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Kerala is colored with a multitude of shades ranging from natural beauty to cultures and traditions. One highlight from amongst this being the revered places of worship. Not only is Kerala overrun with a plethora of floral grandeur but it is also packed with an assortment of religious splendor. Each of these places of religious pilgrimage breathe its own unique and mystic stories with roots entrenched over more than a 1000 years.

Some of the praiseworthy spiritual and  sacred places are as follows:

1.Sabarimala

7430_1416108040Sabarimala (in Pathanamthitta) – is an august Hindu site of worship, famous for its deity Lord Dharmasastha or Ayyappan  believed to son of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The saintly god, is always in meditation, believed to give darshan only for 41 days in a year starting from 1st of Malayalam Month of Vrishickam (16 or 17th of Nov) till last week of December, which is known as Mandalam Pilgrimage. Mandalam Pilgrimage is reported to 2nd largest pilgrimage in the world, with nearly 300 million devotees from all over world reaching here. The appearance of celestial flame in skies on Makara Jyothi day (Mostly on mid of Jan), is one of the most auspicious day. This is one of the most crowded places in India during the pilgrimage season from November to January. Also, temple authorities do not allow women into the temple grounds, supposedly to avoid tempting the deity, as being the lord considered as a chronic bachelor. The temple is open only on 41 days during Mandalam (Pilgrimage) Season as well as on 1st day of each Malayalam Month. Ideally male tourists can choose the second option, as best time to visit. Ladies above 60 and girls below 12 are permitted in. The temple is well known for its secularist values. A visit to nearby mosque (Vavar Palli), considered to be tomb of Muslim warrior Vavar, believed to Lord Ayyappa’s friend, is a must before entering the main temple.

3. Guruvayur

anayottamThe Sree Krishna temple located in the Thrissur district of Kerala is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in India. The temple is one among the 108 Maha Vishnu temples of India and is is believed to constructed by Deva Guru (Guru of Gods) as well as Lord Vayu Deva (God of winds) on orders of Lord Krishna, during his death time. The temple also includes a deity worshiped by Lord Krishna during his lifetime in Dwaraka (Gujarat) and brought to Kerala, after Dwaraka was taken over by seas. The temple is lauded for its murals and sculptures. The temples follow stringent rules which prevents non-hindus from entering its premises

4. Sree Padmanabha Temple

The temple located in the heart of the Thiruvanathapuram city is one of the 108 Great Vishnu temples. The Lord, Sree Padmanabha is an unique form of Lord Vishnu, in a sleeping posture which is rarely seen else. This temple holds a very important position in Kerala History, as the Lord Sree Padmanabha was crowned as Emperor of Travancore in 17th century and all the later rulers of Travancore ruled the state in his name and with designation as Sree Padmanabhadasa(servant of lord padmanabha).

5. Ettumanoor-Vaikom-Kaduthurthy Temple:- The Trio of Temples located at Ettumanoor, Vaikom, Kaduthurthy temples (all located in same road with a distance of 20 to 30 Kms between each), in Kottayam district of Kerala, are popular Shiva temples, believed to have been established on the same day, its sacred to visit all the temples within a Day. Very famous for its large super imposing structures at Vaikom and Ettumanoor Templs. Ettumanoor Temple is also well known for its Seven and a Half Golden Elephants (Idols) which are taken out during festivals.

6. Kodungallor Temple

The temple situated in Kodungallor, Thrissur District on NH 17, is a very famous Devi temple, that highlights the historical relation between the Ancient Tamil Empires of Chera, Cholas and Pandyas. This temple is believed to have Kannakki (Heroine of Ancient Tamil epic-Silappadikaram) in a fiery form, after destroying Madurai. The temple was built in 1st century AD by Chera Emperors. Thus, many unique ancient tamil customs still adorn the temple culture. The Goddess is believed to be Goddess of Epidemic and worship helps to control it. The sacred red turmeric of the temple is said to be highly effective against diseases like chicken pox etc.

7. Churches

Some of the prominent churches are the follwing: 1. Syro malabar church (syrian catholics) 2. Latin Catholic Church 3. Syrian Orthodox Church(Jacobites) 4. Indian Orthodox Church 5. Syro malankara church 6. Marthoma syrian Church 7. Various Protestant Churches

8. Seven and Half Churches- Ezharapallikal

St Thomas the Apostle, after landing at Kodungallur in AD 52, established seven and half churches for Christian communities. These churches are known as Seven and Half Churches or Ezharappallikal.

The seven churches are located in different parts of Kerala. The church established at Thiruvithamkode (Thiruvamkode) in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu is accorded the status of a half church.

  • Paliankara- (Kodungallur – Azhikode), 40 km from Trichur: Diocese of Irinjalakuda
  • Palayoor (Near Chavakkadu & Guruvayoor), 28 km from Trichur: (Arch) Diocese of Trichur
  • Kottakavu (North Paravur): (Arch) Diocese of Ernakulam – Angamaly
  • Kokkamangalam (Alappuzha Dt, 5 km from Cherthala) St Thomas Church, This is also headquarters of Archdiocese of Ernakulam – Angamaly
  • Niranam, Nr Thiruvalla: St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Niranam (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church)
  • Kollam: The Headquarters of Diocese of Kollam
  • Chayal (Nilackal), Nr Sabarimala, Pathanamthitta Dt: Ecumenical Church, Kerala
  • Thiruvithamkode, Kanyakumari Dt, Tamilnadu (Half church): Orthodox Syrian Church, Tamilnadu

9. Malayattoor Kurisumudi church

This is an important Christian pilgrimage centre near Angamaly. It is believed that St. Thomas held his prayer at the top of this mountain after being attacked by some tribes when he landed in Kerala. Due to his meditation, the rock where he sat started bleeding and a golden cross appeared. Due to this belief, a pilgrimage to this mountain is considered one of the most holiest among Indian Christians. The most important pilgrimage season is the days just before Easter, when hundreds of thousands of devotees climb the rocky mountain by foot, with a heavy cross on back, recreating the painful Last Journey of Christ. A kiss on the holy rock is considered as most divine moment. The hilltop church is located 10 km away from the town of Kalady.

10. Korattymuthy

The name of the church means Hail Mary of Koratty. It is also known as the Lourdes of South India and Vailankanni of Kerala. Korattymuthy shrine is also known as ‘Our Lady with Poovan Bananas’. This Marian Apparition is situated in Central Part of Kerala. Offering of ‘Poovan Bananas’– a special variety of plantain and ‘Muttilizhayal’ are major offerings in this pilgrim centre. In the month of October, during the Feast of Korattymuthy, major pilgrimage travel is seen on this Holy Place.

11. Cheraman Palli (Cherman Juma Masjid), Kodungallor

India’s oldest mosque and World’s 2nd mosque built in 629 AD soon after Medina Mosque in Saudi Arabia. This Mosque was built converting Kerala’s Chera Emeperor’s Palace into a mosque on his orders, after Cherman Perumal’s (The Great Chera Emperor) conversion to Islam. Due to traditional relations with Arabia, soon after formation of Islam, champions of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) came to Chera Capital of Kodunagallor (Muziris)and demonstrate Prophet’s miracle. This made Chera Emperor to convert into Islam and expressed his desire to meet Prophet. He met the Prophet, married sister of Nejd King and settled at Muscat, where he died and his tomb exists there today. As per his last wish, his royal palace was asked to convert to mosque, which resulted in formation Cheraman Palli. The original mosque was destroyed during Great Periyar floods in 1341, and several later mosques on its same site were destroyed during various wars and raids. However the current mosque was recently rebuilt. The important legacy of this mosque, is its effective harmony with Hinduism and adoption of several Hindu customs into its system. The Royal Lamp used by Cheras are still used inside the mosque and one of the most important highlight. The Mosque is built in traditional Hindu Kerala architecture with lot of murals, hindu motifs etc and several traditional Hindu lamps is used. A white block of Marble blessed by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) brought here from Makkah. Unlike other mosques which normally faces westwards towards Makkah, this mosque faces towards East (as Makkah mosque was not built, at time of Cherman Mosque as well as following Kerala Hindu system of facing eastwards). Most of Muslim festivals as well as Hindu festivals particularly nearby Thiruvanchikulam Temple festival.

12. Kanjiramattom Mosque

The mosque is situated at Kaniramattom, 20 Kms from Kochi. This mosque is the right example of antique beauty of mazhars and dargahs. This was an official temple classified by Kochi Maharajas and most of the Imams (Priests) are chief scholars at Kochi Raja’s court. The annual Chandanakudam in January attracts many pilgrims. During the festival, pilgrims carry pots smeared with sandalwood paste in a procession to the mosque, with caparisoned elephants and percussion musics – both found in temples – form essential parts of the Chandanakudam festival.

13. Palayam Pally, located in heart of Trivandrum, is the principal mosque of Trivandrum. It is a Juma Masjid (Friday Mosque). The Mosque is one of the largest in Kerala and famous for its regular sermons. The mosque was established with patronage of Travancore Kings.

14. Thazhathangady Juma Masjid,Kottayam:- is a mosque situated in Thazhathangady, one of the Heritage Zones of Kerala near the town of Kummanam. It is one of the oldest mosques in India and is more than 1000 years old. It is famous for its richness of architecture, wood carvings and the beauty. This mosque is situated on the banks of the Meenachil river. Thazhathangady Juma Masjid is also called as the “Taj Juma Masjid”. The ancestors of this Masjid came and settled in Kottayam, from different parts of Kerala.The Muslims who lived here played an active role in Freedom Struggle and other National Movements. This mosque is known for its intricate wooden carvings and architecture and looks similar to Kerala Architecture.

15. Chempittapally;West Kochi

The name “Chempittapally” is derived from the Malayalam word “chemp” (means bronze) and “palli” (means mosque). The roof of this famous mosque was decorated with bronze tiles, hence chempitta pally. The compound has 3 gates; one in west which opens way to Panayapilly, second in south which opens way to Goldenmukku and Kochangadi, and the main gate in the eastern side of compound, which opens way to Angadi, which in turn leads the way to Jew Street and Mattancherry Bazaar towards the north and to Chullickal towards south.

16. Odathil Palli(Odathil Mosque) Thalassery; is a famous 300 year old Mosque. This land originally belonged to Dutch, who had started a sugar cane farm and a Garden (Odam in Dutch means Garden), which was transfered to East India Company who gifted this land to a Muslim contractor. He built a small mosque, using Sugarcane stem to make a Dome and Minaret. This was the first mosque to have a Dome and Minaret, which was laid by Hindu Zamorin Ruler, marking the great tolerance. This is famous among tourists to visit, as its historic tradition and a mosque in pure typical Kerala Hindu style and a golden dome covering over its original sugarcane dome.

17. Jain Derasar in Mattancherry(Kochi) – This derasar is dedicated to Theerthankara Shree Dharmnath Swamy. It has completed 100 years and has become a Theerth. A sthanak is also there inside the big temple complex. There is a big Jain Community in Kochi. It was built by Gujarathi Community who have settled here for past 200 years for trading. Its more popularly known as Gujarathi Temple. A must visit for any tourist in Kochi, due to its towering North Indian Architecture.

18. Jain Derasarin Alleppey – This temple is located in Allepey (Allappuzha) which is also known as the Venice of the east. It is very calm and quiet temple. Allepey has a very small Jain population.

19. Jain Derasarin Kozhikode city – There are 2 temples inside the temple complex of which one is over 2500 years old and has 1000 pillars.

20. Karumadi-Kuttannear Ambalapuzha, which has a small shrine dedicated to Lord Budhha, worshipped by locals as Karumadi Kuttan.

21. The Statue of Buddha at Mavelikara, in Alleppy district has the largest statute of Buddha, nearly 4 four feet sized. This is the most preserved statute of Buddha in Padmasana posture. A small shrine is constructed around it, though no rites are performed.

 

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