Kerala Pilgrimages

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.

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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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