The Padmanabhaswamy temple is a Hindu temple located in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital of Kerala, India. The name of the city of Thiruvananthapuram in Malayalam translates to “The City of Lord Ananta”, (City of the Divine Serpent) referring to the deity of the Padmanabhaswamy temple. The temple is built in an intricate fusion of the Chera style and the Dravidian style of architecture, featuring high walls, and a 16th-century gopura. While the Ananthapura temple in Kumbla is considered the original seat of the deity (“Moolasthanam”), architecturally to some extent, the temple is a replica of the Adikesava Perumal temple in Thiruvattar.
The principal deity Sree Padmanabhaswamy (Vishnu) is enshrined in the “Anantha Shayana” posture, the eternal yogic sleep on the infinite serpent Adi Shesha. Padmanabhaswamy is the tutelary deity of the royal family of Travancore. The titular Maharaja of Travancore, Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, is the trustee of the temple.
The temple is one of the 108 principal Divya Desams (“Holy Abodes”) in Vaishnavism and is glorified in the Divya Prabandha. The Divya Prabandha glorifies this shrine as being among the 13 Divya Desam in Malai Nadu (corresponding to present-day Kerala with Kanyakumari District). The 8th century Tamil poet Alvar Nammalvar sang the glories of Padmanabha. The Ananthapuram temple in Kasaragod is believed to be the original seat of Padmanabhaswamy (“Moolasthanam”).
It is believed that Parasurama purified and venerated the idol of Sree Padmanabhaswamy in Dvapara Yuga. Parasurama entrusted ‘Kshethra karyam’ (Administration of the Temple) with seven Potti families – Koopakkara Potti, Vanchiyoor Athiyara Potti, Kollur Athiyara Potti, Muttavila Potti, Karuva Potti, Neythasseri Potti and Sreekaryathu Potti. King Adithya Vikrama of Vanchi (Venad) was directed by Parasurama to do ‘Paripalanam’ (Protection) of the Temple. Parasurama gave the Tantram of the Temple to Tharananallur Namboothiripad. This legend is narrated in detail in ‘Kerala Mahathmyam’ which forms part of ‘Brahmanda Puranam’.
Another version regarding the consecration of the Main Idol of the Temple relates to the legendary sage Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar. Swamiyar, who resided near Ananthapuram Temple in Kasaragod District, prayed to Lord Vishnu for his darshan or “auspicious sight”. The Lord is believed to have come in the guise of a little boy who was mischievous. The boy defiled the Idol which was kept for Puja. The sage became enraged at this and chased away the boy who disappeared before him. Realizing the boy was no ordinary mortal, the sage wept for forgiveness and asked for another darshan as a sign. He heard a voice say “If you want to see me come to the Anathavana (the unending forest or ananthakadu). After a long search, when he was walking on the banks of Laccadive Sea, he heard a pulaya lady warning her child that she would throw him in Ananthankadu. The moment the Swami heard the word Ananthankadu he was delighted. He proceeded to Ananthankadu based on the directions of the lady of whom he enquired. The Sage reached Ananthankadu searching for the boy. There he saw the boy merging into an Iluppa tree (Indian Butter Tree). The tree fell down and became Anantha Sayana Moorti (Vishnu reclining on the celestial snake Anantha). But the edifice that the Lord assumed was of an extraordinarily large size, with His head at Thiruvattar near Thuckalay Tamil Nadu, Body or Udal at Thiruvananthapuram, and lotus-feet at Thrippadapuram near Kulathoor and Technopark (Thrippappur), making him some eight miles in length. The Sage requested the Lord to shrink to a smaller proportion that would be thrice the length of his staff. Immediately the Lord shrank to the form of the Idol that is seen at present in the Temple. But even then many Iluppa trees obstructed a complete vision of the Lord. The Sage saw the Lord in three parts – thirumukham, thiruvudal and thrippadam. Swami prayed to Padmanabha to be forgiven. The Swami offered Rice Kanji and Uppumanga (salted mango pieces) in a coconut shell to the Perumal which he obtained from the pulaya woman. The spot where the Sage had darsan of the Lord belonged to Koopakkara Potti and Karuva Potti. With the assistance of the reigning King and some Brahmin households a Temple was constructed. The Ananthankadu Nagaraja Temple still exists to the north west of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The Samadhi (final resting place) of the Swamiyar exists to the west of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. A Krishna Temple was built over the Samadhi. This Temple, known as Vilvamangalam Sri Krishna Swami Temple, belongs to Thrissur Naduvil Madhom.
In the Garbhagriha, Padmanabha reclines on the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha. The serpent has five hoods facing inwards, signifying contemplation. The Lord’s right hand is placed over a Shiva lingam. Sridevi-Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity and Bhudevi the Goddess of Earth, two consorts of Vishnu are by his side. Brahma emerges on a lotus, which emanates from the navel of the Lord. The deity is made from 12,008 saligramams.These saligrams are from the banks of the Gandaki River in Nepal, and to commemorate this certain rituals used to be performed at the Pashupatinath Temple. The deity of Padmanabha is covered with, “Katusarkara yogam”, a special ayurvedic mix, which forms a plaster that keeps the deity clean. The daily worship is with flowers and for the abhishekam, special deities are used.
The platforms in front of the vimanam and where the deity rests are both carved out of a single massive stone and hence called “Ottakkal-mandapam”. On the orders of Marthanda Varma (1706–58), the Ottakkal-mandapam was cut out of a rock at Thirumala, about 4 miles (6.4 km) north of the temple. It measured 20 square feet (1.9 m2; 190 dm2; 19,000 cm2) in area by 2.5 feet (30 in; 7.6 dm; 76 cm) thick and was placed in front of the deity in the month of Edavom 906 M.E. (1731 CE). At the same time, Marthanda Varma also brought 12,000 shaligrams, aniconic representations of Vishnu, from the Gandaki River, north of Benares (now known as Varanasi) to the temple. These were used in the reconsecration of the Padmanabha.
In order to perform darshan and puja, one has to ascend to the mandapam. The Deity is visible through three doors – the visage of the reclining Lord and Siva Linga underneath the hand is seen through the first door; Sridevi and Bhrigu Muni in Katusarkara, Brahma seated on a lotus emanating from the Lord’s navel, hence the name, “Padmanabha”, gold abhisheka moorthies of Lord Padmanabha, Sridevi and Bhudevi, and silver utsava moorthi of Padmanabha through the second door; the Lord’s feet, and Bhudevi and Markandeya Muni in Katusarkara through the third door. The idols of two goddesses holding chamaram, Garuda, Narada, Tumburu, the divine forms of the six weapons of Lord Vishnu, Surya, Chandra, Saptarshi (Seven Sages), Madhu, and Kaitabha are also there in the Sanctum. Only the King of Travancore may perform sashtanga namaskaram, or prostrate on the “Ottakkal Mandapam”. It is traditionally held that anybody who prostrates on the mandapam has surrendered all that he possesses to the Deity. Since the ruler has already done that, he is permitted to prostrate on this mandapam.
Festivals and rites
There are many festivals associated with this temple. The major festivals are bi-annual. The Alpashy festival which is in October/November and the Panguni festival which is in Tamil month Panguni, March/April, lasts for 10 days each. On the ninth day the Maharajah of Travancore, in his capacity as Thrippappoor Mooppan, escorts the deities to the vettakkalam for Pallivetta. Centuries back, the Pallivetta procession was said to pass through Kaithamukku, Kuthiravattom (Kunnumpuram), Pazhaya Sreekanteswaram and Putharikkandam. The festivals culminate with the Aarat (holy bath) procession to the Shankumugham Beach. The word Aarat refers to the purificatory immersion of the deities of the temple in sea. This event takes place in the evening. The Maharajah of Travancore escorts the Aarat procession on foot. The festival idols “Utsava Vigrahas” of Padmanabhaswamy, Narasimha Moorthi and Krishna Swami are given a ritual bath in the sea, after the prescribed pujas. After this ceremony, the idols are taken back to the temple in a procession that is lit by traditional torches, marking the conclusion of the festival.
A major annual festival related to Padmanabhaswamy temple is the Navaratri festival. The idols of Saraswati Amman, Mun Uditha Nangai (Parasakti, who appeared before Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati to help them identify their husbands who had been transformed into infants by the power of chastity of Anasuya) and Kumara Swami (Murugan) are brought to the Kuthira malika palace in front of Padmanabhaswamy temple as a procession. This festival lasts for 9 days. The famous Swathi music festival is held every year during this festival.
The biggest festival in this temple is laksha deepam, which means hundred thousand (or one lakh) lamps. This festival is unique and commences once in 6 years. Prior to this festival, chanting of prayers and recitation of three vedas is done for 56 days (Murajapam). On the last day, hundred thousand oil lamps are lit in and around the temple premises.
In line with the Temple Entry Proclamation, only those who profess the Hindu faith are permitted entry to the temple and devotees have to strictly follow the dress code. Men wear “vesti” with “angavastram” (the South Indian version of dhoti and shawl both of which are plain white in color) and woman wear sari.
The temple and its assets belong to Lord Padmanabhaswamy, and were for a long time controlled by a trust, headed by the Travancore royal family. However, at the present, the Supreme Court of India has divested the Travancore royal family from leading the management of the temple. T P Sundararajan’s litigations changed the way the world looked at the Temple.
In June 2011, the Supreme Court of India directed the authorities from the archaeology department and the fire services to open the secret chambers of the temple for inspection of the items kept inside.The temple has six hitherto known vaults (nilavaras), labelled as A to F, for bookkeeping purpose by the Court. (Since, however, an Amicus Curie Report by Justice Gopal Subramaniam, in April 2014, has reportedly found two more further subterranean vaults that have been named G and H.) While vault B has been unopened over centuries, A was possibly opened in the 1930s, and vaults C to F have been opened from time to time over recent years. The two priests of the temple, the ‘Periya Nambi’ and the ‘Thekkedathu Nambi’, are the custodians of the four vaults, C to F, which are opened periodically. The Supreme Court had directed that “the existing practices, procedures, and rituals” of the temple be followed while opening vaults C to F and using the articles inside, while Vaults A and B would be opened only for the purpose of making an inventory of the articles and then closed. The review of the temple’s underground vaults was undertaken by a seven-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court to generate an inventory, leading to the enumeration of a vast collection of articles that are traditionally kept under lock and key. A detailed inventory of the temple assets, consisting of gold, jewels, and other valuables is yet to be made.
While vault B remains unopened, vaults A, C, D, E and F were opened along with some of their antechambers. Among the reported findings, are a three-and-a-half feet tall solid pure golden idol of Mahavishnu, studded with hundreds of diamonds and rubies and other precious stones. Also found were an 18-foot-long pure gold chain, a gold sheaf weighing 500 kg (1,100 lb), a 36 kg (79 lb) golden veil, 1200 ‘Sarappalli’ gold coin-chains that are encrusted with precious stones, and several sacks filled with golden artefacts, necklaces, diadems, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, gemstones, and objects made of other precious metals. Ceremonial attire for adorning the deity in the form of 16-part gold anki weighing almost 30 kilograms (66 lb), gold “coconut shells” studded with rubies and emeralds, and several 18th century Napoleonic era coins were found amongst many other objects. In early 2012, an expert committee had been appointed to investigate these objects, which include lakhs of golden coins of the Roman Empire, that were found in Kottayam, in Kannur District. According to Vinod Rai, the former Comptroller-and-Auditor-General(CAG) of India, who had audited some of the Temple records from 1990, in August 2014, in the already opened vault A, there is an 800 kg (1,800 lb) hoard of gold coins dating to around 200 BCE, each coin priced at over ₹2.7 crore (US$380,000). Also found was a pure golden throne, studded with hundreds of diamonds and other precious stones, meant for the 18-foot-long deity. As per one of the men, who was among those that went inside this Vault A, several of the largest diamonds were as large as a full-grown man’s thumb. According to varying reports, at least three, if not more, of solid gold crowns have been found, studded with diamonds and other precious stones. Some other media reports also mention hundreds of pure gold chairs, thousands of gold pots and jars, among the articles recovered from Vault A and its antechambers.
This revelation has solidified the status of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple as the wealthiest place of worship in the world. It is conservatively estimated that the value of the monumental items is close to a Trillion US dollars. If the antique and cultural value were taken into account these assets could be worth ten times the current market price.
पद्मनाभस्वामी मंदिर भारत के केरल राज्य के तिरुअनन्तपुरम में स्थित भगवान विष्णु का प्रसिद्ध हिन्दू मंदिर है। भारत के प्रमुख वैष्णव मंदिरों में शामिल यह ऐतिहासिक मंदिर तिरुअनंतपुरम के अनेक पर्यटन स्थलों में से एक है। पद्मनाभ स्वामी मंदिर विष्णु-भक्तों की महत्वपूर्ण आराधना-स्थली है। मंदिर की संरचना में सुधार कार्य किए गए जाते रहे हैं। उदाहरणार्थ 1733 ई. में इस मंदिर का पुनर्निर्माण त्रावनकोर के महाराजा मार्तड वर्मा ने करवाया था। पद्मनाभ स्वामी मंदिर के साथ एक पौराणिक कथा जुडी है। मान्यता है कि सबसे पहले इस स्थान से विष्णु भगवान की प्रतिमा प्राप्त हुई थी जिसके बाद उसी स्थान पर इस मंदिर का निर्माण किया गया है।
मंदिर के गर्भगृह में भगवान विष्णु की विशाल मूर्ति विराजमान है जिसे देखने के लिए हजारों भक्त दूर दूर से यहाँ आते हैं। इस प्रतिमा में भगवान विष्णु शेषनाग पर शयन मुद्रा में विराजमान हैं। मान्यता है कि तिरुअनंतपुरम नाम भगवान के ‘अनंत’ नामक नाग के नाम पर ही रखा गया है। यहाँ पर भगवान विष्णु की विश्राम अवस्था को ‘पद्मनाभ’ कहा जाता है और इस रूप में विराजित भगवान यहाँ पर पद्मनाभ स्वामी के नाम से विख्यात हैं।
तिरुअनंतपुरम का पद्मनाभ स्वामी मंदिर केरल के प्रसिद्ध धार्मिक स्थलों में से एक है। केरल संस्कृति एवं साहित्य का अनूठा संगम है। इसके एक तरफ तो खूबसूरत समुद्र तट है और दूसरी ओर पश्चिमी घाट में पहाडि़यों का अद्भुत नैसर्गिक सौंदर्य, इन सभी अमूल्य प्राकृतिक निधियों के मध्य स्थित- है पद्मनाभ स्वामी मंदिर। इसका स्थापत्य देखते ही बनता है मंदिर के निर्माण में महीन कारीगरी का भी कमाल देखने योग्य है।
मंदिर का महत्व यहाँ के पवित्र परिवेश से और बढ जाता है। मंदिर में धूप-दीप का प्रयोग एवं शंखनाद होता रहता है। मंदिर का वातावरण मनमोहक एवं सुगंधित रहता है। मंदिर में एक स्वर्णस्तंभ भी बना हुआ है जो मंदिर के सौदर्य में इजाफा करता है। मंदिर के गलियारे में अनेक स्तंभ बनाए गए हैं जिन पर सुंदर नक़्क़ाशी की गई है जो इसकी भव्यता में चार चाँद लगा देती है। मंदिर में प्रवेश के लिए पुरुषों को धोती तथा स्त्रियों को साड़ी पहनना अनिवार्य है। इस मन्दिर में हिन्दुओं को ही प्रवेश मिलता है। मंदिर में हर वर्ष ही दो महत्वपूर्ण उत्सवों का आयोजन किया जाता है जिनमें से एक मार्च एवं अप्रैल माह में और दूसरा अक्टूबर एवं नवंबर के महीने में मनाया जाता है। मंदिर के वार्षिकोत्सवों में लाखों की संख्या में श्रद्धालु भाग लेने के लिए आते हैं तथा प्रभु पद्मनाभस्वामी से सुख-शांति की कामना करते हैं।
मंदिर का स्थापत्य
पद्मनाभ स्वामी मंदिर का निर्माण राजा मार्तण्ड द्वारा करवाया गया था। इस मंदिर के पुनर्निर्माण में अनेक महत्वपूर्ण बातों का ध्यान रखा गया है। सर्वप्रथम इसकी भव्यता को आधार बनाया गया मंदिर को विशाल रूप में निर्मित किया गया जिसमें उसका शिल्प सौंदर्य सभी को प्रभावित करता है। मंदिर के निर्माण में द्रविड़ एवं केरल शैली का मिला जुला प्रयोग देखा जा सकता है।
मंदिर का गोपुरम द्रविड़ शैली में बना हुआ है। पद्मनाभ स्वामी मंदिर दक्षिण भारतीय वास्तुकला का अदभुत उदाहरण है। मंदिर का परिसर बहुत विशाल है जो कि सात मंजिला ऊंचा है गोपुरम को कलाकृतियों से सुसज्जित किया गया है। मंदिर के पास ही सरोवर भी है जो ‘पद्मतीर्थ कुलम’ के नाम से जाना जाता है।
मंदिर की सम्पत्ति
मन्दिर तथा इसकी सम्पत्ति के स्वामी भगवान पद्मनाभस्वामी ही हैं। बहुत दिनों तक यह मंदिर तथा इसकी सम्पत्तियों की देखरेख और सुरक्षा एक न्यास (ट्रस्ट) द्वारा की जाती रही जिसके अध्यक्ष त्रावणकोर के राजपरिवार का कोई सदस्य होता था। किन्तु वर्तमान समय में भारतीय सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने राजपरिवार को इस मंदिर के प्रबन्धन के अध्यक्षता करने से रोक दिया है।
जून २०११ में सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने पुरातत्व विभाग तथा अग्निशमन विभाग के अधिकारियों को निर्देश दिया कि मन्दिर के गुप्त तहखानों को खोलें और उनमें रखी वस्तुओं का निरीक्षण करें। इन तहखानों में रखी करीब दो लाख करोड़ की संपत्ति का पता चला है। हालांकि अभी भी तहखाने-बी को नहीं खोला गया है। सुप्रीमकोर्ट ने इस तहखाने को खोलने पर रोक लगा दी है। सुप्रीमकोर्ट ने आदेश किया है कि ये संपत्ति मंदिर की है और मंदिर की पवित्रता और सुरक्षा सुनिश्चित की जानी चाहिए।
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