Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala: Timings, History, and Darshan
The Brahmasthana (heart) of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, is home to the Sree Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The temple is situated on a somewhat raised area of the town with its back to the east. Its enclosures include an area of roughly 570 feet by 510 feet, or 25,700 square feet, or roughly seven acres. Four tall granite walls that are 15 feet high on the other three sides and 20 feet high on the east surround it. With four minor entrances—three on the eastern side and one on the northern side—four primary entrances are facing the four directions. At the eastern gate stands the magnificent Temple Gopura. It has seven stories and a height of almost 100 feet. The inside has steps that lead to the summit. The Gopura’s uppermost portion is shaped like a boat, signifying Vanchi Nadu, or “the land of the boat people.” It carries seven gold Kumbhas, which stand for the seven worlds, or Lokas. Thirteen large, incredibly wide steps lead to the main, imposing entrance. Because Kulasekhara Alvar wished for the auspiciousness of His followers’ feet to always remain on the outside step of every Sree Mahn Vishnu temple, they are also known as “Kulasekhara Padi” (or stairs).
Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala
Athartha Desam, in Kumbala, close to Mangalore, was originally the penance site of Divakara Muni, a Tulu Brahmin sage. He was faced with a beautiful two-year-old youngster one day. An instant affection for this youngster grew within the ascetic’s heart. The wise man asked the young one who he was. The boy answered that he didn’t have a mother or father and that he didn’t even have a specific house. Then the wise man asked the young man to move in with him. The child only agreed to it with the understanding that he would immediately leave if he ever felt humiliated. When the young child was in a particularly naughty mood one day, he inserted a holy Salagrama from where Divakara Muni was doing puja in his mouth. The sage felt angry at witnessing this and scolded the child severely. Following strictly to his previous condition, the youngster fled off, declaring as he went that the Muni would have to go to Ananthan Kaattu (the forest of Anantha) and look for him there if he ever wanted to see him. The sage came to realize that his small companion was Sree Maha Vishnu disguised as a little boy, and in a state of despair, he followed the child’s lead. After a lengthy search, he eventually arrived in a forest close to the coast, just in time to witness the youngster vanish into an Iluppa tree (Indian Butter Tree). The tree suddenly collapsed and, as if by magic, changed into Sree Maha Vishnu, the powerful form of the Lord reclining on Anantha, or Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy. This was the divine vision that Divakara Muni received from the Lord. The saint asked the Lord to limit His form to three times the length of his Yoga Dandu, or roughly eighteen feet long, to meet his limited mortal eyesight. This was because he was unable to comprehend the revelation of the Divya Mangala Roopa, which stretched to a length of almost eighteen miles. His request was heard, and the powerful form transformed into this dimension. Impressed by his devotion, the Lord ordered that the Tulu Brahmins from the motherland of Divakara Muni do the daily pujas for Him from that point on, a tradition that is being observed today.
Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple: Daily activities in Kerala
- The Thirumeni Kaval Kurup (special inner security guard), who has the keys to all three temples, opens the Cheruchuttu enclosure containing Sree Padmanabha Swamy’s sanctum at approximately 3.30 a.m. upon the arrival of Periya Santies.
- The Kurup gives the priest the keys to the main sanctum, which he uses to open the center entrance. He uses a flame from one of the two Akhanda Deepas (everlasting lights) that are burning inside the sanctum to light the lamps inside.
- Periya Nambi shows up there around four in the morning, washes his feet, and climbs the Ottakkal Mandapa’s steps. The public has already assembled and is waiting outside at this point.
- He rings the gold bell that is suspended outside the main door, purifies the area with Panchagayva, and then enters the sanctum right away.
- By around 4.10 a.m., the general public is welcome inside for the Nirmalya Darshan.
- While the Periya Shanti opens the sanctum’s final two doors, the Nambi opens the middle door.
- At that moment, a joyful tune known as Pandi Vadya emerges from the silence, honoring Sree Padmanabha Swamy and rousing him from Yoga Nidra.
- Ottakkal Mandapa was sent a silver platform. The Nambi brings and places the three gold Abhisheka idols of Sret Padmanabha Swamy, Sree Devi, and Bhu Devi on the platform after the puja. Together with the Salagrama and Siva Linga, the Periya Shanti presents the silver Siveli idol of the Swamy. Using a Sankhu (conch), the Periya Nambi conducts the Abhisheka.
- After that, he makes puja using a coconut shell. Water, Panchagavya, Panchamritha, soft coconut water, and cow’s milk are used for oblation. After the idols have been cleaned, water is used once again. Alankara trails behind with gems and flowers.
- The public is required to leave to prepare for the traditional Neivedya meal, which consists of puffed rice, plantains, and Uppu Manga, or salted unripe mango.
- This dish is reminiscent of Vilvamangalathu Swamy’s raw mango offering to Sree Padmanabha Swamy upon receiving the Divine Darshan.
- Then, utilizing the five-tiered lamp, the public is permitted to observe the Deeparadhana. After that, the idols are brought back to the Sreekovil.
- The Nambi performs Pushpanjali. Following the Prasada distribution, everyone leaves the location in preparation for the Usha Nivedya, a pretty elaborate dawn offering.
- The Mandapa is then cleaned and cleansed.
- Around 5:30 a.m., the Etirtu Puja—a ritual that ushers in the day—begins. It is during this time that the public is not permitted inside.
- The Periya Shanti, who plays the traditional instrumental music and blows the conch throughout the Siveli circumambulation, displays the silver Siveli idol of the Lord after the purification is complete.
- Along the way, Sree Narasimha Swamy and Sree Krishna Swamy join Sree Padmanabha Swamy. Only the Peria Shanties, who are specific to each of the three deities, carry the idols on their heads.
- The bells and conch sound and the idols are carried to their shrines following three rounds of circumambulation.
- For the first time, during the day, the general public is now permitted to go up the Ottakkal Mandapa for prayer and devotion.
- By six in the morning, the Pushpanjali Swamiyar arrives and climbs the Ottakkal Mandapam. He walks into the Sreekovil carrying a Dandu.
- He stays indoors until roughly 8:00 a.m.
- The daily administrative report presentation by the Maharaja and the hourly worship period (7.00 a.m. to 8.15 a.m.) are the reasons for the pause of public entry into the inner areas.
- It is forbidden for any member of the royal family to go with him. The royal family members worshipped after that.
- Following that, the public is welcome to enter for prayer from 8.15 until 11.30 a.m. The inner portions are off-limits to the public after the Ucha Puja (afternoon worship) time approaches. Ucha Puja begins in several stages, such as Prasanna Puja and Nivedya.
- The officiating Nambi then performs Deeparadhana using a basic camphor lamp. The Ottakkal Mandapa is open for public climbing until noon.
- The sanctum’s doors are shut after that. By 1:00 p.m., the temple’s towering exterior doors or entrances are closed.
- At 4:00 p.m., the four exterior doors are opened. Around 430 p.m., the Nambi enters the holy place and decorates the Abhisheka idols, while the Periya Santi decorates the Siveli idol.
- After that, he leads the Pushpanjali to God. The public may view Darshan until 6:00 p.m. at the Nalambalam once its inner doors open at 5:00 p.m.
- The musicians then begin playing the sacred music for the elaborate nighttime Deeparadhana. The window of opportunity is from 6.30 to 6.45 p.m.
- The Cheruchuttu area is crowded with people who come to witness the majesty of the ritual. No one can thereafter touch the Mandapa.
- Periya Shanti lights the seven-tiered lamp to begin the Deeparadhana. The Nambi starts the ceremony by simultaneously ringing the handbell.
- The Periya Shanti opens the middle door at that precise moment, after which he opens the doors at the crown and the holy feet (Thiruvadi).
- In the prescribed order, the other lamps are given to Nambi one by one.
- It is therefore the Naga Deepam that follows next, and then the Garuda Deepam, the five-tiered lamp, the Kumbha Deepam, and finally the Karpura (Camphor) Deepam (Arathi). The exquisite display of light illuminates the believers’ hearts as it unites with the Lord’s radiance. After that, Ghattiyam is recited. The Ottakkal Mandapa is open to devotees till 7:30 p.m.
- Following the public’s departure, the Mandapa is cleansed, and Athazha Puja and Neivedya get underway.
- The same as in the morning is the Beli offering of the inner areas by the presiding Nambi, the appointed Periya Shanties’ inner circumambulation of the Shivali Idols, their outer Siveli rounds, and the outer Beli by the Nambi.
- The primary distinction is that on the night of Siveli, a deeparadhana follows the recital of the Ghattiyam at the eastern and western gates.
- Ghattiyam, or prose, are brief poems that are written in several languages, including Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, and Hindi, and, interestingly, none of them appear to have been written in Malayalam, the mother tongue of Maharaja Swathi Tirunal, the author of all of them.
- Deeparadhana and Nivedya return to their respective sanctums after the Idols.
- Ardhayama Deeparadhana, the final Deeparadhana, is that of Sree Padmanabha Swamy. The two side doors are then locked after that. The Swamy is soothed to sleep by Kurunkuzhal’s gentle and melodic tunes.
- Thus, Sree Padmanabha Swamy’s daily routine comes to an end.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple Darshan Timings in Kerala
- 4.30 a.m to 5.15 a.m
- 6.15 a.m to 7.15 a.m
- 8.15 a.m to 11.15 a.m
- Noon to 12.30 p.m
- 5.15 p.m to 7.30 p.m
- Temple timings might change on festival days.
- Men: Mundu / Dhoti. Not to wear shirts or upper cloth
- Women: saree; Mundum Neriyathum (set-mundu); skirt and blouse; Half Saree
- Women used to wear Dhoti on top of Punjabi Dress as it is mandatory before entering Temple.
- Padmanabhaswamy Temple Dress Code is strictly followed.