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Temples of Kerala

The Tiruvangad Rama temple located in Telicheri, north of Kozhikkode in Northern Kerala is one of the three well known Rama temples in the state, the other two being Triprayar and Tiruvilvamala. This temple differs from the other two in that it has a prominent flagstaff used in annual festivals, while the other two do not.

The sanskritized name for this site is Swetaranyam - or the white forest, as in TiruveNkadu in Tamilnadu. Swetaranyam in Tamilnadu houses the famous Shivastalam dedicated to Swetaranyeswarar, Nataraja and Aghora Virabhadrar and the planet Mercury.

Legends: The name Swetaranyam comes from the legend that Sweta Muni - an ascetic offered worship to Rama at this site. Swetamuni and his counterpart Neelamuni were two ascetics, who in their previous lives had been hunters cursed by Agastya muni. The site where Swetamuni performed his austerities came to be known as Swetavanam. In here, are images of Shiva and Rama said to have been installed by this ascetic.

A slight variation of this legend states that Neelamuni installed the Shivalingam while Swetamuni installed the Rama shrine.

The deity: As in Triprayar and Tiruvilvamala (and Tirumoozhikkalam and Irinjalakkuda), an image bearing the attributes of Vishnu is considered to be Rama. Rama worshipped here is conceived of as the destroyer of the demons Khara and Dhooshana. A similar belief holds at Triprayar. Rama, here is known as Tiruvangad Perumaal. This caturbhuja Vishnu image bears a conch, a discus and a mace.

There is a shrine to Hanuman to the left of the sanctum. There is a shrine to Ganapati and Subramanya (said to have been brought here from Peralasseri during the invasion of Tipu Sultan). The two Shiva shrines in the northern part of the temple face each other.

The temple: The fortress like temple complex has a tank located in front of it. The sanctum is rectangular in shape and it has a two storeyed copper roof. Carvings depicting episodes from the puranas adorn the walls of the sanctum. In front of the sanctum is a decorated mukhamandapam bearing carvings depicting scenes from the Ramayana. Also seen in the circumambulatory path are murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana. Inscriptions from as early as the 9th century CE are seen in this temple. The massive outer walls of the temple are said to have been  rebuilt by the British in the 19th century.

Festivals: The 7 day annual festival here is celebrated in the month of Aries, commencing on the Malayalam new years day itself.