Temples of Kerala
Kerala temples are generally constructed in a mixed medium of stone, brick, laterite and wood as a distinctive architectural style of temple building. The stress is laid on the sanctity, simplicity and a prevailing naturalism, which marked the worship in temples. The earlier temples of Kerala were primarily for Shiva and Vishnu or their incarnations such as Krishna, Parasurama, Rama and Vamana. Other shrines such as Swayampradhana shrines dedicated to Ganesha and Kartikeya are of later origin.
Sabarimala is a renowned pilgrim center crowning the rugged hills of the Western Ghats. This holy shrine here is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The Village of Sabarimala is named after Shabari who did severe penance in order to meet Rama. As the legend goes, touched by her devotion and faith, Lord Rama lovingly ate the half-eaten 'ber' (kind of berries) that she offered. In her simplicity, she had preferred to taste them first to ensure that they were sweet and tasty.
There are two main Pujas called the Mandal Puja and the Makara Sankranti Puja, which are celebrated from November to Middle of January in Kerala, during which time the devotees perform austerities and penance. Devotees wear black 'dhotis' and are bare-chested as they prepare for the pilgrimage to Sabarimala. The temple is at the top of the Neeli hills and the devotees have to climb the treacherous route carrying their meager provision in a bundle called 'Iru Mudi' meaning in 'two folds'.
Guruvayoor, where the famous Sree Krishna Temple is situated, is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centers of Kerala. The walls of the sanctum are inlaid with exquisite mural paintings and carvings. However, only Hindus are allowed inside the temple.
Sri Padmanabh Swamy Temple:
A famous pilgrimage centre and one of the major attractions in Thiruvananthapuram city, the Maharaja of Travancore built this famous temple with its seven-storey carved gopuram in the Dravidian style in 1733. There are innumerable pillars, intricate carvings and mural paintings of natural pigments. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu who reclines on the sacred serpent Ananda. The image of Vishnu is 18 feet long and a lotus grows from Vishnu's navel and Brahma is seen in the lotus. Several arts forms like Krishnanattam, Koodiyattom, Pavakkoothu, Nokkuvidya, Velakali, Kathakali and others thrived under the patronage of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
The Vadakkunnathan Temple at Thrissur is one of the famous temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the largest temples in Kerala. Adi Sankaracharya is supposed to have spent his last days in this temple. This temple is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture. The shrines and the Koothambalam (Temple theatre), display exquisite vignettes carved in wood. Legend says that Parasurama built this temple. This temple is famous for its Pooram Festival, which includes colorful and magnificent processions, brightly decorated elephants and fireworks.