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The temple


The Vahanas

Temple tank



Gosripuram Cochin Tirumala Devaswom is the biggest and most important socio-religious institution of Gowda Saraswat Brahmins of Kerala. The temple is situated at Cherlai in the heart of Mattancherry town in Cochin area which is one of the earliest settlements of GSBs in Kerala. The temple was established in the later half of 16th century. The history of GSBs in Kerala is inter-woven with that of this temple and its Venkatewara idol.

Temple main gopuram


The prathista is on a five layered throne. The main idol of Venkateswara, his consorts, Sreedevi and Bhoodevi on either side is situated at the top of the throne, Utsava Murti with consorts in the middle and Utsava Lakshmi at the lower layer. On the lowest layer are the Salagramas.

There are  four sub temples or shrines inside the main temple premises, dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi, Hanuman, Garuda and Vigneswara. The Brindavan of Swami Sukritindra Tirta is also loacted here. A Naga Yakshi pedestal is situated on the southwest corner of the main temple next to the Vighneswara shrine. On Naga Panchami day Abhishekam of tender coconut is performed to this granite idol. Devotees light oil lamp here for warding off evil and freedom from fear.

The Venkatewara idol

The Idol of Lord Venkatesvara being worshipped at Cochin Tirumala Devaswom temple was obtained from Swami Vijayindra Tirtha of Sree Kumbhakonam Mutt in exchange of a heap of gold coins which would immerse the idol. Three pratishthas (Consecrations) of the idol has taken place at this temple in the last four hundred years. It is believed that the area where this divine idol resides, will have 20 pounds of gold daily (or prosperity equivalent to that).

Story of the idol

During 15th Century AD, the Vijayanagar Kingdom was ruled by a pious king Saluva Narasimha Raya,  one of the popular royal dynasties of ancient India. This king was an ardent devotee of Lord Venkateswara of Tirupati and used to visit the temple by walking up the hill for worship. When the king became old and physically incapable to walk, he prayed the Lord to see him daily.

idolss.jpg (8227 bytes)One day a sculptor appeared before him and agreed to make an idol of the Lord for his daily worship. The king gave the sculptor the required materials for making the idol and the sculptor shut himself up in a room.  As he did not come out of the room even after a reasonably long period, the room was broken open only to see the idol of the Lord; the sculptor missing. It is believed that the Lord himself came as the sculptor and the idol is considered as Swayambhu or self born. The king built a temple for the idol and he was instructed by the Lord in his dreams to consecrate the idol during the auspicious time, when the heavenly drums dundubhi would be heard. As fate would have it, some crows happened to fly over the royal drums with twigs in their beaks and the twigs accidentally dropped on the drums producing a sound, which was mistaken for the auspicious hour indicated by the Lord. The idol was duly consecrated at that hour which was inauspicious.The grief stricken king was pacified by the Lord in his dream that He would remain with him till his death, after which he would leave for a place by name Gosripuram. After the demise of the king, a great fire broke out in the kingdom and the idol was thrown into a dilapidated well. As the legend has it, Swami Vijayindra Tirtha of Sree Kumbhakonam Mutt who happened to traverse that region during one of his tours, is said to have been led by a serpent to the well wherein the idol of the Lord was deposited. The Swamiji recovered the idol from the well and started worshipping the idol along with his other idols. Swami Vijayindra Tirtha visited Cochin and performed Chaturmasa Vrita among the Gauda Saraswat Brahmin Community of Cochin. Upon seeing the radiance of the idol, the community of Cochin under the leadership of Sri Mala Pai, requested the idol from the Swamiji.

The Swamiji agreed to hand over the idol in exchange for a heap of gold coins that would immerse the idol. All the gold coins brought in by the wealthy Mala Pai could cover only the body of the idol and not its tip. It was presumed that the Lord did not want to stay at cochin as a property of an individual. Only gold coins and ornaments brought in from the home of every community member could cover the tip of the idol. Kanakabishekam, a symbolic ritual of this immersion of the idol in gold is performed to the Lord even to this day during any special occasion.

The First Pratishtha was performed by Swami Sudheendra Tirtha, the disciple of Swami Vijayindra Tirtha in the year 1599 AD.

Second Pratishtha

During the second half of the 17 Century AD the Dutch made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the Fort at Cochin from the Portuguese. The Konkanis who rendered assistance to the Dutch were tortured by the Portuguese and their houses, markets and temple known as Cochin Tirumala Devaswom were plundered. The Konkanis had to flee from Cochin to a place called Udayamperur. But later on when the Portuguese surrendered to the Dutch, the Konkanis resettled at Cochin and reconstructed the temple. The second Prathistha of Lord Venkatesvara was performed in the reconstructed temple at Cochin during the year 1719 AD. The consecration took place at the hands of Swami Devendra Tirtha, the sixth pontiff of Sree Kashi Mutt Samsthan.

Third Pratishtha

Later half of 18th Century marked the terrible persecution of the Konkanis at the hands of Raja Rama Varma, popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran and the temple too was looted. The persecuted konkanis fled southwards to Alleppey in the Travancore region along with the idol of the Lord Venkatesvara. They were allowed to settle at Alleppey and install their idol in a temple there near the Alleppey canal with an assurance to bring about their return to Cochin once better atmosphere prevailed. Alleppey prospered as a busines centre during the stay of Konkanis there and the prosperity was attributed to the power of Lord Venkatesvara installed there. After the death of Shakthan Thampuran, the raja who succeeded him took keen interest to get back the idol of Lord Venkatesvara to Cochin. Their repeated requests were turned down. The desperate Konkanis had to ultimately steal the idol from Alleppy. As it was found that the Raja of Cochin too was involved in this robbery, fierce legal battle followed for decades between the Raja of Cochin and Travancore and in the end the GSB community of Cochin won the case. The idol of the Lord was consecrated for the third time at the renovated temple in 1881 AD. The four sub temples inside the main temple premises, dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi, Hanuman, Garuda and Vigneswara were built during this period. The Pratishtha took place at the hands of Swami Bhuvanendra Tirtha, the 17th pontiff of Sree Kashi Mutt Samsthan along with his disciple Swami Varadendra Tirtha.

The temple 

Aerial view of temple complexThe temple is situated in a vast area of  5 acres. The Coconut Palm grove all around the temple area gives it a panoramic look. There is a broad pathway around the temple outskirts. On the north east corner is the Papanasam temple tank. The revolving cradle in the upper storey of the copper roofed Mani Mantapam in the centre of the tank is an excellent piece of temple art noted for wood work and engineering skill.

Chakrasnanam is conducted here twice a year during the eighth day of temple festivals. There are two Aratu festivals which falls in the months of Vrichigam and Meenam with a duration of 8 days.

Northern gopuram

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Southern gate

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The Dharma Sastha temple across the road at the backside of temple. The Althara is seen at the left.

The Pagoda type two storeyed Northern Gopuram and seventy feet high three storeyed Vimana shaped Eastern Gopuram are works of marvel. Beautiful paintings by indigenous craftsmen depicting various scenes from the Puranas and epics adorn the ceiling of the northern gopuram.

In the outer most periphery of the complex is housed the Sukratindra Sadan, the Bungalow for the Swamiji to camp during his visits, Saraswati Nilayam, which houses the Temple Library, Santhi Kulam, the bathing tank for temple priests, Dove cot, Mini Garden, Elephant Shed, Gosala, vast Agrasalas, Stores, Yogasala, Treasury, Vessel Store, Main Office, Veda Patasala, Vyasa Mandir, Vahanas-Gallery, Vimana House, Washing Tank, huge Uootupura, & Main Flower Garden. The next Prakara is wide open ground for Sheeveli and Vahana Pooja . Adjacent to it is Kalyana Utsavav pathway through which the Festival deities are taken in Palanquin in a procession before and after Kalyanotsavam.

The bronze bell
4ft dia and 6ft high
is the 2nd largest
bronze bell in Asia

The temple is governed by the the Cochin Tirumala Devaswom.

Temple tank & Chakra snanam 


To Arattumandapam in boat

The temple tank or PadmaTirtham is outside the temple main gopuram on the north-east corner  and has the Arattumandapam at its center.

On the eighth and final day of Aratt (annual festival) the Lord is taken in the gold palanquin in a procession to the temple tank. The Lord is taken round the tank in a canoe specially decorated for the occasion. Chakra Snanam or immersion of the Sudarshana Chakra along with the Salagrama in the tank is performed here. The Lord along with his consorts is seated on a revolving cradle on the first floor of the Arattumandapam. Later in the night, the Lord seated in golden palanquin complete proceeds in a royal procession to the temple to the accompaniment of Panchavadyam.

A special event of this evening is that when the procession just comes out of the Arattumandapam, the Arati is offered to the Lord on behalf of king Saluva Narasimha Raya, the king for whom this Lord appeared as Swayambhu and also on behalf of Swami Vijayindra Tirtha, the Swamiji who brought the idol to Cochin.

The idols of these two personalities are installed at the entrance of the Arattumandapam.

  courtesy: www.gosripuram.org