The temple is located little away from railway station and near to bus station. The Dravidian style 30 m Gopuram (tower) is built with 365 pillars, equaling a year’s days, into the inner corridor. The deity, the Vishnu, is the family deity of the southern Kerala’s early kings. A visitor or a pilgrim cannot contain the beauty of the idol in one visit. The task is tiresome. The unlettered details lay in three doors. The Lord’s feet is in one door, the lotus in the second and the face in the third.
The temple complex offer some more features. There is a shrine of Lord Krishna which has a nicely carved Japamandapam (prayer meeting venue) and a shrine to Kshetrapala (the temple guardian) with lively geometrical in its ceiling and bright murals on the inner walls. Outside the inner sanctum there is a hall with 1000 pillars. Unfortunately, the entry is only for Hindus.
Attukal Bhagawati temple
This temple is known as Sabarimala of women as women accorded supreme importance here. The Bhagawati is considered as creator, preserver, saver and destroyer. The devotees who visit the famous Padmanabha Swami temple in Thiruvananthapuram also visit Attukal Bhagawati and vice-versa as customary.
The visitors to the temple will be aghast by the intricate architecture of the temple. It incorporates the brilliance of Kerala and Tamil Nadu architecture. The figures of Goddess Kali, Rajarajeshwari, Mahishasura mardini, Parvathi, Shiva and numerous other Goddesses accommodated in and around the temple are enticing and revealing. The corridors bear the depictions of various Gods and the epic versions of Dasavathara, (ten incarnations of Vishnu) and carvings and sculptures of Ganesh, the serpent God and Shiva. Front Gopuram (tower) is a giant one which narrates the story of Kannaki. Dhakshayaga is depicted on the southern gopuram and the decorative entrance gate is a fine example of refined and intricate architecture.
The sanctum sanctorium is treasured by two idols of the Goddess. One is covered by ornamental gold embedded with glittering stones and the other seated beside has no gold covering. Nobody knows the legends behind the twin idols and their different stature.
There is an interesting story behind the deity and the temple. Head of the Mullaveettil family was performing some rituals in Killi river in an evening. At this time a young girl appeared before him and requested to help her go to the other bank of the river. He readily agreed and helped to cross the river. Impressed by her behaviour and charming appearance, he invited her to his house. The girl accepted the invitation and followed him to his house. The family members soon engaged to prepare meal for the invitee-guest and after the preparation when they looked for her to dine the girl was untraceable. During that night in dream Bhagawati appeared before the family head who invited the young girl and told him to create an abode for her at a three lined spot in the nearby grove. In the morning the dreamer went to the dreamed spot where he found three lines on the ground. He constructed a temple there and installed an idol of Bhagawati. Later on when the temple subjected to renovation the devotees replaced the image of the deity with a modified one having four arms holding destructive weapons in each (sword, shield, spear and skull).
All important religious events celebrated here. Notable among them are Shivaratri, Mandala Vritham, Pooja Vaipu, Vinayaka Chathurthi, Karthika, Ayilla Pooja, Aiswarya Pooja, Ramayana Parayanam, Akandanama Japam etc. Almost all special offerings and rituals in major temples are also conducted here. An atmosphere of divinity prevails all around.
The major festival is Pongala in which participants are women alone. The Pongala is a 10 day event. It is held in Kumbham (February/March) on Karthika star day. The festival concludes with Kuruthi Dharpanam (sacrificial offering) in the night. The surrounding areas of the temple which include compounds of the houses of all castes, creeds and religions, premises of commercial institutions and government offices, open fields, road sides etc serve as venue for conducting Pongala rituals. Several thousands of ladies participate and the event is akin to Kumbamela festival of North India.
Papanasam Beach, Varkala
The beach Papanasam acquired its name as purifier. The panorama of the crescent shaped beach is brightened by the long stretched red laterite cliffs. During moon days the beach becomes crowded with pilgrims. A dip in the sea here is believed to be sacred.
Janarddhana Swamy Temple
The deity of the temple is Vishnu. It is believed the water in the pond of the temple is holy and it will nullify the sins.
Karikkakom Sri Chamundi Temple
Situated 7 km east of Thiruvandanthapuram city. The shrine is in the midst of evergreen scenery fortified with coconut palms and fauna. The first stage of the reconstruction of Sreekovil (sanctum sanctorium), Mukhamandapam (front stage hall) and Chuttumandapam (side stage hall) completed. The re-installation of the idol made of Panchaloha (five metals – gold, silver, copper, lead, iron) is also completed. Before the re-installation the temple was open to devotees Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays only. After re-installation all days are open for prayers. Unlike in other majority of temples, here there is no cast bar. Though the cardinal deity is goddess Chamundi Devi, Rektha Chamundi, Bala Chamundi, Sastha, Vinayaka and Yogeshwara are also accommodated. During the period of king’s rule this temple was the venue for imparting justice and truth. Truth and justice were tested on oath and solemnization and the punishments meted out accordingly. Even today where Police and Court failed to unearth truth, it is unearthed before the deity by the sheer power of Devi. The people of all castes and creeds, even from far away places, come here to seek justice. Oaths for non-repeat of sins are also a regular feature here. The procedure to the solution of the problem is simple and inexpensive. The plaintiff and the defendant are ordered to have a bath in the temple pond. Thereafter they are directed to stand up with folded hands before the deity and take oath. If the oath is false, sudden retribution is the result.
The deity used to get valuable gifts for helping retrieve stolen articles. This is a regular feature. And many testify that Devi has helped retrieve stolen articles. There is Raktha Chamundi Nada (Raktha Chamundi front path) on the right side of Devi Nada (front path). This Raktha Chamundi Nada has no idol. Instead, there is wall painting of Devi in Rowdra Bhava (ferocious state) in the wall of Nada. Years back this Nada was used to elicit truth from suspected culprits. This practice is still prevalent, but it is done before the deity of Chamundi Devi.
The temple conducts numerous rituals such as Bali Sadhya, Nirayum Puthiriyum, Uthrada Taneerkuda, Kodi Charthu, Vinayaka Chaturthi Pooja, Karthika Vilakku, Ayilyam Ootu, Sasta Pratishta Dinam, Ulsava Mahamagam, Vishu Kani etc. Among these, Kodi Charthu is more famous. During this ritual the devotees give yellow attire to the Devi as offering.
Mukkalkkal Sri Varaham Bhagawati Temple
This shrine locates at Mukkolakkal in Manakad, 2 km away from the renowned Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple in the city. The deity is goddess Bhagawati. There are sub-deities of Mahaganapathy, Nagar and Brahma Rakshas. The idol with eight manifestations made of Panchaloha (five metals) facing north is seen beside a self-grown Puttu (leap of soil created by white ants).
After killing King Pandya of Tamil Nadu Bhagawati went to Kondungallur in Thrissur district of Kerala to settle there. En-route she rested at various places. Mukkolakkal is one of them. All these places became sacred and devotees constructed temples at all these places. Her journey from Tamil Nadu was in a ferocious mood. However, when she reached Mukkolakkal the ferocity was sub-sided and she became quiet. The idol in Mukkolakkal is therefore with calmness as against ferocious state in other places.
Bharani in the month of Meenam (March/April) is celebrated here with pomp and show as Uruttulsav. It is a 7 day long festival. There is Parakkezhunnullath on the 6th day. Parakkezhunnallathu is a procession with deity’s idol on the neck of an elephant for accepting Para, a full measure of paddy, from the houses of devotees in the villages around the temple. During the festival the surrounding places will be in festive mood.
Sri Pazhanchira Devi Temple
This 700 years old temple is situated at Pazhanchira in the side of Kovalam road in the city. The idol was installed by a Siddha Yogi who used to worship Devi. Years a later a temple was raised here by the devotees and the Yogi who died meanwhile was accorded a place in the western side of the sanctum sanctorium. Outside the sanctum there is a Snake grove with many trees. Here Naga Pooja (snake rituals) is performed. There is a belief that offering a Naga Pooja enables one to get cured of skin and eye ailments. The main ritual offer is Aiswarya Malaxmi Pooja which extends to one hour from 5 pm every full moon day. This ritual forbids ill-effects and conceive prosperity.
There is 7 day festival in the month of Meenam (March/April). 5th day of the festival is earmarked for Naga Devatas (snake gods). Special rituals performed for Nagas on this day. Using multi-coloured rice powder, Naga kalam (snake circle) of Naga Devatas is drawn. This is done by Pulluvan tribes who are settled mostly in North Kerala. Songs pleasing snakes accompanied by mud-pot musics follow. A male folk who has undergone vritam (fast) sits in the Kalam (drawn snake circle) and make snake-like movements in frenczied state and offer prasadam (blessed token ritualized stuff) to the devotees. At this time real snakes appear from nowhere and go back immediately to the utter surprise of onlookers.
On 6th day there is a ritual ceremony called Sribhoota Bali. This ritual is conducated at 1 am. The Melshanti (elder priest) attired as Devi pauses in different manifestations of Devi such as Bhadrakali, Saraswati, Chamundi and the like. Final day (7th day) Pongala Nivedyam (sanctified food) is offered to the Devi by ladies coming from different parts of Kerala.
Mahanavami is celebrated with Kanyaka Pooja (homages for unmarried girls). Unmarried girls are worshiped and presented with dress material and gifts. A Samooha Leksharchana (community floral ritual) attended by hundreds of devotees is also conducted. On Vidyarambam day (the day of initiation to letters) hundreds of children get initiation to letters by the Priests. Yet another important function is the celebration of Navaratri (auspicious nine nights). There are different rituals for each day.
1st day : Pavamana Homam, Mahaganapthi Homam, Ganapathi Homam, Ganapathi Upanishath Homam – for removing obstacles and annihilation of bad deeds. 2nd day: Suhrata Homam – for nullifying sins committed. 3rd day : Nava Graha Shanti Homam – for the annihilation of ill-effects of planets in the life. 4th day : Samvada Sukta and Aikyamathya Sukta Homamas – for ending family disputes and attaining peace and unity in the family. 5th day : Mrityunjaya Homam and Dhara – for long and disease free life. 6th day : Sri Sukta Homam – for poverty removal, success in business and prosperity. 7th dcay : Purushasukta Homam – for fulfilment of desires. 8th day : Durgasukta Homam – for warding off fear and enemies. 9th day : Shanti Homam – for peace of mind and world peace.
Beemapalli, 5 km south-west of Thiruvananthapuram, is an important Muslim pilgrim centre. The Beemappalli Dargah Shareef is dedicated to Beema Beevi, a pious Muslim lady believed to have possessed divine powers. She came to Kerala from Arabia and settled down at this place with her son Mahin Abubacker. Beema Beevi and her son are are laid to rest here. The mosque is visited by devotees of all religions. The Chandanakudam Mahotsavam or Beemapalli Uroos is one of the most colourful Muslim festivals in Thiruvananthapuram.
Palayam Juma Masjid
The Palayam mosque is the most important mosque in Thiruvananthapuram. Situated at Palayam, the mosque has a temple and a Christian church as its neighbours, establishing the communal harmony of Keralites. P K Ahmed Kutty Moulavi, imam of the Palayam mosque, opened the doors of the mosque for women for the first time in south Kerala. More than 250 women attend the prayers at the Palayam Mosque on ordinary days, whereas on Fridays their numbers increase to around 1,000. The imam is of the opinion that there is nothing unIslamic in women offering prayers in mosques.