Thuravoor Mahakshethram Temple is an ancient Devasthanam located off NH-47, about 25 km south of Cochin City. It is the sacred abode of Sree Narasimhamoorthy and Sree Mahasudarsanamoorthy situated in in Thuravoor, Cherthala, Alappuzha, Kerala. The entire temple complex can be seen from the road. Two separate temples close to each other, within a single compound, reflect the synthesis of a unique and mysterious divine power. The idol of Sree Narasimhamoorthy is said to originate from the holy city of Kashi (Varanasi). Swami Padmapadar (8th century AD), the main disciple of Adi Sankaracharya, had worshiped the same idol in Kashi.
Distinctive in its architectural and artistic grandeur, Thuravoor Mahakshethram is one of the most revered places of worship in Kerala. Twin Sreekovils on a single Nalambalam, two gold-plated dwajasthambas reaching for the heavens, a majestically tall Anapandhal (elephant rostrum, the largest in Kerala), a strict regimen of vrathas observance for priests, day after day of rituals and festivals, the chanting of Vedic hymns, and the presentation of scholarly discourses on the Puranas throughout the year…all of which attract streams of devotees to the temple from within and outside the State.
Of the two temples here, one dedicated to Sudarsanamoorthy is believed to have been the first to emerge. Although there is no trace of its origin, the temple is estimated to be over 1300 years old. There are scholars who hold that the circular-shaped Sreekovil belongs to the Thretha Yuga; according to others, its origin goes back to Dwapara Yuga. Some palm leaf texts on the temple exist, but no one has yet been able to understand or decipher them.
As for the Narasimhamoorthy temple, records show that it originated in the 7th century AD, during the reign of a Chera king named Keralendran. His guru was the great Muringotu Adigal, a well-known priest and scholar. Now the temple is under the maintenance of Travancore Devaswom Board.
Inviolable Discipline and Austerity:
The roles of Melsanthi (head priest) and Keezhsanthi (assistant priest) in this temple are reversed every year. As long as the Melsanthi remains in his position, he must maintain absolute celibacy; he must not leave the temple compound during his tenure and must follow an austere lifestyle and observe a strict daily regimen.
Inside the Nalambalam, on the south side of the inner courtyard is the shrine of Ganapathy. Outside the two Sreekovils, but within the premises of the temple itself, are the idols of Sastha to the south, with the serpent gods just behind; Bhagavathy in the west and Brahmarakshassu in the north, located in separate, smaller secondary shrines.
The idol of Sudarsanamoorthy features four arms, each carrying a different object: a conch shell, a chakra (discus), a gadha (mace) and a lotus bloom.
The foreground of the temple is spacious and paved with rough-hewn granite slabs. The Namaskaramandapam is also fittingly large and impressive. On the ceiling of this Mandapam are exquisitely carved figures of Ashtadikpalakas (guardians of the eight directions) with Lord Brahma in the middle.
The Garbhagriha houses a beautiful, four-armed idol of Mahavishnu who is perceived as Ugranarasima. In the corridor on the southern side, there is an idol of Lord Siva. You can view and worship Him through the narrow window in the wall on the southern side.
Generally, Narasimha idols are seen in a sitting posture. But here, the idol is on its feet. One may assume that originally this idol in the standing position was originally that of Mahavishnu; and, as a result of poojas and other sacred rituals, it is being perceived as Ugranarasimha.
Connoisseurs of art within and outside Kerala agree that the sculptures, relief works and carvings on the southern side of the Sreekovil are priceless works of art. Scholars from afar often visit the temple for an in-depth study of these masterly creations. You can see here nine different perceptions of Narasimha including Ugranarasimha, Lakshmi Narasimha and Yoga Narasimha. Khadgi straddling an elaborately decorated horse, Yakshi carrying a hand mirror and eloquent scenes from Ramayana are worth a close observation.
The Narasimha temple has its own gold-plated Garudadwaja, oriented towards the east. On the extreme eastern side, in the direct line of vision of the Narasimamoorthy shrine, is a massive temple tank measuring 100 x 80 meters. It is believed that the cool, clean, serene waters of the tank provide a calming effect on the Lord’s fierce frame of mind.
Thuravoor Mahakshethram Timings:
Morning: 4:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Evening: 5:20 PM to 7:30 PM
Thuravoor Mahakshethram Pooja Timings:
Niyamavedi – 3:00 AM
Temple opens – 4:10 AM
Ushapooja – 5:00 AM
Ethrithapooja – 6:30 AM
Sheeveli – 6:45 AM
Pandeeradi Pooja – 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM
Uchapooja – 11:00 AM
Uchasheeveli – 11:15 AM
Temple opens – 5:20 PM
Deeparadhana – 6:30 PM
Athazha Pooja – 7:30 PM
Athazhasheeveli – 7:45 PM
Note: The timings will vary on Thursdays and Sundays.
Thuravoor Temple Legend:
During his pilgrimage to Varanasi, a Namboothiri priest from Angamally had a supernatural vision. He saw a brilliant beam of light descending to earth and traveling in a southwesterly direction. The priest followed the beam closely. At a predetermined point in a village called “Poothanilam” in central Kerala, the light struck the earth and disappeared into the ground. The priest dug the earth there and saw an extraordinarily beautiful idol of Maha Vishnu at Anjanakalu (a rare type of black stone) buried below. As the idol was rescued, the heavens opened up and blessed the event with a shower of fireworks that lit up the sky and shook the earth with a sound of thunder. This idol of Vishnu later became famous as Sree Narasimhamoorthy.
The priest enshrined the idol in his own Sreekovil near the Sudarsanamoorthy shrine. The idol is said to occupy a site, which was originally the abode of Goddess Bhagavathy. Bhagavathy’s idol was moved to a place slightly to the west, according to Hindu ideology. Reinforcing this belief is the fact that the tiered bronze lamp in front of Narasimhamoorthy Temple bears the image of a lion, the bearer of Goddess Bhagavathy. The place was also called ‘Surapuri’, probably due to the presence of a whole galaxy of gods and goddesses.
Thuravoor Temple Offerings:
Chuttuvillakku or lighting oil lamps around the temple.
Chorunnu & Thulabharam for kids are conducted at temple daily in the morning after pantheeradi pooja (8.30 am)
Thuravoor Mahakshethram Temple Festivals:
The 9-day utsavam during the month of Thulam (October) is the most important festival.
Valiyavilakku is celebrated on the Deepavali (Diwali) day.
Pathamudayam. On the day of Pathamudayam, the idols of the two temples are taken out in a ceremonial procession till the spot where Sree Narasimamoorthy’s idol was first sighted.
Thuravoor Mahakshethram Temple Address:
Thuravoor P O,
Kerala – 688 532.