The name derived from ‘Tiru-Siva-Perur’ (The town with the name of Lord Siva) is often called the cultural capital of Kerala.
It is built around a hillock top. The main feature is the Vadakummbnathan shetram or the temple which has Siva as its presiding deity. Adi Sankaracharya is supposed to have spent his last days at this temple.
The Karuvannur and the Panani (Bharatapuzha) are the main rivers of the district.
For a sight of mural paintings from all over Kerala visit the town hall an imposing building with an art gallery or chitralayam.
For animal enthusiasts Thrissur boasts a zoo 2kms from the city centre. Within 13.5 acres live a variety of fauna like the lion tailed macaque, sloth bear, species of birds and deer. The snake park has a reptilian collection of king cobras, kraits, vipers, and rat snakes.
Within the zoo compound is the small art museum which has a good collection of wood carvings, metal sculptures, kathakali figures and ancient jewellery. There is also a wonderful collection of Kerala lamps.
An unusual sixteenth century bronze represents Vishnu maya the creative power of Vishnu given an idealised anthromorphic form. She has a breast band of the Keral type.
The rhythmic accent on the drapery, the richness of ornamentation and the minute attention to detail call to mind the Hoysala style but the indigenous love of simplicity still dominates.
An eighteenth century Sridevi has excessive attention paid to the ornate pedestal and frame.
The metal dwarapalkas belong to the seventeenth century and their counter parts in stone are those in the Thrissur and Varkala temples, tense menacing figures.
There are two stone images of Vishnu one belonging to the twelfth century the other to the 16th century. Alaso a 12th century Brahmi and 11th century Kasturi.
CHERUTHURUTHY - (KERALA KALA MANDAPAM)
North of Thrissur 29 kms away near the Shornur railway station is the home of the Kathakali dance form. It is in this academy that the best of Kerala’s Kathakali performers get their rigorous training. The institution also offers training in music, drama and other dance forms including ‘mohinyattam’, ‘koodiyattam’ and ‘ottamthullal’.
Established by the poet Shri Vallathol Narayana Menon in 1930 to impart training in traditional art forms like ‘Kathakali’, ‘Mohinyattam’, ‘Thullal’ and folk dances is located here. Special performances are arranged on request.
The Rama temple at Triparayar 25 kms away features architecture similar to the Vadakumnathan temple.
In wood one of the most attractive of single figures is the Balabhadra adorning the upper portion of the outer wall of the sanctum. The figure is slightly short but the posture is lively and the modelling of the torso sensitive. The temple ceiling represents the nine planets in anthropomorphic forms. The visual experience is one of progressive discovery as one focuses on detail. At any one spot only one or two figurative representations are likely to present frontality. The others being tilted at angles or even completely inverted.
The visitor has to move around to view each figurative representation, it is then that the delicate variations and the fineness of the carving become clear. There is a figure of the chakiyar with an excruciatingly contorted figure, the face has a droll expression. The temple has some exquisite studies of women with beautifully moulded figures. The decoration is minute and rich but loud in taste. One figure has a garland of flowers hanging on either side of the head, which is a marvel of delicate carving.
25 kms away from Thrissur on the Thrissur Gruvayur Road. One of the seven churches established by St. Thomas. Legend says that Palyur was where people accepted Christian faith for the first time in India. The church has a unique architectural style.
22kms south west of Thrissur and 16 kms north east of Kodungalloor. The only temple in India devoted to Lord Bharatha the brother Sri Rama.
The large circular Sri Kovil enclosed by wooden walls and the beautiful murals inside are a connoisseurs delight. Here one can watch ‘koodiyattom’ perhaps the oldest dance in existence in the country at the Ammanus Chakkyar Smaraka Gurukualm???
Koodal manikyam is just 10kms away from Irinjalakuda Railway Station. The annual festival is held during April-May.
ATHIRAPALLY AND VAZHACHAL WATERFALLS
East of Chalkudy near the entrance to the Sholayar forest ranges are these waterfalls 5kms apart.
Roughly 20 kms from Chalakudy on the Sholayar Peringalkuthu route is famous for its lake and placid waters. The place got its name from a herd of elephants that used to visit the place often.
Legend goes that the place got its name because some elephants had been drowned in this lake. The place is breathtakingly beautiful with rushing waters and silent streams.
The temple with its thick masonry walls and lofty gopurams is a classic example of Kerala temple architecture. The temple contains the sacred shrines of Paramasiva, Parvathy, Sankaracharya, Ganapathy, Sri Rama and Sri Krishna.
The central shrines and Koothambalam exhibit exquisite viginettes carved in wood. Legend goes that the temple was founded by Parasurama. Thrissur Pooram the grandest temple pagentry in Kerala is celebrated here in April-May every year.
The murals depicting Nataraja, Dakshinamurthy and Ganesha and incidents of the battle of Kulashekara were painted in the second quarter of the eighteenth century. The stone dwarapalas are moulded in the titanism of the east coast.
Arattupuzha - 12kms away is famous for the ‘arratupuzha pooram’ festival held in March-April every year. Idols of 46 neighbouring villages are brought to the temple in procession on caparisoned elephants. The festival attracts people from all over the state.
32kms away is among India’s most important pilgrimage centres, also known as the Dwaraka of the South.
The Sri Krishnaswamy Temple is said to date back prior to the 16th century. Tradition has it that the temple was created by Guru the preceptor of the Devas and Vayu the Lord of the Winds.
The temple is dedicated to Krishna known here as Guruvayurappan - The Lord of Guruvayur and the idol is said to have been worshipped by Lord Brahma himself at Dwaraka. It is at this temple that Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri composed his well known Sanskrit devotional poem ‘Naraayaneeyam’.
The temple is known for it’s healing powers. Several offerings are made here from the simple ‘archana’ (offering of flowers), to the exopensive and elaborate ‘Udayastamana Pooja’ or ‘Thulabharam’ (where a devotee is weighed against offerings banana, jaggery, sugar or coconuts.
Guruvayur is the site for several weddings and ‘Annaprasanam’ the first feeding ceremony of the child.
A 33 meter high gold plated flag post and a pillar of lamps with thirteen circular receptacles are noteworthy items here.
Tipu Sultan during his invasion of Malabar and Cochin not only left the temple alone but also gave an annual grant for the conduct of daily pooja.
Near Guruvayur temple (2kms away) is the place where the temple elephants numbering over fifty are taken care of. Nowhere else can one see so many elephants at one time.
CHIMONI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
23kms from Thrissur is an irrigation project site which offers boating facilities on the reservoir. If you are lucky you might even spot a wild tusker or two on the forested banks which form part of the 125 sqkm Pechi Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary.
Has a waterspread of nearly 3200 acres extensive, botanical gardens with its fountains, cascades and park make the dam site attractive.
CHALAKUDY - POTAH
30kms south of Thrissur is an important timber centre and was the base of Tipu Sultan during the attack on the Travancore lines known as ‘Krishna Kotta or Nedumkotta’
50 kms south west of Thrissur. An ancient centre of trade with the Jews, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs. The town was known as Muziris to the Greeks and Romans. Pliny described ity as the first emporium of India.
The first settlement of jews, christians and muslims in India. St. Thomas the apostle is supposed to have landed here in 52AD. The town has the distinction of having the first mosque in India.
The mosque faces east unlike others that face Mecca. The town is known for the ‘Kurumbar Bhagavathy Temple’ and its Bharani Festival in (March-April). The pilgrimage to the temple during the festival is believed to be a potential deterrent to infectious diseases smallpox and cholera.
Thrissur Pooram - Vadakumnathan Temple
The most colourful temple festival of Kerala. Thrissur Pooram attracts devotees from all over the state. Celebrated in Madom (April-May). It consists of caparisoned elephants from various nearby temples.
The most impressive processions are from the Krishna Temple at Tirtunvanbadi and the Devi Temple at Parammekkavu a significant event for devotees.
This festival was introduced by Sakthan Thamburan the maharajah of erstwhile Kochi state.
Vadakumnathan is a mere spectator at this festival lending its premises and grounds for the event. The pooram festival is known for its fireworks, starting in the early hours and the dazzling display lasts three to four hours.
The festival is celebrated by two rival groups representing the two divisions of Thrissur Paramkkavu and Thiruvambadi vying to make the display grander and more colourful.
Each group is allowed to display a maximum of fifteen elephants and all efforts are are made by each to secure the best elephants in South India.
Commencing in the early hours the celebrations last till the break of dawn the next day. The procession of the Thiruvambadi pooram to the grounds of Vadakumnathan temple and back is not only important but enlivening.
The marvelous as well as magical effect of the panchavdyam a combination of five percussion and wind instruments is to be felt and enjoyed.
KRISHNA TEMPLE - THIRUVANHADI
DEVI TEMPLE - PARAMEKKAVU
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