You are on a spiritual journey in the 'God's Own Country' Kerala. But, do you know your journey is incomplete if you have not been to the famous Vadakkumnathan Temple of Thrissur. This 1000 year old temple is one of the oldest and most classic temples of Kerala, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in the heart of Thrissur city and is known for great art and architecture, which reflects the ancient style of Kerala. Surrounded by enormous natural beauty, the Vadakkumnathan Temple offers some very peaceful moments to the visitors. It is an absolute bliss to visit this place, which is so blessed with a serene atmosphere and rich architecture.
The Vadakkumnathan Temple is believed to be built by Parashurama, around 1000 years ago. It is said that the ghee offered here for hundreds of years doesn't melt or have any foul smell even during the summer season. So, a lot of people visit this miraculous temple to seek blessings of Lord Shiva and to spend their holidays in a completely peaceful manner. The Thrissur town gets its name after this majestic temple and it literally means the "Lord Shiva.
Some people even believe that the great scholar Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankaracharya was born to Shivaguru and Aryamba, a couple of Kalady, in response to their prayers offered at this temple. According to the legend, Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankaracharya attained Videha Mukti ("freedom from embodiment") in this temple itself.
Spread over an area of 9 acres, this magnificent temple is surrounded by a huge stone wall, carved amazingly with poses of Lord Shiva. It has four 'gopurams' (gateways) that face towards all the directions, i.e. north, south, East, and West and a multi-shrine complex in the center with the idol of deities. There are shrines of Lord Shiva in the form of Vadakkumnathan, Shankaranarayana or Hari-Hara (a combined form of Shiva and Vishnu) and Lord Rama in the center of the temple. One can also see an idol of Goddess Parvati at the northern side of the temple, that faces towards east and stands behind the statue of Lord Shiva.
There is a theatre hall in the temple, which is known as Koothambalam. Its roof is made from copper plates and contains vignettes of wood carvings. There is an old museum here in the temple that consists of an ancient wall paintings, wood carvings, and art pieces of old times.
The prime attraction of this temple is the amazing mural paintings on the outer walls of the shrines, that showcase scenes from the Mahabharata epic and the Tandava poses of Shiva. These poses are depicted in typical Kathakali style and are worth seeing. It is because of these paintings, the temple along with the mural work, has been declared as a National Monument by India under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.
The months between October and February are the most pleasant one and so, a lot of tourists choose to visit Kerala during these months. However, if you want to be a part of great festivities and celebration, then come here during Maha Shivratri, which is the main festival of this temple. One can attend cultural and musical programmes at this festival. Another popular festival of this temple is Thrissur Pooram, which is another most colorful and dynamic festival of Kerala, celebrated in the month of April or May.