The state of Kerala is one of the top tourist destinations in India. It is known for its unique music, vibrant dances, magnificent temples, distinct festivals, snake-boat races, sandy beaches, delicious food and serene backwaters. More than 50 percent of its total population follows Hinduism, with Shiva and Vishnu being the two most revered deities. There are many amazing Hindu temples, which Kerala tour packages may be utilised to visit. Vadakkumnathan, Guruvayur, Sabarimala, Shree Poornathrayesa, Padmanabhaswamy, Kodungallur Bhagavathy, Chottanikkara and Rajarajeswara are some of the famous Hindu shrines in this South Indian state.
The Vadakkumnathan Temple is in the city of Thrissur and is dedicated to Shiva – the transformer. A particular theory about its construction dates it back to around 7th century AD. Studies done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) establish that the shrine is about 350 years old. However, locals believe that it is quite an ancient place and its origin is of mythical nature. The most popular legend described in the Brahmanda Purana says that it was built by Parashurama – an incarnation of Vishnu. He annihilated the warrior clan many times and to expiate for his sins, he prayed and donated all his land to sages. Another says that Varuna, the lord of the oceans, asked him to throw his winnow into the sea and as he did, a land appeared from the waters. To have it consecrated, Parashurama went to Kailash and asked Lord Shiva to come and live there. While on their way, the lord, his wife and Ganesha stopped at Thrissur. They then disappeared and all that was left was a shining Shiva Linga below a banyan tree. The emperor of the Cochin kingdom decided to shift the idol to a proper shrine, and so was it done by establishing this temple.
Occupying an area of about 9 acres, the temple complex stands on a hill in the centre of the city. Enclosed inside a high wall of stone are pyramidal towers or gopurams, facing the four cardinal directions. These towers are above the entrance gates, walking through which devotees enter a large compound. Its roof has three tiers and the structure is shaped like a pagoda. This perhaps reflects the influence of Buddhism in the state in those times. There are many shrines inside the complex and the biggest of them has the Shiva Linga. The linga is not visible as it is covered by a mound of ghee, poured during worships over the years. This 16 feet high mass of clarified butter is decorated with golden moons and serpent hoods. According to a local belief, it represent Mount Kailash, covered perpetually by snow.
Other deities worshipped here are the cowherd aspect of Krishna, Parashurama, Adi Shankaracharya, Nandi, Simhodara, Ayyappan and the hunter aspect of the main deity. The attraction is famous for painted walls, depicting the chief god performing the dance of death. Also located inside the premises is a museum housing ancient wall paintings, art pieces and woodcarvings. A theatre known as Koothambalam, where various plays and dances are performed, is also inside the complex. Visitors coming here may attend various festivals, such as Aaanayoottu, Shivaratri and the musical event during Thrissur Pooram.