Kerala is signified as ‘God’s own country’ with it’s varied culture and rich source of heritage. With it’s unique and geographical features has made Kerala as a tourist destination. Kerala is a land of temples ,mosques,churches and all the people live peacefully without showing any sort of comparison or communal riot between each other. The vibrant architecture delights of temples has made realistic presence of God. The major temples of Kerala is as follows
1. Aaranmula Temple
Aaranmula temple is situated in the banks of the river Pampa basically in the heart of Pathnamthitta. The main worship of Aaranmula temple is Lord Krishna (Parthasarathy) . The major celebration occurs at the time of ‘Onam’. A marvellous carnival of snake boats is organised in this occasion. ‘Aaranmula Kannadi’ a sparkling mirror is the most precious pocession in this temple.
2. Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple
Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna temple is situated in Alapuzha district. Here also is the main idol worship is Lord Krishna(Parthasarthi). It is believed that idol of Sri Krishna was brought from Guruvayoor temple and was kept in this temple by Tipu Sultan in 1789.It is considered famous for it’s architecture and is mentioned as one of the seven greatest vaishnava temples in Travancore. It is well known for boat race called Champakulam boat race. The temple is famous for it’s Payasam a sweet pudding made from rice and milk which is offered to every devotees.Festival is organised in the Malayalam month of meenam mainly in March/April.
3. Chottanikkara temple
Chottanikkara temple is famous for goddess Bhagawati located in Ernakulam, popular destination for temples. It is considered as one of the benevolent temple among other 393 temples spread in 3 districts of Kerala. Rajarajeshwari (Adiparashakthi) is the main idol worshipped here as in three forms Saraswathy in the morning, Lakshmi at noon and Durga in the evening. There is also an idol of Lord Maahavishnu so the spirituality is termed as Ammenarayana, Devinarayana, Lakshminarayana and Bhadrenarayana also and also there are idols of Brahma, Siva, Ganapathi , Subramanya and Sastha.There is also Kizhukkavu temple well known for Sastha, Siva, Nagas. The important festival of this temple is “Makom Thozhal” celebrated in the month of Kumbham(Feb/March).
4. Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple
Ettumanoor temple is situated in Kottayam district of Kerala. The main deity worshipped here is Lord Shiva. Legendary belief tells that demon named “Khara” worshipped Shiva and he got three shivlingas from Lord Shiva. He hold each of the Shivlingas in hand and the remaining one in mouth. In Vaikom he placed one of shivalinga and which got fixed itself and was unable to move, this place later termed as Vaikkom mahadeva temple. Khara placed other two shivalingas at Ettumanoor and Kaduthuruthy. Visiting these three temples in one day is considered as propitious. The temple celebrates festival for 10 days on Feb/March and ends by Thiruvathira Ezharaponaana Ezhunallathu. Shivarathri is also celebrated in this temple.
5. Vadakkunnathan temple
Vadakkunnathan Temple is located in the city of Thrissur. It is the largest Shiva temple. Vadakkunnathan is considered as Lord Shiva (lord of North) and is also known as Vrishabhachalam and Thenkailasam (the Kailash of the south). It was built by Lord Parshurama. The idol of Lord Shiva is not visible as it is covered in ghee as ablution to Lord Shiva. It has a multi shrine complex called nalambalamor chuttamabalam comprising of three main shrines of Shiva,Shankaranarayanan or Hara-Hara(combined form of Shiva and Vishnu). Shiva parvathi idol is designed in the west side just behind the idol of Shiva. It is famous for Thrissur pooram festival celebrated in the Malayalam month of madam(April-May).
6. Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple
Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple is situated in Thiruvanthpuram. Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple’s main deity is Lord Vishnu. It is a 260 year old temple beleaguering over 2400 sq meters. Padmanabha is reclined over holy serpent made up of sacred stones (salagramam) which has been brought from Nepal by Elephant slowly. It is one of the wealthiest temple in India. the temple is embedded with assets like gold, jewels, three-and-a-half feet tall gold idol of Mahavishnu studded with rubies and emeralds, ceremonial attire for decorating the deity consists of 16-part gold anki weighing almost 30 kilograms (66 lb) together with gold coconut shells, one studded with rubies and emeralds.
7. Guruvayoor temple
Guruvayoor temple is situated in Guruvayur Thrissur district in Kerala. It is a 5000 year old monastery. Lord Mahavishnu is the presided deity in standing position with his four hand held with Sankhu(conch), Sudarshana chakram (a serrated disk),lotus and mace.The idol is almost worshipped as lord Krishna the full avatar (Purnaavatara) of Mahavishnu. The idol is carved out of Patalanjana stone(black antimony) and magnetic stone having medicinal value. Crowds gather at this temple at 3:00 am for receiving first charm of Lord Krishna.
8. Sabarimala temple
Sabarimala temple is located in the western ghats of Pathnamthitta district is the most ancient Sastha temple. It is beleaguered with mountains and dense forests as it is considered as the place where Ayappan meditated. It is one of the best pilgrimage center in Kerala. The pilgrimage is started in the month of November and ends in January. Mandala pooja and Makravilakku is the most important occasions of the pilgrim season. The pilgrim who enters in the Mandala pooja has to take austerities like adopting vegetarian food and avoiding carnal pleasures. The pilgrim should carry clothe bundle known as irumudi kettu consisting traditional offerings. There is no difference of caste or creed. Every male can enter the temple and every women who has entered fertility age and before the onset of puberty.
9. Vaikom Temple
Vaikkom temple is located in Kottayam district having both deity of Shiva,Vishnu and is termed as Vaikkathappan. Ettumanoor Siva Temple, Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple and Vaikkom temple is considered a powerful trisome. It is believed that if a devotee worships at these three temples before ‘Ucha pooja ‘(afternoon pooja), all the wishes are fulfilled. Vaikkath Asthami is the festival celebrated in this temple.
10. Mannarasala Temple
Mannarsala Nagaraja Temple is situated at Haripad 32 km south of Alappuzha. It is surrounded by trees and anguine vines providing the temple with natural beauty and spirituality dwelt with 30000 images of snake gods. The temple is blistered with small serpent gods. Granite idols is installed which has been gathered with moss and vegetation covered by twisted vines as an offering to snakes grove. It is a very pious place of serpent gods. Uruli Kamazhthal is considered as important offering. Ayilyam pooja in the month of Sept-October is the major festival of this temple.
11. Thirunelli Temple
Thirunelli is located at Waynad beleaguered with mountains and beautiful forests. It is a place where devotees can perform all rituals related to death, birth, life after death. It is also known as ”Sahyamala Kshetram” and ”Kashi of the South”. The rituals are executed in the stream of Papanasini flowing from Brahmagiri. Stream is bestowed with divine power to dissolve sins of all the mortals. Holy rock is the another ritual place people worship for their forefathers.
12. Lokanarkavu Temple
Lokanarkavu Temple Lokanarkavu Bhagavathi Temple is located at Memunda 4 km from Vatakara. it is a 1500 year old temple. It consists of heroes and heroines of Vadakkanpattu (list of Malayalam songs of medieval origin).The temple celebrates two festivals during Vrischikam (November – December) and Meenam (March – April) known as Mandalavilakku Festival or Mandala Utsavam . It comprises of folk dance called Thacholikali. It is similar to Kalarippayattu. Another one is meenam festival celebrated for eight days with Kodiyettam(flag hoisting) on the Rohini day and the Arattu (holy bath) on the Pooram day.
13. Thirunavaya Temple
Thiruvanaya Navamukunda Temple is situated at Thirunavaya,12 km from south of Tirur in Malappuram district located on the banks of the river Bharathapuzha. . It is one of the oldest Vishnu temple. The God Vishnu is mainly offered with Ney Vilakku (lamp lighted with ghee), Thaamara maala ( Lotus garlands) and Paal paayasam (Porridge/Dessert or Kheer made of rice cooked in sweetened milk). It also consists of two other deities: Aadi Ganesa and Sree Mahalakshmi. In ancient history Nava yogis worshipped Vishnu. Lord Vishnu gave darsan for Nava yogi. Thus this place gained the name called Thirunavayogi and later converted in to Thirunavaya.