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India Wins UNESCO Award for Conserving Major Temple in Kerala
Sep 19, 2015

India has won the top UNESCO prize 'Award of Excellence' 2015 for the remarkable conservation efforts of the majestic Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple in Kerala.

The award recognises the remarkable conservation effort undertaken at the sacred site which employed age-old rituals and conservation techniques drawn from vastu shastra focusingon architecture and construction

About Temple

Vadakkunnathan (also spelt as Vadakkumnathan) Temple of Thrissur/Trichur is one of the largest Lord Shiva temples in Kerala. The temple is also known as Then Kailasam (Kailasam of the South). The temple is located at the heart of the city of Thrissur. According to Hindu mythological scriptures, the temple was built by Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple plays host to the annual festival ‘Thrissur Pooram’, a famous event which is celebrated in the month of April - May, with much grandeur and great gusto. The temple is famous for its Kerala style architecture and exceptional work of craftsmanship on the Gopurams, which are constructed on all four sides of the temple. The temple also houses a number of Indian mural paintings which depict a number of episodes from the epic Mahabharata. The Koothambalam displays a number of intricate carvings on wood. The temple has been declared as a national monument by National Monument by the Union Government under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.

History/Establishment

According to some of the historians in Kerala, many Hindu temples were once Buddhist shrines, including Vadakkunnathan Temple of Thrissur. So Vadakkumnathan temple might also have a close relation to the Buddhist tradition, although during the early 9th century the Brahmin scholars like Guru Prabhakara and Shankaracharya reinforced the supremacy of Hinduism. It is believed that the presiding deity in the second Sreekovil of Vadakkunathan Temple was worshiped by Sakthi Bhadra, the author of a famous scripture Acharya Chudamani.

There is another popular legend, which states that the temple is 1000 years old and was constructed by Lord Parashurama. According per the legend, when one day Lord Parashurama was chanting his morning prayers he was approached by a few Brahmans who wanted a piece of land they could pray on. So, Lord Parashurama invoked Varuna to throw a piece of land out of the sea and thus happened. The Brahmans built a temple around the Siva lingam, which came out with the land. The temple is bordered by tall and thick walls all around, which separate the complex from the outside world.

Key Features

An interesting thing to notice while visiting Vadakkunnathan Temple is that the mythological Siva Lingam is nowhere to be seen, as it is covered under the 16 feet high mount of Ghee (clarified butter). The Ghee has accumulated over the years, because of Abhishekam is done with Ghee every day over the Lingam. It is believed that the ghee never rots or melts. The murals in the temple are quiet famous for their unique look, out of which a couple of murals - Vasukisayana and Nrithanatha - are worshipped every day. The temple theatre or ‘Koothambalam’, where performances are made till date during festivities, is constructed uniquely.

The four gateways called ‘Gopuram’ exemplify the remarkable craftsmanship. These gateways have been crafted with great precision to face each direction. A two-storied shrine, dedicated to Lord Rama, has been constructed in the southern part of the temple. It is believed that Nandi (a large white bull) should be present in every Shiva temple. Therefore, Nandi Bull, referred to as Nandikeswara, has been constructed on the verandah of the Nalambalam of the temple.

Some Interesting Rituals

Before concluding day pooram, the deities ascending through southern gopuram will travel up to the statue of erstwhile Maharaja of Cochin in front of the Corporation office. There was a custom a team of merchants from market will receive the deities from the swaraj round and will lead to the market. This "Angadi Kanikkura" was a way of seeking the blessing. To commemorate this custom is followed. Version is also that "Nairangadi" was residential area once and the dietis travel to "prayeduppu".

Nilapadu thara: In front of eastern gopuram of vadakkumnathan some 10 meters towards north there is an elevated place which is called "niladthara". Earlier the representatives of Cochin dynasty used sit here and watch the pooram. Now it turned the finishing point of the pooram.


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