The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a grand, ancient temple located in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, India. This temple is one of the most significant pilgrimage sites in India and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, and is considered one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu. The temple complex, with its towering gopurams and intricate carvings, has a rich history and is revered as one of the wealthiest temples in the world. In this article, we will delve into the history, architecture, and significance of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple History
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the 8th century AD. According to legend, the temple was built by the rulers of the Chera dynasty, who were great devotees of Lord Vishnu. The temple was later renovated and expanded by the kings of the Travancore dynasty in the 18th century.
The temple’s architecture is a unique blend of Kerala and Dravidian styles and is considered a masterpiece of Indian temple architecture. The temple complex covers an area of over 2 acres and features several courtyards and pillared halls. The temple’s main entrance, known as the Eastern Gopuram, is adorned with intricate carvings depicting scenes from Hindu mythology.
The temple is believed to have been built on the site of an ancient forest, which was home to a sage named Divakara Muni. The sage is said to have been performing penance in the forest when Lord Vishnu appeared before him in the form of a child. The sage was so moved by the child’s divine presence that he built a temple in his honor, and the temple was named Padmanabhaswamy, which means “one with a lotus on his navel,” in reference to the temple’s main deity, Lord Vishnu.
Over the centuries, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple has played a significant role in the history and culture of Kerala. The temple is revered as one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu and is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India. The temple is also famous for its association with the Travancore royal family, who have been the temple’s custodians for centuries.
Despite its rich history, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple gained worldwide attention in 2011 when its vaults were opened for the first time in over a century. The vaults contained a treasure trove worth over 1 trillion Indian rupees (approx. USD 14 billion), making it one of the richest temple treasures in the world. The discovery of the treasure brought renewed interest in the temple and cemented its place as one of the most significant cultural and historical sites in India.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Facts
Here are some interesting facts about the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala:
- The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and features a 20-foot-long idol of the deity reclining on the serpent Anantha.
- The temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu, which are considered the holiest abodes of the deity in Hinduism.
- The temple complex covers an area of over 2 acres and features several courtyards, pillared halls, and shrines.
- The temple’s architecture is a unique blend of Kerala and Dravidian styles and is considered a masterpiece of Indian temple architecture.
- The temple’s main entrance, known as the Eastern Gopuram, is adorned with intricate carvings depicting scenes from Hindu mythology.
- The temple is known for its association with the Travancore royal family, who have been the temple’s custodians for centuries.
- The temple’s vaults were opened for the first time in over a century in 2011, revealing a treasure trove worth over 1 trillion Indian rupees (approx. USD 14 billion), making it one of the richest temple treasures in the world.
- The temple is visited by thousands of devotees every day, and special pujas and rituals are performed on various occasions throughout the year.
- The temple’s flag mast is over 80 feet tall and is made of a single piece of wood.
- The temple’s walls and pillars are adorned with intricate carvings and murals depicting scenes from Hindu mythology and the history of the Travancore dynasty.
- The temple is surrounded by a large tank known as the Padmatheertham, which is believed to have healing properties.
- The temple’s administration is overseen by a trust appointed by the Supreme Court of India after the discovery of the temple’s treasure trove in 2011.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Timings
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala is open for darshan (worship) to devotees from early morning to late evening. The temple timings are as follows:
- 3:30 AM to 4:45 AM (Nirmalya Darshanam)
- 6:30 AM to 7:00 AM (Abhishekam)
- 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM (Darshanam)
- 10:30 AM to 11:10 AM (Seeveli)
- 11:45 AM to 12:00 PM (Ucha Pooja)
- 5:00 PM to 6:15 PM (Darshanam)
- 6:45 PM to 7:20 PM (Deeparadhana)
- 7:30 PM to 7:45 PM (Athazha Pooja)
It’s important to note that the timings may vary on special occasions and festivals. Additionally, there are certain dress codes and rules that devotees must follow while visiting the temple.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Darshan
Darshan at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple is considered a highly spiritual and holy experience by devotees. Here are some important things to keep in mind when visiting the temple for darshan:
- Dress Code: Devotees are expected to dress modestly and conservatively while visiting the temple. Men are required to wear dhoti (a traditional Indian garment) or mundu (a similar garment worn in Kerala) and women are expected to wear saree or salwar kameez.
- Security Check: All visitors to the temple must pass through a security check before entering. Cameras, mobile phones, and other electronic devices are not allowed inside the temple premises.
- Queues: Devotees are required to join the queue for darshan, which can take several hours on busy days. There are separate queues for men and women, and special arrangements are made for the elderly and differently-abled visitors.
- Offerings: Devotees can offer flowers, coconuts, and other items at the temple, but they must be purchased from the authorized vendors within the temple premises.
- Photography: Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple complex.
- Silence: Devotees are expected to maintain silence and avoid talking while inside the temple.
- Prohibited Items: Items such as belts, bags, and shoes are not allowed inside the temple complex.
- Respect: Devotees are expected to show respect to the temple and the deity by removing footwear before entering, and refraining from touching or leaning on the temple walls.
- Timing: Devotees must keep in mind the timings for darshan and plan their visit accordingly.
- Inner Sanctum: The inner sanctum of the temple, where the main deity is located, is open for darshan only during specific timings and is not accessible to all devotees.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Dress Code
The dress code for visiting the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala is strictly enforced to maintain the sanctity of the temple. Here are some guidelines on the dress code:
- Men: Men are expected to wear mundu or dhoti, which is a traditional Indian garment that covers the lower half of the body. It is usually made of cotton and is available in various colors and designs. Men are also required to remove their shirts and wear nothing on their upper body.
- Women: Women are expected to wear saree or salwar kameez, which are traditional Indian garments. Saree is a long piece of cloth draped around the body, while salwar kameez is a combination of loose pants and a long tunic. Women are also required to cover their head with a dupatta (a long scarf) while inside the temple.
- Children: Children are not subject to the same dress code, but it is recommended that they wear traditional Indian clothing as well.
- Clothing Material: Devotees are encouraged to wear clothes made of cotton or other breathable materials as the temple can get quite hot and humid.
- Footwear: Footwear is not allowed inside the temple premises, and devotees must remove their shoes before entering.
- Proper Coverage: Clothing should cover the entire body appropriately and should not be revealing or tight-fitting.
It’s important to note that the dress code is strictly enforced, and visitors who do not comply with the guidelines may be denied entry to the temple. Devotees can also rent or purchase traditional garments from shops outside the temple if they do not have appropriate attire.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Rituals
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is known for its rich religious rituals that are performed daily. Here are some of the most important rituals observed at the temple:
- Abhishekam: Abhishekam is a ritual bathing of the deity with holy water, milk, honey, and other sacred substances. It is performed early in the morning and is considered a purifying and sanctifying ritual.
- Alankaram: Alankaram is the decoration of the deity with flowers, jewelry, and other adornments. It is performed after the Abhishekam and is considered a way of showing respect and devotion to the deity.
- Usha Puja: Usha Puja is a morning prayer that is performed at dawn. It is a way of seeking the blessings of the deity and is considered an auspicious way to start the day.
- Ucha Puja: Ucha Puja is an afternoon prayer that is performed around noon. It is a way of giving thanks to the deity for the blessings received during the day and seeking further blessings.
- Athazha Puja: Athazha Puja is the final prayer of the day and is performed in the evening. It is considered the most important of all the daily rituals and is a way of seeking the blessings of the deity before retiring for the night.
- Aarti: Aarti is a devotional ritual in which a lamp or light is waved in front of the deity to symbolize the dispelling of darkness and the spreading of light. It is performed during the Ucha Puja and Athazha Puja.
- Neyyabhishekam: Neyyabhishekam is a ritual in which the deity is anointed with ghee (clarified butter). It is considered a way of seeking the blessings of the deity for good health and prosperity.
- Kalasam: Kalasam is a ritual in which a pot is filled with holy water and placed on top of the temple spire. It is believed to be a way of energizing the temple and attracting positive energy.
These are just a few of the many rituals that are performed at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Each ritual is considered important and is performed with great devotion and reverence.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Architecture
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is known for its unique and exquisite architecture, which is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles. The temple is designed in a rectangular shape, with a high gopuram (tower) at the entrance that is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures.
The main sanctum sanctorum of the temple is located in the center of the rectangular structure, and it is surrounded by a series of smaller shrines and mandapams (pillared halls). The entire temple complex is built using granite stones, and the roof of the main sanctum is made of copper.
One of the most striking features of the temple is its intricate carvings and sculptures. The outer walls of the temple are adorned with intricate carvings of gods and goddesses, mythical creatures, and other religious motifs. The carvings are so intricate that they almost appear to be three-dimensional.
The temple also features a unique style of architecture known as the “nalambalam” style. This style involves the construction of four mandapams around the main sanctum sanctorum, each with its own unique design and purpose.
The temple’s main entrance is known as the “padipura,” which is a gateway that leads to the temple complex. The padipura is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures and is considered an important part of the temple’s architecture.
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple’s unique blend of Kerala and Dravidian architectural styles, intricate carvings, and stunning sculptures make it a must-visit for anyone interested in Indian architecture and history.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Location
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is located in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala state in South India. It is situated in the East Fort area of the city, which is a highly prominent and historical part of Thiruvananthapuram. The temple is easily accessible by road, rail, and air, with the nearest airport being the Trivandrum International Airport and the nearest railway station being the Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Tourism
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is not only a significant religious site but also a popular tourist destination in Kerala. The temple’s rich history, stunning architecture, and unique rituals and traditions attract tourists from all over the world.
Tourists are allowed to visit the temple and witness the daily rituals and ceremonies, but photography and videography are strictly prohibited inside the temple. The temple’s administration also requests visitors to maintain silence and respect the religious sentiments of the devotees.
Apart from the temple itself, the East Fort area where the temple is located is also a popular tourist destination. The area is filled with historical sites, traditional shops, and local eateries, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich culture and traditions of Kerala.
Tourists can also participate in various cultural and spiritual activities organized by the temple’s administration, such as lectures on Hindu mythology and philosophy, classical music and dance performances, and meditation sessions.
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple and the surrounding area offer a unique and enriching experience for tourists interested in history, religion, and culture.
How to Reach Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is located in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala in South India, and is easily accessible by road, rail, and air.
By Air: The nearest airport to the temple is the Trivandrum International Airport, located approximately 6 km away from the temple. From the airport, one can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the temple.
By Train: The Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station is the nearest railway station to the temple, located approximately 2 km away. The railway station is well-connected to major cities in India, and from the station, one can take an auto-rickshaw or taxi to reach the temple.
By Road: The temple is easily accessible by road, and there are regular bus services from Thiruvananthapuram to the temple. One can also hire a taxi or an auto-rickshaw to reach the temple.
Once you reach the East Fort area where the temple is located, it is best to walk to the temple as the area is crowded and parking can be a challenge.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is special about Padmanabhaswamy Temple?
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a unique and significant Hindu temple, known for its stunning architecture, intricate carvings, and rich history. The temple is home to a 500-year-old idol of Lord Vishnu in a reclining posture, made entirely of rare and precious materials like gold, silver, and precious stones. The temple is also known for its unique rituals and traditions, including the daily feeding of elephants and the ceremonial dressing of the deity in gold and precious stones.
What is the real story of Padmanabhaswamy Temple?
According to Hindu mythology, the temple was built by the sage Divakara Muni and later renovated by the kings of Travancore. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared in his divine form to the kings and instructed them to build the temple. The temple’s history is intertwined with the history of the royal family of Travancore, who were known for their patronage of the temple and its rituals.
Why is Padmanabhaswamy Temple so rich?
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple is known for its immense wealth, which is believed to be the result of centuries of donations and offerings made by devotees and the royal family of Travancore. The temple’s six vaults are believed to contain an estimated $22 billion worth of treasures, including gold, diamonds, and other precious stones. The temple’s immense wealth has also made it the subject of legal disputes and controversies over the years.
What is not allowed in Padmanabhaswamy Temple?
The temple has a strict dress code, and visitors are required to wear traditional attire like dhoti and saree. Photography and videography are strictly prohibited inside the temple, and visitors are also requested to maintain silence and respect the religious sentiments of the devotees. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple premises.
What will happen if Vault B is opened?
Vault B is one of the six vaults in the temple that is believed to contain immense wealth and treasures. However, Vault B has remained unopened for centuries due to the belief that it is cursed and that opening it would bring misfortune and calamity. Despite several attempts, the vault has not been opened yet, and its contents remain a mystery. It is unclear what would happen if Vault B is opened, but the temple administration has stated that it is up to the Supreme Court to decide on the matter.