Thrikkakara Temple

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Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy Kshethram
Thrikkakara Temple DSC09337.JPG
Thrikkakara Temple Entrance
Affiliation Hinduism
District Ernakulam
Deity Vamana (Vishnu), Thrikkakarayappan, Perunchelvanayagi, Vathsalyavalli [1]
Location Thrikkakara
State Kerala
Country India
India Kerala location map.svg
Om symbol.svg
Shown within Kerala
Geographic coordinates 10°2′8″N76°19′48″E / 10.03556°N 76.33000°E / 10.03556; 76.33000 Coordinates: 10°2′8″N76°19′48″E / 10.03556°N 76.33000°E / 10.03556; 76.33000
Type Dravidian architecture (Kerala style)

Thrikkakara Temple (also referred as Thirukatkarai [2] [1] ) is one of the few temples in India dedicated to Lord Vamana. It is situated in Thrikkakara, Kochi in the state of Kerala, South India. Located around 10 km north-east of the city center between Thrissur-Ernakulam highway (NH 47), Seaport-Airport Road, Cochin University of Science and Technology and Model Engineering College, it is the center of celebrations and place of origin for the popular Onam festival of Kerala. [3] The temple is around two millennia old [4] and is also listed as one of the 108 Divya Desams (divine places). [5] [6]


The main temple festival is during the Onam season, which falls on the month of August or September and is the most important event of the religious calendar here. The Onasadya or the Onam feast is held in a grand manner in the temple with people of various religions participating in it. In earlier times the Onam festival was jointly organized by the 61 Naduvazhis (local rulers) under the leadership of the Maharaja of Travancore. Communal harmony continues to be the hallmark of the celebrations, with people belonging to different faiths and religions turning out in large numbers for the Sadya in keeping with the spirit of the festival. [7] [8] Apart from Onam, the temple also observes important festivals in the Hindu calendar such as Vishu, Diwali, Makar Sankranti, [9] Navrathri and Saraswati Puja.

Architecture and deities

The Chuttu-Vilakku (surrounding lamps) lit up during Onam at Thrikkakara temple Chuttuvilakku.jpg
The Chuttu-Vilakku (surrounding lamps) lit up during Onam at Thrikkakara temple

The temple complex, which is enclosed in a large area with picturesque surroundings, holds the main sanctum dedicated to Lord Vamana. The sanctum sanctorum of the main shrine houses the idol of Vishnu. The idol is in the form of Lord Vamana preparing to place his foot on the Asura King Mahabali. [10] Lord Parashurama is said to have established the temple. [10] The temple also houses records containing the earliest mention of the celebration of the Onam festival dating to 861 A.D. [11] The temple is under the administration of the Travancore Devaswom Board.

The sub-deities of Vamana temple are Bhagavati, Sasthavu, Gopalakrishna, Nāga, Brahmarakshasa and Yakshi. The Brahmarakshasa shrine is located in the outer complex, along with a Banyan-tree god (ആൽദേവത) and the Sarpa Kavu. Surrounding the inner complex walls is a series of thousands of lamps called Chuttuvilakku which translates to 'surrounding lamps'. There are two ponds associated with the temple, one is the Kapilatheertham located closer to the temple on the Northern side of the sanctum sanctorum, and is accessible only to priests. The other pond is located on the Northern side outside the temple walls, and is used regularly during the Aaraattu ceremonial bath of the idol during Onam celebrations.

There is also a Shiva temple beside the main Vamanamoorthy temple, which was renovated in 2014. [4] It houses idols of the deities Shiva, Ganesha, Karthikeya and Durga. Not much is known about the age and origin of the Shiva temple except that it underwent renovation around a hundred years ago. [4]

Apart from the shrines and ponds, the temple complex houses three stages or halls for cultural performances called Naimishaaranyam, and a temple auditorium at the South-west corner. The auditorium is regularly used for weddings and meeting, and for conducting the Onam feast during the festival.


The Bhagavata Purana describes that Vishnu descended as the Vamana avatar to restore the authority of Indra over the heavens, as it had been taken by Bali, a benevolent Asura King. Bali was the grandson of Prahlada, the son of Virochana. King Bali was generous, and engaged in severe austerities and penance and won the praise of the world. With the praise from his courtiers and others, he regarded himself as the all powerful in the world.

Vamana, in the guise of a short Brahmin carrying a wooden umbrella, went to the king to request three paces of land. Bali consented, against the warning of his guru, Sukracharya. Vamana then revealed his identity and enlarged to gigantic proportions to stride over the three worlds. He stepped from heaven to earth with the first step, from earth to the netherworld with the second. King Bali, unable to fulfill his promise, offered his head for the third.

Vamana then placed his foot and gave the king immortality for his humility. Upon worshiping Mahabali and his ancestor Prahláda, he conceded sovereignty of Rasatala. Some texts also report that Vamana did not step into the Rasatala, and instead gave its rule to Bali and granting him the boon to become the next Indra. This act of Vamana is to be conceived as destroying the ego of Bali and from then on Bali became Mahabali. In giant form, Vamana is known as Trivikrama. The legend is associated with the temple and also with Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukoyilur and Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram. [12] [13] [14]

As per another legend, a rich man who owned a plantain garden, did not get much yield from it. He donated a set of plantain to the temple, after which it started yielding as golden plantains. The groove came to be known as Nentiram Palam. The ruling king became suspicious of the change that it was his wealth in the garden and tortured a sage. The sage cursed the king. The king was afraid and in redemption, he consulted a group of sages. They suggested a thatch of bamboo and created a light with "Koraipul", a grass which helped him redeemed from the curse. [15]

Onam festival

Vamanamoorthy idol in the Aarattu procession at Thrikkakara temple ThrikkakaraAarattu.jpg
Vamanamoorthy idol in the Aarattu procession at Thrikkakara temple

Thrikkakara temple is considered to be the centre of Onam celebrations over the world, as Thrikkakara is considered to have been the abode of the King Mahabali. [3] [8] The celebration of the Onam festival is the main religious event in the temple. The festival is celebrated over a period of ten days in the Malayalam month of Chingam. The temple houses the main deity Lord Vamana. [16] [17] During the Onam celebration period, a pyramidal statue symbolizing Lord Vamana is installed as a symbol of honour at all other sites of the celebration, and named Thrikkakara-appan. The temple is the site at which the king Mahabali is said to have been sent to the underworld Patala by Lord Vamana with his foot, hence marking the genesis of the Onam festival. The etymology of the name Thrikkakara ('Thiru-kaal-kara' meaning 'place of the holy foot') is also derived this way. Some features of the Onam festival at Thrikkakara are

Seeveli at Thrikkakara temple Thrikkakara Temple Seeveli DSC09379.JPG
Seeveli at Thrikkakara temple

See also


  1. 1 2
  3. 1 2 "Myth, mystique and traditions of Onam". The Hindu. Kochi, India. 21 August 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 "New Siva temple at Thrikkakara to be ready by Onam". The Times of India. Kochi, India. 13 August 2013.
  5. "Nammalvar : Poems and Biography". Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  6. Elayavalli, Venkatesh K. "108 Divya Desam: A Virtual Tour". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "Grandeur marks Onam celebrations at Thrikkakkara temple". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 11 September 2011.
  8. 1 2 "Thiruvonam celebrated with enthusiasm". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 11 September 2011.
  9. "Let a million lamps glow". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 11 September 2011.
  10. 1 2 "ഓണക്കാലത്തിന്റെ വരവറിയിച്ച് തൃക്കാക്കരയില്‍ ഉത്സവത്തിനു കൊടിയേറി". Asianet News. Kochi, India. 31 August 2015.
  11. "The many shades of Onam". The Hindu. Kochi, India. 21 August 2015.
  12. Parmeshwaranand, p. 1337
  13. Hoiberg 2001, p. 217
  14. "Sri Thiruvikrama swamy temple". Dinamalar. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  15. R., Dr. Vijayalakshmy (2001). An introduction to religion and Philosophy - Tévarám and Tivviyappirapantam (1st ed.). Chennai: International Institute of Tamil Studies. pp. 468–9.
  16. 1 2 3 "5,000 partake of onasadya at Thrikkakara". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 16 September 2005.
  17. 1 2 3 4 "Ritual lunch marks Onam at Thrikkakara". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 August 2010.
  18. "Navya Nair's New Experiments In Dance : 'Shivoham' In Thrikkakara Temple". Asianet Youtube. Kochi, India. 16 September 2005.
  19. 1 2 "Aranmula temple festival begins with Kodiyettu ceremony". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 8 January 2010.
  20. PTI (14 August 2010). "'Athachamayam' Festivities held at Tripunithura". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  21. "And Onam is here, officially". The Hindu. Kochi, India. 14 September 2016.
  22. "Thrikkakara temple gears up for Onam". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 August 2013.

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