Vadakkunathan Temple, Trichur
Vadakkunathan temple also known as Then Kailasam (Kailasam of the South) and
Vrishabhachalam occupies the pride of place on a hill top in the center of Trichur town of
Kerala. The Malayalam name for Trichur is Trisiva Perur (The big town of holy Shiva).
People believe that this is one of the fist consecrations done by Sage Parasurama after
he recovered the present land of Kerala from the sea. It seems he requested Lord Shiva to
show him the proper spot to build a temple. Lord Shiva then sent his steed Nandi and
Simhodara to choose a proper place for the temple. They chose the present place and
Lord Parasurama consecrated the present temple here for Lord Shiva. It seems he also
consecrated the statues of Lord Rama and Lord Shankaranarayana in this temple. Besides
these three Gods, the temple also has Lord Ganapathy, and Goddess Parvathy.
In the Shankara Vijaya , it is mentioned that Adhi Shankara’s parents came to this
temple and did Bhajanam(prayer) for a son. Lord Shiva blessed them with Adhi
Shankara. Some people also believe that except for the Lord Shiva in this temple all other
Gods were consecrated by sage Adhi Shankara when he visited this place. There is also a
belief that Adhi Shankara wrote his magnum opus “Soundarya Lahari” extolling the
virtues of Goddess Paravathi in this temple.
There are many interesting stories about this great temple. Some of them are:-
1. When Poonthanam Namboodiri did pooja in this temple., Lord Shiva appeared
before him as Lord Vishnu and told the assembled people about the oneness of the
2. When Adhi Shankara came here he first did Pooja to Lord Shiva. But he was not
able to walk to the temple of Pravathy which is behind this temple.At that time a
baby girl came and offered him a cup of milk. But Adhi Shankara could not lift
his hands to reciev the milk. He told the baby, “I do not have Shakthi (strength) to
receive this cup from you.”. Then the girl told him, “That is because you seem to
have forgotten about Shakthi.” It seems then he realized his mistake and started
composing prayers in praise of the Goddess. Soundarya Lahari is among the first
and it was composed here.
3. Once a handsome saint used to daily sing the praise of the Lord. All the women
devotees used to watch him with great devotion. But it seems , all the children
born after that had the features of the handsome saint. People started getting
perturbed. Then Lord Shiva sent his white bull to this temple. Then people saw
that all the Calves born after that were white. Then they realized their mistake and
requested pardon of the great saint.. The statue of this white bull is still in this
4. The statute of Vadakkunathan is that of the hunter who gave Pasupathasthra to
Arjuna. In the altercation, Arjuna hit the Lord with his bow. This caused a wound.
When the doctors were consulted, they told that pouring of Ghee over the wound
will cure it. Because of this the main worship of the Shiva temple is Abhisheka
(Anointment) with ghee. Since this has been going on for ages, we will not able to
see the God but only a mountain of ghee. It is a wonder of wonders that this ghee
never gets spoiled and never melts. Once in a while a small portion of the ghee
falls from this mountain of ghee. This is given to the devotees and it is believed
that it has lot of curative properties.
5. There is big ground of 18 acres surrounding the temple. This was once upon a
time a teak wood forest(Even today it is called Thekkin Kadu ( teak wood forest) ,
one great king of Cochin who was interested in the development of Trichur town
ordered the clearing of the forest. Then the soothsayer of Parmekkavu temple told
him that the teak wood trees are the hairs of the goddess and should not be cut.
But Shakthan Thamburan first cut off the head of the soothsayer and later cleared
Another strange fact about the temple is that though Tippu Sultan marched
through Trichur he did not cause any harm o the temple.
There are no festivals in this temple except the observation of Shiva Rathri. But
several temples in the neighbour hood viz Thiruvambadi, Chembukkavu, Paramekkavu,
Naithalakkavu, Panekkam palli, Karamukku , Ayyanthol, Lalooru, Kanimangalamand
Panekkampalli come to see Lord Shiva on the Trichur Pooram day along with their
elephants. Thirty elephants assemble in the courtyard,. Those night huge quantities of
crackers are burst . This festival is one of the greatest festivals in Kerala.
In this temple there is a very elaborate routine for a visit. As given in the prayer
“Vadakkunathande Darshana Kramam.”
First we have to take bath in the tank which is to the west of the temple .Then we have to
Go round the banyan tree seven times. And enter the temple through the main gate. In the
left there is the pit made by Arjuna’s bow. We have to wash our legs there and visit the
Lord Krishna’s temple. Then we have to salute the statue of Nandi followed by saluting
Lord Parsurama’s statue. There we have also salute the Simhodharan who was one of the
co founders of the temple. Later we have to walk towards north and salute Lord
Viswanatha of Benares.. Then we have to walk towards south east and climbing the
stone salute Lord Ramanatha of Rameshwaram and Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram. Then
we have to move south and salute the Bhagawathi of Kodungallore, and later the
Bhagawathy of Oorakam and then later Lord Bharath of Irinjalakkuda. Then we have to
meditate on Veda Vyasa and write the 51 alphabets on the stone of Vyasa. Then we have
to salute Lord Ayyappa and walk towards north. There we have to pluck a flower , wear
it and after saluting the conch and the holy wheel enter the temple of Lord Shankara
Narayana. And offer salutations to the picture on the left , offer prayers to Bhoomiswara
and then enter the temple of Lord Shiva.
There we have to salute the learned people sitting in the Mandap and salute the dance
of Chandika on the left side.
Then with all devotion salute the Vadakkunathan. Go to the right and again salute the
Lord..Then in order salute Bhagawathy, Ganapathi, and the God in the centre in the
south, then Ganapathi, then Bhagawathi and then again Vadakkunathan.