A famous abode of Lord Vishnu in Kerala. The idol is conceived as ‘Santhana Gopala’ form of Lord Vishnu, which is a rare occurrence.
Legend is that Arjuna got a Lord Vishnu idol from Lord Vishnu himself when, he along with Lord Krishna, went to Vaikunta in search of ten newly born children of a Brahmin as told in the Santhana Gopala story of Bhagavata Purana.
The story is that a Brahmin parents of Dwaraka lost ten newly- born children in succession. The Brahmin complained to Lord Krishna, the King of Dwaraka. He ridiculed Krishna for his in ability to look after the welfare of his subject. When Lord Krishna and Lord Balrama, both the manifestation of Lord Vishnu himself remained silent, Arjuna, who was present at the scene, intervened. He declared that he shall save his next child. If he fails, he shall immolate himself in the sacrificial fire.
But even Arjuna could not save the next newly born child of the Brahmin from the death. So he started making arrangements for the self-immolation. At that time Lord Krishna intervened; took Arjuna with him and started a search for the missing children. He could not find the children anywhere on earth or the ether world. Finally, they reached Vaikuntam – the celestial abode of Lord Vishnu, where they saw these 11 children, playing with Lord Vishnu.
Arjuna prayed to Lord Vishnu to return the children and save his life. Lord Vishnu returned the boys. He also gave an idol of Lord Vishnu to Arjuna for worship. Both Arjuna and Lord Krishna returned to earth. They returned the children to their joyous and grateful parents.
After that, Arjuna requested Lord Ganesh to find a suitable place on earth to consecrate this idol of Lord Vishnu. Ganesh selected the present day Tripunithura.
The two big, ever lit oil lamps of the temple is believed to be lit first by Arjuna himself during the time of consecration of the idol at the temple.
A peculiarity of the idol is that, it is depicting Lord Vishnu in sitting position on the mount of Anantha (the mythical Serpent) instead of his usual reclining posture. The reason is that Lord Vishnu arose from his reclining position to give respect to Kirishna when Lord Krishna visited Vishnu along with Arjuna in search of the missing children.
The temple celebrates many colourful festivals throughout the year. But Moosari Utsav in the beginning of the Malayalam month Khumbham and the annual Utsav in August-September are important. The Moosari Utsav commemorates the Sthapathi or the architect of the original temple.
The present temple dates back to 1921. In 1920 there was a major fire which swallowed the entire temple, except western gate and the idol in the sanctum sanctorum. Thus the Western gate is the only remains of the original temple- no one knows its antiquity.
Tripunithura is about 15 kilometers from Ernakulam.