KERALA - PILGRIM CENTERS
Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Temple-
Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Temple A well-known pilgrim centre, Sabarimala is situated amidst dense forests in the rugged terrains of the Western Ghats. The temple is situated 5 km away from Pamba and can be reached only by trekking. The main festival is during December/January this period is called as 'Mandalakalam'. The pilgrims will take fenance which is called as Mandalavritham. It is 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). November to mid January is the season which is called as Mandalakalam. Mandalapooja Makara Vilakku 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). Nearest railway station is Thiruvalla (102 Km). 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. Pilgrims will go with their Erimudikettu which contains ghee filled coconuts. Neyyabhishekamis the main offering.
This town, located on the bank of the Vembanadu lake, is famous for its Siva temple, which is one of the oldest Siva Temple in the world. During the Sabarimala season pilgrims alight here to worship the 'Annadanaprabhu (Load Siva)'. Vaikom gained prominence during the Indian freedom struggle, as it was the venue of the famous Satyagraha staged in 1925 for the admission of Harijans into this temple. Vaikom is situated about 40kms from Kottayam town. Two Ashtami festivals are held annually, one in Kumbam (Feb -Mar) and the other in Vrichikom (Nov-Dec) of which the latter is more famous. The celebrations last for 12 days and end with an 'Aarattu' at the Subrahmanya Swami Temple at Udayanapuram, on the day after Ashtami. Prathal (feast) is the main Vazhipadu here. There is a school teaching temple arts, known as Kshethrakalapeedhom, attached to the temple.
St. Mary's Church Cheriyapally-
This church contains exquisite murals and paintings of Biblical and non-Biblical thems.
Thirunakkara Siva Temple -
Built in the indigenous style of architecture, this temple has many interesting paintings on its walls. The sanctum-sanctorum is covered with pictures from the epics. Three festivals are celebrated here in Thulam (Oct-Nov) Mithunam (Jun-Jul) and Meenam (Mar-Apr) of which the last one is the most important. The 'Aarattu', conducted on the last day of the festival, is the festival, is the festival of Kottayam, irrespective of the caste and creeds. The main festival Phalguna Utsavam is celebrated during March.
The Mosque at Thazhathangadi
is one of the ancient mosques in India which is made in the old Kerala style. It is believed that malik Dinar had built this mosque about 1000 years ago. Now it is an important pilgrim centre at Kottayam. The artistic value of this mosque is of special interest to the tourists.
situated behind the civil station at Kottayam, this is the first church of Diocese of Vijayapuram. The construction of this church, which is completed in Italian style, was completed in 1882 and was renovated in 1964. The feast at St. Sebastian is on 20th January and that of Good Shepherd, is from 10th to 12th April.
(Angathattu Palli) is the cathedral of the Dioceses of Vijayapuram.This church, constructed in Gothic style. The main steeple has a height of 172 ft., which is considered as the highest church steeple in the state. Vimalambika is the deity here. The main feast is in December. This church is situated near Kottayam railway station. The chief ecclesiastical dignity of the Orthodox Syrian Church, the Catholics of the East, has his head quarters in Devalokam Aramana at Muttambalam Catholic Church, Latin Catholic Church and the Church of South India have their Head quarters in Kottayam. The Arch Bishop of Changanassery who follows the Syro-malabar rite, has his Head Quarters in Changanassery. The Bishops of Knanaya Jacobite and the Church Mission Society have their headquarters at Chingavanam and Kurichy respectively.
The Siva Temple here, built in 16 AD, is a good specimen of the indigenous Kerala Style of temple architecture. The shrine contains exquisite mural paintings and sculptures depicting scenes from Hindu mythology. Nearby is a mural art centre, preserved by the state Archaeological Department. The annual festival of the temple is celebrated for ten days during February/March.
The church here, containing the mortal remains of Sister Alphonsa is one of the important pilgrim centres of the Christian in Kerala.
Located on the bank of Manimala river, Erumeli is an important pilgrim centre for Hindus and Muslims. Pilgrims going to Sabarimala alight here at the Sastha temple to worship the deity. These pilgrims also offer prayers at an ancient mosque here.
The Sree Krishna Temple here, built in the typical Kerala architectural style, is famous all over Kerala for "Palpayasam", the daily offering of deliciously sweet milk porridge, which tastes like rice pudding. It is also in this temple that pallipana is performed by Velans (sorcerers) one in twelve years Human sacrifice was conducted in ancient times. However cocks have now replaced humans on the sacrificial altar.
Situated near Haripad, is is a serpent shrine under the patronage of a Brahmin family, headed by a priestess. Legend has it that the first priestess of Mannarasala gave birth to a five headed snake, which is believed to reside in the ancestral houses 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.
The St. Sebastian's Church here is an important Christian pilgrim centre. Annual festival Arthunkal Perunnal - the feast of the patron saint (January).
The St. Francis Church
here is the oldest church built by an European power in India. This Protestant church was built by the British, and Vasco Da Gamma was initially buried here. The church is located at Kamalakada near Fortkochi beach. The Santacruz Basilica nearby, has some very beautiful paintings on the ceiling.
An important pilgrim centre and summer resort. The Periyar river widens here and is therefore ideal for bathing and picnicking. The annual Sivarathri Festival is celebrated on the banks of the Periyar during March/April. Aluva is also an important industrial centre.
Chottanikkara Devi Temple
Kodungallur Devi Temple
A famous church at the hill tops
The Rock Cut Cave Temple :
The Rock Cut Siva temple, is of great archeological 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.
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 all over the world. This is perhaps the largest Christian convention in Asia.
One of the most ancient temples in the state, the Vadakkunathan temple contains many decorative wall paintings and historically important pieces of art. The temple itself, with its thick mansonry walls and lofty gopurams is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture. Exquisite wooden carvings can also be seen in the central shrines. The Pooram Festival here, is celebrated in April- May, on a grand scale.
It is one of the most sacred and imported pilgrim centers of Kerala. Its main attraction is the Sree Krishna temple known as 'Guruvayoor Ambalam'. This historic temple is shrouded in mystery. According to belief, the temple is the creation of Guru, the preceptor of the Devas, and Vayu the Lord of Winds. The eastern nada is the main entrance to the shrine. In the chuttambalam (outer enclosure) is the tall 33.5 mt. high gold plated Dwajasthambam (flag post). There is also a 7 mt. high Deepasthambham (pillar of lamps), whose 13 circular receptacles provide a truly gorgeous spectacle when lit. The square Sreekovil is the sacred sanctum sanctorum of the temple which houses the main deity. Within the temple there are also images of Ganapathy, Sree Ayyappa and Edathedathu Kavil Bhagavathy.
Irinjalakkuda Koodal Manikam Temple:
This temple is situated 10 Km. away from Irinjalakkuda railway station. This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Bharatha, the brother of Lord Sree Rama. It is perhaps the only temple in India with Bharatha as the deity. The colourful annual festival with thirteen caparisoned elephants is held for eleven days in April-May every year. Festivals in this temple mark the end of the Hindu temple festival season in Kerala.
There is a famous Siva Temple here, on the banks of the Bavail river. Lakhs of devotees attend the annual 27 day long festival during May - June.
Sree Ramaswami Temple, Thiruvangadi:
The temple dedicated to Sree Rama is one of the most prominent temples in Malabar. The exquisite carvings in the temple are said to have been done nearly 400 years ago.
Parassini Kadavu Temple & Snake Park:
Sri. Muthappan Temple stands on the banks of the Valapattanam River. This pilgrim centre is famous for the Muthappan Theyyam performed every morning and evening. The DTPC provides pleasure boating on the river near the temple. Accommodation is available nearby. The Snake Park is the only one of its kind in the state and perhaps, in the whole of India. There are three snakes pits, fifteen glass cases for snakes and two large glass houses for King Cobras in the park. Snake demonstrations conducted every hour draw large number of visitors.
The unique feature of this famous pilgrim centre is that there is no deity or idol at the famous Para Brahma temple dedicated to universal consciousness. Ochira Kali in mid June and the twelve day 'Panthrandu Vilakku' in November/December are the two main annual festivals. Ochira Kali is a mock fight enacted between groups of men dressed as warriors an the padanilam (fighting spot). They perform a martial dance standing in knee-deep water, brandishing swords and shields, and splashing water every direction. There are frequent buses from Kollam and Alappuzha.
Matha Amrithanandamayi Ashram, Vallikkavu :
The residence and headquarters of Matha Amrithanandamayi Devi, is situated at Amrithapuri near Vallikavu. The Ashram is accessible both by road and boat.
Tali Temple: Built in the 14th century by Swami Thirumulpad, the Zamorian, within his palace complex, this temple was the venue of Revathy Pattathanam the annual culture and intellectual event at eh Zamorin's court.
Pooram at Arakkal Temple (Mar/Apr)
Lokanarkavu Temple (Two annual festivals Mar/Apr, Nov/Dec )
Utsavam at Pishrikavu temple (March)
Sivarathri Utsavam at Sreekandeshwara Temple (Feb/Mar)
Situated on the banks of the Bharathapuzha, this is a place of great historical importance. The Bharathapuzha, this is a place of great historical importance. The Mamangam, a grand assembly of the rulers of Kerala was held here once every 12 years in olden times. This extravagant festival was held for the last time in 1755. Today Thirunavaya temple is also a famous pilgrim centre.
Thali Temple, Perinthalmanna:
The temple, is located about 3 Km west of Angadipuram, is dedicated to Goddess Durga, this is an important pilgrim centre in Malappuram. The annual Pooram festival celebrated in March/April attracts large gatherings of devotees.
The Jama-at Mosque
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.
Pazhayangadi Mosque Kondotti:
The three day long Valia Nercha feast at this 500 years old Muslim pilgrim centre, celebrated in February/March, is more of a local cultural event with people from all communities participating.
Jain Temple Of Jaininedu:
Situated on the western suburbs of Palakkad town, not far from the railway station this historic 32 feet long 20 feet wide granite temple display images of the Jain Thirthankareas and Yakshinis. The region around the temple is known as Jainmedu, is one of the few places in Kerala where the vestiges of Jainism have survived. It is at a Jain house here that poet Kumaran Asan wrote his monumental poem Veenapoovu (the Fallen Flower).
Surrounded by Kambamala. Karimala and Varadiga, the Thirunelly temple is a marvel of temple architecture. The shrine is shielded with 30 granite. The crystal clear waters of the Papanasini river running downhill adds to the enchantment of the place.
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple -
The temple, located near the bus stand at East Fort, is the city's most impressive landmark. Its 7 stored gopuram built in the 16th Century is one of the finest specimens of traditional South Indian temple architecture which reflects the Kerala influence. The temple corridors are lined with 368 sculpted stone pillars. Beautiful murals and ornamentation adorn the walls. Temple was renovated by the Maharaja of Thiruvithamcore in 1733. Only Hindus can enter the temple, wearing dhoti in a certain style.
The temples in India are worth visiting whether you are there for a pilgrimage or as a tourist. A lot of tourists plan their trips around these unique buildings as many temples have stood for centuries and are a glance into the history of these cultures. Another great location for amazing temples is in Japan. You can find beautiful Buddhist temples in and around Kyoto, which is perfect if you plan on flying into Kyoto
. In Kyoto, the most popular temples are the Kiyomizu Temple, the Kinkakuji Temple and the Ginkakuji Temple.