Thrikkakara Temple

As a ritual, I visit the temple to offer prayers for special occassions. Yesterday I went to Thrikkakara Temple which is located in the vicinity of my residence. Though the temple is located on the ever busy Edapally-Pookatupady Road (Kochi-Kerala-India), Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy Temple has an ancient world calmness and tranquillity to it. The first look of this temple takes you to back in time to the rich heritage of the Dravidian era. Thrikkakara Temple is the only known temple dedicated to Lord Vamana (the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu). It is also known as Vamana Moorty Temple and Thrikkakara Appan Temple. While I am done offering prayers I wait beneath the Banyan tree. An ascetic dressed in saffron dhoti walks towards the tree and sits nearby. He placed his cloth bundle aside and asks me if I am aware of the significance of this very temple. I nodded my head in disagreement. That is when he shared his knowledge about Thrikkakara Temple which I have tried to detail below (in sections historical significance and mythology associated) along with some of my own research findings. This blog post speaks of the historical significance of the temple, the mythology associated with it, physical description of the temple, along with a guide on how to get there, the best time to visit, and nearby locations to be of use to the visitors.

Historical Significance

Thrikkakara Temple is believed to have been established by Lord Parasurama. It houses Lord Vamana and Lord Shiva as the main deities and Goddess Shakti, Lord Ayappan, Lord Krishna, Naga, Yakshi and the Brahmarakshasa as sub-deities. Legends have it that King Mahabali himself worshipped the Shiva Linga of this temple. The temple is also known to be maintaining precious religious records dating back to 861A.D.

Mythology Associated

The name Thiru-Kal-Kari (now Thrikkakara) literally means the holy place where the Lord placed his foot. Thrikkakara Temple is associated with the Hindu mythology of the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu (Vamana Avatharam) and the Asura King Mahabali.

Mahabali was a well-liked king who ruled the three worlds Dharti (the earth), Akasha (the sky), and Patala (the underground). Under his rule, everyone was happy and prospered too. His popularity grew so much that it threatened the popularity of Lord Indra (the King of Gods). Fearing the loss of his position and kingdom, Indra approached Lord Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu agreed to restore the popularity of Lord Indra. Soon he incarnated as a dwarf Brahmin boy “Vamana.” Vamana went to King Mahabali and requested him for three-foot land. Despite warnings by his guru, the kind and generous King immediately granted the wish. Upon being granted the wish, the tiny Vamana grew in size and covered from sky to earth with one step and earth to the underworld with another step. There was no place left to be covered with the third step. True to his words King Mahabali bowed and offered his head for the Vamana to place his third step. Pleased by his humility Lord Vishnu granted Mahabali a wish that he can visit his prosperous kingdom once every year. With this Vamana placed the third foot on Mahabali. This led the area sink into the waters of the mighty oceans.

In order to fulfill his words, Lord Vishnu reincarnated as Lord Parasurama who threw his axe into the mighty oceans and revived the submerged land (present Kerala). He repopulated the land with Brahmanas and established Thrikkakara Temple which is known to be the base of Malayali culture. The kingdom prospered once again.

It is believed that Onam celebrations first began at Thrikkakara Temple. Since then every Keralite (irrespective of their religion) celebrates Onam to mark the arrival of their King Mahabali.

Physical Description

The large complex of Thrikkakara Temple has its main shrine dedicated to Lord Vamana. Adjoining this shrine is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple also houses deities Goddess Shakti, Lord Aiyappa, Lord Srikrishna, Durga, Ganesha, and Karthikeya, Naga, Yakshi, and the Brahmarakshasa. It also has two ponds. One is Kapilatheertham which is on the northern side of the Temple and is used by Temple priests only. The second pond is located outside the main temple premises which are used for the Aaraatu (ceremonial idol bath).

How to Get There

Thrikkakara temple can be accessed on roads through National Highway 47. For people visiting from outstation – Kochi is well connected through air, rails, as well as roads. The nearest airport to Thrikkakara Temple is Cochin International Airport Limited (Nedumbassery), and the nearest railway station is Ernakulam Town (also called Ernakulam North).

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Thrikkakara Temple is during August-September when Onam festival is celebrated grandeur. During Onam, the Temple hosts traditional Onam Sadhya (traditional feast) to its visitors for a period of ten days.

Nearby Locations

  • CUSAT Metro Railway Station
  • CUSAT (Cochin University of Science and Technology)

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