Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple
It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, who is worshipped as Parthasarathy (Partha's charioteer). It is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the legend of Mahabharata, where the five Pandavas are believed to have built one temple each.
The sacred jewels, called Thiruvabharanam of Ayyappan are taken in procession to Sabarimala each year from Pandalam, and Aranmula Temple is one of the stops on the way. Also, the Thanka Anki, golden attire of Ayyappa, donated by the king of Travancore, is stored here and taken to Sabarimala during the Mandala season of late December. Aranmula is also known for snake boat race held every year during Onam linked to the legends of the Mahabharata. The temple has four towers over its entrances on its outer wall. The Eastern tower is accessed through a flight of 18 steps and the Northern tower entrance flight through 57 steps leads to the Pampa River. It is believed that Dushasana is the guardian of the eastern Gopuram of the temple. The temples has paintings on its walls dating back to early 18 century.
Legend has it that the Pandava princes, after crowning Parikshit as king of Hastinapura left on a pilgrimage. On arriving on the banks of river Pamba, each one is believed to have installed a tutelary image of Krishna; Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Aranmula by Arjuna, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple to Sahadeva. The image of the temple was brought here in a raft made of six pieces of bamboo to this site, and hence the name Aranmula (six pieces of bamboo).
As per other legend, the place derives its name from arin-villai, a land near a river. As per other legend, the place derives its name from arin-villai, a land near a river. There is yet another legend associated with Parthasarathy here. During the battle of Kurukshetra, Duryodhana had taunted Bheeshma of not using his full might in fighting the Pandavas. This taunt by Duryodhana filled Bheeshma with rage. Bheeshma took a vow to fight with such ferocity the next day that Lord Krishna himself would be forced to break his vow of not using a weapon during the war in order to protect Arjuna. On the ninth day of the battle of Kurukshetra, the Kauravas reigned supreme under the leadership of Bheeshma, when Krishna motivated Arjuna to take initiative and vanquish his foe. Bheeshma was unparalleled with the use of celestial weapons in such a manner that Arjuna could not counter the onslaught. Arrows after arrows fired from Bheeshma's bow breached the defenses of Arjuna and inflicted wounds to his body by penetrating his armour. The string of Arjuna's bow, the Gandiva was snapped during the battle. Seeing Arjuna's plight, Krishna jumped down in rage, and took up his discus charging towards Bheeshma. Bheeshma was overfilled with joy and surrendered to Lord Krishna. Meanwhile, Arjuna beseeched the Lord not to kill Bheeshma, as it would have been against Krishna's vow to take up arms in his battle. It is believed that it is this image of Krishna that is enshrined here, with a discus. This symbolizes the Lord's act of compassion to both his devotees on either side of the battle. Lord Krishna broke his vow to protect Arjuna and also to fulfill the promise that his ardent devotee Bheeshma had made.
Lord Krishna presiding here in the Vishvarupa form is considered as 'Annadana Prabhu' (The Lord who provides food) along with other temples like Vaikom Mahadeva Temple and Sabarimala. It is believed that those whose Annaprashana is performed at the Aranmula Parthasarathy temple would never be affected by the pangs of poverty throughout their life.
Aranmula Mirror is also related to the history of this temple. The king of Travancore wanted to donate a crown made of rare metal to the temple and he found a rare combination of Copper and lead. It is believed as per the tradition that preparing the metal polished mirror was produced only by a family. In modern times, the College of Fine Arts have started producing it in commercial scale.
The annual Utsavam commences on the Atham Nakshatra in the month of Makara and concludes ten days later on the Thiruvonam day. Garuda Vahanam Ezhunellippu is the main event during this ten day festival. This event falls on the fifth day of the annual festival and is also called Anchaam Purappadu. The deity is taken out from the sanctum sanctorum mounted on Garuda. It is believed that all 33 million Gods and Demi-Gods would be present in the temple at that time to witness Lord Krishna riding on his vahana, the Garuda.
The Malayalam month of Meenam witnesses a festival where Aranmula Parthasarathy is taken in a grand procession on the Garuda mount to the Pampa river bank, where an image of the Bhagawati from the nearby Punnamthode temple is brought in procession for the Arattu festival.
Another festival celebrated here is the Khandavanadahanam celebrated in the Malayalam month of Dhanus. For this festival, a replica of a forest is created in front of the temple with dried plants, leaves and twigs. This bonfire is lit, symbolic of the Khandavana forest fire of the Mahabharata.
The heads of three Brahmin households in Aranmula and nearby Nedumprayar follow a tradition of fasting on Thiruvonam. The tradition reportedly dates back to more than two centuries. It is believed that once a Brahmin made a vow to feed one pilgrim everyday. Pleased with his devotion, the presiding deity appeared to him. From then on, the Brahmin was overjoyed and he made it a custom to feed to conduct a feast every year, which is practised in modern times. The feast is conducted after the boat race.
From Trivandrum International Airport the temple is 117 KM. It is 10.4 KM from Chengannur Railway Station, 9.9 KM from K.S.R.T.C Bus Station, Chengannur and 500 m from Ikkara Junction Bus Stop
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