The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, situated in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, India, is a revered Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Among the 108 Divya Desams devoted to Lord Vishnu, it holds a significant place. This temple is renowned as one of the wealthiest Hindu temples globally.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple History
The Temple of Sree Padmanabhaswamy boasts an ancient and mysterious origin, shrouded in the mists of time. No precise information regarding the consecration of the original idol of Sree Padmanabhaswamy can be gleaned from reliable historical documents or other sources. References to this sacred edifice can be found in epics and puranas, with Srimad Bhagavatha recounting Balarama’s visit to the temple, where he bathed in Padmatheertham and presented numerous offerings. Nammalwar, a renowned 9th-century poet and one of the 12 Vaishnavite saints in the Alvar tradition, composed ten hymns extolling Lord Padmanabha.
Eminent scholars, writers, and historians, such as the late Dr. L.A. Ravi Varma of Travancore, have put forth the notion that this temple’s establishment dates back to the first day of Kali Yuga, more than 5000 years ago. The temple’s legends have been transmitted through the ages, including a tale found in ancient palm leaf records of the temple and the famous manuscript “Ananthasayana Mahatmya,” which recounts its consecration by a Tulu Brahmin hermit named Divakara Muni. In the 950th year of Kali Yuga, a reinstallation of the idol took place, and in the 960th Kali year, King Kotha Marthandan constructed the Abhisravana Mandapam.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Trust
Sree Padmanabha Swamy holds a cherished place as the Tutelary Deity of the former ruling family of Travancore, a devotion deeply woven into the tapestry of centuries. The Maharajas of Travancore and their Royal Family have been renowned for their unwavering commitment to Sree Padmanabha Swamy. This profound dedication led them to establish numerous personal religious offerings (vazhipadoos) and ceremonies, which extended beyond the temple’s mandatory rituals and traditions.
Even after the reign of the final Maharaja of Travancore, Maharaja Sree Padmanabha Dasa Sree Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama Varma (H.H. Sir Rama Varma), these religious offerings and ceremonies continued without interruption within the temple, funded by his personal income. In 1965, the Maharaja took a significant step by founding the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Trust, ensuring the perpetual continuation of the Royal Family’s religious practices.
To support these offerings and ceremonies, the Maharaja transferred specific parcels of personal land with accompanying structures to the Trust, creating a sustainable source of income for the fulfillment of these cherished traditions.
Characteristics of Maha Kshetram (Great Temple)
In addition to the recognized spiritual and architectural attributes, the status of a temple as a Mahakshetram (Great Temple) is determined by the following ten distinctive features: antiquity, preservation of historical records, historical significance, establishment within a forest, proximity to an ocean, situated at an elevated location, royal associations, references in ancient literary works, the grandeur of its architecture, and the splendor of its festivals. The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple fulfills all of these distinctive characteristics.
It is a widely held belief that when twelve Salagrama stones are collectively worshiped, they acquire the sacred power of a Mahakshetram, signifying a great temple. The interior of the Katusarkara Idol of Sree Padmanabha Swamy consists of an impressive collection of twelve thousand and eight (12,008) Salagramas sourced from the riverbed of the Gandaki River in Nepal, each symbolizing Lord Vishnu. As a result, this temple attains the grandeur and sanctity equivalent to that of a thousand majestic temples.
The existence of Shiva
The inclusion of Shiva within the Sreekovil enhances the sacredness of a Maha Kshetram devoted to Vishnu. Numerous sections of the temple feature depictions of Lord Shiva. Similar to many other temples in Malayala Nadu, this temple has remained unaffected by religious conflicts that have sometimes troubled orthodox practices in other parts of India. The presence of Shiva serves as a testament to this harmony.
The Ottakkal Mandapam, a remarkable element within the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, stands prominently before the sacred sanctum of Lord Sree Padmanabhaswamy. This architectural wonder is constructed from a solid granite slab, measuring two and a half feet in thickness and a square of twenty feet. It serves as the exclusive site for the Abhishekams performed to honor Lord Sree Padmanabhaswamy. Adorned with gilded granite pillars, this structure exudes an air of opulence and reverence.
This edifice stands in front of Ottakkal Mandapam, located outside the Cherruchuttu that houses the sanctum sanctorum. It serves as a dedicated space for conducting special poojas associated with the temple festivals. Devotees utilize this Mandapam for meditation and prayer purposes.
This extraordinary architectural masterpiece, crafted from stone, is commonly referred to as both the Aayiramkaal Mandapam and the Sapthaswara Mandapam. It boasts the support of 28 ornate pillars with balustrades. The pillars located at the four corners possess the unique ability to create musical notes when tapped, adding to its enchanting allure. Furthermore, these pillars are adorned with intricately carved figures in both half and full relief, enhancing the overall grandeur of this remarkable structure.
Anizham Tirunal erected an eighty-foot-tall pole adjacent to the eastern corridor, which was constructed using a teak wood of this specific size fetched from the nearby forest. According to Sastras, it was essential that the wood did not come into contact with the ground during transportation. Subsequently, the teak pole was meticulously encased in golden foils, and at its pinnacle, a kneeling figure of Garuda Swamy was placed.
The temple boasts nine gateways, symbolizing the nine openings of the human body.
The temple features a magnificent seven-story gopuram at its eastern entrance, showcasing exquisite South Indian architecture in the distinct Dravidian style. Rising to a towering height of approximately 35 meters, this gopuram boasts seven golden domes atop, symbolizing the seven Worlds. The first story of the gopuram is adorned with depictions of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Additionally, the other three entrances are adorned with double-storied Padippuras, showcasing the quintessential Kerala architectural style. Access to the upper levels of the gopuram is restricted.
The Sreebalippura (Passageway)
The temple features a magnificent structure known as the Sreebalippura. This splendid rectangular stone corridor encircles the primary shrines and serves as the route for the Vahanams during the Sreebali procession. Historical records reveal that the construction of the Sreebalippura was a monumental endeavor, involving the daily labor of 4000 stone artisans, 6000 laborers, and 100 elephants, spanning a period of six months. The Sreebalippura is supported by 365 and one-quarter monolithic pillars, each a testament to master craftsmanship. Ananthapadmanabha Moothassari, the master artisan, oversaw this remarkable undertaking.
The temple boasts numerous sacred water sources, some of which are situated at considerable distances from the temple premises. Among these, the primary source, Padmatheertham, is found on the eastern side of the temple. Padmatheertham is renowned as one of the oldest water bodies within the city of Thiruvananthapuram.
The Temple is adorned with numerous bells, and in many instances, a metal banyan leaf is affixed to the tip of each bell’s clapper.
Variety of Mandapams
Another notable characteristic of this temple is the abundance of Mandapams, with 11 within the temple premises and an additional 8 situated around the Padmatheertham pond.
The sanctum sanctorum of Lord Padmanabha and Sree Krishna boasts exquisite murals adorning its outer walls. Among these artworks, the most significant is the Ananthasayanam mural located on the rear side of the sanctum. This remarkable mural, measuring 18 feet in length, is renowned as the largest among all the temple murals in Kerala and was masterfully crafted by the Brahmin artist Chalayil Kalahasti.
Thiruvambadi Sree Krishnaswamy Temple
Despite being located within the main temple walls, the Thiruvambadi Sree Krishna Swamy Temple holds a distinct status as a separate temple, complete with its own flagstaff, sacred stones, and unique rites and rituals. This arrangement is rather uncommon.
Considerations For Your Visit To Padmanabhaswamy Temple
- Access to the temple is granted exclusively to those who adhere to the Hindu faith.
- To ensure a smooth visit, it’s essential to arrive at the temple before the scheduled darshan timings, as they strictly enforce visiting hours. Even the special VIP line can experience increased wait times as the day progresses.
- Please take extra precautions to ensure the safety of your children in the midst of the crowd.
- It’s advisable to carry a bottle of water with you during your visit.
- Upon entering, please deposit your shoes in the designated rack next to the main entrance.
- Adherence to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple’s dress code is imperative during your visit.
- Please note that photography is not permitted within the temple complex.
- While handbags are allowed inside, it is advisable to store your mobile phone, camera, and other belongings in the provided locker room for security reasons.
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Fort, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Phone : 0471 2450233
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By Whom Was The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Constructed?
Historians assert that the temple has its origins in the 8th century, with the current edifice being erected in the 18th century under the patronage of Maharaja Marthanda Varma of Travancore. Initially crafted from wood, the temple was later reconstructed using granite.
When Was The Construction Of The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Completed?
Historians assert that the temple’s origins can be traced to the 8th century, yet the current architectural incarnation was constructed during the 18th century under the rule of Travancore Maharaja Marthanda Varma.
What Is The Story Behind The Discovery Of The Treasure At Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple?
Sundararajan, a former IPS officer, residing in a modest Brahmin settlement just a stone’s throw from the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, achieved something remarkable. He submitted a petition that ultimately led to the astonishing unsealing of the temple’s vaults, revealing a treasure estimated to be worth over Rs 1 lakh crore.
What Is The Estimated Worth Of The Treasure Stored Within The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple?
The temple, which dates back twelve centuries and is under the ownership of the royal family that once governed the former princely state of Travancore, holds a treasure estimated to be valued at Rs 1.2 lakh crore. When considering their historical and antique significance, their value exceeds ten times the current market price.
Who Is The Rightful Owner Of The Treasure Housed In The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple?
While the state government safeguards the temple and a temple trust manages its daily affairs, they do not possess any claim to the treasure. The offerings made by kings and devotees to Lord Padmanabha over centuries firmly belong to Him.
What Is The Appropriate Attire For Padmanabhaswamy Temple?
Men are required to wear a mundu or dhoti when visiting the temple, while women have the option to wear a saree, dhoti, or pavada with a blouse. Wrapping a dhoti over your existing attire is also acceptable to adhere to the dress code.
If you need to rent suitable clothing, you may inquire about rental options. Alternatively, nearby shops offer dhotis and sarees for purchase, and some of these shops may provide dresses for rent as well.
Is entry permitted for non-Indians at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple?
There are no nationality or place of birth restrictions for individuals. If you adhere to the Hindu faith and demonstrate respect for Hinduism, you are welcome to enter the temple.