Pureprayer offers Greetings to all devotees for the occasion of Anantha Chaturdashee.
On the auspicious occasion of Anantha Chaturdashee and Paurnima, Pureprayer takes you on SpiRitual journeys to Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala State. This is one of the very ancient temples of India and one of the 108 Divyadesam temples, also the richest in terms of wealth. Nammalwar, one among the 12 Vaishnavite saints of the Alwar tradition, has composed eleven verses in praise of the lord. This can speak about the antiquity of the temple.
Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswamy is the tutelary deity of the royal family of Travancore. Male members of the royal family are called Padmanabha Dasa and female memebrs are called Padmanabhasevanis.
Lakshadeepam is a celebration of lighting innumerable countless oil lamps on the day of Makara Vilakku in Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple.
Where is Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple?
Anantha Shayana or Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple is located in the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. Thiruvananthapuram is well connected by air, rail and bus routes. Thiruvananthapuram means the city of Lord Vishnu, the eternal and unending.
Why is Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple called a Maha Kshetra?
Ten characteristics are attributed to a Maha Kshetra. Antiquity, proximity to the sea, presence in wooded region, location of the temple on an elevation, mention in scriptures, architecture, grandeur of festivals, royal patronage, well established history and records.
Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple is said to meet all these characteristics.
What are the legends about the temple?
There are two legends associated with Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple. A sage called Divakaramuni from Tulunadu is believed to have consecrated the image of Lord Vishnu in the form of Anantha Shayana.
Vilvamangalatthu Swamiyar a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, whose name is linked with consecrating many images across South India is said to have consecrated Anantha Padmanabha Swamy.
What is the story of Vishnu playing mischief with the sage?
A sage was performing a difficult penance in the woods of the southern region. A lovely child appeared in front of him one day. He tried to make the child stay with him. However, the child said he would agree to stay with him on a condition. The sage shall not lose his temper. On failing to do so, he would leave. The sage accepted the condition put by the child, and tolerated all the pranks and continued his penance. During the pujas one day, the child took the Saligram which was being worshipped and put it in his mouth. Upset with this the sage chastised the child. The child disappeared much to the astonishment of the sage and he heard a voice telling him, “If you wish to see me again, you will find me again in Ananthankaadu”. Suddenly realizing that the child was none other than Lord Vishnu, the sage was inconsolable and started searching for him everywhere.
He reached a wooded region near the ocean and caught a glimpse of the child disappearing into a Madhuka tree (Malayalam/Tamil: Ilappai). The large tree fell down and Lord Vishnu showed his Vishwaroopam. The sage was bewildered by this vision and requested the lord to reduce his size, so that he could behold the lord’s form. Vishnu agreed and took a form of the size three times the sage’s Yogadand (A staff carried by hermits). He looked around and found raw mangoes. He offered them in a coconut shell (This tradition is continued to this day with a golden coconut shell in the temple). The Samadhi of Vilvamangalatthu Swamyiar is near the temple.
Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy:
The image of Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple is nearly 16 feet long and is believed to be a replica of Sri Adi keshava Perumal temple in Thiruvattar near Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu state. Ananthapuram temple in Kumbala village of Kasargod of Kerala is said to be the Mulasthanam (Origin).
The image is believed to be a Daru Shilpa (made of wood) and said to contain 12008 Saligramas brought in from Gandhaki River. The exterior of the image is coated with a special herbal preparation of Kerala region, called “Katusarkarayogam”. The presence of this huge collection of Saligramas are said to bring the results of visiting a thousand temples, when we get Darshan of Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy.
Lord Vishnu in the form of Anantha Padmanabha Swamy or Anantha Shayana, is reclining on a five hooded Adi Shesha with his right hand near Shivalingam. Consorts of Lord Vishnu, Sridevi and Bhudevi are by his side. Sages Tumburu and Narad are singing hymns before him. Brahma the creator is seen seated on a Padma that has emerged from the lord’s navel, marking the importance of Swadhishthan. Garuda, his carrier is awaiting the lord’s order. Six weapons of the lord in divine form are also seen praying. Surya, Soma, Saptarshis (the sacred seven sages) are also seen. Demons Madhu and Kaitabha are present.
Darshan of Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple has to be done through a row of three doors that present different views.
Many royal dynasties have continually contributed to the development of Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple. The temple architecture has developed in different phases. The sanctum sanctorum is in Kerala style. The Gopurams are in the Dravidian style. Raja Gopuram and many Mantapams are in Vijayanagar style.
The temple complex, situated on seven acres of land, is enclosed by fort walls. One can notice a striking similarity between Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple and the Adikesava Perumal temple at Tiruvattar in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu State. There are nine entrances to the temple alluding to the ‘Navarandhras’ in the human body. Shrines of Ugra Narasimha Swamy, Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy and Sri Krishna Swamy (Parthasarathy) are enclosed by a high wall.
Sanctum, Dhwajastambha (Kodimaram), Prakaram (Chuttambalam) are of Kerala style. The temple interiors are adorned by beautiful murals and paintings. A large painting 18 feet long adorns the back wall of the sanctum. This is believed to be the biggest painting in the temple complex and was commissioned by Rani Gauri Parvati Bayi in 1820. A Mukha Mantapam and Bali Peetha Mantapam are part of the temple. A Navagraha mantapam with planets carved in the ceiling can also be seen.
Gopuram in the temple-complex on the eastern entrance is a seven storeyed structureand is a fine example of South Indian architecture and is exclusively in Dravidian style. It is nearly 100 feet high (35m). Dashavataram (10 incarnations) of Lord Vishnu are portrayed inside the first storey of the gopuram.
Garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum is on a stone slab and the main idol, which is about 16 feet long, can be viewed through three different doors. The temple has a Mantapam with 365 and one-quarter sculptured granite-stone pillars with elaborate carvings. This Mantapam extends from the eastern side into the sanctum sanctorum.
Dhwajastambha is 80 feet high. This was erected in 1730s. A tall teak tree was used and has been clad with gold plated copper sheets.
Ottakkal Mantapam was created in 1461 CE. Ottakkal-mandapam was cut out of a rock at Thirumala, about 6.4 km north of the temple. Ottakkal (single stone) mandapam, a massive platform carved out of a block of granite. This structure is a single slab of granite which is two and a half feet thick and twenty feet square. The ceiling is pure artistry in itself and is made of well-seasoned wood, abounding in carvings. Its granite pillars are covered with gold. Abhishekams to Sri Padmanabhaswamy are performed in this Mandapam. Only the King of Travancore may perform sashtanga namaskaram, or prostrate on the “Ottakkal Mandapam”.
This structure is in front of the Ottakkal Mantapam. Special pujas related with Temple festivals are performed here. Devotees use Abhisravana Mandapam for meditation and prayer. King Kotha Marthanda Verma is said to have built Abhisravana Mandapam.
Rulers of Madurai, the Nayaks are said to have contributed to the temple by adding stunning sculptures to the Kulasekhara mantapam, Prakaram (Chuttambalam) and Vimanam over the sanctum. Kulashekhara Mantapam was also known as Ayiramkaal Mandapam and Saptaswara Mantapam. It is supported by 28 pillars. The pillars are adorned with exquisitely carved figures in half and full relief. The pillars on the four corners can produce musical notes when tapped.
Sri Ugra Narasimha Swamy Temple:
Sri Ugra Narasimha Swamy temple is a part of Padmnabha Swamy temple-complex and called Thekkadom.
Sri Krishna Swamy Temple:
Sri Krishna Swamy temple is a part of the Padmnabha Swamy temple-complex and called Thiruvambadi. However, this temple has a separate Dhwajastambham. Festivals and processions are performed like an independent temple. Walls of the Garbhagriha in Sri Krishna Swamy shrine has Tamil Vattezhuthu inscriptions dating back to 1375 CE.
The granite idol of the Krishna was brought from Gujarat by 72 families of Vrishni Vamsa Kshatriyas. As these Vrishnis belong to the lineage of Lord Krishna, they are known as Krishnan vakakkar.
Lord Krishna also called as Partha Sarathy is a two-armed granite idol, with one hand holding the whip and the other resting on the left thigh holding the conch close to it, in a standing posture.
Other shrines in Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple:
Shrines for Rama accompanied by Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, Vishwaksena, Sage Vedavyas, Ganapati, Shasta and Kshetrapala are part of the temple-complex.
In the year 1750CE, Maharaja Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma arrived in the Temple along with the male family members, his trusted Diwan and other officials and carried out the ultimate act of dedication. He submitted to Sree Padmanabha Prajapati, his entire State of Travancore by placing the royal insignia like the crown, royal umbrella, the Manikandha along with some Tulasi (basil) leaves on the Mandapam. He placed his famous sword in the steps of the Ottakkal Mandapam. This is known as Thrippadi Danam.
Festivals and Rites:
There are many festivals related to this temple. The major festivals are Alpasi festival celebrated in October-November period and the Panguni festival which is in Tamil month Panguni during March-April period. They are 10 day long festivals. On the ninth day the Maharajah of Travancore escorts the deities. The festivals culminate with the Aarat (holy bath) procession to the Shankumugham beach. Navaratri and Lakshadeepam are other important celebration in the temple.
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