Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple

Architecture

The yard and Gopura

One of the bigger temples in Kerala, the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple has a courtyard of about eight acres of land. The premises levelled with river sand is protected by compound walls with four Gopuras or towers on all the four sides.

Vyaghrapada Sthana

The temple faces the East. Near the east Gopura there is a protected platform where a pipal tree, a mango tree and a jackfruit tree all grow together. Presently only pipal tree is alive. The great Shaivopasak Vyaghrapada Maharshi is said to have done penance and pooja here and it is in the same place he got Siva-Sakthi Darsana and Athmasashathkar or fulfillment, and this place is known as Vyaghrapada Sthana.

The inner structures and Mandapa

The golden flag staff is really a pride of the temple. Then we enter Balikalulpura(the place of the sacrificial stone) where Stambha Ganesh is seated at its north-east corner. Walking further we enter the Namaskara Mandapa. The story of Ramayana is sculptured on the inner roof. For the main offerings of Vaikkathappan such as Dravya Kalasa, Margazhi Kalasa poojas are performed and Veda Manthras are recited from here. A huge Nandi made in a single stone together with a small one for Archana are in the east of this Mandapa. Passing through the stone laid inner way we reach the Sreekovil or The Holy of Holies of Shree Vaikkathappan – the Annadana Prabhu who fulfils every desire of His devotees.

The Sreekovil or Main inner yard

The Sreekovil is round in shape roofed with copper sheets and with two chambers. The Mukha Mandapa - the first chamber is built in shaped stone and single piece woods. The walls and pillars are very strong. The Garbha Griha(Sanctum Santorium) – the second chamber is built completely in stone including the roof in a square shape. There is a Peedhom or platform of about three foot high in the middle of it. On this Peedhom the most Holy, the most famous and the most Noble Siva Linga of SHREE VAIKKATHAPPAN is consecrated. It is of about six feet high made of chaste black stone. The Linga is adorned with Chandrakala (crescent), three eyes, nose and four hands with Saiva abharanams(ornaments) in the form of ‘anky’ in pure gold. (Siva Abharanams are Parasu, Mruga, Varada and Abhaya mudras). Inside the Holy of Holies Oil and ghee lamps are only lighted together with camphor. This gives a Heavenly appearance to it. The hundreds of thousands of devotees attain fulfillment at the sight of this Holiest Linga reciting all kinds of Sivasthuthis. The bhava or forms and peace of this place cannot be described but only to be experienced. The outer walls of Sreekovil are decorated nicely with paintings of puranic stories and wooden sculptures.

Six steps and their meaning

It is a very curious and peculiar fact that we are unable to obtain the Darsana of the Supreme Saiva Chaitanya from this Sreekovil without passing through six steps either from the Gopura or the Nada. It may be reminding us the Shad (six) vikaras (emotions) such as Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Madha and Mathsarya or the thantrik chakras as per the thanthrik Kalpana. They are the Mooladhara Chakram, Swadhishtana Chakram, Manipuraka Chakram, Anahatha Chakram, Visudhi Chakram and Jnana Chakram.

Vighneswara Prathishta

In the Agni cone (south-east corner) outside the Sreekovil is the Vighneswara Prathishta on a Peedhom of stone, Maha Ganapathy in the South and Sakthy Ganapathy in the north are consecrated. The idols are in pancha loha.

Mathrusila, Vilwa tree and the Ashtadikpalakas

The Mathrusila where the Belistones of the seven divine Mathas are kept is to the south of Sreekovil. In the eastern part of the Mathrusala is the Thidapally where the Nivedya is prepared. The buildings of the temple courts are built surrounding the Sreekovil. In the vayu kone of the Sreekovil we would witness a centuries old Vilwa tree with two barks, still in a flourishing condition; it is a wonderful sight. The Ashtadikpalakas or Lords of the eight directions etc. are consecrated in the yard of the Sreekovil. Varuna - the Lord of water finds a special place in the west.

Manya Sthana

In the temple court of north we could see a very holy place called the ‘Manya Sthana’ where Vaikkathappan was seen eating Prathal dressed like a Brahmin, by Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar. To preserve the memory a stone is placed with Ashta dala and around it the following sloka is inscribed.

‘Jeeyat vyaghrapuradheesa
Payat vanchinrupa praja
Annado bhusurair bhokta
Yotra sakshatkruta pura’

A lighted Bhadradeepa is kept in this place and the beginning of Prathal or Annadana is still done from here. The Brahmins were fed here at the north side of the temple court from ancient times.

Big kitchen

Towards the east Manya Sthana is the big kitchen where Prathal items are cooked. Lord VAIKKATHAPPAN has been seen doing work at this kitchen. The ashes from the fireplace is used as the main prasada of the temple. The Brahmin Bhojan is now discontinued after the social and political changes. But the ‘Prathal’ is still in force as a great offering to the ‘Lord of Food distribution’ – ‘Annadana Prabhu’.

The closed door

The Vaikom Temple was in the ownership of one hundred and eight families in olden days. The owners were divided into two groups and one group joined the ruler’s side. Their disputes and quarrels increased day by day. One day a section of the divided group came to the temple at noon. The chief among them a certain Njallal Namboothiri was prepared to stop the pooja in the noon. At that time the Nivedya was used to be placed in the western side of the Namaskara Mandapa. There was an entrance in the western courtyard. The Njallal Namboothiri after keeping his apron (Randam Mundu) above the western door came near the Nivedyas and spat the remains of his betel chewing on the Nivedya. So the pooja was disrupted. On return, while he was taking his apron from the door top it is stated that a highly poisonous snake bit him to death. He crawled himself outside the west and died. The Western door of the temple courtyard automatically closed itself then and a voice was heard from inside the Sreekovil thus “This door should not be opened any more”. The door remains closed to this day to show the wrath of the Great Lord against the disruption of His poojas.

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