Thiruvananthapuram district is a place of communal harmony as there are many pilgrim centers for Hindus, Christians and Muslims. The Padmanabhaswamy temple in this district is a very famous temple and has been recently in the news as valuables worth more than 1 Lakh crores were discovered from the secret chambers of the temple. It is considered to be the richest temple in the world. Another famous temple here called the Attukal Bhagavathy temple is also of great importance especially due to the annual Pongala festival conducted here. There are several other temples in this district. Some of the important churches in Trivandrum are Christ the King Church at Vettukadu, St. Mary’s Cathedral at Pattom etc. A famous mosque here is the Beemapalli mosque. A mosque called Palayam Palli is located neighbored by a temple and a church, which is a perfect example of the religious tolerance and communal harmony of this place.
Temples in Thiruvananthapuram
Padmanabha Swamy Temple
Padmanabha Swamy Temple is located in East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram and is the richest temple in the world. The deity here is lord Vishnu and the idol is in the Ananthashayanam posture. This idol which is made up of 10,008 Saligramam is 18 feet long. This Saligramam is plastered with Kadusharkara Yogam which is a mixture of ayurvedic herbs. This idol is accompanied by a serpent. This idol was brought to this temple from Nepal. The idol is very large that it is seen from 3 different doors. A unique feature of this temple is that the idol is present here in all sitting, standing and reclining postures. The reclining posture can be seen through the 3 doors.
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple has got great importance among the ancient temples in South India. The deity here is Attukal Devi and the idol is beautifully decorated with gold ornaments. It is popularly called as the ‘Sabarimala of Women’. The temple architecture is a mixture of Kerala and Tamil Architectural styles. There are beautiful carvings on the temple depicting pictures of Dashavataram, Dakshayagam etc. The Gopuram of the temple is also beautifully carved. The legend says that the Goddess had appeared in front of one of her devotee from the Mulluveettil family. She appeared in the form of a small girl and asked him to build an abode for her. Accordingly, the temple was built in the nearby compound at the spot mentioned.
Sree Parasurama Temple
Sree Parasurama Swami Temple at Thiruvallam is an ancient temple and is situated at the Triveni Sangamam of the rivers Karamana, Killi and Parvathiputhanar. It lies at a distance of 9 kms from Kovalam beach. This temple is dedicated to Lord Parasurama and there are separate shrines for Lord Vishnu, Siva and Brahma in this temple. The temple is believed to be constructed in the 12th or 13th century and is now regarded as a protected monument by the Archaeological department. This temple is well known for the Balitharpanam conducted during the Karkidaka Vavu. Thousands of worshipers gather here during this time to perform this ritual. The main festivals held in this temple are Thiruvonam Arattu and Parasurama Jayanti.
Sivagiri mutt is a pilgrimage centre located on the Sivagiri hill in Varkala. This was built in 1904 by Sree Narayana Guru. It is at this place that the tomb of the Hindu social reformer Sree Narayana Guru is kept. He was enlightened and attained salvation from this mutt. In 1912, Guru has also installed the idol of Goddess Sree Sarada and this temple is Octagonal in shape. Thousands of worshippers from all over visit this mutt in order to see the resting place of the Guru. The Pilgrimage day is held from 30th December to 1st January which attracts many devotees to this mutt. This mutt is also the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham. The main days celebrated here are Guru Deva Jayanti and the Samadhi day.
There is an ancient Bhagavathi temple at Aruvikkara near the famous picnic spot Aruvikkara dam. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The temple is unique as it is made of rock and lies on top of a rock. There is a stream flowing beside it that has abundant fishes in it. The visitors throw food crumbs to these fishes. These fishes are considered as sacred and people believe that feeding them can cure their ailments such as skin diseases.
Pazhavangadi Ganapathy Temple
Sree Maha Ganapathy temple is located in East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram city. This temple is dedicated to Lord Mahaganaathy and the deity is in a seated posture with its right leg folded. The sub deities here include Lord Ayyappa, Goddess Durga, Nagaraja and Brahmarakshas. The attractive sculptures found here are the beautiful paintings of 32 different forms of Lord Ganapathy. The main offering done here is the breaking of coconut. The main festivals celebrated in this temple are Vinayaka Chathurthi, Ganesh Jayanthi, Virad Chathurthi and Sankashti Chathurthi.
Karikkakom Sri Chamundi Temple
This is a 500 years old temple which is located at Karikkakom at a distance of 7 km from Thiruvandanthapuram city. The Sanctum sanctorum, Mukhamandapam and Chuttumandapam of the temple has been reconstructed and the Panchaloha idol has also been re installed. The main attraction of this temple is the 5 storied Royal Gopuram. People irrespective of caste and religion are permitted to enter the temple. The main deity here is Goddess Chamundi Devi and the sub deities include Rektha Chamundi, Bala Chamundi, Sastha, Vinayaka and Yogeshwara. Devotees pray to the Goddess to get justice, and the deity is believed to help retrieve any stolen items. The star of the Goddess is Makam that falls on the Malayalam month Meenam and on this day the Pongala festival is held. This festival is conducted here annually and is attended by thousands of devotees. A weeklong festival is also held during this time.
Mukkolakkal Sri Varaham Bhagawati Temple
This temple is located near Sreevaraham at a distance of 2 kms from Trivandrum city and is dedicated to Goddess Bhagawati. The sub-deities include Lord Mahaganapathy, Nagaraja and Brahma Rakshas. The idol made of Panchaloha is placed near a self-grown Puttu that was made by white ants. The important day celebrated in this temple is the Bharani star of Malayalam month Meenam. The major festival conducted here is a weeklong festival called as Ooroottulsav and it starts on Thiruvonam star of Malayalam month Meenam.
Sri Pazhanchira Devi Temple
This is an ancient temple located at Ambalathara which is at a distance of 5 kms from Trivandrum city. This temple is around 700 years old. The temple dedicated to Goddess Devi and the idol in this temple was installed by a Siddha Yogi. There is a snake grove nearby the sanctum sanctorum where Naga Pooja is performed. People believe that after performing this Pooja they will get cured of any skin diseases. Another main ritual performed here is the Aishwarya Malaxmi Pooja for attaining prosperity. The main festival conducted here lasts for a week and is held during the Malayalam month Meenam. During this festival special Poojas are conducted for the Nagas. Mahanavami is also celebrated along with Kanyaka Pooja. Annually Pongala festival is also held in this temple.
Janardhana Swamy Temple
This is an ancient temple situated on a hill in Varkala. The temple which is around 2000 years old is popularly called as Varkala Temple. This temple is located near to the Papanasam beach. People believe that taking a dip in this sea water would wash away all our sins. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu who is in the form of Janardhana Swamy and Lord Hanuman. The sub deities include Ganapathi, Shastha, Ananthan, Shiva and Chandikesha. There are various painted images of Lord Hanuman in different postures in this temple. There is also an Old Dutch bell in this temple which has been offered to the priest by a captain of a ship who reached the Varkala seashore. People perform Balitharpanam from this temple. The annual Arattu festival is held in the Malayalam month Meenam and lasts for 10 days. Thousannds of people gather here mainly during the festive season.
Sreekanteswaram Temple is situated at Sreekanteswaram at a distance of 2 km from Trivandrum city. This temple is believed to be around 700 years old. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Shivalingam is worshipped here. The sub deities include Ganesha, Sree Dharmasastha, Nagaraja, Murugan, Sree Krishna and Hanuman. Along with the daily rituals a main Pooja held here is the Pantheeradi Pooja which is the Pooja performed when a person’s shadow becomes 12 feet. The annual festival of this temple is Thiruvathira Mahotsavam which is held during the Malayalam month Dhanu and lasts for 10 days. Sivarathri is another festival that is celebrated here.This temple lies near to the Pazhaya Sreekanteswaram Temple which is also another ancient Siva temple. This temple is considered to be the original abode of Sreekanteswara. The main deities in this temple are Lord Siva and Lord Krishna
Sree Lakshmi Varaha Swamy Temple
Sree Lakshmi Varaha Swamy Temple has both Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu in a single shrine. This is an ancient temple and is also called as Sreevaraham Temple. Lord Vishnu is in the form of Varaha and Goddess Lakshmi sits on his lap. There is a sacred pond nearby the temple. The important day is Thursday and special poojas are conducted on this day.
Vellayani Devi Temple
Vellayani Devi Temple is located near Vellayani Lake at a distance of 9 kms from Trivandrum city. It is an ancient temple and is around 900 years old. It is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy and the idol called as Thirumudi is 4 ½ feet in height. The sub deities include Ganesha, Siva, Nagaraja and Madan Thampuran. Annually Pongala festival is held in this temple in the Malayalam month Meenam. Another major festival held here is the Kaliyoottu Mahotsavam and is conducted once in 3 years. This festival which lasts for 50 days is considered as the longest Non pilgrimage festival of South India. Many customs are done during the festive season some of which are Karadikottu, Kalamkaval, Uchabali etc.
This temple is located in Chirayinkeezhu and is dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali. The main festival in this temple is the Kaliyoot festival which is held in the Malayalam month Kumbham. Another festival held here is the Meenabharani which is held for 10 days.
Kappil Bhagavathy Temple
This temple is situated in Kappil and there are two temples, one dedicated to Lord Siva and another dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali. The major festival held here is the Meena Bharani. The Siva temple is believed to be around 1000 years old.
This temple which is dedicated to Sri Venkatachalapathy is near to the Padmanabha swamy temple in Trivandrum. It is an old temple built in 1898 and is the only temple in Kerala which is dedicated to the Vaishanavite Vadakalai Sambradayam. This temple does not have a Gopuram and the sanctum sanctorum is also built in simple architecture. Some of the main festivals celebrated here are Vaikunta Ekadasi, Thiru Aadi pooram and Aadi Swathi, Janmashtami etc.
Irumkulangara Durga Devi Temple
This temple is located in Thottam at a distance of 2 kms from Padmanabha swamy temple. This temple has got its name Irumkulangara due to its location on the banks of two ponds. The main deity of this temple is Goddess Durga and is in the form of Durgabhagavathy. The sub deities include Lord Ganesha, Nagaraja, Brahmarakshasu, Maadan Thampuran, Navagraha and Sree Bhairava Moorthy. There is also a Kavu near the temple. The main festival of this temple is Painkuni Mahothsavam which is held in the month of March and lasts for 10 days. As different from other temples, red colored flowers other than Thetti flower is not used for Poojas and some rituals like Thottampattu and Ottam are not performed here.
Some other main temples in Trivandrum district are
Hanuman Swamy Temple, Thaliyadichapuram Sree Mahadeva Temple, Neyyattinkara sree krishna swami temple, Premavahini Sai Temple, Mannanthala Anandavaleeswaram Temple, Avanavanchery Sri Indilayappan Temple, Malayinkeezhu Sree Krishna Temple, Punnakamugal Sree Mahaganapathy Temple, Nemom Maha Ganapathi Temple, Ananthankadu Shiva Parvati Temple, Sree Mahadevar Temple Thirupuram, Chengallur Mahadeva Temple Poojapura, Nemom Shiva Temple, Shiva Temple Karakkamandapam, Gandhari Amman Kovil, Althara Yakshiamman Temple, Karikkakam Sri Chamundi Temple, Konchiravila Devi Temple, Pangode Sree Hanuman Swamy Temple, Ulloor Sree Subramanya Swamy Temple, Subramanya Swamy Temple East Fort, Thrivikramangalam Mahavishnu Temple at Thirumala, Koikkala temple at Attingal etc.
Churches in Thiruvananthapuram
Christ the King Church, Vettukadu
Madre de Deus Church which is popularly called as Vettukad Church is a famous church in Thiruvananthapuram located at a distance of 3 kms from Shankhumugham beach. The present building of the church was constructed in the year 1934. People irrespective of caste and religion visit this church. The main festival of this church is the Feast of Christ the King which is held on the 3rd Sunday of November and lasts for 10 days.
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Pattom
St. Mary’s Malankara Syrian Catholic Cathedral Basilica is located in Pattom and is a famous pilgrim centre of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. This cathedral was consecrated in the year 1965 by Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios. This church was visited by Pope John Paul II in the year 1986. Around 531 families are there in the Cathedral parish.
St. Mary, Queen of Peace Basilica
St. Mary, Queen of Peace Basilica which is the fourth basilica in Kerala is located in the Palayam. It is the first Syro-Malankara Catholic Church that was raised to the status of a Catholic basilica. This basilica is the only one which is dedicated in the honor of “St. Mary Queen of Peace” in the whole Catholic Church. This church was earlier called as Tin church or Thakara palli because the former structure of the church has a roof made of tin. At present the church has a neo Gothic structure.
St Josephs Metropolitan Cathedral
St.Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral is located at Palayam and is an ancient church. It is dedicated to Saint Joseph and is the Cathedral Church of the Latin Archdiocese of Trivandrum. This church is around 137 years old and is constructed in Gothic structure. It has a Gothic style bell structure. The church was recently renovated and opened. Earlier the walls were brick red in color which was then changed to white upon recommendation from the Archaeological department.
St. Therese of Lisieux church
St. Therese of Lisieux church at Vellayambalam was formed in 1992 when a part from Palayam cathedral parish and Nanthencode parish were bifurcated. The church was newly constructed in 2004.
Some other churches in Thiruvananthapuram are
Our Lady of Good Voyage church (Sinduyatramatha Devalayam), Mateer Memorial Church, St.Antony’s Forane Church at Valiathura, Lourde Forane Church, Poozhikunnu St. Antony’s Church, Sacred Heart Church at Nanthencode, Good Shepherd Church at Thrikkannapuram, St Marys orthodox Syrian church at Nalanchira etc.
Mosques in Thiruvananthapuram
Beemapally is a muslim mosque situated in Thiruvananthapuram. This mosque houses the tomb of Syedunnisa Beema Beevi who was a Muslim lady with divine powers and her son Syedushuhadamaheen Abubacker. A festival to commemorate Beema Beevi is conducted annually. Thousands of pilgrims irrespective of caste and religion from different parts visit this shrine. This mosque is famous for the yearly Urs. The most important festival celebrated here is the Chandanakudam festival which begins on the first of Jama dul Akbar and continues for the next 10 days.
Juma Masjid – Palayam
The Masjid-i Jahan-Numa popularly called as the Palayam Pally is a famous mosque in Trivandrum. It is located in Palayam and is a Juma Masjid. The mosque is neighbored by a temple and a church which is an example of the communal harmony in this area. Hundreds of people gather at this mosque to attend the Friday prayers.
Some other mosques in Thiruvananthapuram are
Vattiyoorkavu Mosque, Vallakkadavu Juma Masjid, Charachira Jama Masjid at Palayam, Kabaradi Muslim Juma Masjid at Kazhakuttom, Poonthura Puthanpally Mosque etc.