Kuttanad Divya Desam denotes the Sri Narayana temples situated at Chengannur area of Kerala. They also include two temples which now exist in the Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu.
The temples are called Divya Desam as they are mentioned in the Holy Scriptures of Alwars, the Vaishnavite Sages and Poets. Collectively the Holy Scriptures is called as Nalayira Divya Prabandham. Including the Cosmic ocean and Sri Vaikunt, there are 108 Divya Desams.
Kerala State is called ‘God’s own Country’ because it is believed that two of the incarnations of Sri Maha Vishnu, Sri Vamana Avatar and Sri Parasurama Avatar had happened there.
As per belief, even Sri Mohini Avathar of Sri Maha Vishnu pertains to Kerala. As Sri Vamana Murthy is short, the place where the Avatar happened is known as ‘Kuttanad’ meaning the place of the shorty.
In this article, a few temples comprising of certain Divya Desams are covered.
Table of Contents
Chengannur is the town situated at Alapuzha district of Kerala. This place lies in the route to Sri Sabari Mala. It is also one of the 32 Namboothri villages in Kerala. The holy river Pampa flows through the town and there are many temples along the banks of the river.
As per legend, though Pancha Pandavas had won the Mahabharata War, they were cursed with Brahma Hati Dosha as they were responsible for the death of Sri Dronacharya, their Guru who was a Brahmin. It is believed that, to alleviate their sins, each of them had built a temple dedicated to Sri Maha Vishnu in Chengannur on the banks of river Pampa.
All the five temples are summarily called as Anjambalam and are included in the list of 108 Divya Desams of Sri Maha Vishnu.
This is attributed to Yudhishtra, the elder of the Pandavas. As Yudhishtra was also a king of Dharma, this is also called as Dharma Raja Temple.
Here the presiding deity is called as Imayavarappan Perumal. The deity is in standing posture facing east. The Goddess is called as Chengamalavalli Thayar.
As per the legend, Lord Subramanya had killed an asura in this very place. The Devas who are also considered as ‘imayavar’ used to do penance on Sri Maha Vishnu in this place. Yudhistra came to this place to do penance to alleviate his sin and meditated on Sri Maha Vishnu. He then built the temple here.
Sri Nammalvar, one of the Alwars had written scriptures on this Deity. This is the first of the Pancha Pandava temples.
The temple is open from 4.00 A.M to 11 A.M and from 5 P.M to 8 P.M. The timing may differ on festivals and special occasions.
This is attributed to Arjun. As Arjun was also known as Partha and Sri Krishna acted as Sarathy (Charioteer) for Arjun, the temple is dedicated to Sri Parthasarathy. The other name for this temple is Thiru Varan Vilai.
This temple was believed to be built by Arjun as a mark of gratitude to Sri Krishna. The main deity is Thiru Kural Appan and His consort Mahalakshmi is Padmasini Thayar. The moolavar is seen sporting a mustache.
When we do the perambulation of the temple, we can see the Sannidhi of Sri Balarama in an underground square which also houses the Sannidhi of Sri Ganapathy.
As per the legend, Arjun came to this place to do penance to alleviate his sins for having killed his own brother Karna in the war. It is also believed that Lord Brahma had done penance here to have the darshan of Sri Maha Vishnu in His Vamana Avatar.
In the month of Dhanur, the festival named Khandavana Dahanam is celebrated. The practice of thulabaram, i.e donating anything prayed for equal to the weight of the donor is being followed here.
Another specialty of this temple is that the jewels of Sri Ayyappan of Sabarimala are kept only in this temple throughout the year and are taken to Sabarimala just two days earlier for mandala vilakku pooja during Makar Jyoti period. (Day prior to Sankranthi).
Sri Nammalvar, one of the Alwars had written scriptures on this Deity. This is the second of the Pancha Pandava temples.
The temple is open from 5.00 A.M to 11 A.M and from 5 P.M to 8 P.M. The timing may differ on festivals and special occasions.
This is attributed to Bheem. As per the legend, Bheem did penance here and built a temple for Sri Maha Vishnu as a mark of gratitude to Sri Krishna.
The main deity is Sri Mayapiran with four hands holding Shank, Chakra, Gada and Lotus. His consort Sri Mahalakshmi is known as Sri Porkodi Nachiyar.
Soon on entering the temple, one can see the Gada of Bheem on a platform. The offering to the Lord is prepared in 400 measures of rice.
It is also believed that a King named Vrishadarbi (Son of King Sibi) was suffering from illness and his kingdom was also facing drought. He had ordered the Saptha Rishis to solve his problems and offered them gold for their services.
Saptha Rishis felt insulted at the attitude of the King and refused. Angered by the rejection, the King did an Yagna to create a demon to kill Saptha Rishis. The Rishis sought protection from Sri Maha Vishnu.
Sri Vishnu had sent Indra to kill the demon. Indra took the form of a tiger and killed the demon. To connote the tiger, this place is called Thirupuliyur.
The annual festival is held in the Malayalam month of Makaram.
Sri Nammalvar, one of the Alwars had written scriptures on this Deity. This is the third of the Pancha Pandava temples.
The temple is open from 4.00 A.M to 11 A.M and from 5 P.M to 8 P.M. The timing may differ on festivals and special occasions.
This is attributed to Nakula. This temple was believed to be built by Nakula as a mark of gratitude to Sri Krishna.
The main deity is Pambanai Appan (meaning the Lord of the encircling Pamba river). The other name is Kamalanathan. He has four hands holding Shanku, Chakra, Spear and Mace. His consort Sri Mahalakshmi is called Sri Kamala Valli Nachiyar.
During perambulation, one can see the sculptures of Kalinga Narthana and Dasavathara in the pillars.
As per the legend, according to Narada Purana, Sage Narada was once cursed by Sri Brahma over an argument. To alleviate the curse, Sage Narada did a penance at this place on Sri Maha Vishnu.
Sri Vishnu appeared before him in his full form and blessed him with a boon to spread ‘Thathvagnana’ i.e philosophical wisdom to the mankind. Pleased with the boon, Sage Narada had created around 25000 verses on the method of worshipping Sri Maha Vishnu. The compilation is named as Naradiya Purana.
The annual festival is called Thiruvaimozhi festival.
Sri Nammalvar, one of the Alwars had written scriptures on this Deity. This is the fourth of the Pancha Pandava temples.
The temple is open from 5.00 A.M to 11.30 A.M and 5 P.M to 8 P.M. The timing may differ on festivals and special occasions.
This is attributed to Sahadeva. This temple was believed to be built by Sahadeva as a mark of gratitude to Sri Krishna.
This temple is one of the three Kadigai Kshetrams in India. Kadigai means 24 minutes. It is believed that staying in this temple for 24 minutes shall give moksham (liberation from sins and curses).
The main Deity is Arputha Narayana which was personally made for Sahadeva by Sri Vishnu Himself. Sri Mahalakshmi is here known as Karpagavalli Thayar. There is a separate shrine for Sri Narasimha behind Sri Arpuda Narayana. There are also separate shrines for Sri Krishna and Sri Chandra.
It is believed that if married ladies seeking progeny perform a dance with the bucket on their heads with prayers to Sri Arpuda Narayana, they shall be blessed. Periazhwar is said to have made a reference to this dance in one of his Pasurams.
It is believed that the King Rukmangatha of the Surya Dynasty had donated the benefits of his Ekadasi Vrats here to Devas for them to go back to Devalok.
This is the fifth of the Pancha Pandava temples.
The temple is open from 5.00 A.M to 11.30 A.M and from 5 P.M to 8 P.M. The timing may differ on festivals and special occasions.
This temple is the Divya Desam other than Anjambalam. Thiruvalla is about 10 kilometers from Thrikodi Thanam. The place is also called as Sri Vallaba Kshethram. It is believed that this temple is referred in Mathsya Puranam.
The main Deity is Sri Thiruvazhmarban. He is also referred to as Sri Vallaban Kolapiran. He is facing east in standing position. He sports the dhoti as the Brahmachari. His consort is Sri Selva Thirukozhunthu Nachiar. She is also called as Sri Vathsalya Devi. It is believed that Sri Perumal here shall alleviate evil forces.
As per the legend, an unmarried woman named Shankara Mangalathammai was the sincere observer of Ekadashi Vrats. She used to go on fasting on Ekadashi day. On the next day of Dwadashi, she always provided food to one Brahmachari before breaking her fast.
However, she was disrupted by a demon. So, she did penance on Sri Maha Vishnu. Lord Vishnu was pleased with her prayers. He had killed the demon with His chakra. The place where the chakra had fallen is said to be the place of the temple.
As per another legend, Sri Vishnu Himself had come in the guise of a Brahmachari to have food from Shankara Mangalathammai. He then gave darshan to her with Mahalakshmi in His heart.
As per another legend, Sri Vishnu also appeared before Kanda Karnan, who was a Shiv devotee and who did penance to have the darshan of Sri Vishnu.
Sri Thirumangai Alwar and Sri Nammalvar are said to have referred to the Deity in their scriptures.
Kathakali festival is celebrated here with devotion. Childless couple pray here for progeny. As per the custom, ripe bananas are offered to God as Neivedyam. Half of the Neivedyam is distributed as prasadam.
The temple is open from 5.00 A.M to 11.45 A.M and from 5.00 P.M to 8.00 P.M. The timing may differ on festivals and special occasions.
Anjambalam and Thiruvalla can be covered in one trip. Sri Mahadeva Temple at Chengannur can be included. After getting down at Chengannur Railway Station / Bus Stand, auto / taxi can be hired for the tour package.
Though called as one of the Kuttanad Divya Desam temples, this temple is situated at Tamil Nadu. This is on the route from Thiruvananthapuram to Nagarkoil. The temple has to be reached from Thakkalai.
The temple is situated at a picturesque place surrounded by three rivers such as Kothai, Pahrali and Thamiravaruni. This temple is said to be older than Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple. It is estimated to be atleast 4000 years old.
As per the legend, once Sri Brahma had done an Yagna without inviting Saraswathi. She got angry. From her anger, the demon Kesi had emerged. As the demon was causing devastation, the Devas prayed to Sri Maha Vishnu. Sri Vishnu had felled the demon named Kesi. Hence, He got the name Kesava.
As believed, the wife of the demon had asked the rivers Pahrali, Kothai and Thamiravaruni to disturb Sri Vishnu. When the rivers encircled, the Shrine rose in its height.
In the end, however, the rivers had surrendered to Sri Vishnu in a circle. In Tamil, circle is known as vattam. River is known as aaru. As the temple is surrounded by the rivers in a circle, the place is known as Thiruvattaru.
The main Deity is Sri Adi Kesava Perumal. Here also, Sri Vishnu is in reclining position and He can be seen only through the three adjacent doors. In this sanctum, Sri Perumal is reclining with His head on the left side. There is a remarkable occurrence of Sun rays falling on Sri Perumal at dusk between 3rd to 9th day of Puratasi and Panguni months. Lord Shiva is depicted inside the main sanctum.
As per the legend, Sri Parashuram did penance here and did Puja to Adi Kesava Perumal. In fact, very near this temple, there is a Shiva temple named Sri Jadadheshwar Temple established by Sri Parashuram. Sage Vasishta also is said to have stayed here.
Sage Chaithanya Prabhu had taken the holy dip at Thamiravaruni river, had the darshan of Sri Adi Kesava Perumal and then read the Bramha Samhitha here.
This temple is also called as Chera Naatu Srirangam, Adi Anantham and Dakshina Vaikuntam.
The structure of this temple is very much similar to Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram. There are rows of Deepalakshmi, the maidens holding lamps depicted here. The specialty is that each face is distinct. The single stone hall ottraikaal mandapam is a marvel here. There are also depictions of Sri Nataraj, Sri Parvathi, Sri Venugopal, Rathi and Manmadha, Sri Lakshmana and Indrajit.
Sri Nammalvar had composed hymns praising Sri Adi Kesava Perumal.
Thiru Alla Puja
Another unique feature of this temple is the conducting of Thiru Alla Puja. During Mughal reign, the men of Nawab of Arcot had usurped the temple. They had taken away the golden urchava murthy.
It is said that the Nawab had kept the urchava idol along with the rubbish. But the idol kept coming atop the pile every day. He even chained the idol to the pedestal.
At the same time, his wife was afflicted with incurable illness. Lord Vishnu appeared in the dream of the temple pujari and directed him to tell the Nawab that his wife would be cured if the idol was restored to the temple. The priest did as directed by Sri Perumal.
The Nawab returned the idol to the temple. Surprisingly his wife got cured instantly. He had understood the divinity of Sri Perumal. He had given a pillow, a cap, golden plate and a cup alongwith the returned Urchava Deity. Those are still used daily during Sheevali Puja.
The Nawab had also donated considerably for the annual temple festival. Thiru Alla Mandapam was built in the temple premises and 21 days Thiru Alla Puja are celebrated.
The temple is open from 5.00 A.M to 12 Noon and from 5.00 P.M to 8.00 P.M. The timing may change during festivals and special occasions.
This is situated at Nagarkoil in Tamil Nadu. The other names for this place are Thiruppathi Saram and Sri Kuralappan Perumal temple. It is believed that this temple is more than 5000 years old.
The main Deity is Sri Maha Vishnu in the name Thiru Vazh Marban. The name denotes that Sri Mahalakshmi is residing in His heart. The Deity is nine feet tall. No abhishekams are done to the Deity because of the structure. Goddess Mahalakshmi is depicted in His chest.
Depictions of Dasha Avathara are shown in the mandapam in the temple. There are separate shrines for Garuda, Ganesha, Vishwaksen, Nammalvar and Nataraja.
Sri Nammalvar had sung hymns on Thiru Vazh Marban. This place is the birth place of Udaya Nangai, the mother of Sri Nammalvar.
The temple is open from 04.00 A.M to 10.30 A.M and from 5.30 P.M to 7.30 P.M.
Vaikunta Ekadashi, all the other Ekadashis, Janmashtami and all the festivals ascribed to Sri Maha Vishnu are celebrated in all these temples.
Om Namo Narayanaya !!!
Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya!!!