(Trivandrum) gets its name from the grand Anantapadmanabhaswamy temple, enshrining the
tutelary deity - Anantapadmanabha of the Travancore kingdom. It is one of the
grandest temples of Kerala, exhibiting an amalgamation of Dravidian and Kerala temple
architectural styles. It is a temple vibrant with tradition, having been associated for
years with the arts and music. The rulers of Travancore have held this temple in the
highest regard. Even today, an elaborate worship protocol is followed in the strictest
sense and this is one of the best maintained temples in India.
This is an ancient temple
and has been revered by the tamil hymns of the Alwar Saint Nammalwar of the 1st millennium
CE. Eight shrines in Kerala Tirunaavai, Trikakkara, Moozhikkalam, Tiruvalla,
Tirukkodittanam, Chengannur, Tirupuliyur, Aranmula, Tiruvanvandur and Tiruvanantapuram and
two in Kanyakumari district (formerly in Travancore) Tiruvaattar and Tirupatisaram have
been revered by the tamil hymns of Nammalwar. Tirumangaialwar has sung of Tiruvalla, and
has mentioned Tirupuliyur in one of his hymns.
Deities: This temple enshrines an imposing image of Vishnu, in the
Anantasayanam posture; an image viewed through three doors in front of the shrine. The
original image was of wood; the current image was fashioned out of 1200 saalagramams which
were specially brought down for this purpose and moulded into shape with a special paste
kadusarkara - a mixture of lime, granite, molasses and mustard. Vishnu is viewed through
three doors in a row - the face on the southern side, the feet on the northern side and
the nabhi (navel) in the middle. Padmanabhan is enshrined in the yoganidhra posture,
reclining on Aadiseshan -( making offerings of vilvam to a small Shivalingam, to his
The sanctum of this temple is fashioned in the style of the temples of Kerala, while
the surrounding walls and the towers resemble that of the Tamil (Dravidian
architecture)temples. Interesting murals adorn the outer walls of the sanctum. There are
shrines to Narasimha, Hanuman and Krishna near the sanctum.
An interesting legend surrounds the origin of the imposing image. A
rishi by name Divakara Yogi, who was engaged in the worship of Vishnu, was enraged by the
sight of a two year old toddler swallowing his Salagramam, the object of his worship. The
toddler, upon being chased by the yogi, entered a tree; the tree split, and Vishnu
revealed himself in all his splendour to the Rishi, who then requested him to assume a
form that could be held in worship, upon which Vishnu assumed the form of the image, now
held in worship in this temple.
History: Martanda Varma of the Travancore Kingdom, in a spectacular
ceremony in 1750 surrendered the kingdom to the presiding deity of the temple, and
received it back as a fiefdom and ruled Travancore as a servant of Padmanabhan; all of his
successors adopted this custom. Much of the present structure dates back to the period of
Martanda Varma, who made several renovations and built the eastern gopuram, which got
completed by 1798.
The flagstaff is enclosed in a casing of gold. The Kulasekhara mandapam
near the flagstaff has fine sculptures dating back to the 17th century. The long prakaram,
with a terraced roof with 324 columns, mesaures 540 feet by 325 feet, and is about 24 feet
wide. It has two rows of granite pillars, and every pillar bears an image of a
Deepalakshmi. Also here are images of yalis (mythological animal), with non removable
stone balls in their mouths.
Festivals: There are two annual festivals here - one in the month of Pankuni
(Pisces-Meenam) March 15-April14, and the other in Aippasi (Tulaa-Libra) (Oct-Nov).
More will be featured about this magnificient temple shortly on Templenet.