Lakshmana Perumal Temple, Vennimala
The temple is located in Putuppally panchayat in Kottayam District. It can be approached by bus in the Kottayam-Putupally-Payyappadi route. After getting down at Payyappadi, about 1 km distance has to be climbed to reach the hill top temple. Occassional bus service is also available to negotiate this ascent by covering a distance of 2.5 km. The distance from Kottayam to Payyappadi is 15 km. Bus can be boarded at Sastri Jn. in the heart of Kottayam Town.
The legend goes that Cheraman Perumal constructed this temple as per the direction of Kapila Maharshi. The place name was Iravipuram originally. The king who reached this place by canal route as per astronomical directions, was shown the idol in this hill by a hunter named Iravi. Later on, the temple came under the suzeranity of Thekkumkoor¹ kings who ruled this region. The temple is more than thousand years old as judged from the mrgamala in the namaskara mantapa, even though the present structures may be of later period.
Even though the main idol is that of Lakshmana Perumal, Sri Rama is also present in the srikovil by conviction. Reinforcing this conviction, there are two bronze dhwajastambhas (flagmasts) in the front yard. Previously the temple was a Mahakshetra with five poojas and three sreebalis daily. Now, only three poojas are performed. Earlier there was a 28 day festival from Rohini in Makaram to Rohini in Kumbhom culminating in the Arattu. For the arattu, during the forward journey Lakshmana was in front followed by Sri Rama while for the return after the aratt Sri Rama used to come in front. All the 28 days were punctuated by Chakyar Koothu. The koothambalam is part of Valiambalam. Pothiyil Chakyars had the hereditory rights of performing Koothu in this temple. Only Ramayanam story used to be played here. Koothu for 16 days followed by Koodiyattom for 12 days was the routine. Vennimala Koothu has been an integral part of the cultural scene of Kerala for centuries. At present, the festival goes on for reduced duration of ten days.
The temple is facing West. The entrance to the temple is through a dwara gopura in Kerala style followed by an Anappandal. Then come the two dhwajastambhas followed by the Agra Mantapam or Balikkalpura. This is followed by the Valiambalam with an in-built koothambalam. The Nalambalm is of wood and tile and on the exterior there is a Vilakkumadom as well.
The valiambalam leads to the inner prasada (courtyard) containing the Srikovil and the namaskara mantapa. The namskara mantapa of medium size contains four pillars and has been reconstructed in teak quite recently with tiled roofing. On the south side of the namaskara mantapa, in between the two pillars is the ancient Kanikka Vanchi of Teak with brass locking system etc., a rare find.
Beyond the namaskara mantapa comes the unique srikovil only one of its kind in South India. It is the 'Ghata Prasada'² type with a pot shape, the Srikovil proper is in circular form with a neck shaped mukhamantapa in front. The srikovil has been constructed in stone and the mukhamantapa has ornamented wooden panels in between stone pillars. Both are roofed over by an integral copper roof supported by rafters. The exterior of the srikovil has beautiful daru silpas (wooden idols) at intervals along the periphery. Sopanam as well as pillars in the mantapa have been enclosed by brass membrane. Of the daru silpas special mention can be made of Siva, Venugopal, Ravana, Sri Rama and Mahalakshmi.
Among the subsidiary shrines, that of Sri Krishna is unique. Located in the North-West corner of the outer prakara, it is a small square srikovil abutted in front by a square mukhamantapa. The inside of the srikovil is hexagaonal shape. The srikovil and mukhamantapa are surrounded by pillars enclosing a small walk-way around and tile over. Ther is a namaskaramantapa and balikkal in front of the shrine. Other upadevatas are Ganapathy, Nagaraja and Yakshi.
The tantra rights of this temple are vested in the Thazhaman Matom. Balikarmas take place during Thulam and Karkidagam vavu days in the temple tank nearby with rocky outcrops. The temple comes under the administrative control of the Uranma Devaswom Board.
Outside the nalambalam are the flagmasts and the anapandal (the elephant portico) on the eastern side culminating in the dvara-sala. The Sastha shrine is located on the south-west side while Bhagavathi, Nagaraja and Yakshi are accommodated on the north-west side of the outer prakara.
1. Vennimala was the capital of Thekkumkur Kingdom for some time after Vempolinadu split into two kingdoms; Vatakkumkoor and Thekkumkoor. Later, Thekkumkoor moved their capital to Nettasseri in the northern suburbs of Kottayam which came to be known as Thazhathangadi with a fort and tali temple.
2. Though the Srikovil in the Parasurama Kshetra at Tiruvallom (near Trivandrum) looks on plan like a Ghata Prasada, its elevation betrays the plan. The circular Srikovil is mounted by a conical (circular) vimana and the abutting mukhamantapa is roofed over by flat stone slabs.
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Last Revised (contents): 22 February, 2009
Last Revised (design) : 26 july, 2004