Thiruvattar Adhi Keseva Perumal Temple


Thiruvattar Adhi Kesava Perumal temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams (108 Triupathi or great centres of  Maha Vishnu worship). This is one of the oldest Vaishnava temples in South India, closely associated with the Royal Family of Travancore. The architecture of this temple resembles Padmanabhaswamy temple of Trivandrum.  When the Travancore dynasty shifted their capital from Padmanabhapuram to Trivandrum, Marthanda Varma constructed the Padmanabhaswamy temple in the same style and architecture of Thiruvattar temple. While Sree Padmanabha in Trivandrum reclines with His head to the south, Sri Kesava Perumal in Thiruvattar reclines with his head to the north

The sanctum sanctorum is copper tiled and fronted by ‘Ottakkal Mandapam (hall made of single granite stone) similar to Trivandrum Padmanabhaswamy temple. In both the temples, only the Maharaja of Travancore has the right to prostrate in these mandapams.

The presiding deity is Adhi Kesava Perumal on the serpent Adi Sesha, is made of Katu Sarkara Yogam and the hollow areas inside have been filled with 16008 salagramas. The Perumal is in a lying posture in Yoga Nidra. The total length of the deity is 18 feet long and can be viewed only in parts through three entrances in the sanctum sanctorum. The right hand exhibits the mystic symbol of Chin Mudra. Siva is present in Linga form but Brahma is absent.  The doorway in the middle is guarded by two dwarabalakas.

Thiru Allah Puja conducted on the last day of the 10 days festival every year is associated with Nawab of Arcot. In 1740 AD the Nawab’s army took away the Archana Bimba of the temple. Later he developed severe stomach ache and he was advised to return the deity back to the temple. The pain disappeared when he ordered the return of the deity. As gratitude he presented a gold crown and other offering to the temple and instituted a special puja to the Archana Bimba on the festival day before it is returned to the sanctum sanctorum.

In Pasurams, 9th century Nammalvar refers to Thiruvattar as ‘Valamikka Vattar’.  Its name also appears in Tamil Anthology ‘Purananuru’. There is also a mention about this temple in Padma Purana.  The name Thiruvattar came from ‘Vaattar’ (river of perennial waters) with an honorific prefix of ‘Thiru’. The temple is situated at a high elevation and surrounded by three rivers, Parli, Kotha and Thamraparani.

Thiruvattar is situated 6 km from Marthandam, 30 km from Nagercoil and 57 km from Trivandrum.


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