to stay inside the sreekovil. The Goddesses agreed and later Swamiyar installed Sree Devi and Bhumi Devi idols on either side of Rama. He then closed the western doors and left the temple. The western doors of the temple remain shut even today.

The image of Rama (Triprayar Thevar) resembles the Chaturbhuja Vishnu form with four arms, bearing a conch(Panchajanya), a disc (Sudarsana), a bow (Kodanda) and a garland respectively. It is believed that the deity worshipped here possesses some of the aspects of Shiva too. It was after killing the asura, Khara that Sri Rama got both the Shaiva and Vaishnava aspects. Thus Triprayar Thevar is also called Khara Samhara Moorthy. It is also believed that the portrayal of Rama with a garland held in the image's hand is also suggestive of aspects of Bhrahma and hence the deity is said to be a manifestation of the Trimoorthis. The image is adorned with necklaces and other fine jewelry. Images of Sreedevi and Bhudevi are on either side. There is an image of Dakshinamoorthy, in the sanctum facing the south. Dakshinamoorthy is commonly found in Shiva temples. There is also a lamp behind the image which is kept burning all the time. Because of these and also because of the fact that people got relief when troubled by evil spirits chathan-the deity is believed to have a Shiva aspect also.

Ganapathy prathishta is located at the south west corner of the sreekovil. Though there is no separate idol for Rama's best devotee Hanuman, it is believed that his presence is always there at the Namaskara mandapam of the temple. Devotees generally bow before the mandapa imagining the presence of Hanuman there before worshipping Sree Rama. The offering of flattened rice (avil) made from dried paddy is meant for Hanuman. Near the main temple towards the north there is a small shrine of Gosala Krishna. Outside the temple in the southern side of the courtyard there is an Ayyappa (Shastha) shrine. It is believed that the Shastha shrine was located originally at the site corresponding to the temple's sreekovil. With the arrival of Sree Rama, Ayyappa moved to the south in the present location. Now Thriprayar Thevar is the presiding deity of the Arattupuzha Pooram, one of the important festivals of central Kerala. Lord Ayyappa of this temple also participated in this pooram before the installation of Lord Rama. Except Triprayar Thevar, all other participants in this pooram are Sasthas and Bhagavathys of different temples. This also points to the conversion of Shastha shrine to Rama shrine.

The temple opens at 3am in the morning and remains open till 12pm. The temple reopens at 4pm and remains open till 8.30pm. There are five poojas conducted here as in all great temples- usha pooja, ethirtha pooja, panthiradi pooja, ucha pooja and athazha poojaa. There are three sheevelis (a processional image of the deity is carried around the temple). For Ucha sheeveli elephents are not used for procession. In Mandalakkalam (November-December) there will be a Kazcha Sheeveli instead of Ucha sheeveli. Nirmalya darshan (early morning when the sanctum opens for the day) and athazha pooja are considered very sacred. For athazha pooja especially devas and rishis are supposed to be present to have darshan of the Lord. The original idol of Rama was subject to evere wear with the passage of time. Astrological investigations however revealed that the Lord did not desire to have change of the vigraha. Therefore a raiment was made in Panchaloha and the same now covers the original stone image. Ekadasi in Vrischikam (November- December) and pooram in Meenam (March-April) are the two annual festivals conducted in the temple.

The Ekadasi festival in the month of Vrischikam(November - December) is the main festival. Ekadasi celebrations start on Dasami day(day before Ekadasi) itself when Ayyappa is taken in procession. This shows the importance of Ayyappa whose temple it was before the installation of Sri Rama. On Ekadasi day, Sree Rama is taken in procession with as many as 21 elephants participating. Thousands of people from far and near will gather here to witness the celebrations.

The best way to escape from the clutches of the frolicsome spirit is to worship Thriprayarappan and please him with the offerings. The name itself of the strong of the temple is known as Chathan Bhandaram. It is a common sight that people afflicted with spirits perform various kinds of offerings at the temple to get them eradicated from their bodies.

Firing of kathinas or Vedi vazhipadu is an important offering here. It is to commemorate the return of Hanuman after the search of Sita, with the words, 'Drishta Sita'-seen Sita. There is a belief among Hindus that if anyone sets apart some money as an offering to the deity for firing crackers, the delivery of a pregnant woman in his family will be easy and comfortable. Besides Palpayasam, Chandanam Charthu(smearing of the idol with sandal paste), different archanas and meenoottu(feeding fishs in theevra river) are other important offerings to the deity.

The performing art Chakyar Koothu is very much associated with this temple and is an important offering here. It is said that the once king Samoothiri visited this temple and watched this art and he expressed his wish to see the Hanuman’s mischieves in Lanka in detail. Thus the Koothu was extended to a twelve day performance. The Koothu performance starts on the first of Vrichika month(November). To stage Koothu there should be at least one Brahmin present in the audience. Once there was no Brahmin at all available and the Chakiyar, the performer of Koothu, did not know how to proceed. He stood perplexed, not knowing what to do. Suddenly a voice came from the sanctum saying that 'Koothu is not for Brahmins but for me. Therefore perform Koothu in my presence.' Since then Koothu, which was, being staged in the specially erected Koothambalam on the south-east corner of the temple started being staged in the mandapa itself inside the temple. And only angya Koothu(pantomime) is performed and the sanctum remains open throughout the performance. From Vrischikam 1 (mid-November) kuttu is presented for 12 days by the temple management itself. The subject enacted is Anguliyangam in the Ramayana, that is, Hanuman taking the ring from Site after finding her in Lanka and taking it back to Sri Rama. The major Part of the performance is devoted to a conversation between Hanuman and Sita.

Triprayar temple is rich in wood carvings. The sreekovil is circular in shape with a copper covered conical roof and is surmounted by a golden Thazhikakkudam. The circular sanctum has several sculptural representations of scenes from the Ramayana with a dynamic and lively vitality of design and form a lavish decoration and an integral part of the architectural edifice of the temple. Its walls are decorated with beautiful mural paintings. The namaskara mandapa, which is copper-plated, is profusely sculptured -having 24 panels of woodcarvings representing navagrahas.

The Triprayar temple was originally under the domain of the Zamorin rulers of Kerala. It later came under the posession of the Dutch, the Mysore sultans and the rulers of Cochin. Triprayar temple is situated in what is called Chettuva Island, which was formerly under the Zamorins. In 1719 it was annexed by the Dutch. Then Tipu Sultan defeated the Dutch and annexed the territory. Tipu Sultan did not spare Triprayar Thevar also. To test the divinity of the idol he struck at one of the hands. Blood started oozing. He repented his action and developed faith and devotion to the god. To make amends he donated to the temple some of the landed property he had annexed. Later the territory became part of Cochi and the Cochi King gave the ownership of this temple to local Nampoothiri community. Thereafter this temple was owned by three important Nampoothiri families - Jyanappally, Chelur, and Punnappilli - and the administration was carried out by Blahayil Nair. But unfortunately due to continuous conflict between the owners and Blahayil Nair, the government took over the charge of the temple. Now it is under the administrative control of the Cochin Devaswom Board.

Irinjalakkuda Koodalmanikya Swami Temple

Koodalmanikyam Temple is situated at Irinjalakuda in Thrissur District. Irinjalakuda is 18 Km west of Chalakudy in NH 47 and 9 Km East of Moonnupeedika in NH 17. It is 23 Km south of Thrissur and 16 Km north of Kodungallur. This is one of the most well known temples in Kerala built before the 15th century. It has uniqueness as the deity here is Lord Bharatha or Lord Sangameswara. As a temple with Lord Bhartha as deity is a rarity, there are arguments that once this temple belonged to the Jains (Bharatheswara saint of Jains) and with the descent of Jainism this temple was taken over by Hindus.

Irinjalakkuda in former days is believed to have the confluence of two rivers, the place name Iruchalkkidai suggests such a conjecture. The Lord at the confluence is thus known as Sangameswara. Though the two rivers (Kurumali river and Chalakudy river) have changed course and Irinjalakuda is no longer on any river bank, Arattu is held alternatively in these two rivers suggesting a previous connection with these rivers.

The lord at Koodalmanikyam is Chathurbahu Vishnu with Conch, Chakra, Gada and Japamaala. The general belief, however, is that the Lord is Bharatha the brother of Sree Rama. A distinctive feature of Koodalmanikyam temple is that there is only one single Prathista. Even Vigneswara, usually found in all temples dose not find place here. Usually when Thulasi leaves are offered to the diety, its seeds invariably sprouts in the premises. How this has not at any time happened in this temple is a mystery. One explanation is that Thulasi plant being sacred; it is worshipped wherever it is found. Probably it is to forbid even such an object of secondary worship in the temple precincts that Thulasi is not allowed to grow by some unforeseen power.

Koodalmanikya Swami is often called Sangameswara. There is a story behind this name. Once a Brahmin in Taliparambu decided to collect the chaithanya of idols of important temples in Kerala for being transferred to the idol of Lord Mahadeva in Taliparambu temple. This he did by entering the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temples he visited and transferring the Chaithanya on to the conch in his possession. When he did the same in Irinjalakuda he accidentally fell down and the conch was broken instantly transferring the divinity of all idols he had acquired on to the idol at Irinjlakuda. Thus the idol in which merged the divine Chaithanya of several idols came to be known as Sangameswara. The Namboodiri Brahmins associated with the temple still make all their Sevaas in the name of Shiva, Vishnu and Devi at Sangamesa Sannidhi itself.

There are beautiful mythologies regarding the origin of the name 'Koodal Manikyam'. Once the idol of this temple radiated magnificent light that excelled manikyam (a mythological precious stone believed to be kept and protected by divine serpents). A manikyam kept in the Kayamkulam palace was brought to this temple to compare with the idol and to see which emits more light, on promise to return after comparison. When the Manikyam was brought near the idol it got merged with the idol. koodal manikyam means merger of manikyam and thus the name Koodalmanikyam. Since the temple authorities were unable to return the manikyam to Kayamkulam king, the whole temple was handed over to him as a compensation. Due to the administrative difficulty the king of Kayamkulam handed over the right of the temple administration to one Thatchudaya Kaimal and it was his family which handled the temple till 1971. Koodalmanickyam is the Malayalam translation of the Sanskrit word Sangameswara. Similar brightness is reported to have appeared on the idol once again, much later in 1907.

The custom in most of the Temples in Kerala is to have five Poojas and three Sivelis a day. But in Koodalmanikyam there are only three Poojas and no Siveli. There is no Usha Puja and Pantheeradi Puja at this shrine. The diety is taken out for ceremonial procession only during the Annual Festival. There is no Deeparadhana. Sticks and camphor are not used for the pooja. The floral offerings to the diety consist of Lotus, Tulasi(ocimum sanctum) and Chethi(ixora). But they are not grown in the temple compound. No other flower is taken for Pooja or for making garlands. Thamaramala(lotus garland) is an important offering to the diety. A full garland will be around twelve feet long and will have not less than 101 lotus flowers. Full flowers not their petals, are used in this garland. There is a strong and substantiated belief that if you offer a lotus garland before starting any new project or before the commencement of any important function like marriage, Koodalmanickyam will make the effort a full success. During Monsoon Devotees offer Thamaramala as a temporary injunction on rain till the proposed function is over. Even other temples offer Thamaramala to Koodalmanikyam before start of festivals, Kalasams at the respective temples.

The deity of Koodalmanikyam is considered as the incarnation of Dhanvanthari moorthi - the God of Ayurveda. Hence many people approach this temple expecting cure of their ailments. There are several stories about His curing sometimes even incurable diseases of faithful devotees. Brinjal or Vazhuthinanga nivedyam is aspecial offering here to cure stomach diseases. The Mukkudy nivedyam in this temple is also has great curing powers.

The temple is surrounded by four vast ponds. The pond inside the compound is believed to be sanctified by Kulipini Maharshi who had held a great yaga here. The pond is known as Kulipini Theertham. This Kulipini Theertham is considered very sacred and hence devotees must do the pradakshina of this pond while they do the temple pradakshina.The presence of Ganga is believed to continue in the Kulipini Theertham. This pond is unique because no aquatic creatures(like frogs and snakes) other than fish are not available. Fish feeding or Meenoottu is considered to be of special merit. Water for preparation of Nivedyam is taken form this tank only. Archakas after bath at the outside pond have to take a dip in Kulipini Theertham before entering Sanctum Sanctorum. The pond outside the compound located at the eastern side is called Kuttan Kulam. The pond outside the compound located at the western side is called Padinjare Kulam and the pond outside the compound located at the southern side is called Thekke Kulam.

The Ten day annual festival in this temple is held in Medam(April/May) with Seventeen caparisoned temple elephants. It starts the day after the famous Thrissur Pooram and goes on for 10 days. The first day of utsavam (festival) falls under the star Uthram, and the ceremonial flag is hoisted which marks the beginning of the festival. On all ten days, a sheeveli (procession of caparisoned elephants) is held twice, one in the forenoon and one at night. A unique speciality of this temple utsavam is the fact that two baby elephants are made to stand on either side of the elephant carrying the thidambu (the deity). Seventeen elephants are engaged for the ceremonial rounds, to the accomplishment of Panchari Melam. The last Two days of festival, Panchavadyam will be accomplished. The head gears (Netti pattam in Malayalam language) of seven elephants are made of pure gold and rest of pure silver is another uniqueness of this temple. Brahmakalasam strictly following the Vedic and Tantric rituals are offered to the diety on 11 days in connection with the Festival. This is the unique feature of this temple.

Thripputhari on the Thiruvonam day in the month of Thulam (October-November) is another important occasion in the Temple. It is a day of feasting when the newly harvested rice is first cooked and offered to diety and then is partaken of by the devotees. The day after the feast, there is a special offering called Mukkudi, which is considered to be a divine medicine for all ailments.

Mukkudi is an Ayurvedic mixture, the formula of which being prescribed by Kuttancherry Mooss, one of the Ashtavaidyas.

The architecture used for the construction of this temple is a perfect example of Kerala Vasthuvidya. The eastern gopuram, anakkottil, koothambalam, sreekovil and namaskaramandapam are embedded with beautiful sculptures. The copper covered Sreekovil and namaskaramandapm with golden thazhikakkudams and the golden flag staff indicates the glory of this temple. There is no balikkalppura in this temple.

Several poets praised the glory of Sangameswara with their poems. Unnai Warrior's Sanskrit poem – Sree Rama Pancha Sathi is an abridged version of Ramayana in fifty dasakas dedicated to Lord Sangameswara. The Temple had also been an important centre of nourishment of the Temple Arts like Kathakali, Koothu, Koodiyattom and Thullal. Koothambalam stage had the rare fortune to witness historic stage shows by the masteros of Ammannoor Chakyar family.

In 1971, the Government of Kerala, through a special order, took over the administration of the Temple. A Committee appointed from time to time by the Government of Kerala now manages the Temple. The Chairman of the Committee is the District Collector, Thrissur. The Chief Executive of the Devaswom is the Administrator not below the rank of a Deputy Collector deputed by the Government as the Secretary of the Committee.

For more details, images and online booking of poojas visit the official website of Koodalmanikyam temple.

Thirumoozhikkulam Lakshmana Perumal Temple

In pasurams of Nammalvar and Thirumangaialwar, Thirumoozhikkulam Lakshmana Perumal is refered as Moozhikkalattappan and Tayar (Mahalakshmi) as Madhuraveni Naachiyaar.

Thirumoozhikkulam temple is located in between Angamaly in Ernakulam district and Mala in Thrissur district. Thirumoozhikkulam is one among the 32 Brahmin gramams in Kerala. This is the place where Hareetha muni the son of Vishwamithra worshipped Vishnu.

The mythology behind the name of this place goes like this. Hareetha Maharshi did penance and meditation on the banks of river Poorna(Periyar). Lord Mahavishnu got impressed by the dedication of the Maharshi and appeared before him on the beginning of the Kali yuga. Lord Vishnu gave some advices to Hareetha Maharshi to overcome the difficulties in Kali yuga. These advices are called "thiru mozhi" meaning sacred words. And there after this place got its name as "thirumozhi kalam" – kalam means place. Later Thirumozhikkalam became Thirumoozhikkulam.

This shrine is associated with legends from the Ramayanam. Legend has it that while Bharata the brother of Rama and Lakshmana, came to invite Rama, then in exile, to take over the reins of the kingdom, an angry Lakshmana suspecting Bharata's intentions intended to kill him; however, Bharata's innocence was very soon revealed, and then the two of them offered worship together at Tirumoozhikkalam. Worship is offered to Rama, Sita and Hanuman at this spot acknowledging their presence. No music is played during worship services here, unlike other temples. The annual festival which falls in the malayalam month of Makaram used to be an occasion of great festivity, with performances of koothu and Koodiyaattam for a 41 day period in the temple Koothambalam. Inscriptions from the 11th century CE (Bhaskara Ravivarman) are seen in this temple. The Thirumoozhikualam Lekshmana Perumal Temple had a superior status and it had a command over the other local temples. It attracted most of the Tamil Vaishnavite pilgrims who visited ancient Kerala. The temple had a bylaw by name 'Moozhikkulam katcha' which applied to all other temples of Kerala.

Vakkay Kaimal, had a dream one night in which some mysterious person appeared before him and told him that four idols have been washed ashore and that these idols are to be consecrated at such and such places. The Kaimal being an ardent devotee hastened to the sea shore there lay four idols as indicated in the dream. They were duly installed in four temples as directed in the dream. Rama at Thriprayar. Bharata at Irinjalakuda, Lakshmana at Moozhikkulam and Shathrughna at Payammal. It is believed that worship at all these four temples on the same day is especially meritorious. In the Malayalam month of Karkidakam (July 15th to August 15th) - the Ramayana Masa, thousands of devotees do this special pilgrimge, which is popularly known as Nalambalam Yatra - a pilgrimage to the four temples. The temple was sacked by during Tippus invation, like the temple at Thiruvanjikkulam. The image of the presiding deity is in a damaged state . A silver kavacham or armour was made as a covering for the image; however soon after installation of the kavacham an attempt was made to steal it. Afterwards a Devaprasnam was conducted, which insisted that the Perumal wanted to be in that state only, he didn't want to hide the damage or replace the original idol. Since then it stays like that.

The 'Periya Thiruvaymozhi' composed by Nammazhvar praises the greatness of deity of Thirumoozhikkulam. The deity of this temple Lakshmanan is said to be kind to those who suffer and the wish of the devotees get fulfilled. Devotees vouch of their wish getting good children by visiting the temple which is also claimed to ail illness of heart.

There are idols of Shiva as Dakshinamoorthi(south side) Ganapati, Sree Rama, Seetha, Hanuman Ayyappa, Sree Krishna (as goshala Krishnan) and Bhagavathy in this temple. There is an order in visiting the deities of this temple. Which is described below, enter through the eastern gate and first visit and pray to the main deity Lakshmana, after praying there then visit Ganapathy, Shiva and other deities then come back to Lakshmana to offer a second prayer after the pradikshana visit Ayyappa and Bhagavathy and then Krishna, and final visit to Lakshmana’s steps to offer prayers before returning.

Payammal Shathrughna Swami Temple

Sathrughna Swami The Payammal temple, 6 km from Vellankallur along the Irinjalakuda-Kodungallur route, is one of the few Shathrughna shrines in the State. The Payammal temple is about seven kilometers from Iringalakuda Koodalmanikya temple in the Iringalakuda Mathilakam route. Shathrukhna is considered to be the reincarnation of the Sudarsana Chakra(disc) in the hands of Mahavishnu. This is the smallest temple among Nalambalams. Of the four idols retrieved from the sea by the fishermen this idol is the smallest. All the other three temples have circular sreekovils but here sreekovil is in rectangular shape.

The idol of Lord Shatrughna is housed in a squarish granite sanctum sanctorum in the Shathrughna temple. The original Panchaloha (Five Metals - Brass, Bronze, Copper, Gold and Silver) has been untracable though efforts have been made to retrieve it from the temple pond situated in the back yard of the temple complex. The existing idol made of granite exudes a rare

kind of divinity. The temple is a heaven of peace and sanctity and a devotee experiences an unique sense of satisfaction after praying in this abode.

There are three main poojas - Usha pooja, Utcha pooja and Athazha pooja - in a day. This temple which opens for darshan at 4.30am in the morning closes the door by 10am after Utcha pooja. The second session starts in the evening at 4.30pm and remains open for darshan for Deeparadhana and Athazha pooja and closes at 8pm. A lamp is lighted behind the Sathrughna idol inside the Sreekovil. It is believed that this lamp or Pinvilakku is for Sruthakeerthi, the wife of Lord Shathrughna. Ganapathy is in the sub deity here. Ganapathi homam is a special offering conducted by the devotees.

Sudarsana Pushpajali and submission of Sudarsana chakram offered at this temple are considered to boost the prosperity of the family members. The five day long temple festival starts at Pooyam star of the month of Kumbha. The Ramayana month is celebrated with gaiety in the month of Karkkidaka.

During the period of Tippu Sultan this temple suffered severe damages. Inorder to protect the idol of Lord Shathrughna from Tipu's army, the temple priests took the panchaloha idol from the sreekovil and hided it in the temple pond. You can see this pond in the western side of the temple. Later this temple was rebuilt by the joint efforts of the local people around the temple. By their initiative the temple festivals poojas and all other rituals restarted. Now it is working as a full fledged temple in all respects.

Nalambalam Yathra ends with the visit to Payammal Sree Shathrughna Temple. People usually visit a temple of Lord Krishna named Elambalakkattu at Edakkulam while going to the Shathrughna temple.

Ramapuram Sree Rama Swami Temple

This temple is situated at Ramapuram near Palai, located about 40 km from Kottayam and is well connected by bus. Devottees can reach here from Koothattukulam in M.C road. Main deity is Rama.This temple is managed by a Temple Trust of 3 Nampoothiri families on rotation, viz. Amanakara, Kunnoor and Karanattu Mana.

Mythology is that this temple has been built at the place where Rama rested on his way to Sri Lanka. The ambalakkulam or temple pond is located on the northern side of the temple and is the arattukulam for Kondadu Sree Dharma Sastha. The 8 day annual Utsavam is in Meenam (March/April). The Arattu is done in the theerthakkulam of Amanakara Sree Bharatha Swami Temple. Sree Rama Paduka Pooja is done on this occassion. The old dwaja was replaced with a new one in 2007. The circular sreekovil is copper covered.

Ramapurathu Varriyer,who wrote the Kuchelavrutham Vanchipattu was an ardent devotee of Ramapuram Sree Rama and was the Kazhakakkaran of this temple. One day he made a garland in the form of a Shloka and offered it to Lord Rama. The Shlokam was this.

Na krutham sukrutham Kinchil

Bahudhaa dushkrutham krutham

Na Jaane Jaanakee Jane

Yamaahwena Kimuthamam?

I hadn't done any Sukrutham (good thing) yet, but had done many Dushkrutham (bad things). Oh Jaanakee Jaane (Rama) I don't know how to answer Lord Yama's questions.

Lalithambika Antharjanam, a noted writer in Malayalam was also an ardent devotee of Lord Rama of Ramapuram. This Sree Rama Temple is the first temple which devotees visit when they embark on the Nalambalam (Four Temples) yatra or visit. This journey is connected with the visit to four temples namely, Sree Rama Temple at Ramapuram, Bharatha Temple at Amanakara, Lakshmana Temple at Koodappulam and Sree Shatrughna Temple at Methiri. Nalambalam Yathra starts with the visit to Sree Rama temple at Ramapuram and ends with the visit to Methiri Sree Shatrughna Temple.

Thirumarayoor Sree Rama Swami Temple

Thirumarayoor is a small village situated around 5 km from Piravom in Ernakulam district. The name "Thirumarayoor" originated from an event linked with the epic of "Ramayana". Seetha was attracted by a golden deer, which was originally the Mareecha who disguised as a deer, as part of the plot of Ravana to keep Rama away and steal Seetha. While Rama was chasing the deer, it disappeared at this place. The word in Malayalam for "disappear" is "marayuka". "Thiru" is indicating something related to God and "ooru" is the place. Thus the name Thiru-mara-ooru (Thirumarayoor) was originated. Thirumarayoor Sree Rama Swami temple is a beautifully sculptured ancient temples and is situated in a tiny land surrounded by paddy field.

Mulakkulam Lakshmana Swami Temple

Mulakkulam Lakshmana Swami Temple is situated at Mulakkulam in Kottayam district. This temple is closely associated with Thirumarayoor Sree Rama Swami temple. This temple have a copper dwaja prathishta and Manayathattu Nampoothiri is the Tantri.

Bharathappilly Bharatha Swami Temple

Bharathappilly Bharatha Swami Temple is situated at Memmury around 7km from Piravam in Ernakulam district.


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    Very informative!!!!!


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    author has really worked a lot for its preparation. Thanks a lot

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