Description: Thiruvanandapuram (Trivandrum) gets its name from the grand Anantapadmanabhaswamy temple, enshrining the tutelary
deity - Anantapadmanabha of the Travancore kingdom. It is one of the grandest
temples of Kerala, exhibiting an amalgamation of Dravidian and Kerala temple architectural styles. It is a temple vibrant
with tradition, having been associated for years with the arts and music. The rulers of Travancore have held this temple in
the highest regard. Even today, an elaborate worship protocol is followed in the strictest sense and this is one of the best
maintained temples in India.
This is an ancient temple and has been revered by the Tamil hymns of the Azhwar Saint NammAzhwar of the 1st
millennium CE. Eight shrines in Kerala Thirunaavai, Trikakkara, Moozhikkalam,
Thiruvalla, Thirukkodittanam, Chengannur, Thirupuliyur, Aranmula, Thiruvanvandur and Thiruvanantapuram and two in Kanyakumari
district (formerly in Travancore) Thiruvaattar and Thirupatisaram have been revered by the Tamil hymns of NammAzhwar. ThirumangaiAzhwar
has sung of Thiruvalla, and has mentioned Thirupuliyur in one of his hymns.
Deities: This temple enshrines an imposing image of Perumaal, in the Anantasayanam posture; an image viewed through
three doors in front of the shrine. The original image was of wood; the current image was fashioned out of 1200 saalagramams
which were specially brought down for this purpose and moulded into shape with a special paste kadusarkara - a mixture of
lime, granite, molasses and mustard. Perumaal is viewed through three doors in a row - the face on the Southern side, the
feet on the Northern side and the nabhi (navel) in the middle. Padmanabhan is
enshrined in the yoganidhra posture, reclining on Aadiseshan -( making offerings of vilvam to a small Shivalingam, to his right).
The sanctum of this temple is fashioned in the style of the temples of Kerala, while the surrounding walls
and the towers resemble that of the Tamil (Dravidian architecture)temples. Interesting murals adorn the outer walls of the
sanctum. There are shrines to Narasimha, Hanuman and Krishna near the sanctum.
An interesting legend surrounds the origin of the imposing image. A rishi by name Divakara Yogi, who was
engaged in the worship of Perumaal, was enraged by the sight of a two year old toddler swallowing his Salagramam, the object
of his worship. The toddler, upon being chased by the yogi, entered a tree; the tree split, and Perumaal revealed himself
in all his splendour to the Rishi, who then requested him to assume a form that could be held in worship, upon which Perumaal
assumed the form of the image, now held in worship in this temple.
History: Martanda Varma of the Travancore Kingdom, in a spectacular ceremony in 1750 surrendered the kingdom to the presiding
deity of the temple, and received it back as a fiefdom and ruled Travancore as a servant of Padmanabhan; all of his successors
adopted this custom. Much of the present structure dates back to the period of Martanda Varma, who made several renovations
and built the Eastern gopuram, which got completed by 1798.
The flagstaff is enclosed in a casing of gold. The Kulasekhara mandapam near the flagstaff has fine sculptures
dating back to the 17th century. The long prakaram, with a terraced roof with 324 columns, mesaures 540 feet by 325 feet,
and is about 24 feet wide. It has two rows of granite pillars, and every pillar bears an image of a DeepaThaayaar. Also here
are images of yalis (mythological animal), with non removable stone balls in their mouths.
Festivals: There are two annual festivals here - one in the month of Pankuni (Pisces-Meenam) March 15-April14, and
the other in Aippasi (Tulaa-Libra) (Oct-Nov).