Popular Temples in Kerala

The echoing sound of morning bells, an intricate architecture based on Thatchu Shastra, towering gopurams, rhythmic chants, and the fragrance of incense – the enchanting land of Kerala is a sacred symphony dotted with thousands of celestial shrines.

So, how about taking a tour of these top 10 temples in Kerala that are living testimonies to centuries-old traditions and rituals of South India?

Whether you seek solace, wish to witness captivating rituals, or dive deep into the historically illustrious heritage of Kerala temples, you are at the right place.

1. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram

Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, is home to the crowned jewel amongst the temples of South India. With its Dravidian style architecture, sky-high gopuram, and true artistic finesse, Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu.

The magnificent temple is flocked by tourists and devotees alike throughout the year but it brims with international travellers during the Alpashy festival in October and November, and Panguni celebrations around March- April.

However, the highlight of this 8-th century shrine is the reclining idol of the deity Lord Padmanabha or Lord Vishnu on Anantha- the eight-hooded serpent God.

You will also come across a lot of stone carvings and murals, a vast open courtyard, and a sanctum brimming with gold and other precious jewels. One of the oldest Vishnu temples in the country, this Hindu shrine traces its history to old scriptures, like Padma Purana and Skanda Purana.

The temple opens intermittently throughout the day before closing the doors at 7-7.30 PM.

2. Kaduthuruthi Mahadeva Tali Temple, Kozhikode

Flourishing under the influences of Kerala and Dravidian architectural style, the ancient Kaduthuruthi Mahadeva, locally known as Tali Temple, is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

As you step inside, the huge sanctum is the seated space of the idol adorned with sacred offerings and colourful flowers.

Apart from Shiva’s devotees, the stunning Tali Temple is also a favourite amongst architecture students and professionals because of its ravelled wood and brass carvings.

It is also one of the top two Brahminical temples built by Zamorin.

Besides, the Tali Temple is not just a sacred delight but a grove for nature lovers since it is nestled on a hilltop near the Karamana River.

The temple opens from 5 AM to 12 noon and from 4 PM to 9 PM.

3. Sabarimala Sastha Temple, Pathanamthitta 

Snuggled amid the lushness of the Western Ghats, Sabarimala is not only one of the most famous temples in Kerala but also the most revered in South India.

This renowned pilgrimage site is visited by millions of devotees of Lord Ayyappan, the son of Lord Shiva and Mohini and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple is unique in a way that only male devotees and females below 10 and above 50 are allowed to enter its threshold.

They wear blue and black dresses and smear Chandan on their forehead before entering the temple, exhibiting the year-old traditions and rituals that are still followed on its premises.

Surrounded by the dense woods of Periyar Tiger Reserve, the journey to the temple may be a challenging one, but once it is complete, you will be greeted by the serene shrine with 18 holy steps known as Pathinettam Padi, which will fill you with divine energy.

A symbol of faith, enlightenment, and faith, Sabarimala Sastha is open between 3 AM to 11.40 AM and 1 PM to 3 PM.

4. Kaviyoor Mahadeva Temple, Kaviyoor 

Steeped in mythology and folklore of south India, Kaviyoor Mahadeva, known as Thrikkariyoor Mahadeva amongst locals, is one of the oldest temples in Kerala. This 10th-century Hindu shrine is dedicated to three deities – Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, and Goddess Parvati.

The murals depict mythological tales in their unique ways. One of the legends of the temple speaks about a Shivling that was installed by Lord Ram while he was on his way to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana in Lanka.

The ambience of the temple is filled with the fragrance of flowers and incense, framed with tranquil vibes, and full of devotees all year around, especially around the time of Hanuman Jayanti in December-January.

Kaviyoor Mahadeva remains open throughout the day for the devotees to have the ‘darshan’ of their beloved Gods.

5. Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple, Kottayam 

One of the top Kerala famous temples, Ettumanoor Mahadeva, is a magnificent amalgamation of mural paintings, which stand as a testament to the exquisite craftsmanship of traditional South Indian architecture.

The main deity of the temple, Lord Shiva, sits gracefully in the sanctum offering a beautiful blend of spirituality, artistry, and rich cultural heritage.

The fresco painting of a dancing Shiva on the walls of the shrine has been referred to as the most intricate work of art in all of South India.

One of the interesting facts about this temple is that Adi Shankaracharya wrote Soundarya Lahiri while residing there, and it piques the curiosity of historians, philosophy enthusiasts, and spiritual seekers.

Ettumanoor Mahadeva is splendorous throughout the year but to witness its glory at its fullest, make sure to visit Ettumanoor during the Arattu festival in February and March.

The temple opens at 4 AM and closes at 8.30 PM.

6. Attukal Bhagwathy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram

One of the most popular temples in Kerala, Chottanikara dedicated to three forms of Goddess Bhagavati, namely, Saraswati (Goddess of Learning), Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth), and Goddess Durga (Goddess of Power).

The origin of this phenomenal temple dates back centuries but its origin is shrouded in myth and folklore. You can sit with the temple priests or locals to know more about the marvel that Chottanikara is, and they would be happy to tell you!

The 5 feet tall golden idol of the Goddess is said to have healing powers. Locals say that the three ‘Shaktis’ come together to cure any ailments in the physical body, if the person worships them with true intentions and pure hearts.

You will see devotees offering jewellery, silk sarees, and flowers to the Mother Goddess. Visitors also flock to the healing pond, locally known as Amma Kadavu, where Goddess grants relief from pain and affiliations.

So, it’s the idol and the healing pond that always have the spotlight on them, but wait, there is one more reason to visit the iconic Chottanikara Temple. It’s the annual Makam Thozhal festival that attracts devotees, especially women from all over the country, in February and March.

The temple remains open from 4 AM to noon and then from 4 PM to 8:45 PM, so you can plan your visit accordingly.

7. Chottanikara Temple, Ernakulum  

One of the most popular temples in Kerala, Chottanikara dedicated to three forms of Goddess Bhagavati, namely, Saraswati (Goddess of Learning), Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth), and Goddess Durga (Goddess of Power).

The origin of this phenomenal temple dates back centuries but its origin is shrouded in myth and folklore. You can sit with the temple priests or locals to know more about the marvel that Chottanikara is, and they would be happy to tell you!

The 5 feet tall golden idol of the Goddess is said to have healing powers. Locals say that the three ‘Shaktis’ come together to cure any ailments in the physical body, if the person worships them with true intentions and pure hearts.

You will see devotees offering jewellery, silk sarees, and flowers to the Mother Goddess. Visitors also flock to the healing pond, locally known as Amma Kadavu, where Goddess grants relief from pain and affiliations.

So, it’s the idol and the healing pond that always have the spotlight on them, but wait, there is one more reason to visit the iconic Chottanikara Temple. It’s the annual Makam Thozhal festival that attracts devotees, especially women from all over the country, in February and March.

The temple remains open from 4 AM to noon and then from 4 PM to 8:45 PM, so you can plan your visit accordingly.

8. Sivagiri Temple, Varkala

Sivagiri is not only one of the most famous temples in Kerala, but it is also visually breathtaking! Settled beautifully on a hilltop in Varkala, the temple offers splendorous views of the Arabian Sea.

You must take a minute to soak in the beauty surrounding this temple – emerald trees, colourful flowers, stunning views – before entering the complex that houses the final resting place of the great philosopher and social reformer, Sree Narayan Guru.

The temple is also known as Sivagiri Mutt and stands as a symbol of Guru’s teachings, and inspires people from all walks of life to follow his principles of life, which talk about spirituality, unity, and harmony.

Most devotees visit the temple around December and January, which marks the birth anniversary of the Guru.

However, you can visit the temple whenever you are in Kerala, in yellow outfits and deep devotion, and who knows, you might experience a miracle in your personal life. This is the magic of Sree Narayan Guru.

9. Thirunelli Temple, Wayanad Valley

There are many Kerala temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu but this is one shrine to worship Him as Lord Thirunelli Perumal.

However, this sacred site is more than a pilgrimage place as it is nestled amidst the lush forests of Brahamagiri Hills, in the picturesque Wayanad Valley, inviting trekkers and tourists of all seasons to soak in its immense beauty.

Coming back to the temple, its architecture is a remarkable blend of the traditional Kerala and Dravidian style, which is highlighted in its intricate carvings, and exquisite sculptures.

It is often referred to as the Kashi of South or Maha Vishnu Temple, this serene place of worship has found its mention in the Puranas, which says that Lord Brahma created this masterpiece Himself.

The highlight of the temple is the holy Papanasini River, which is known for washing away the sins of those who take a dip in Her water. So, make sure to include this in your itinerary.

If you wish to visit this temple, then book your Kerala tourism package around the annual festival of Sree Narayana Jayanthi, which attracts thousands of devotees to bathe in the spiritual vibrations surrounding the shrine.

The opening hours of Thirunelli Temple starts from 4.30 AM to 12 PM and 5.30 PM to 8 PM.

10. Ambalapuzha Shree Krishna Temple, Ambalapuzha 

Ambalapuzha is a 17-th century temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and brims with serene backwaters and lush paddy fields, which soothes mind and body even before entering this divinely rich temple/

This traditional Kerala-style temple boasts stunning woodwork, elegant murals, and gorgeous paintings. Even though there are many temples in India to worship Lord Krishna, the deity presides in Ambalapuzha in His child form known as Unni Krishna.

This breathtaking piece of architecture is also famous for its iconic prasadam, Ambalapuzha Palpayasam, which is a sweet rice porridge offered to the deity and distributed amongst the devotees.

The best time to visit this shrine is during its annual festival called Ambalapuzha during which the deity is taken out of the temple for a grand procession before He is given a ceremonial bath in the temple’s pond. You will see people soaking in the divine energy of the Lord as they dance through the procession and sing songs for their beloved Krishna.

Ambalapuzha Shree Krishna Temple is thus one of the many temples in Kerala that display the rich culture and heritage of God’s Own Country.

The temple remains open from 4 am to 12 noon and 5 PM to 8 PM every day.

Take Away 

Embark on a captivating journey to the divine realms of South India and immerse yourself in the architectural and spiritual divinity of God’s own country, Kerala. Explore the top 10 temples in Kerala, from the magnificent Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple to the serene Thirunelli Temple. Immerse yourself in the architectural and spiritual divinity, witnessing captivating rituals and centuries-old traditions.

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the cultural heritage of Kerala. Book your exclusive Kerala tour package today and embark on a soul-stirring journey today.

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