Explore Lord Krishna’s Shrine of Mahabharata Fame in Kerala’s Aranmula Temple

Securing more than a mere foot note in the holy text of the Mahabharata, the Aranmula Temple is one of the finest ancient shrines devoted to Lord Krishna in Kerala. Situated in the district of Pathanamthitta, the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple as it is locally known dominates the spiritual landscape of the temple towns of Kerala as it did centuries ago. Believed to have been built by Arjuna himself, the name of the temple Aranmula translates to “six pieces of bamboo” which were used to transport the image of the deity from the original site of the temple close to Sabarimalai to its present location. Legend also states that Arjuna constructed the sacred temple to appease Krishna for killing an unarmed Karna in battle while the temple itself serves as the vibrant setting for many an episode in the Mahabharata.

Perched on the banks of the River Pampa, the Aranmula temple consists of four towers that flank its outer walls. The eastern tower is reached via an 18-step staircase while descending some fifty steps through the temple’s northern tower takes one to the river bed. Famed for its architectural design and exquisite interiors, the most noteworthy feature of the Aranmula Temple is of course its fine metal and mirror work. Known as Kannadi in the regional tongue of Malayalam, the intricate mirror work is indigenous to the village of Aranmula and is found nowhere else in the globe. Other features of interest include the breathtaking murals that decorate the temple walls which are believed to date back to the 18th century.

A hub of activity come Onam season, the temple serves as the focal point for the offering of rice and other produce to a village in the vicinity. The sacred boat carrying offerings is accompanied by a hoard of snake boats which later engage in a spirited boast race that lasts nearly two hours. Assembling near the river in the wee hours of the morning, visitors can witness the 104-foot long vessels occupied by a hundred rowers, 4 helmsmen and no more than 25 singers prepare for the race of a lifetime. A delectable feast takes place within the temple premises after the conclusion of the snake boat races while other interesting festivals celebrated here include the fiery Khandavanadahanam festival and the sacred Arattu festival where the Aranmula Parthasarathy and an image of Bhagawati are lead by a colorful procession to the river bank.

Travelers in search of Kovalam beach hotels within close range of the Trivandrum International Airport should look no further than The Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach, Kerala.

Priya Harrison

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