Sree Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Thuravoor
Thuravoor is approximately 22 kms south of Cochin city along the NH-47 to Alleppey about 5 kms before Shertallai. The temple is situated about 1½ km from the NH47 along the Kumbalangi road. Thuravoor is an important community area of GSBs. The prathista is believed to be in 1640 AD by Sri Raval Naickan. The present temple was established in 1704 AD.
Deities & sub-temples
On the first step of the Simhasan in srikovil is the idol of Venkatachalapathy, Vishnu padakam on the second step and Utsav idol of Lakshmi Narasimha on the fourth step. The third step is vacant symbolising the original Ugra Narasimha idol which is now at AN puram Temple, Alleppey.
There is a sub-temple of Ganapati inside the Nalambalam. Near the Flagmast, there is a small temple of Hanuman which is the Vrindavan of Srimad Rajendra Tirtha Swamy (samadhi 1799 AD), the 11th pontiff of Kashi mutt. Outside the west gopuram, there is a shrine dedicated to Sri Raval Naickan and a sub-temple housing Kuladevata Vittala brought by Poojari settlers from Cochin.
Sri Raval Naickan, a young business man and an ardent devotee of Lord Narasimha, came and settled in Thuravoor near the Vadakkanappan temple. He visited the temple every day without fail and attended the Deeparadhana from outside. In those days GSBs were not allowed inside other Hindu temples. He was not liked by the poojaris of the temple. One day the poojaris closed the temple early and even refused to give him any prasadam. With breaking heart, he prayed to Lord from outside the temple. He heard somebody asking him to go westward. He followed a light moving towards West.
When he reached the location of the present temple, the light disappeared and he felt somebody telling him to have a prathista there. At that time two sculptors appeared there and Raval Naickan requested them to make a Narasimha Vigraha for him. They made a silpalaya (an enclosure) and entered therein to make the vigraha. Raval Naickan waited for sometime and later impatiently peeped into the silpalaya since he could not hear any sound from inside. He found two Vigrahas there (one Ugra Narasimha and one Lekshmi Narasimha) and the sculptors missing. However, the Ugra Narasimha Vigraha was not fully finished with tip of a finger of one foot incomplete. Raval Naickan believed that the sculptors were divine (Vadakkanappan and Thekkanappan) and constructed a small temple there for the Narasimha Moorthy. He also constructed his house near to the temple. In the begining, the affairs of the temple were managed by Sri Raval Naickan himself and later when he became aged, handed over the governance to Cochin Tirumala Devaswom in 1704 AD. Thuravoor area was then part of the Cochin state. A new temple and agrasalas were constructed during this period. The extensive land owned by the temple and financial assistance for construction of the temple were donated by the Maharaja of Cochin. The original pratishta was facing West. A peepal tree and the althara is seen even today at the west gate of the temple. It was later believed that the declining agricultural yield in the vast paddy fields between the temple and the sea (towards west of the temple) and heavy sea erosion was due to the drishti of Narasimha murthy and hence the new temple and prathista was made facing East. The temple was financially very sound and had vast landed properties spread in Thuravoor and Varapuzha.
During the persecution of Konkanis in Cochin state, many GSBs shifted to Alleppey which was in Travancore state. The Ugra Narasimha vigraha from Thuravoor also was shifted to Alleppey Old Tirumala temple (along with the Venkatachalapathy idol from Cochin) in 1792 AD and eventually was installed in Alleppey Anantha Narayana Puram temple in 1852 AD. By this time Thuravoor became a part of Travancore State. After the death of Raja Sakthan Thampuran, many went back to Cochin. The new Raja of Cochin realised the importance of the Cochin Venkatachalapathy idol and demanded it back but in vain. The Venkatachalapathy idol was clandestinely taken back to Cochin on the midnight of 7th Feb 1853. The members in Thuravoor severed the ties with Cochin temple. This resulted in infights between community members in Cochin and Travancore states for ownership and control of the Thuravoor Temple and its vast properties. The Cochin members filed a suit in Quilon Court in 1883 AD for this purpose. For some time, the temple was under a Receiver appointed by the Court. Later in 1895 AD, the Court decided that the Alleppey and Thuravoor temple belongs to the entire Community members (in the eight villages or Ashta gramas) of Travancore state. The Ashtagramas are Alleppey, Thuravoor, Shertallai, Purakkad, Kayamkulam, Quilon, Kottayam and Parur. Accordingly the Alleppey Anathanarayanapuram Thuravoor Tirumala Devaswom (AATTD) was formed and managed by elected members from the Ashtagramas. This Devaswom was very rich and initiated many educational projects. The Devaswom runs a High school and Teachers Training Institute near the temple at Thuravoor and a High School at Alleppey.The introduction of Kerala Land Reforms Act in 1963 relating to the fixation of ceiling on land holdings, changed the fate of Devaswom and AATTD lost most of its land holdings making its financial position weak.
A gold covered Flag mast was erected in 1949 AD. Till late sixties, during the annual festival, there was free Sadya (meal) in the temple for all community members on all the eight days with rice from paddy fields owned by the temple. However, at present it is limited only to one day and that too by sponsorship.
The temple owned a Gosala located next to the Elephant cottage until the late sixties and also had an elephant. The elephant of the temple was treated as a pet of the whole community. The most famous of the elephants was Gajendran which lived till 1970 AD. The elephant cottage is now non-existent and a Library and Reading room is constructed at this location. At present, the temple maintains a small Gosala located next to the Reading room on the south east side of the temple.
Vahanas and the Arattu festival
The Lord has a number of Vahanas - Garuda, Hanuman, Aswa, Chandra, Iravatha, Hamsa and Sesha vahanas and a silver palanquin. The Aswa Vahana is the biggest and the most popular. click here to view the vahanas.
On the fifth day of the annual festival, Lord is taken out in the silver palanquin along the southern street to the nearby Vigneswara temple and returns after Pooja and Uoonjal seva (swing). On the sixth day Lord is taken out towards north to circumvent the Arthikulangara Bhagavathy temple. On the seventh day Lord is taken out ceremoniously in the Aswa Vahana for Pallivetta to the mandapam at the back side of the Bhagavathy temple.This procession is the most attractive part of the festival. On eighth day, at night Lord is taken out in the silver palanquin to the Arattu kulam near the Bhagavathy temple for Arattu. He is taken to the Arattu manadapam at the center of the Arattu kulam on boat.
After pooja and Snanam (bath), He returns to the temple early next morning.
This temple is one of the most perfectly built temples of GSBs in Kerala.
The poojaris of this main temple were from Cochin who belonged to the Athri gotra. They settled near the temple and their kuladevata Vittala was initially kept in one corner of the Srikovil. Later when poojaris from other gotra also were appointed as poojaris, Sree Vittala was shited to the Nalambalam. In 1960s, the members of the Athri gotra, with permission and help of the Devaswom, constructed a small temple outside the main temple near the Althara and installed Sree Vittala there along with Venkatachalapathy, Bhoomi devi, Lakshmi devi, Sree Gopalakrishna with Satyabhama and Rukmini, and Salagramas. In 2004, some changes were observed on a Salagrama and a Devaprasnam was conducted. Subsequently, the temple was renovated and a Bhagana mandapam constructed as seen in picture below. Half of the income in this temple goes to the main temple as Kuladevar kanikam.
This temple under AATTD is near the TD temple and next to the Arattukulam. This temple orginally belonged to the Kanjirampally Karta family who handed over it to the local Kunbi community. The Kunbis later on handed over the temple to Tirumala Devaswom. Authentic dates in this regard is unavailable. The pratishta in the temple is Yantra form.
Sree Vigneswara temple
This temple under AATTD is about 1.5 km to the south of the TD temple in opposite direction to the Arattukulam. On the fifth day of the annual festival, Lord is taken out in the silver palanquin along the southern street to this temple and returns after Pooja and Uoonjal seva (swing).
Also in Thuravoor
Thuravoor Mahakshethram, locally called Vadakkanappan temple, located by the side of NH-47, is the abode of Ugra Narasimhamurthy and Sudarsanamurthy. This location is called Nadakkal. The entire temple complex can be seen from the NH47 road overlooking the temple pond. Twin-Sreekovils in a single Nalambalam, two gold-plated flagmasts and a majestically tall Anapandhal (Elephant Rostrum - the largest in Kerala) make it a distinctive temple. Of the two srikovils here, it is believed that the one dedicated to Sudarsanamoorthy was the first to come into existence. Though there is no record of its origin, the temple is estimated to be over 1300 years old. As for the Narasimhamoorthy temple, records show that it came into being sometime in the 7th century AD, during the reign of Chera king Keralendran.
The idol of Sudarsanamoorthy features four arms, each carrying a different object: a conch shell, a chakra (discus), a gadha (mace) and a lotus bloom. The gold-plated flagmast on the eastern side of the Sudarsanamoorthy temple is taller than its counterpart for the Narasima temple. The idol of Sree Narasimhamoorthy is said to have originated in the holy city of Kashi. Unlike in most other Narasimha temples, Sree Narasimhamurthy here is in standing posture. The Narasimhamurthy on the Northern side is called Vadakkanappan and Sudarsanamoorthy on the south side is called Thekkanappan.
During pilgrimage to Varanasi, a Namboothiri priest from Angamally had a supernatural vision. He saw a brilliant beam of light descending towards the earth and travelling in a southwest direction. The priest followed the beam closely. At a pre-ordained point in a village called Poothanilam in central Kerala, the light hit the earth and disappeared into the ground. The priest dug the earth at this spot and saw an extraordinarily beautiful idol of Mahavishnu in Anjanakallu (a rare kind of black stone) buried underneath. This Vishnu idol was later to become famous as Sree Narasimhamoorthy. The priest enshrined the idol in a Sreekovil of its own near the sanctum of Sudarsanamoorthy. It is said that the idol occupies a site, which was originally the abode of Goddess Bhagavathy. The Bhagavathy idol was relocated within the temple premises at a place a little towards the west, as per Hindu ideology.