Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Vennimala Sri Rama Lakshmana temple, Kerala with rare pot-shaped sanctum

Vennimala Sri Rama Lakshmaqna templeYouTube
In this Kerala Hindu temple, both lord Lakshmana and lord Rama are worshipped. The striking feature of this unique temple is the shape of the sanctum - Srikovil. Kottayam is the nearest railway station. 
Vennimala Sri Rama Lakshmana temple  located on a 1500 foot tall hill in Puthupally in Kottayam District Kerala is believed to have been built by the ruler  Cheraman Perumal Bhaskara upon the advice and guidance of sage Kapila Maharishi.  Originally, the place was known as Iravipuram. Perhaps one may be wondering why this Hindu temple is located in a secluded area(15 km away from Kottayam town). Legend has it this place, once upon a time a Tabhovana Bhumi (place of meditation), was  ridden with countless demons/ Asuras who terrorised the people and Sadhus/ sages. Driven by arrogance, pride and enormous physical power, they caused untold miseries to the people living there. As the mischief and pain caused by them became so unbearable and went on unchecked, the sages mediated on the lord Sri Lakshmana and Sri Rama  to get rid of the demons from the forest. Lord Lakshmana was quite angry with the demons who had no compassion for the ordinary mortals  who were minding their own business in the forest.  Sri Rama and Lakshmana came to this part of Kerala  wandering during their 14 long year exile. In the ensuing battle between Lord Lakshmana who acted on behalf of Sri Rama and the terrorizing demons, the lord came out victorious. Hence this place later came to be called ‘Vijayadri’ meaning ''victory in Sanskrit.
Vennimala Sree Rama Lakshmana Perumal Temple ...Temple Advisor
As for the ruler Cheraman Perumal Bhaskara, attracted by the beauty of this place and the quiet ambiance stayed here for good and had his place built. Besides, he declared that Lord Rama of this temple would be the ruler of the region and he being his servant. He also further declared this place was a holy one and hence a sacred one - a place of veneration.  The presiding deity is called  “Vennimala Perumal”. The temple is under the administrative control of the Uranma Devaswom Board. 
As one may notice, though the temple is dedicated to Lord Lakshmana, his elder bother  lord Rama gets  equal importance. Unlike many temples, here one can see two dhwajastambhas (flag masts) outside the nalambalam -in the front yard.  Vennimala Koothu, an important  part of the cultural and traditional finearts form  of Kerala, has been around  for centuries and it will be held for 16 long days followed by Koodiyattom  that will last for 12 days. It is believed the duration of festivities is reduced recently for many social reasons. Here the puja protocol is limited to only 3 times daily,

This west facing temple is built in Kerala style in with an  Anapandal (elephant portico). Sri kovil and the mukhamantapa  have interesting  carved wooden panels  in between stone pillars which support a tiled roof atop. They form a sort of pathway. The most exciting feature of this temple which other Kerala temples lack is its Garbagriha / Sri kovil which is in the form of a pot - 'Ghata Prasada’ type. Srikovil is in circular form, but, inside it is hexagonal in shape. The pot-shaped sri kovil  and  the neck-shaped Namaskara mantap (the place where the devotees prostrate before the deity)  have copper-plated wooden roof supported by heavy  wooden  rafters and beams; Close-by is balikkal and  the namaskarara mantap and balikkal are in front of the main shrine.   All along the periphery of the temple lie a series of wood carved images of gods -''daru silpas'' at regular interval. The temple has many small shrines and among them the shrines of Sri Krishna Shastha, Bagavathi are of interest to the devotees.  

The temple tank is not close-by, but is located 100m from the temple. It is said there is an underground channel connecting the temple and the pond. Certain rituals like Balikarmas take place during Thulam and Karkidagam vavu days. About 1 km from the cave there is  a fairly big  cave
http://www.templeadvisor.com/temples-in-india/hindu-temples/vennimala-sree-rama-lakshmana-perumal-temple
https://sites.google.com/site/keralatourdestinations/places-of-worship-in-kerala/vennimala-sree-rama-lakshmana-temple