The Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala’s capital city is considered to be one of ‘Divya desam’. The Hindu mythology records 108 ‘Divya desam’, which refers to the holiest abodes of Lord Vishnu. One of the oldest existing in the state of Kerala, the temple happens to be a must-see for all travelers and pilgrims arriving in the state. The temple’s presiding deity is Sri Padmanabhasway, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The idol of the deity installed in the temple is in a reclining position. Interesting legends are associated with the temple’s origin. From architectural point of view as well the Padmanabhaswamy Temple of Kerala has much significance.
Mythological Background of Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The origin of the temple in Trivandrum is redolent with many legends. According to a legend, sage Divakara offered prayers to Lord Krishna to be blessed by a glimpse of the lord. Soon, the lord appeared in the form of a mischievous little child and swallowed the ‘saligrama’. Enraged at his act, the sage gave the boy a chase. The tree behind which child Krishna hid fell down and turned into Vishnu in a reclining posture. The image was so gigantic that the sage was unable to fully worship the lord. On the sage’s praying, Vishnu reduced himself in size and stated that he should be prayed to through three doors. This is how the Padmanabhaswamy Temple got to have three doors through which the lord can be viewed and worshiped.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Festivals
Numerous religious festivals are organized at the temple. Most of these temple festivals are celebrated twice a year. Major festivals at Padmanabhaswamy Temple include Alpashy Festival (organized during October-November) and Painkunj Festival (celebrated during March-April). Each of these temple festivals continues for 10 consecutive days. Long processions and purificatory submersion of the idols in the sea are a part of the rituals observed during the celebration. After the ritual bath of deities in the sea, they are carried back in a procession to the temple.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Architecture
Positioned alongside a tank, the temple has an architecture which is truly worth exploring. The seven-tier ‘gopuram’ of the temple measures 100 ft in height. The huge corridor of the temple remains supported by 365 stone-carved pillars. There is a ‘Nataka Sala’ inside the temple complex that is used to present performances of Kathakali, a world popular traditional dance form in Kerala. Lord Vishnu’s idol, which is settled in a reclining position, is placed in the Garbhagriha. In the statue, Lord Vishnu is noticed to be resting over Anantha, the sacred serpent.
Reaching the Temple
The Central Railway Station of Thiruvananthapuram lies just at 4 miles from the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Regular express trains connect the city of Trivandrum with key travel destinations across India. Thiruvananthapuram has a busy international airport connecting to major Indian destinations like New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin and Colombo among others. Travelers can also easily access Trivandrum by road routes from places like Madurai, Kochi, Kanyakumari, Varkala, Ponmudi, Periyar and Kozhikode.