Kerala is home to some of the ancient temples in India. The style and architecture of these temples differ from that of the other parts of the country. The temples of Kerala are mainly built according to the culture and tradition of Kerala.Most of these ancient temples are famous pilgrimage centers.
Sabrimala Temple Sabarimala is one of the famous pilgirmage center in South India and is situated in the beautiful district of Pathanamthitta. Sabarimala is about 65 kms away from Pathanamthitta and has the same distance from its Taluk headquarters Ranni.The land of Sabarimala is faomus for its "Shastha temple" which is situated on the top of a hill. The pilgrimage to Sabarimala has several distinct features compared to any other pilgrimage . A pilgrim who takes his maiden trip to the hill is called "Kanni Ayyappan" and has to take a month long lent before going to Sabarimala.
The Sabarimala temple attracts the maximum number of pilgrims on the first day of the 'Makharam' month. which comes on January 17, when a celestial light appears on top of a nearby hill. Thousands of pilgrims from all over Indiaarrive just to see the light, which is considered sacred. All the devotees takes a holy dip in the river, and after that treks to the hilltop temple. Before beginning the pilgrimage to Sabarimala, pilgrims prepare themselves with 41 days of rigorous fasting, celibacy, meditation and prayer. The standard items that are carried to the temple by the pilgrims include a coconut filled with ghee and two other coconuts that are broken in front of the temple.
Chottanikkara Temple Chottanikkara temple is one of the famous pilgirmage center in South India and is situated in the beautiful district of Ernakulam and is near Cochin. The temple enshrines Bhagawati - the mother Goddess and one of the most popular deities in Kerala. The Devi is worshipped along with Lord Vishnu and together, they are known as Lakshminarayana. The temple is visited by a large number of devotees every day. People who have mental illness seek refuge in the divine mother and gets cured.
The temple is situated in a hilly region and is surrounded on all sides by green farms. The entry is through the west and the spiritual atmosphere in the temple gives mental peace and harmony to devotees.The original idol of Bhagavathy is about three or four feet high and faces east. The idol is of laterite and is believed to be self-born (swayambhoo). This image called 'Rudraksha Sila' is irregular in shape, red in colour and untouched by the human sculptor. This image can be seen only in the wee hours of morning at 4 am when the Nada opens for nirmalyam.
Guruvayoor Temple Guruvayoor temple is famous all over India as a pilgrim centre, dedicated to Lord Krishna popularly known as Guruvayoorappan. The idol of Sreekrishna in this temple is believed to have been worshipped by Vasudevar and Devaki at Dwaraka. This shrine is popularly known as Dakshina Dwaraka (Dwaraka of south) and is in the form of a rectangle. There are a lot of mural paintings around the Shrikovil (Shrine). Guruvayoor is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim destination of kerala. The walls of the sanctum sanctorum are inlaid with exquisite mural paintings and carvings. Guruvayoor temple is probably the only temple in Kerala that hosts the maximum number of marriages and rice feeding ceremonies. It was also the center of the famous 'Guruvayoor Sathyagraha'. According to local belief, the temple was created by 'Guru', the 'preceptor of the gods' and 'Vayu', the 'God of Winds'.
In the outer enclosure is a 33.5-m tall gold-plated 'Dwajastambham' (flagpost). There is also a 7 m high 'Deepastambham' (pillar of lamps), whose thirteen circular receptacles provide a truly brillant spectacle, when it is lit. The square 'Sreekovil' is the sacred sanctum sanctorum of the temple, housing the main deity. Within the temple, there are images of Ganapathy, Sree Ayyappa and Edathedathy Kavil Bhagavathy. The entrance to this temple is restricted to only Hindus.
Chakkulathukavu temple is situated on the border of Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha Districts. It is 12 Km westward from Thiruvalla. The temple is also blessed by the nature, as the famous rivers of Pampa and Manimala flow on either side of the temple.It is a unique rarity of this temple that all people irrespective of castecreed and color can come to worship the Goddess. It is generally held that the never prefers anyone to enquire the caste of the pilgrims who reach here.Thus innumerable Hindus, Christians and Muslims visit this shrine regularly. A large number of women offer pongala on the Thrikkartika of Vrikschika month. They also observe the Panthrandu Noimbu from the first of Dhanu to the twelfth .There are also many pilgrims who reach the temple with "Irumudikettu"(bag with two bundles) upon their heads.It is saying that the mother has special affinity towards children and women.May be why, the temple is popularly known as'Sabarimala of Women'
The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, one of the ancient temples of South India where women form the major portion of devotees. The temple is situated in the small beautiful town of Manacaud, a few kilometers away from Trivandrum.The Goddess in the temple of Attukal is worshipped as the creator of all living beings and the mighty preserver as well as destroyer of them all. The pilgrims from all over the country, who visit Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Trivandrum and worship the Lord, do not consider their visits complete without the visit to the shrine of the Mother Attukalamma.
The Pongala Mahotsavam is the major festival of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. The offering of Pongala is a special temple practice prevalent in the southern part of Kerala. It is a ten-day programme which commences on the Karthika star of the Malayalam month of Makaram-Kumbham (February-March) and closing with the sacrificial offering known as Kuruthitharpanam at night. On the ninth day of the festival the world famous Attukal Pongala Mahotsavam takes place.
Ettumanoor is a beautiful town which is located 12 kms south of Kottayam and is famous for its ancient Shiva temple which is believed to be build in the 16 century. This temple is famously known as Ettumanoor temple and is another major Hindu temple in Kerala. The Shrine of the temple is a glorious conical structure which can be seen from far off places. The temple is richly provided with a plethora of mural paintings and sculptures, depicting scenes from Ramayana, Bhagwata and other Hindu Mythology tales. A rectangular circumambulatory passage surrounds the sanctum of the temple. The sanctum bears wood carvings of superior workmanship which portrays legends from the Ramayana and the Bhagavata.
Legend has it that Khara of Ramayana worshipped Shiva at Chidambaram and obtained three Shivalingams from him and journeyed holding one shivalingam on each hand and one in his mouth. He sojourned at Vaikom, and set the Shivalingam on the ground and to his dismay realized that it had gotten rooted to the ground. Kharan therefore installed the two other shivalingams at Ettumanur and Kaduthuruthy. It is believed that visiting these triad of temples in a single day is of a greater significance. The 10 day long festival in the Malayala month of Kumbham is the temple's annual festival . On the eigth day of the festival, the processional image of the deity is taken to a specially decorated site in the north east corner of the temple.
The temple is hardly 10 kms away from Kottayam. Kottayam is well connected to the other major cities by road and rail and the nearest airport is at Cochin which is 95 kms away.
Vaikom is situated on the western side of Kottayam district and shares its border with Vembanattu Lake. Vaikom is mainly famous for the Vaikom Mahadeva temple which is of much historical importance. The Vaikom temple is famous for its major event know as Asthami or Vaikkathashtami. This temple is visited by a large number of devotees every day. This temple is also know as "Thekkan Kasi", which means Varanasi / Kasi of the south. Legend is that Parasurama, the mythical founder of Kerala, is said to have built a temple which was dedicated to Lord Shiva. The twelve-day annual festival of the temple falls in the months of November -December, and is celebrated with classical dance and music performances.