Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is a famous Hindu temple of Lord Vishnu, located inside the Fort in city of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. The temple is one of the 108 divya desam, the holiest abodes of Lord Vishnu. The main deity, Padmanabhaswamy, is a form of Vishnu in Anananthasayanam posture. This is an ancient temple and the city of Thiruvananthapuram derives its name from the name of the presiding deity enshrined in the temple.
In olden days Sree Padmanabha Kshetram and its properties were controlled by powerful lords known as Ettuveetil Pillamar under the guidance of Ettara Yogam. Later, Marthanda Varma defeated the Pillamar and his cousins “Kunju thampis” and took over power. The last major renovation of the temple was done by King Marthanda Varma, Maharaja of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore. He dedicated his kingdom to the deity, and pledged that he and his descendants would serve the kingdom as Padmanabha Dasa, meaning “servants of the Lord Padmanabha”. With this, Sri Padmanabha became the nominal head of the state of Travancore, assuming the title Perumal, the Emperor. The British Government saluted the Lord with a 21-gun salute, a military tradition of colonial days, which was continued by the Indian Army until the abolition of the privy purses by Government of India with Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister.
The royal insignia of the Lord, The Valampiri Shankhu or dextral conch-shell, served as the State emblem of Travancore and even continued so for some time after the re-organization of the States. Sri Padmanabha is still regarded as regional deity of Travancore. The two annual festivals of the Temple culminate in a grand procession, in which the three deities are carried on flower-deck and aesthetically decorated Garuda Vahanas to the Shankhumukhom beach, for ‘aaraattu‘. The ‘aarattu’ days are declared as local public holidays in Thiruvanathapuram.
The temple has a 100 foot, seven-tier gopuram. The temple stands by the side of a tank, named Padma Theertham . The temple has a corridor with 365 and one-quarter sculptured granite-stone pillars with elaborate carvings. This corridor extends from the eastern side into the sanctum sanctorum. An eighty-foot flag-staff stands in front of the main entry from the ‘prakaram’. The ground floor under the gopuram (main entrance in the eastern side) is known as the ‘Nataka Sala‘ where the famous temple art, Kathakali was staged in the night during the ten-day uthsavam conducted twice a year, during the Malayalam months of Meenam and Thulam.
Legend There are many legends regarding the origin of the temple. One such legend says that the Sage Divakara prayed to Krishna for his darshan. Krishna came in disguise as a small, mischievous boy. The boy swallowed the Saligrama which was kept in Puja. The Sage became enraged at this and chased the boy until the boy hid himself behind a tree. The tree fell down and became Vishnu in Sayana Kolam but when he did so, he was of an extraordinarily large size. The Sage, recognizing that the tree was Vishnu, in despair prayed that he could not pray to Vishnu fully as his form was so large. Immediately, the Vishnu shrunk himself, and told the sage that he should be worshipped through three doors. These doors are now the doors in the temple through which the idol may be viewed. Through the first door, the worship is offered to Shiva; through the second entrance Brahma prays to Vishnu from his lotus navel, and through the third is Vishnu’s feet, which are said to lead to salvation. Another legend suggests that the original Murti which was made of the wood of that tree got burned during a fire that engulfed the temple complex, was a sign of the unhappiness of the lord with the king.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple stands at a place considered as one of the seven Parasurama Kshetras; texts including the Puranas, particularly the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, have references for this shrine. Tradition states that in this place, the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu gave darshan to Indian sages like Divakarmuni and Vilvamangalam Swami. Another story tells of a pulaya couple seeing Vishnu in the form of a child. The child took morsels of rice from the hands of the couple. Also it is believed that Divakaramuni, when he saw the deity he took the first food item he saw which was an Unripe Mango and a coconut shell as an offering plate and performed primary pooja. In memory of this legend, naivedyam or offering prepared from rice is offered to the deity here in a coconut shell.
Darshan, Sevas and Festivals
NarasimhaSwamy & PadmanabhaSwamy after coming from Shankumuka Beach during Aarat Festival There are many festivals related to this temple. The major festivals are bi-annual. The Alpashy festival which is in October/November and the Painkuni festival which is in March/April, lasts for 10 days each. These festivals culminate with the Aarat (holy bath) procession to the Shankumugham Beach. The word Aarat refers to the purificatory immersion of the deities of the temple in sea. This event takes place in the evening. The King of Travancore escorts the Aarat procession by foot. The idols of Sri Padmanabhaswamy,
Krishna and Narasimha are given a ritual bathe in the sea, after the prescribed poojas. After this ceremony, the idols are taken back to the temple as a procession in the light of traditional torches, marking the conclusion of the festival.
A major annual festival related to Padmanabha temple is the Navaratri festival. The idols of Saraswathi, Durga, and Murukan are brought to the kuthira malika palace in front of Padmanabha temple as a procession. This festival lasts for 9 days. The famous Swathi music festival is held every year during this festival.
The biggest festival in this temple is laksha deepam, which means hundred thousand (or one lakh) lamps. This festival is unique and commences once in 6 years. Prior to this festival, chanting of prayers and recitation of three vedas is done for 56 days. On the festival time, hundred thousand oil lamps are lit in and around the temple premises. The next laksha deepam is slated on January 2014
Gold Treasure found in Kerala Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple
In June 2011, the Supreme Court directed the authorities from the fire services and archeology department to open the secret (sanctum sanctorum) chambers of the temple for inspection of the items kept inside. A detailed inventory of the temple assets, consisting of gold, jewels, and other valuables was made. Around more than 90,000 crore worth treasure (Nidhi) has been found in the secret cellars of the famous Kerala Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu – Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram). The 7 member paper appointed by the Supreme Court of India, has been preparing the list of valuable found in the cellars of Sri Padmanabhaswami Temple. The temple has 6 Secret Cellars (Nilavara – a place to keep assets safe) from Cellar A to Cellar F. Opening of each of these chambers is revealing a virtual treasure trove with precious diamonds, golden ornaments, emeralds, jewelleries, rare antique silver and brass platters and golden idols. An estimation of above 90,000 crore treasure was valued at the completion of the 6th day of valuing the assets of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.
Golden idol of Mahavishnu worth Rs. 500 Crore
The main treasure found on the 6th day was a one foot (12 angulams) height golden idol of Lord Mahavishnu and a 30 kg golden ‘anki’. This golden idol of Lord Vishnu is believed to be the replica of the ‘utsava vigraham’ used in the temple. The golden idol of Padmanabhaswamy studded with more than 1000 previous stones is valued to around Rs. 500 Crore. Another golden idol of Lord Sree Krishna was also found which weighs around 5 kg.
This revelation has solidified the status of the Padmanabhaswamy temple as one of the wealthiest temples in India and with the final estimate of the wealth, it might overtake the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple—hitherto thought to be the wealthiest temple—having some Indian Rupee symbol.svg 320 billion (US$7.14 billion) in gold, coins and other assets.It is estimated that the value of the monumental items is close to Indian Rupee symbol.svg1.2 trillion (US$26.76 billion), making it the richest temple in the world. If the antique value is taken into account, these assets could be worth ten times the current market price.
Darshan times are (before noon) 3.30-4.45, 6.30-7.00, 8.30-10.00, 10.30-11.00, 11.45-12.00; (after noon) 5.00-6.15 and 6.45-7.20. Only Hindus are permitted inside the temple. Devotees have to strictly follow the dress code. Men should remove clothes above waist and deposit in the locker room. No one is permitted to wear dress that displays both legs separately. This means no pants for men or churidhar for women. Dhotis can be borrowed at the locker room for Rs. 15. Dhotis can be worn over pants or churidhar. No cell phones or cameras are permitted inside the temple. Cell phones must be deposited in the locker room after taking it out of the bag for Rs. 15 a piece. Hand bags are permitted inside.