Kerala Pilgrimages

Explore India Tour Company specializes in arranging tour packages to pilgrims who flock to Kerala in small and large groups. However small or large your group is send us details of the number of pilgrims and the dates you plan on visiting as well as the budget you have and send a detailed query to eitctour@gmail.com Send your own contact details such as tel nos to make it easier for us to contact you.

PILGRIM CENTERS IN SOUTH KERALA

HINDU TEMPLES

CHURCHES & MOSQUES

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Sree Padmanbha Swamy Temple: – (Open 0415 – 0515 hrs, 0645 – 0715 hrs, 0830 – 1115 hrs, 1145 – 1200 hrs, 1700 – 1815 hrs, 1845 – 1930 hrs)Located inside the East Fort, this temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. One among the 108 sacred Vishnu temples in India, the presiding deity here is Lord Vishnu reclining on Anantha, the Serpent. The idol, plated in gold and made out of a rare composition known as katu-sarkara-yogam, is acclaimed as a marvel. It is also noted for its mural paintings and stone carvings. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. Dress code: Men –
Dhoti without any upper clothing; Women – Saree or full skirt and
blouse; Handbags, mobile phones, cameras etc. not allowed. Ph: 2450233

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Matha Amrithanda Mayi Asrama Vallikkavu: The residence and
headquarters of Matha Amrithanandamayi Devi, is situated at Amrithapuri near Vallikavu. The ashram is accessible both by road and boat.Ph: 0476-2897578

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Sabarimal Sree Ayyappa Temple: (72 km from Pathanamthitta town, 191 km from Thiruvananthapuram and 210 km from
Kochi): One of the most famous pilgrim centres in India, Sabarimala is situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 m above sea level and is accessible only by foot from Pamba (4 km). The temple is dedicated to Sree Ayyappa. Pilgrim season: November to mid January. Mandalapooja and Makaravilakku are the two main events of the pilgrim season. The temple stays closed during the rest of the year except for the first five days of every Malayalam month and during Vishu (April).
People of all castes and creeds are permitted into the temple.  However, entry is not allowed to women between 10 and 50 years of age. Pamba: This is the main halting point on the way to Sabarimala. It is also known as Thriveni Sangamam – the meeting point of three rivers.

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The Parthasarathi Temple, Aranmula (dedicated to Sree Krishna) on the banks of the holy River Pamba attracts large crowds
of devotees. The famed Aranmula boat race is held on the last day of the week-long Onam festival. The Vijnana Kalavedi at Aranmula imparts training in the traditional arts like Kathakali, classical dances, classical music, as well as Kalaripayattu. Foreign tourists stay here for long periods to get a first hand knowledge of the culture of Kerala. The Parthasarathi Temple here has fine murals from the 18th century. Aranmula is also famous for its metal mirrors – Aranmula Kannadi, a unique craft which is not found anywhere else in the world.

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Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple: (32 km South of Alappuzha) Situated near Harippad, this is a serpent shrine under the
patronage of a brahmin family, headed by a priestess. The ancient shrine is an internationally renowned pilgrim centre dedicated to the Serpent God – Nagaraja. Sarpa Yakshi and Naga Yakshi are the beloved consorts of Nagaraja. It is believed that Nagaraja as the installed diety is endowed with the form of Hari (Lord Vishnu) and the spirit of Lord Shiva. Legend has it that the first priestess of Mannarasala gave birth to a five-headed snake, which is believed to reside in the ancestral house to safeguard the family. At Mannarasala barren women are believed to be blessed with
children and a special turmeric paste available at the shrine is credited with powers to cure even leprosy.

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Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple: (15 km south of Alappuzha) Built in the typical Kerala architectural style, this temple is famous all over India for the Palpayasam, the daily offering of deliciously sweet milk porridge. It is also in this temple that Pallipana is performed by Velans (sorcerers) once every twelve years. Paintings of the Dasavatharam (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu) are on display on the inner walls of the Chuttambalam. Ottanthullal, a satiric art form originated by the poet Kunchan Nambiar, was first performed on the premises of this temple.

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Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Mavelikkara: The Kettukazhcha festival at this temple draws large crowds of devotees. Processions of tall decorated structures on chariots, brightly decorated effigies of horses and bullocks and cultural performances make a spectacular pageant. (Festival – February/March)

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Parasurama Temple, Thiruvallam: (7 km from Thiruvananthapuram) This 2000-year-old temple on the banks of the River Karamana, is the only one in Kerala dedicated to Sree Parasurama, the mythological creator of the State. This temple is a venue for ancestor worship. As part of the bali ritual, devotees make offerings to the souls of the departed, after taking a dip in the holy water. Ph: 2380706.

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Kayyoor, Bharananganam: An enchanting landscape formed by a chain of green hills at the Bharananganam panchayat. A shrine
dedicated to the Pandava brothers of the epic Mahabharatha is found here. As in the famous temple at Sabarimala, only ghee is used to light the lamps here. Women are not permitted inside the temple.

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Sree Mahadeva Temple: Situated in Kazhakuttom, this ancient temple is believed to date back to the 14th century. Another
old temple in the district is the Mitramandapuram Temple on the outskirts of the city.

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Varkala: Varkala is a seaside resort and spa. It is also an important Hindu centre of pilgrimage.The final resting place of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru, is near Varkala, atop a hill called Sivagiri. High cliffs with mineral springs rise majestically from the coastline. According to a myth, sage Narada was approached by a group of mendicants who confessed to having sinned. Narada threw his valkkalam (cloth made of the bark of a tree) into the air, and the place where it landed was subsequently named Varkala.The mendicants were directed by Narada to offer their prayers in the newly created place by the seashore. The place where they prayed for redemption, came to be known as the Papanasham Beach ( Papanasham means redemption from sins).The 2000 year old Sree Janardhana Swamy Temple and the Nature Care Centre are the two main attractions here. Sivagiri Mutt Varkala: (Open 0530 – 1200 hrs, 1630 – 1800 hrs) 200 acres of sanctified land, this is the final resting place of the most eminent leader, saint and social reformer of Kerala, Sree Narayana Guru. SNDP (Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam), the oorganization he founded for the upliftment of backward classes, is headquartered here. The Mahasamadhi of the revered guru is located on top of a hillock. Further down is the guru’s residence, where his humble belongings are kept on display. Ph: 0470-2602807, 2602455

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Janardhana Swamy Temple Trivandrum: (Open 0400 – 1200 hrs, 1700 – 2000 hrs) Believed to be two thousand years old, the current structure dates back to the 12th century. The deity of the temple is Vishnu and Hindu pilgrims come here to perform final rites for the deceased. Ph: 2607575.

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Kadamanitta: (8 km from Pathanamthitta) The Kadamanitta Devi Temple is famous for the ten day long Patayani performances held in connection with the annual festival in April/May.

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Kodumon Chilanthiyambalam: (15 km from Pathanamthitta town)The water of the Chilanthikinar (spider well) in the
premises of this temple is believed to cure skin diseases. Kodumon is also the birth place of Sree Shakthi Bhadra, author of Ascharya Chudamani.

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Kulathupuzha: Situated on a forest range on the Thiruvananthapuram – Shenkottai road, Kulathupuzha is known for the Sastha temple. The Vishu Mahotsavam in April/May is the most important festival. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Kulathupuzha. The Thenmala railway station is just 10 km from here.

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Malanada Duryodhana Temple: (27 km from Alumkadavu) This unique temple is dedicated to the infamous Duryodhana –
the anti-hero in the epic Mahabharatha. As the legend goes, Duryodhana who went in pursuit of the Pandavas when tired, was given food and shelter by the kuravas – a community of people. To this day, the priest at this temple hails from the kurava community.

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Cheriazheekal Temple: (Open 0400 – 1130 hrs, 1700 – 2030 hrs) Known for its twin temples, Cheriazheekal is steeped in
legends. The Sri Kashi Vishwanathar Temple is also known as the Deccan Kashi Temple, after the legend of the priest who installed the Sivalingam that he found in the Ganges at Cheriazheekal. But it is also believed that the place housed a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, built some 2,000 years ago. So today it is a temple for both Siva and Vishnu, and Mahasivaratri is celebrated annually for 10 days as grandly as the festivities that surround Sree Krishna Jayanthi.

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Thekkekudi Cave Temple: (9 km from Thiruvalla. Open 0500 – 1100 hrs, 1700 – 1900 hrs) This 5 ft high Siva Temple
dating back to the 8th century AD is of great archaeological significance. Built in the Pallava style of architecture, the carvings in the temple are believed to be the earliest specimens of stone sculpture in Kerala. Ph: 0469-2619665

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The Rock Cut Cave Temple Pathanamthitta: The rock cut Siva Temple, half a kilometre away, is of great archaeological
significance. Dating back to the 8th century AD, this temple bears close resemblance to the Pallava style of architecture. The stone engravings here are among the earliest specimens of stone sculpture in Kerala.

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Achankovil: Temple, Lord Ayyappa: One of the main temples of Lord Ayyappa, it is believed that the idol here is consecrated by Lord Parasurama himself. The temple is similar to the famous shrine at Sabarimala. The Manalar Falls and the Kumbuvurutty Falls, which also has a Nature Interaction Centre, are along the way to this temple.

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Sree Vallabha Temple, Thiruvalla: (Open 0430 – 1130 hrs, 1700 – 2000 hrs. Kathakali Puja 2200 – 0100 hrs) The 400-year-old temple on the banks of the River Manimala has a beautiful 8
ft idol of Sree Vallabha within the sanctum sanctorum. The legendary architect Perunthachan, constructed the unique Garuda Sthambha, a 54 ft flag mast made of a single block of granite. During the 10-day annual estival held in February-March, a whopping 12,000 bunches of padatti pazham (a variety of bananas) are made as offerings on the first day. It is also perhaps the only temple in Kerala where Kathakali is performed as a ritual offering every night. Ph: 0469-2700191

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Mahadeva Temple, Chengannur: (5 km south of Thiruvalla) Lord Siva and his wife Parvathy share the sanctum sanctorum of
this temple. The Thripootha Arattu Festival is celebrated here with great festivity.

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Chakkulathukavu Bhagavathy Temple: Location: 30 km Southeast of Alappuzha near Neerettupuram. Open: 0500 – 1300 hrs, 1630 – 2000 hrs. Ph: 0477-2213550. Chakkulathukavu temple, dedicated to Mother Godess, is situated on the border of Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts. The temple, which has a history of over 3,000 years, is open to people of all faiths. The famous rivers Pamba and Manimala flow on either sides of the temple.The annual pongala festival here, which falls in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam (November/ December), is a grand affair. On this day, thousands of women devotees who assemble on the temple premises
and line up beside the roads leading to the temple and prepare ‘pongala nivedyam’, a sweet dish made of rice porridge, molasses and coconut gratings. The ‘pongala nivedyam’, prepared in earthen pots, is believed to be a favourite of the goddess. Only women are allowed to participate in this ritual.

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Siva Temple, Thalikkotta: (2 km from Kottayam): This is the place of worship of the erstwhile Thekkumkoor Royal Family.
Annual festival: Ten-day utsavam (April-May), Sivarathri
(January-February)

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Thirunakkara Mahadevar Temple: (Open 0400 –
1100 hrs, 1700 – 2000 hrs) In the heart of Kottayam town is this
500-year-old temple built by the Thekkumkoor Maharajah. This temple built in the Kerala style of architecture has colourful murals on its walls which are worth seeing. The Koothambalam, the special building in the temple premises used for cultural purposes, is one of the best in Kerala.Camera fee: Still Rs. 50, Video Rs. 100, Ph: 0481-2583898

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Dharmasastha Temple, Pakkil: (3 km from Kottayam): This is one of the eight temples established by Parasurama, the legendary
founder of Kerala. Annual festival: Sankranti Vanibhyam – a fair of
household articles (June/July)

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Mahadevar Temple, Ettumanoor: (12 km North of
Kottayam) This temple is famous for its murals, especially the painting of Nataraja in the gopuram and ezharaponnana (the seven-and-a-half elephants finished in gold). Festival: Ezharaponnana ezhunallathu (10 days in February/March)

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Siva Temple, Vaikom: (40 km from Kottayam) Associated with the legendary Parasurama, this temple is a typical example of the Kerala style of temple architecture. More popular as the Kasi of
the South, this temple is famous for its elephant pageants and traditional art performances. Annual festival: Vaikathashtami (November/December)

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Saraswathi Temple, Panachikkad: (13 km en route to Changanassery. Open 0500 -1030 hrs, 1700 – 1930 hrs) This temple, also known as the Mookambika Temple of the South, holds the Saraswathi (goddess of learning and the arts) pooja every year in October/November. Children are initiated into the world of letters at the Vidhyarambham ceremony held here.

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Surya Temple, Adityapuram Kottayam: The only temple in Kerala dedicated to Aditya, the sun god. The first and last Sundays of the zodiacs Scorpio (November- December) and Aries (April –
May) are considered auspicious.

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Bhagavathy Temple, Ambalakkadavu: The Arattu ritual of the Thirunakkara Mahadevar Temple takes place here. Festival:
Vishu (April/May)

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Pallipurathukavu Kottayam: Festival: Patham udaya mahotsavam. Famous ritual offering: Nadel Thiyattu performance.

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Bhagavathy Temple, Manarcad Kottayam: This centuries-old temple is dedicated to goddess Bhadrakali. Main events:
Kalamezhuthupattu, Kumbha bharani, Meena bharani, Patham udayam, Mandalam chirappu.

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Kavil Bhagavathy Temple, Changanacherry: (18 km
from Kottayam) Built by one of the Thekkumkoor Maharajas. Festival: Kavil chirappu (December – January)

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Sree Subramanya Swami Temple, Perunna: (20 km from Kottayam) Festival: Pallivetta utsavam (November – December)

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Siva Temple, Vazhappalli, Changanacherry: (17 km from Kottayam) Famous for its sculptures.

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Kalkulathukavu Temple, Vazhappalli: This temple is famous for its Mudiyeduppu utsavam (festival) celebrated once in 12 years and the rare art forms connected with it. The procession carrying
madhu (honey), kulavazha (plantain tree with the fruit), bhairavi purapadu and darika vadha purappadu etc. is a grand affair.

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Santhigiri Ashram: Founded by Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru, about 37 years ago, the Santhigiri Ashram from its humble
existence has now grown into a spiritual abode with facilities comprising prayer hall, parnasala, sahakarana mandiram, work centres, kitchen, dining hall and accommodation facilities for more than 1500 inmates. Spread over hundred acres of land, Santhigiri Ashram is located at Pothencode, about 21 km North of the Capital City of Thiruvnanthapuram. The institution aimed at propagating the mission of Guru, functions as a registered voluntary charitable non-government organization. After the passing away of the Guru, his guidance is now channelized through his foremost disciple
– Sishyapojitha Janani Amritha Jnana Thapaswini. The ashram functions on three fundamental principles viz. Annadanam (alms), Athurasevanam (helping the needy) and Athmabodhanam (self-realization). It has in place a healthcare approach based on the time-tested Indian systems of healthcare like Ayurveda, Sidha and Panchakarma. The ashram is renowned in India and abroad and is visited by hundreds of people from various walks of life on a daily basis. Today, the ashram has literally become a centre for solace
and remedy for all maladies and human sufferings. Above all, the ashram has become a source of authentic spiritual knowledge and a centre of pilgrimage. Branches of the ashram are now present in several cities in India.

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The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple  is a shrine in Kerala, India. The temple is renowned for the annual Attukal Pongala festival, in which over a million women participate. This pongala festival
is the largest gathering of women worldwide.

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The Cave Temple, Kollam: A rare entity among the temple architecture of Kerala, cave temples is few and arouse great
curiosity. The one at Ittiva at Chadayamangalam in Kollam district is one such temple, virtually carved out from a gigantic piece of rock, lying in the middle of a paddy field. From a distance this architectural wonder gives the impression of a sleeping elephant. This rock cut temple represents the vibes of an ancient culture and also the traditional artistic excellence prevalent at that time. The temple known as Kottukal Kal Thrikovil Cave Temple has two square rooms with the main deity of Lord Ganapathy in between. The other deities include Lord Siva in the form of Siva Lingam, Hanuman and Nandikeswara. A Mandapam (roof) in front of one
of the rooms stands testimony to the skill of those who build this temple from a single piece of rock. The temple premise also has a well that never dries up. Getting there: By road: 10 km East of MC Road from Chadayamangalam.

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Kottukal Rock Cut Cave Temple: (11 km from Chadayamangalam): This temple situated on the Thiruvananthapuram – Kottayam MC Road is an idyllic example of rock cut temple architecture.

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Jatayupara: A huge rock at Chadayamangalam takes its name from the mythical bird Jatayu in the epic Ramayana, who is believed to have collapsed on the rock after failing in his attempts to
thwart Ravana’s kidnapping of Sita.

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Malayalapuzha: (8 km from Pathanamthitta): The goddess at the Bhagavathy Temple here is believed to grant boons to devotees and help them realise dreams. The temple has beautiful wall paintings and artistic stone carvings.

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Kurisumala Wagamon : 3km from Vazhikkadavu is this renowned
Christian pilgrim centre where hundreds of devotees from far and near converge during the holy week and after, to climb the hill in faith,
carrying small wooden crosses. The peaceful Monastry at the top of the
hill, the silence of the hills, the cool mountain air and the lush green
landscape are all soothing to the soul. On the eastern side of the hill is
Muruganmala housing a rock cut temple dedicated to Murugan (son of Lord Shiva). The road to Kurisumala offers some real sightseeing opportunities in a European model house and the beautiful artificial lake, both designed by the renowned architect, Laurie Baker.

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Parumala (10 km from Thiruvalla):The Ormaperunnal (commemoration day) of Mar Gregorios Metropolitan, the
declared saint of Malankara Orthodox Church, is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November.

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Manjanikara Church Pathanamthitta: Mar
Ignatius Elias III, the holy patriot of Anthiod while on a visit to India,
died at this place in 1932. His mortal remains are preserved at this
church. Later this place developed into a pilgrim centre. The annual
festival ( ormaperunnal) is held in February.

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Maramon: Situated near Kozhencherry, Maramon is the venue of a mammoth religious convention of Christians from
all over the world. It is attended by people from all communities. The
convention which is usually held in February is addressed by religious
thinkers and Christian scholars from across the world. This is perhaps the
largest Christian convention in Asia. Maniyar (20 km from Pathanamthitta):
This is a beautiful dam site. Seethathode:The Kerala State Electricity Board has a power generating station here. Moozhiyar(57 km from
Pathanamthitta): This is an enchanting dam site. Pathanamthitta town: This
is the district headquarters. The town is a land of religious and cultural harmony, where a number of churches, temples and mosques can be found close to each other. The annual Chandanakudam festival at the mosque in the heart of the town is a major event.

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Chavara Bhavan: (6 km from Alappuzha. Accessible only by boat): Chavara Bhavan is the ancestral home of the
blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara. It is now a holy shrine and spiritual
resort where thousands of devotees gather for prayer, receive favours and feel amply gratified. Here, a 250 year old historically important beacon of light is preserved intact in its original and primitive form.Nearby sites: Karumadikuttan (3km east of Ambalapuzha): Many fascinating legends are associated with this 11th century statue of Lord Buddha.

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Edathua Church:(24 km from Alappuzha, on the Alappuzha – Thiruvalla Road) Established in 1810, the church is dedicated to St. George. It is believed that prayers and offerings at this church help to heal all mental disorders and other ailments. During the annual feast (5th, 6th and 7th of May) pilgrims from all parts of South India, irrespective of caste and creed, visit the church and seek the blessings of the saint.

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Arthunkal: (22 km north of Alappuzha) The St. Sebastian’s Church here is an important Christian pilgrim centre.
Annual festival: Arthunkal Perunnal – the feast of the patron saint (January)

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St. Mary’s Orthodox Church: (30 km from Kollam. Open 0700 – 1900 hrs) This church at Kallada dates back several centuries. A beam of wood, believed to be 700 years old, has a Muslim crescent, a Hindu symbol and the sign of the cross on it.

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Champakulam Church: One of the oldest churches in Kerala, the St. Mary’s Church is believed to be one of the seven established by St. Thomas. The annual feast at this church falls on the 3rd Sunday of October every year. The feast of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19th.

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St. Mary’s Church, Manarcad: (8 km from Kottayam Town) This is one of the most important churches of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christians. The ettunompu (8-day fasting) is the main
annual event when devotees from far and wide congregate to participate in the prayers and rituals.

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St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Palayam: This church that is 125 years old which is very popular among the Catholic followers is an important landmark of the city.

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St. John’s Cathedral, Thiruvalla: This new cathedral that looks like a temple and can accommodate 2,000 people has no pews.

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St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Cheriapalli: (2 km off Kottayam. Open 0800 -1800 hrs) Built in 1579 by Thekkumkoor Maharajah, this church displays outstanding architecture which is a blend
of Kerala and Portuguese styles. The walls are adorned with beautiful
murals made in oriental and western styles on biblical and non-biblical
themes. Feast Day: January 15. Ph: 0481-2566744

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St. Mary’s Knanaya Church, Valiapalli: (2 km to the west of Kottayam. Open 0800 – 2000 hrs) Built in 1550 AD, this church belongs to the Knanaya Orthodox Syrian Community. The Persian
cross, believed to be one of the seven brought here by St. Thomas, and the
Pahlavi inscriptions of this church are famous. St. George’s Feast falls
on April 24. Ph: 0481-2563324

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St. George’s Church, Puthupalli: This
church is believed to have been built by the Thekkumkoor Rajas. The golden cross in this church is well known. The feast of St. George (Gee Varghese) is the annual event.

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The CSI Cathedral Church Kottayam: The CSI Cathedral Church, built over 175 years ago, is a monument from the British Era.

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The Old Seminary Kottayam: The Old Seminary, Marthoma Seminary and Vadavathoor Seminary proclaim Syrian and Roman Christian traditions.

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The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church: The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church has its headquarters at Devalokam, Kottayam.

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St. Thomas Mount Kottayam Dt: This holy place of Christians is located 1200 ft above sea level and offers a panoramic view of the Vaikom Lake and the surrounding areas.

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St. Mary’s Church, Bharananganam
Kottayam: The mortal remains of the Blessed Alphonsa are entombed at this church which is now a famous pilgrim centre. Thousands gather at this holy shrine every year during the feast. Annual festival: Feast of the Blessed Alphonsa (July).

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St. Mary’s Church, Kuravilangad
Kottayam: Built in 355 AD on the high ranges of Kuravilangad Town, this church has an old bell which bears an undeciphered inscription.

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St. Mary’s Forane Church, Athirampuzha: (10 km from Kottayam. Open 0930 – 1300 hrs, 1530 – 1800 hrs) The 9th
century St Mary’s Church was built on land donated by the Brahmin family of Ettanasseri as thanksgiving for a male heir born to the family on
praying to Virgin Mary. Leonard D’Cruz, a Portuguese sailor, brought the statue of St. Sebastian in 1687. The crucifix in this church is unique as it shows Jesus Christ without a single wound. The annual feast celebrated in honour of St. Sebastian is a big event with fireworks and
illuminations. Votive offerings of gold and silver arrows set this event
apart from other festivals.

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St. Mary’s Church, Kudamaloor, Kottayam: This church, 800 years old, was built by Chempakasseri Maharajah. The ritual offering here is a traditional water bag and rope used to draw water from the well. The Kudamaloor Temple is equally famous.

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St. Joseph’s Monastery, Mannanam,
Kottayam: (Near Medical College) This church was built by the blessed
Father Chavara Kuriakose Elias. The mortal remains of this saintly priest
are preserved here. Thousands of devotees gather here to pay homage to the saint every day.

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Kaduthuruthi Valiapalli: (On MC Road between Ettumanoor and Vaikom) Built in 500 AD, the church has a huge cross sculpted out of a single stone at the entrance.

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Vimalagiri Church Kottayam: This church built in the Gothic architectural style has a 172 ft. tower which is one of the tallest church towers in Kerala. The feast is celebrated in December.

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St. Thomas Church, Pala: The church dates back to 1002 AD and was renovated once in the 18th century.

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St. Thomas Church, Cherpungal: Believed to have been established by the apostle St. Thomas, this church was relocated to the southern banks of the Meenachil River with the
cooperation of poet Kunchan Nambiar and his family. In 1107, the Valiapalli was built on the original site. Oil poured into lamps and kept before the image of Infant Jesus is the votive offering here – a ritual similar to the devotional practices of Hindus.

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Aruvithira Church: (11 km from Kottayam) Believed to be one of the seven churches established by St. Thomas, this is also one of the churches in Kerala which collects the largest amount of monetary offerings during the festival days. The annual feast is celebrated on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of April.

MOSQUES

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Thangalpara Wagamon he mausoleum of Sheikh Fariduddin found here makes this place a famous Muslim pilgrim centre. Nearby is the scenic hill station of Kurathikallu and the beautiful Kottathavalam

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Beemapalli: (12 km southwest of
Thiruvananthapuram) An important place of worship, the Beemapalli Dargah Shareef is dedicated to Bee Umma, a pious Muslim woman who was believed to possess great spiritual powers. The Chandanakudam Festival at Beemapalli,
lasting for 10 days, is one of the most colourful events.

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Juma Masjid, Thazhathangadi: (2 km from Kottayam. Open 0700 – 1800 hrs) This ancient mosque on the banks of the Meenachil River is believed to be 1000 years old. It is one of the oldest
in India. The mosque has a square inner courtyard, an exquisitely carved wooden gabled roof, a traditional bathing area and lovely latticed windows making it resemble a temple or a king’s palace. Only men are allowed here.

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Pazhayapalli, Changanacherry: (21 km from Kottayam) This 950-year-old mosque is one of the most famous ones of Central Travancore. The annual festival, Thangal adiyanthiram, is famous and is marked by a grand community feast. Meat and two tonnes of rice, offered by the devotees, is used to prepare biriyani for the community feast on this day. The Chandanakuddam festival at the mosque is one of the largest crowd pulling events in Changanacherry town.

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Puthenpalli, Erattupetta: The famous
Chandanakudam is celebrated here in February/December.

PILGRIMAGES IN CENTRAL KERALA

HINDU TEMPLES

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CHRISTIAN CHURCHES

v Arattupuzha : This village is known for the annual Pooram festival at the temple in April/May. The uniqueness of this festival is the ceremonial processions carrying the images of the deities of 41 neighbouring temples to this village

v Thiruvegappura Sankaranarayana Temple: This temple in Palakkad district dates back to the 14th century while its koothambalam (temple theatre) was probably added in the 15th or 16th century

v Ariyannoor temple, Kandanisserry: This temple has a carved entrance gable which has been compared to the wooden sculptures of American artist Louise Nevelson. The Siva temple at Thiruvanchikulam as well as the Sri Krishna temple at Thirukulashekharapuram are believed to be monuments from the 9th century.

v Thiruvalathoor: (10 km from Palakkad)The ancient temple here has some fine wood work and stone sculptures.

v Kodungalloor Bagavathy Temple: The small country town of Kodungalloor is situated 35 km South of Thrissur. Kodungallur situated on the West coast, was once a great port of the Chera rulers of Tamilnadu. It was known by the Greek as the Muziris and is a place immersed in rich history. Kodungalloor is surrounded by backwaters and the sea is also famous as Cranganore and has an illustrious past. It is said to be the place where St. Thomas first preached Christianity in India. Kodungalloor Bhagawati Temple: The Bhagawati Temple at Kodungallur is of great renown throughout Kerala. The Bharani festival at the Kodungallur Bhagawati Temple is one of the grandest in Kerala. It is a month of festivities from the Bharani asterism in the month of Aquarius to seven days after the Bharani asterism in the month of Pisces. During this occasion, one can also witness the largest congregation of oracles, not seen anywhere in Kerala. The Bharani festival also witnesses the offering of worship to the deity in the innermost sanctum by those belonging to castes other than the priestly class. One day before the final Bharani, the Chandanapodi Chartal or the smearing of the image with sandal paste is carried out. The Bharani used to be famous for its obscene songs which were believed to be pleasing to the goddess of Kodungalloor. Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Nilackal. Other places of interest nearby Kodungalloor include Cheramanparambu, the ancient Thiruvanchikulam Temple, and the Portuguese Fort.

v Mangala Devi Temple: (15 km from Thekkady)The ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1337 m above sea level. The temple is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture. Visitors are allowed here only on the Chithra Pournami festival day. The peak commands a panoramic view of the eastern slopes of the ghats and some hill villages of Tamil Nadu. Permission to visit the area can be obtained from the Wildlife Warden, Thekkady. Ph: 322027

v Vettakkorumakan Temple, Guruvayoor: This is the house of Poonthanam Namboothiri, an exponent of the Krishan cult of the Bhakthi movement, known for his work, Janappana (song of knowledge). Sreekrishna Temple where he used to pray is situated nearby.

v Annamalai Temple, Karikodu, Idukki: The 1800-year-old temple dedicated to Lord Siva is built in the Chola style of architecture and remains as it were, even today. It has a window with nine lattices pointing to the Navagrahas or nine planets.

v Thali temple: The temple is located about 3 km west of Angadipuram on the way to Malappuram from Perinthalmanna.

v Thirunavaya: (8 km south of Tirur) Situated on the banks of the River Bharathapuzha, this was one of the venues for Mamangam, a grand assembly of the rulers of Kerala, held once every 12 years. This extravagant festival was conducted for the last time in 1766. Today, Thirunavaya is the venue for the annual Sarvodaya Mela. The Thirunavaya Navamukunda Temple is also a famous pilgrim centre. During Karkidakavavu, people flock at the banks of River Bharathapuzha here, to perform the pithrukriya for the departed souls. The site of Melpatthur Illam, the home of the great poet, Melppatthur Narayana Bhattathiri; author of Narayaneeyam, is about 2 miles from here

v Kadampuzha: (3 km north of Vettichira on the highway connecting Kozhikode and Thrissur) Kadampuzha is famous for its Bhagavathy temple said to have been set up by Sree Sankaracharya, the philosopher.

v Guruvayoor: Location: 29 km West of Thrissur. Guruvayoor is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of Kerala. Its main attraction is the Sree Krishna temple. According to belief, the temple is the creation of Guru, the preceptor of the Gods , and Vayu, the God of winds. The eastern nada is the main entrance to the shrine. Within the Chuttambalam (outer enclosure) is the tall 33.5 m high gold plated Dwajasthambam (flag-post). There is also a 7 m high Dipastambham (pillar of lamps) whose thirteen circular receptacles provide a truly gorgeous spectacle when lit. The square Sreekovil is the sacred sanctum sanctorum of the temple houses the main deity. Within the temple there are also the images of Ganapathy, Lord Ayyappa and Edathedattu Kavil Bhagavathy. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple.

v Vamanamoorthy Temple: Inscriptions from the 10th to the 13th centuries are found in this temple in Thrikakkara, near Ernakulam.

v Alathiyur Hanuman Temple, Malappuram: (12 km from Tirur): One of the famous Hanuman Temples in Kerala and also dedicated to Sree Rama and Baratha. Special Pooja: Neyvedyam – Aval. Ph: 0494-2430666

v Thiruvegappura Sankaranarayana Temple: This temple in Palakkad district dates back to the 14th century while its koothambalam (temple theatre) was probably added in the 15th or 16th century.

v Thirumandhamkunnu temple, Angadipuram: Dedicated to Goddess Durga, this is an important pilgrim centre in Malappuram. The annual Pooram festival celebrated in March /April attracts large numbers of devotees.A unique custom here is the arrival of Vellathiri in the Pooram ground to give audience to the Malayankutty, the headman of the Pana tribal community. Kalampattu is an important offering here. Mangalya pooja, Rigveda laksharchana and Chandattam are other important poojas. Thali temple, Perinthalmanna: The temple is located about 3 km west of Angadipuram on the way to Malappuram from Perinthalmanna.

v Trikandiyur Shiva Temple: The idol at this ancient temple is said to have been installed by Parasurama, the legendary creator of Kerala. The temple is located near the town of Tirur and attracts devotees from far and wide.

v Vadakkumnatha Temple: One of the oldest temples in the State, the Vadakkumnathan Temple is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture and has many decorative murals and pieces of art. This is the venue of the world famous Pooram festival celebrated annually in April-May. The fireworks at the Pooram are a spectacular sight. Non Hindus are not allowed entry into the temple.

v Irinjalakuda Koodal Manikyam temple: (21 km from Thrissur): Situated 10 km away from Irinjalakuda railway station, this ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Bharatha, the brother of Sri Rama. It is perhaps the only temple in India with Bharatha as the deity. The colourful eleven day annual festival with a pageant of thirteen caparisoned elephants is held in April/May. The festival in this temple marks the end of the Hindu temple festival season in Kerala. (Open: 03:30 – 11:30 am & 05:00 – 08:30 pm).

v The Ongallur Taliyil Shiva Temple: Situated near Pattambi, this temple has some of the most intricate laterite sculptures in Kerala. Mayiladumpara: This grove takes its name from the large number of peacocks found here.

v Kaladi: The birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya, the great Advaita philosopher of the 8th century, Kaladi is 10 km from Aluva. Temples dedicated to Sri Sankara, Sarada Devi, Sri Krishna and Sri Ramakrishna add to the sanctity of the destination. A place called Crocodile Ghat is where Sri Sankara took his vows of renunciation. According to legends, a crocodile caught hold of him and refused to release him until Sankara’s mother Aryamba permitted him to accept Sanyas (renunciation).

v Thiruvegappura Sankaranarayana Temple: This temple in Palakkad district dates back to the 14th century while its koothambalam (temple theatre) was probably added in the 15th or 16th century.

v

v St.Thomas Church, Kodungalloor: Christ’s apostle St Thomas is believed to have landed in Kodungalloor (formerly called Muziris) in 52 AD. The St.Thomas Church established by him houses ancient relics. St. Thomas is portrayed in the gospels as a courageous and challenging personality. He had preached the gospel from Ethiopia to China. Many a church in West Asia considers him as the father of its faith. At Kodungalloor, he established the first Christian church in India and is the architect behind other Churches in Kerala such as at Kodungallur, Kottakkavu, Palayur, Kollam, Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Nilackal. Other places of interest nearby Kodungalloor include Cheramanparambu, the ancient Thiruvanchikulam Temple, and the Portuguese Fort.

v Malayattoor Church: Situated about 47 km from Kochi, Malayattoor is famous for the Catholic Church, located on top of the Malayattoor hill, at a height of 609 m. Dedicated to St. Thomas the apostle of Jesus Christ, thousands of pilgrims gather here for the annual festival of ‘Malayatoor Perunnal’, held during the months of March /April. Sailing in an Arab merchant vessel, St. Thomas is believed to have landed at Kodungalloor port in Kerala, in AD 52. It is believed that St. Thomas took the initiative for establishing a Christian community at Malayattoor. In his journey through the length and breadth of the land, St. Thomas founded churches in Kodungalloor, Quilon, Niranam, Nilakkal, Kokkamangalam, Kottakavu and Paalayoor. Blessed by natural bounties Malayattoor offers ideal environs for those seeking spiritual happiness. Nowadays, the hill shrine at Malayattoor has emerged as the largest pilgrim centre in the name of St. Thomas in India. Here, the big and auspicious occasion is the feast of St. Thomas, which is observed on the first Sunday after Easter, when thousands throng the shrine for his blessings. Those interested in the architecture of the church would find it highly interesting. It has a combination of Greco-Roman architecture with the altar designed in traditional Greek style, and the front portion of the church following the traditional Roman Catholic Church architecture. Behind the central altar, one can find the carvings, designs and paintings, which include the five joyful mysteries of Jesus Christ. The church has separate facilities for confession and adoration. The ancient baptismal pond and the traditional pulpit are of historical relevance. From the hill side, one can watch the soothing sight of the smooth flowing Periyar river, which itself would make the minds of pilgrims calm and serene. The church provides facilities for bathing in the river. According to a custom observed here, pilgrims shave their hair and beard before bathing in the river. Devotees arriving at the shrine make several types of offerings. Some climb the hill carrying cross in their shoulders; women folk would carry long brooms with them with prayers for prosperity. Some pilgrims carry stones on their heads, an offering that is meant to remove burdens from their lives. There are various religious rituals in the parish church and at the top of the mount. Some of the services include high mass, ordinary mass, Novena, Adima, Vedi Litany etc. Places to visit at St. Thomas Mount. Besides the main shrine, visitors to Malayattoor can also find interesting sites in and around the hill top. Marthoma Mandapam: A very elegant and attractive building with a blend of Greco-Indian architecture, it is here that the precious relics of St. Thomas are preserved. Located at the peak of the mount, the building is erected in such a way that the relic is placed twenty steps above the ground, symbolically representing the twenty years of St Thomas’s missionary works in south India. Sannidhi: Among the structures on top of Malayattoor hill, this one has modern architectural touch, and is situated at the Northern most part of the mount. Here, the main attraction is the Piyatha sculpture moulded at the top of the chapel. The Sannidhi is the most spacious place for worship on the mount. Golden Cross: Kurishumudi is where one can find the Golden Cross believed to have formed when St. Thomas knelt on a rock and signed a cross with his finger. He remained there praying for a long time, and ultimately a golden cross appeared on the spot. Footprints of St Thomas: One of the most curious sights at the mountain is the permanent footprint and the marks of knees of St. Thomas imprinted on the rock. The ancient chapel struck by the elephants An ancient chapel at Kurishumudi, it was attacked by tuskers in the past when it used to be surrounded by thick jungle. Deep tusk marks can still be found on the back wall of the chapel. The miraculous water spring: A well, situated near the ancient chapel at the top of the mount is believed to be the spot from where St. Thomas quenched his thirst during his time of prayer. Feeling thirsty, he struck the rock from which fresh water started flowing. Pilgrims consider the water in the well to possess divine power to heal ailments. With its recent recognition by Vatican as an international pilgrim centre, this famous shrine at Malayattoor dedicated to St. Thomas would be extending its healing touch and spiritual bliss to more visitors and for those who come to enjoy its serenity. Getting there: Nearest railway station: Angamaly, about 17 km from Malayattoor. Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, at Nedumbassery, about 15 km from Malayattoor.

v Holy Cross Shrine, Thrissur: Closely associated with the emergence of Christianity in India is the Mapranam Holy Cross Shrine, near Azhikode at Mapranam in Thrissur district, Central Kerala. This historic church found in 928 A.D. comes under the Irinjalakuda diocese and is a noted pilgrim centre. As per one of the local beliefs on the origins of the Holy Cross Shrine at Mapranam, a Cross was unearthed from the Kuzhikattukon locality and placed there. Following a heavy downpour the Cross drifted in flood waters and was later found at the current location of the church. The church got renovated in 1989 and attracts worshippers from religions other than Christianity. The Mapranam Holy Cross Shrine is a unique one, where one could witness the practice of the cultural, spiritual and ethical values of different religions.

v St. Francis Church: This centuries old church at Fort Kochi was originally built completely of timber and later reconstructed in stone masonry. It was restored in 1779 by the Protestant Dutch, converted to an Anglican church by the British in 1795 and is at present governed by the Church of South India. Vasco Da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The tombstone still remains.

v Vallarpadom Church: This is a very ancient and important pilgrim center in Kerala where the Virgin is venerated.

v Christian Divine Retreat Centres: They are located at Muringoor and Potta near Chalakudi, on the Kochi – Thrissur route.

v Holy Cross Church, Mapranam, Thrissur: The Holy Cross Church, Mapranam, Thrissur is one of the few churches in Asia which has received the relic of the Holy Cross, part of the Holy blood of Jesus Christ and the bloodstained Holy Cloth used by Veronica to wipe the face of Jesus Christ, all donated from Vatican by the order of the Pope. Founded in A.D 928 it is one of the oldest churches in Kerala state, India. North of it lies Karuvannur River, the Arattupuzha Temple and the churches of Pallissery and Panamkulam. The Church is a part of Irinjalakuda diocese and is a historically and archeologically renowned pilgrim centre. It was recently renovated and attracts worshippers beyond religious barriers. The offering of candles is the main ritual here and the annual ceremony is called Thirithelikkal (Candle Lighting). A candle made at this Church has been included in the Limca Book of Records as the largest candle in India. According to the book the candle has a weight of 1,079 kg and a height of 22 ft. On September 14th every year Christians all over the world celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and this same day Mapranam Church celebrates the main feast in the name of theHoly Cross.

v St. Mary’s Forane Church, Koratty: (15 km from Cochin International Airport): Also known as the Church of Koratty Muthy, this was established in 1381. The annual feast falls on the Saturday and Sunday following the 10th of October, during which the statue of Koratty Muthy is taken out in a procession from the church. An important offering here is the poovankula (bunch of plantain).

MOSQUES

v The Jama-at Mosque, Malappuram: This is an important pilgrim centre of the Muslims of Kerala. The four day annual festival at the mosque (nercha) is celebrated in April. Adjoining the mosque is the mausoleum of the Malappuram Shaheeds (martyrs) whose brave exploits have been immortalised in the Mappila ballads.

v Mamburam: The shrine and mausoleum of the Thangals (the religious leaders of the Malabar Muslims) in A R Nagar village is a major pilgrimage centre.

v Cheraman Juma Masjid: This mosque in Kodungalloor resembles a Hindu temple in appearance. It was earlier made of wood. Built in 629 A.D., this is the first mosque in India where Juma prayers were started. Recent changes have been made and it now has concrete minarets. The interiors remain wooden with a Kerala oil lamp right in the centre. This lamp is of great significance to people of all religions. Some of them bring oil for the lamp on the auspicious occasion of major family events. Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Nilackal. Other places of interest nearby Kodungalloor include Cheramanparambu, the ancient Thiruvanchikulam Temple, and the Portuguese Fort.

v Ponnani Mosque: One of the most prominent mosques in Kerala. The only port in the district, this is an important fishing centre. During the months of February/April, thousands of migratory birds arrive here. Located close to Ponnani is Biyyan Kayal, a placid, green-fringed waterway with watersports facility.

v Pazhayangadi Mosque, Kondotti: (18 km East of Manjeri, on the way to Malappuram): The three day long Valia Nercha feast at this 500 year old Muslim pilgrim centre, celebrated in February/March, is a local cultural event.

HINDU TEMPLES

v Arattupuzha : This village is known for the annual Pooram festival at the temple in April/May. The uniqueness of this festival is the ceremonial processions carrying the images of the deities of 41 neighbouring temples to this village

v Thiruvegappura Sankaranarayana Temple: This temple in Palakkad district dates back to the 14th century while its koothambalam (temple theatre) was probably added in the 15th or 16th century

v Ariyannoor temple, Kandanisserry: This temple has a carved entrance gable which has been compared to the wooden sculptures of American artist Louise Nevelson. The Siva temple at Thiruvanchikulam as well as the Sri Krishna temple at Thirukulashekharapuram are believed to be monuments from the 9th century.

v Thiruvalathoor: (10 km from Palakkad)The ancient temple here has some fine wood work and stone sculptures.

v Kodungalloor Bagavathy Temple: The small country town of Kodungalloor is situated 35 km South of Thrissur. Kodungallur situated on the West coast, was once a great port of the Chera rulers of Tamilnadu. It was known by the Greek as the Muziris and is a place immersed in rich history. Kodungalloor is surrounded by backwaters and the sea is also famous as Cranganore and has an illustrious past. It is said to be the place where St. Thomas first preached Christianity in India. Kodungalloor Bhagawati Temple: The Bhagawati Temple at Kodungallur is of great renown throughout Kerala. The Bharani festival at the Kodungallur Bhagawati Temple is one of the grandest in Kerala. It is a month of festivities from the Bharani asterism in the month of Aquarius to seven days after the Bharani asterism in the month of Pisces. During this occasion, one can also witness the largest congregation of oracles, not seen anywhere in Kerala. The Bharani festival also witnesses the offering of worship to the deity in the innermost sanctum by those belonging to castes other than the priestly class. One day before the final Bharani, the Chandanapodi Chartal or the smearing of the image with sandal paste is carried out. The Bharani used to be famous for its obscene songs which were believed to be pleasing to the goddess of Kodungalloor. Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Nilackal. Other places of interest nearby Kodungalloor include Cheramanparambu, the ancient Thiruvanchikulam Temple, and the Portuguese Fort.

v Mangala Devi Temple: (15 km from Thekkady)The ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1337 m above sea level. The temple is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture. Visitors are allowed here only on the Chithra Pournami festival day. The peak commands a panoramic view of the eastern slopes of the ghats and some hill villages of Tamil Nadu. Permission to visit the area can be obtained from the Wildlife Warden, Thekkady. Ph: 322027

v Vettakkorumakan Temple, Guruvayoor: This is the house of Poonthanam Namboothiri, an exponent of the Krishan cult of the Bhakthi movement, known for his work, Janappana (song of knowledge). Sreekrishna Temple where he used to pray is situated nearby.

v Annamalai Temple, Karikodu, Idukki: The 1800-year-old temple dedicated to Lord Siva is built in the Chola style of architecture and remains as it were, even today. It has a window with nine lattices pointing to the Navagrahas or nine planets.

v Thali temple: The temple is located about 3 km west of Angadipuram on the way to Malappuram from Perinthalmanna.

v Thirunavaya: (8 km south of Tirur) Situated on the banks of the River Bharathapuzha, this was one of the venues for Mamangam, a grand assembly of the rulers of Kerala, held once every 12 years. This extravagant festival was conducted for the last time in 1766. Today, Thirunavaya is the venue for the annual Sarvodaya Mela. The Thirunavaya Navamukunda Temple is also a famous pilgrim centre. During Karkidakavavu, people flock at the banks of River Bharathapuzha here, to perform the pithrukriya for the departed souls. The site of Melpatthur Illam, the home of the great poet, Melppatthur Narayana Bhattathiri; author of Narayaneeyam, is about 2 miles from here

v Kadampuzha: (3 km north of Vettichira on the highway connecting Kozhikode and Thrissur) Kadampuzha is famous for its Bhagavathy temple said to have been set up by Sree Sankaracharya, the philosopher.

v Guruvayoor: Location: 29 km West of Thrissur. Guruvayoor is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of Kerala. Its main attraction is the Sree Krishna temple. According to belief, the temple is the creation of Guru, the preceptor of the Gods , and Vayu, the God of winds. The eastern nada is the main entrance to the shrine. Within the Chuttambalam (outer enclosure) is the tall 33.5 m high gold plated Dwajasthambam (flag-post). There is also a 7 m high Dipastambham (pillar of lamps) whose thirteen circular receptacles provide a truly gorgeous spectacle when lit. The square Sreekovil is the sacred sanctum sanctorum of the temple houses the main deity. Within the temple there are also the images of Ganapathy, Lord Ayyappa and Edathedattu Kavil Bhagavathy. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple.

v Vamanamoorthy Temple: Inscriptions from the 10th to the 13th centuries are found in this temple in Thrikakkara, near Ernakulam.

v Alathiyur Hanuman Temple, Malappuram: (12 km from Tirur): One of the famous Hanuman Temples in Kerala and also dedicated to Sree Rama and Baratha. Special Pooja: Neyvedyam – Aval. Ph: 0494-2430666

v Thiruvegappura Sankaranarayana Temple: This temple in Palakkad district dates back to the 14th century while its koothambalam (temple theatre) was probably added in the 15th or 16th century.

v Thirumandhamkunnu temple, Angadipuram: Dedicated to Goddess Durga, this is an important pilgrim centre in Malappuram. The annual Pooram festival celebrated in March /April attracts large numbers of devotees.A unique custom here is the arrival of Vellathiri in the Pooram ground to give audience to the Malayankutty, the headman of the Pana tribal community. Kalampattu is an important offering here. Mangalya pooja, Rigveda laksharchana and Chandattam are other important poojas. Thali temple, Perinthalmanna: The temple is located about 3 km west of Angadipuram on the way to Malappuram from Perinthalmanna.

v Trikandiyur Shiva Temple: The idol at this ancient temple is said to have been installed by Parasurama, the legendary creator of Kerala. The temple is located near the town of Tirur and attracts devotees from far and wide.

v Vadakkumnatha Temple: One of the oldest temples in the State, the Vadakkumnathan Temple is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture and has many decorative murals and pieces of art. This is the venue of the world famous Pooram festival celebrated annually in April-May. The fireworks at the Pooram are a spectacular sight. Non Hindus are not allowed entry into the temple.

v Irinjalakuda Koodal Manikyam temple: (21 km from Thrissur): Situated 10 km away from Irinjalakuda railway station, this ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Bharatha, the brother of Sri Rama. It is perhaps the only temple in India with Bharatha as the deity. The colourful eleven day annual festival with a pageant of thirteen caparisoned elephants is held in April/May. The festival in this temple marks the end of the Hindu temple festival season in Kerala. (Open: 03:30 – 11:30 am & 05:00 – 08:30 pm).

v The Ongallur Taliyil Shiva Temple: Situated near Pattambi, this temple has some of the most intricate laterite sculptures in Kerala. Mayiladumpara: This grove takes its name from the large number of peacocks found here.

v Kaladi: The birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya, the great Advaita philosopher of the 8th century, Kaladi is 10 km from Aluva. Temples dedicated to Sri Sankara, Sarada Devi, Sri Krishna and Sri Ramakrishna add to the sanctity of the destination. A place called Crocodile Ghat is where Sri Sankara took his vows of renunciation. According to legends, a crocodile caught hold of him and refused to release him until Sankara’s mother Aryamba permitted him to accept Sanyas (renunciation).

v Thiruvegappura Sankaranarayana Temple: This temple in Palakkad district dates back to the 14th century while its koothambalam (temple theatre) was probably added in the 15th or 16th century.

v

CHRISTIAN CHURCHES

v St.Thomas Church, Kodungalloor: Christ’s apostle St Thomas is believed to have landed in Kodungalloor (formerly called Muziris) in 52 AD. The St.Thomas Church established by him houses ancient relics. St. Thomas is portrayed in the gospels as a courageous and challenging personality. He had preached the gospel from Ethiopia to China. Many a church in West Asia considers him as the father of its faith. At Kodungalloor, he established the first Christian church in India and is the architect behind other Churches in Kerala such as at Kodungallur, Kottakkavu, Palayur, Kollam, Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Nilackal. Other places of interest nearby Kodungalloor include Cheramanparambu, the ancient Thiruvanchikulam Temple, and the Portuguese Fort.

v Malayattoor Church: Situated about 47 km from Kochi, Malayattoor is famous for the Catholic Church, located on top of the Malayattoor hill, at a height of 609 m. Dedicated to St. Thomas the apostle of Jesus Christ, thousands of pilgrims gather here for the annual festival of ‘Malayatoor Perunnal’, held during the months of March /April. Sailing in an Arab merchant vessel, St. Thomas is believed to have landed at Kodungalloor port in Kerala, in AD 52. It is believed that St. Thomas took the initiative for establishing a Christian community at Malayattoor. In his journey through the length and breadth of the land, St. Thomas founded churches in Kodungalloor, Quilon, Niranam, Nilakkal, Kokkamangalam, Kottakavu and Paalayoor. Blessed by natural bounties Malayattoor offers ideal environs for those seeking spiritual happiness. Nowadays, the hill shrine at Malayattoor has emerged as the largest pilgrim centre in the name of St. Thomas in India. Here, the big and auspicious occasion is the feast of St. Thomas, which is observed on the first Sunday after Easter, when thousands throng the shrine for his blessings. Those interested in the architecture of the church would find it highly interesting. It has a combination of Greco-Roman architecture with the altar designed in traditional Greek style, and the front portion of the church following the traditional Roman Catholic Church architecture. Behind the central altar, one can find the carvings, designs and paintings, which include the five joyful mysteries of Jesus Christ. The church has separate facilities for confession and adoration. The ancient baptismal pond and the traditional pulpit are of historical relevance. From the hill side, one can watch the soothing sight of the smooth flowing Periyar river, which itself would make the minds of pilgrims calm and serene. The church provides facilities for bathing in the river. According to a custom observed here, pilgrims shave their hair and beard before bathing in the river. Devotees arriving at the shrine make several types of offerings. Some climb the hill carrying cross in their shoulders; women folk would carry long brooms with them with prayers for prosperity. Some pilgrims carry stones on their heads, an offering that is meant to remove burdens from their lives. There are various religious rituals in the parish church and at the top of the mount. Some of the services include high mass, ordinary mass, Novena, Adima, Vedi Litany etc. Places to visit at St. Thomas Mount. Besides the main shrine, visitors to Malayattoor can also find interesting sites in and around the hill top. Marthoma Mandapam: A very elegant and attractive building with a blend of Greco-Indian architecture, it is here that the precious relics of St. Thomas are preserved. Located at the peak of the mount, the building is erected in such a way that the relic is placed twenty steps above the ground, symbolically representing the twenty years of St Thomas’s missionary works in south India. Sannidhi: Among the structures on top of Malayattoor hill, this one has modern architectural touch, and is situated at the Northern most part of the mount. Here, the main attraction is the Piyatha sculpture moulded at the top of the chapel. The Sannidhi is the most spacious place for worship on the mount. Golden Cross: Kurishumudi is where one can find the Golden Cross believed to have formed when St. Thomas knelt on a rock and signed a cross with his finger. He remained there praying for a long time, and ultimately a golden cross appeared on the spot. Footprints of St Thomas: One of the most curious sights at the mountain is the permanent footprint and the marks of knees of St. Thomas imprinted on the rock. The ancient chapel struck by the elephants An ancient chapel at Kurishumudi, it was attacked by tuskers in the past when it used to be surrounded by thick jungle. Deep tusk marks can still be found on the back wall of the chapel. The miraculous water spring: A well, situated near the ancient chapel at the top of the mount is believed to be the spot from where St. Thomas quenched his thirst during his time of prayer. Feeling thirsty, he struck the rock from which fresh water started flowing. Pilgrims consider the water in the well to possess divine power to heal ailments. With its recent recognition by Vatican as an international pilgrim centre, this famous shrine at Malayattoor dedicated to St. Thomas would be extending its healing touch and spiritual bliss to more visitors and for those who come to enjoy its serenity. Getting there: Nearest railway station: Angamaly, about 17 km from Malayattoor. Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, at Nedumbassery, about 15 km from Malayattoor.

v Holy Cross Shrine, Thrissur: Closely associated with the emergence of Christianity in India is the Mapranam Holy Cross Shrine, near Azhikode at Mapranam in Thrissur district, Central Kerala. This historic church found in 928 A.D. comes under the Irinjalakuda diocese and is a noted pilgrim centre. As per one of the local beliefs on the origins of the Holy Cross Shrine at Mapranam, a Cross was unearthed from the Kuzhikattukon locality and placed there. Following a heavy downpour the Cross drifted in flood waters and was later found at the current location of the church. The church got renovated in 1989 and attracts worshippers from religions other than Christianity. The Mapranam Holy Cross Shrine is a unique one, where one could witness the practice of the cultural, spiritual and ethical values of different religions.

v St. Francis Church: This centuries old church at Fort Kochi was originally built completely of timber and later reconstructed in stone masonry. It was restored in 1779 by the Protestant Dutch, converted to an Anglican church by the British in 1795 and is at present governed by the Church of South India. Vasco Da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The tombstone still remains.

v Vallarpadom Church: This is a very ancient and important pilgrim center in Kerala where the Virgin is venerated.

v Christian Divine Retreat Centres: They are located at Muringoor and Potta near Chalakudi, on the Kochi – Thrissur route.

v Holy Cross Church, Mapranam, Thrissur: The Holy Cross Church, Mapranam, Thrissur is one of the few churches in Asia which has received the relic of the Holy Cross, part of the Holy blood of Jesus Christ and the bloodstained Holy Cloth used by Veronica to wipe the face of Jesus Christ, all donated from Vatican by the order of the Pope. Founded in A.D 928 it is one of the oldest churches in Kerala state, India. North of it lies Karuvannur River, the Arattupuzha Temple and the churches of Pallissery and Panamkulam. The Church is a part of Irinjalakuda diocese and is a historically and archeologically renowned pilgrim centre. It was recently renovated and attracts worshippers beyond religious barriers. The offering of candles is the main ritual here and the annual ceremony is called Thirithelikkal (Candle Lighting). A candle made at this Church has been included in the Limca Book of Records as the largest candle in India. According to the book the candle has a weight of 1,079 kg and a height of 22 ft. On September 14th every year Christians all over the world celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and this same day Mapranam Church celebrates the main feast in the name of theHoly Cross.

v St. Mary’s Forane Church, Koratty: (15 km from Cochin International Airport): Also known as the Church of Koratty Muthy, this was established in 1381. The annual feast falls on the Saturday and Sunday following the 10th of October, during which the statue of Koratty Muthy is taken out in a procession from the church. An important offering here is the poovankula (bunch of plantain).

MOSQUES

v The Jama-at Mosque, Malappuram: This is an important pilgrim centre of the Muslims of Kerala. The four day annual festival at the mosque (nercha) is celebrated in April. Adjoining the mosque is the mausoleum of the Malappuram Shaheeds (martyrs) whose brave exploits have been immortalised in the Mappila ballads.

v Mamburam: The shrine and mausoleum of the Thangals (the religious leaders of the Malabar Muslims) in A R Nagar village is a major pilgrimage centre.

v Cheraman Juma Masjid: This mosque in Kodungalloor resembles a Hindu temple in appearance. It was earlier made of wood. Built in 629 A.D., this is the first mosque in India where Juma prayers were started. Recent changes have been made and it now has concrete minarets. The interiors remain wooden with a Kerala oil lamp right in the centre. This lamp is of great significance to people of all religions. Some of them bring oil for the lamp on the auspicious occasion of major family events. Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Nilackal. Other places of interest nearby Kodungalloor include Cheramanparambu, the ancient Thiruvanchikulam Temple, and the Portuguese Fort.

v Ponnani Mosque: One of the most prominent mosques in Kerala. The only port in the district, this is an important fishing centre. During the months of February/April, thousands of migratory birds arrive here. Located close to Ponnani is Biyyan Kayal, a placid, green-fringed waterway with watersports facility.

v Pazhayangadi Mosque, Kondotti: (18 km East of Manjeri, on the way to Malappuram): The three day long Valia Nercha feast at this 500 year old Muslim pilgrim centre, celebrated in February/March, is a local cultural event.

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