Sree Padmanabha (Lord Vishnu) Temple, Thiruvananthapuram

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A divya desam Temple of LordVishnu. Nammalvar Alwar had sung in praise of this Lord. This is the family deity of Travancore royal family.

The Temple received huge public attention recently, when a treasure, worth billions of dollars was revealed on an inspection from a panel of experts appointed by the supreme court of India. This discovery made this temple one of the richest in the world.

Legend is associated with Sri. Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar alias Divakara Muni, a Tulu-Brahmin, an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. The story is that Lord Krishna appeared to Swamiyar as a lad. He requested the lad no to leave him. The boy agreed, but put a condition; he should not scold him. Swamiyar agreed, carried this boy wherever he goes. The boy, in turn, tested the short tempered Saint in many ways; Swami managed to keep cool, knowing that who the boy is.

But, one day, while Swamy was offering Pooja to Lord Vishnu, the lad tried to swallow the holy Salagrama (a holy stone considered as representation of Lord Vishnu) there by making it impure. This provoked Swami, he had scolded and beaten up the boy. Immediately, the lad disappeared. Swami heard a divine voice telling him to come to Ananthankadu (Kadu means forest) if he wants to meet the lad again. Swami felt sad about what had happened; he could not live without the presence of the divine boy.

So, he started journey in search of the boy from his Ashram at Kasaragod (North end of Kerala) to down South. He had no idea where the Ananthan kadu actually is. Finally, he reached the sea shore of present day Thiruvananthapuram. Here, with the help of a Mukkuva (Fishermen) lady, he located Ananthakadu area where the present temple stands. The moment he entered the Ananthankadu, legend tells us that a huge illupa tree fell before him and an idol of Lord Vishnu, in reclining posture, emerged out of it.

The idol of Lord Vishnu was a huge one with its head at Thiruvallom, navel at the present temple and the feet at Thrippapur (about 13 kilometers away)

Swamy, bewildered on seeing this huge idol. He cannot see the idol incomplete . So he requested Lord to shrink himself. The Lord agreed, became, small as we see it today. (Please note, that even the small idol that we saw today is 18 feet long and about six feet wide, which can be seen through three doors only!)

The sanctum sanctorum of the Lord Vishnu is significant in many ways. The presence of the Trinity of Hinduism (Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma) in Sanctum (Srikovil) is note worthy. The right hand of the Lord is placed over a Shivalinga; Lord Brahma is depicted as sitting on a Lotus, which is coming out of the navel of the Lord Vishnu. Besides, Srikovil has an idol of Sridevi and Bhoomidevi and many other celestial sages like Sage Narada etc….

The sprawling temple complex has many other shrines, but the Yoga Narasimha Shrine adjacent to the Srikovil and Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna, on the west side of the main Temple is important. This KrishnaTemple, said to be older than the present main temple, marks the samadhi of Sri. Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar.

Structurally, this temple is said to be a replica of Sri Aadikesava Perumal temple at Tiruvattar. It is a mix of Kerala and Tamil style. The Ottakkal Mandapam, in front of the Srikovil is carved out of single granite stone is a masterpiece. So is the Aayiramkal Mandapam (thoususand pillared hall) and the lengthy corridors that surround the ancient temple.

History of this temple and the history of Royal State of Travancore is intertwined. Sree Ananthapadmanabha (Lord Vishnu) of this temple is the family deity of the royal family. On 17th January,1750 Sri. Marthandavarma, the founder of the modern Travancore dynasty, surrendered the royal state of Travancore to Lord Padmanabha by a ceremony called Thripadi Danam. There after, the State of Travancore became the property of the Lord Anantha Padmanabha and the members of the royal family became his dasa (or servant). This made the ruler of Travancore a titular head of State, at least in theory. To commemorate this event the head of the royal family visits this temple every day.

Sri Marthandavarma made the foundation of the present temple. He shifted the capital from Thakkulam (near Nagercoil) to Thiruvananthapuram and ordered the renovation of the temple . He replaced the original wooden idol of Lord Padmanabha with what we saw now and started the work of Eastern gopura.

The city of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala State, derived its name from this Lord. Thiru Anantha Puram literally means “Sacred abode of Lord Ananda Padmanabha”.

The famous Hindu temple celebrates many festivals throughout the year. But two festivals Alphasi Utsav in October-November and Paiguni in March-April are important. During these festivals a special ritual called “Aarattu” takes place; the idol of Sree Padmanabha is taken to nearby Shanmugham sea shore for having a holy dip on sea during this ritual.

Recently, the temple came to the limelight, following the finding of a treasure worth billions in one of the secret vaults (Kallara or Nilavara) of the temple. It all started when the Kerala High Court ordered (in January, 2011) to hand over the Administration of the temple to the Government of Kerala. The Royal family, the present administrator of the temple, challenged this order in the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court of India, in turn, appointed an expert committee to look into the matter. It also ordered to take a list of temple’s assets.

This committee opened the ‘A’ vault, one of the six vaults coded as A to F for convenience. The amazing wealth of the temple unearthed there by. The fact is that, vaults of C to F is opened regularly by the temple authorities as the items for day to day worship is stored in that. Only A &B vaults remained unopened for many years. After the ‘A’ vault got opened and saw the treasure in it, effort to open the ‘B’ vault began. At this stage, the Royal family objected to it, saying this vault contains many divine symbols which cannot be seen by others. The matter now lies before the Supreme Court as the whole world awaits the decision of the apex court of India on whether or not to open the ‘B’ nilavara or Vault!.

The temple is situated the heart of Thiruvananthapuram. Rather, this is the heart of this city!!

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