Temples of Kerala - Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, located inside the East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram of Kerala is dedicated to Lord Padmanabha, a form of Vishnu. The temple has Vishnu enshrined in Anananthasayanam posture which is in eternal sleep of yognidra.

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple located in one of the seven Parasurama Kshetras. The Puranas, mainly the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, have references for this shrine.

The legend is that it is in this place, the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu gave darshan to Indian sages like Divakarmuni and Vilvamangalam Swami. Another legend says about an Ezhava couple who saw Vishnu in the form of a child which took morsels of rice from the hands of the couple. So in this temple, naivedyam prepared from rice is offered to the deity in a coconut shell.

Another legend says that there was a saint by named Divakara yogi, who in order to get the Mukthi, performed pooja to Saligramam in this sthalam. One day, the Perumal in disguise of a two years old child took the Saligramam along with him and ran away from that place. The angry saint chased him to get the Saligramam. But the small child enters into the big hole of a tree and the tree fells revealing the Perumal in sayana seva as Anantha Padmanabha Swamy.

The temple has been renovated by King Marthanda Varma, Maharaja of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore. He dedicated his kingdom to the deity, and pledged that he and his descendants would serve the kingdom as Padmanabha Dasa, meaning the servants of the Lord Padmanabha. Thus, Sri Padmanabha assumed the title Perumal, the Emperor. The British Government also saluted the Lord with 21 Gun Salute, which was continued by the Indian Army until the abolition by the Govt. of India. Even today Sri Padmanabha is still regarded as National Deity of Travancore.

The temple has a seven-tier gopuram and a tank, named Padma Theertham which means the lotus spring. The temple with a corridor of 365 and one-quarter sculptured granite-stone pillars has exquisite and beautiful carvings. There is an eighty-foot flag-staff erected in front of the main entry from the prakaram or corridor.

The main entrance in the eastern side is known as the Nataka Sala where the famous temple art Kathakali will be staged in the nights of the ten-day uthsavams conducted twice a year, during the Malayalam months of Meenam and Thulam. In the sanctum sanctorum, the idol of Vishnu made of 10008 salagramams is in sleeping posture with the serpent pointing upwards.

Vishnu is enjoying the small of lotus held in his left hand with his right hand hanging over lord Shiva. Brahma is seen in the lotus. Sridevi and Bhoodevi stand by the side of Vishnu. This idol was from Nepal from the banks of the river Gandhaki which was brought to this temple. The Dharshan of the Perumal can be seen separately in 3 different Vaasals.

There are two annual festivals of the Temple which culminate with a grand procession, with the three deities such as Sree Padmanabha, Narasimha Swamy and Lord Krishna are carried in flower-decked and aesthetically decorated Garuda Vahanas to the Shankhumukhom beach for Aaraattu.

Another major annual festival is the Navaratri festival on which the idols of Saraswathi, Durga, and Murukan are brought to the Kuthira malika palace in front of Sree Padmanabha temple as a procession. The famous Swathi Music Festival is also held every year during this festival. In the Laksha deepam, hundred thousand lamps are lit in and around the temple premises.

 

For More Articles, visit Back to Temples of India Home