Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is an important temple in Kerala located on the banks of River Pamba in the Pathanamthitta district dedicated to Lord Krishna. The deity is in this temple is worshipped in the form of Parthasarathy, another name of Lord Krishna who was the charioteer of Arjuna during the Kurukshetra War according to Mahabharat. This global heritage site is also famous for the Arnamula Uttarattathi Boat Race during the Onam festival. One of the “Divya Desams”, this temple has eye-catching Kerala-style architecture and visitors can enjoy many 18th century murals inside it. Read the article to get more idea about the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple. You can contact KSU if you plan a pilgrimage tour in Kerala.
A Temple With Ritualistic Celebrations
Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is a must-visit temple in Kerala for several reasons. The temple houses the Thanka Anki, golden attire of Lord Ayyappa donated by the King of Travancore. Besides, it is one of the stops during the annual procession of carrying the Thiruvabharanam, the holy jewels of Ayyappa to Sabarimala. The annual snake boat race during the time of Onam is another popularity of this temple. Aranmula Vallasadya is also famous which is a ritualistic feast done as an offering by the devotees to Lord Krishna. It is a unique offering which gives the chance for visitors to taste irresistible delicacies.
A World Heritage Site
Located on the banks of River Pamba, Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple attracts many tourists from different parts of India. According to the locals, the main deity of this temple was brought in a raft made with six pieces of bamboo. In the Malayalam language, aaru means six and mula means bamboo. That is how the temple got its name ‘Aranmula’. This temple has a sub-shrine near the northern gopuram in a big pit for Lord Balarama. Devotees need to step down in order to get darshan of this deity. You can see the ‘Thiruvonathoni’ placed near the western gopuram of Aranmula Temple.
The Palliyodams (Snake Boats) Of The Temple
The Palliyodams of Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple have some uniqueness compared to ordinary snake boats. These boats are called palliyodams as they belong to the God and it has unique construction style. A palliyodam is about 103 feet in length and has nearly 100 rowers, 4 master oarsmen and 25 singers. About 650 man days required to build a palliyodam. Each palliyodam has 64 seating compartments for 64 oarsmen. In fact, it represents 64 art forms. The head and tail of them project out above the water five and three feet respectively. There are four raised platforms at the head of the boat other than 64 seating compartments for four master oarsmen who represent the four Vedas. They control the direction of the boat using large oars. There is a plant form in the middle of the boat where 8 people can stand who represent the Ashtadikpalakas (devas) to guard the right directions.
Kerala is famous for varieties of ritualistic celebrations and Aranmula temple is no different from that. The sumptuous and colorful vallasadya hosted by devotees for Lord Krishna is a unique offering of this shrine. The uniqueness of vallasadya is that it is a combination of race, music, ritual offerings and an elaborate feast. The oarsmen of the snake boats are offered a grand feast by the devotees as they represent the main deity. The oarsmen from the nearby shores are invited for the feast and they row down to the temple in their snake boat by forenoon. The oarsmen step into the temple even with the same wet clothes with vanchipattu that praise Lord Krishna and they are received by the devotees with great fanfare.
People from different parts of the state visit the temple to enjoy this feast as it is a rare treat to the taste buds. More than 70 vegetarian dishes served during this offering on huge plantain leaves. The most interesting aspect of vallasadya is that if an oarsman needs a particular dish or any side dish, he has to sing for it in the typical vanchipattu style. The host is supposed to serve the item without any delay. The Vallasadya on the Ashtamirohini is considered as the most auspicious Vallasadya day.
Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali
Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali is a world-famous water carnival celebrated during Onam. This famous snake boat race is celebrated every year on the Uthrattahy day in the Malayalam month of Chingam. It is usually falls either in the month of August or September 4 days after Thiruvonam. Palliyodams from different regions participate in this boat race and they beautifully row in union to reach their destination together to the accompaniment of songs. Devotees believe that Lord Krishna present in each boat. Both tourists and locals visit the venue to watch oarsmen in white dhotis with white scarf around their heads row the boats to the rhythmic tunes of Vanchipattu. There is an elaborate feast also in the temple after the boat race. People from all classes and religions in and around Aranmula participate in this all-community affair. Vallamkali is more important than Onam for the people in this region.
The temple is celebrated a 10-day long annual festinaval in Makaram (January or February). The festival starts with kodiyettam which is on the star Atham and ends with a grand arattu on the Thiruvonam star. There is another festival in the Malayalam month of Meenam where the deity of the temple is taken on the Garuda Vahana to the banks of River Pamba in a grand procession. The idol of the nearby Punnamthode temple Bhagavathi is also taken in this place for the arattu festival. Khandavadahanam is another festival of the Aranmula Parthasarathy temple celebrated in the month of Dhanu. A replica of forest is created for this festival in front of the temple using leaves, twigs and dried plants and bonfire is lit. It is the symbolic of the Khandava forest fire narrated in the Mahabharata. The sacred jewels of Lord Ayyappa are taken in procession from here each year to Sabarimala.
Ashtamirohini is celebrated in a grand style in Aranmula Parthasarathy temple which is the birth day of Lord Krishna. A ritualistic mass feast called Ashtami Rohini ‘vallasadya’ is an important part of this celebration. Rice is the main dish and a lot of devotees from different parts of the state visit the temple on this day to offer prayers to Lord Krishna and to take part in the feast. The feast is considered as the ‘prasadam’ of the lord. The temple premises will be crowded with thousands of devotees right from the morning on this day.
Best Time To Visit Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple
Aranmula Parthasarathy temple opens for the devotees from 4 am to 11 am and from 5 pm to 8 pm on all days. This pilgrim center is a sight to behold during the Uthrattathi Vallamkali (August/September) and the festival of Khandavanadahanam (December). There are many cultural centers near this temple and visiting them shall be a fascinating experience for travelers. You can see different art forms in these places such as Kathakali, classical dances, Classical music and Kalaripayattu.
How To Reach
Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is well-connected by road with many destinations like Pathanamthitta, Pandalam and Chengannur. Chengannur is the nearest railway station and you can take direct bus from there to reach the temple.