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History of Cochin Thirumala  Devaswom temple
By Mr.N.Purushothama Mallaya
( Courtesy: Venkatavani )

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 ( Continued from Page -1 )

           Sakthan Thampuran who ruled Cochin during the year 1791 A.D  got jealous on seeing the prosperity of the community. He plundered the temple and killed some of the overseers of the temple. Shops belonging to the community were looted. The community with the Image of  Lord Venkateswara fled to Alleppey for safety and stayed there. After the Raja's death in 1805 A.D. the Konkanies of Cochin rnade attempts to bring back the Thirumala Devar image to its original place at Cochin but the Government of Travancore conceived the idea of building a new Pagoda more suitable to its intended occupant and its transfer to a new locality. The Government of Travancore, of course, took a keen interest over the Image in question on its stay in Travancore soil and this could be well confirmed from the writings of the then Dewan of Travancore Sri.V. Krishna Row to Rt. Hon. George Francis Robert Harris, Governor of Fort St. George dated 22nd June 1855 which amongst other things states :"At Alleppey an important sea port town of my country, there is a Pagoda called Thirumala. It contained an Image, an object of great reverence and of worship with my Conganny subjects. The Pagoda has been built under the superintendence of the Travancore Sirkar. This Sirkar has endowed it with landed and other property very extensively. Its servants are appointed by the Sirkar. It is guarded by the Sepoys of my brigade. This state of things has continued for up­wards of 60 years." The desperate Konkanies of Cochin planned the recovery of the Image by hook or crook. Ultimately the image was clandestinely brought back   to Cochin on 8th day of February 1853. Since it was found that the Raja of Cochin had his hand in bringing back the Image to Cochin by the Konkanies, the Raja of Travancore put in a lengthy complaint with the Governor of Fort St. George through the Resident, Trivandrum, for the restitution of the im age in question. The whole matter was referred to the Honourable Court of Directors, Madras and a long drawn out suit ensued between the two States of Cochin and Travancore. The Konkanies of Cochin got through all this ordeal and finally the Image was duly reinstated in the Cochin temple itself. The Ruler of Cochin then gave back to the temple most of the properties and jewelleries confiscated by his predecessor.

The third Pratisthan of the Image of Lord Venkateswara in the present temple constructed by the community was performed in the year 1881 A.D. by Swami H.H. Swami Bhuvanendra Tirtha of Sri Kashi Math Samsthan along with his disciple Swami H. H. Varadendra Tirtha.

Among various festivals, that are cel­ebrated in the temple of Cochin, 'Arat' festivals in the months of Vricbigam November December) and 'Medam'(March‑April) are famous.

With the customary hoisting of the Sacred Garuda ensign on the first day, the festival commences in all solemnity. There are two pro­cessions every day; one in the morning and another in the evening with Representative Image, of Venkateswara being taken on a caparsoned elephant, and other procession when the Utsava Image of Venkateswara is carried in various Vahanas decked with a lot of costly and ancient diamond studded jewels and garlands. On the fourth, fifth and sixth day of the Mahotsava, the Utsava Image is taken in Golden Palanquin with all paraphernalia along the Southern, Northen and   and Western streets respectively, where the deity is said to have absolute jurisdiction, temporal and spiritual (i.e. samketam), and on the seventh day in the evening on the Ashwa Vahana (Horse Vehicle) with paraphernalia round the Rathaveethi of the temple for Palli Vettal (Sym­bolic of a wild animal hunt). On the eighth day forenoon, the deity is taken to the Lake Mandaparn for the final bath 'Avabritha Snanam" and in the night on the golden Garudavaharnam, and the festival terminates with the Garuda ensign being drawn down. On all the eight days a Yagna called Vishnu Yaga is performed for the prosperity, peace and well being of the people and the country at large. The 'Arat' festivals attract a large number of pilgrims from far and near.

As it was the serpant mainly responsible for  the Swamiji to recover the Image from the dilapidated well, and that because of Swamiji Vijayeendra Tirtha, the image came over to Cochin and installed in the temple constructed for the Lord, and that as it was for the Ruler of Vijayanagar Saluva Narasimha Raya, a great devotee of Lord Venkateswara of Thirumalai Hills, that Lord Venkateswara came over to his capital city to receive the worship conducted by himthe tree namely the serpent the  Swamiji and the King in the form of Idols were installed in the line in front of the Papanasam lake for preservation of history and worship by devotees. A Statue of Saluva Narasimha Raya and that of Swamijl are niched in the walls on either side of the main gate of the Papanasam lake and the idol of the Serpent is installed in a separate peetam on the South Western corner of the lake naming it "Cheppe Nag", that is, serpent of the dilapidated well.

Other festivals are Kartika Pournami, Vaisakha Pournami, Anantha Chathurdasi which falls in the month of Chingain. in Malayalam year. Ashtami Rohini, Deepavali and Temple car festival on Mahanavami day in Navarathri days, Madhwa Navami and the Samadhi day of H. H. Sukratheendra Thirtha Swami of Kashi Math.

The temple is so constructed that very few temples in India can compete with it in point of size, style and architecture. The Sanctum Sanctorum of this temple is in the Nagara style of hindu temple architecture. On the outer Prakara of the main temple there are four minor temples dedicated to Sri Hanuman,,Garuda, Ganapathi and Mahalakshmi. The idols of Haniuman and Garuda are about six feet in height. A gigantic Lingam in the temple dedicated to Siva called Udyaneswara can be noticed on the northeastern side of the Lake Mandapam.

This temple contains one of the biggest bells In India. The temple is ' rich in wood carvings of Kerala engraved almost on all parts which are profusely clothed, painted and ornamented and depict stories mostly from Ramayana and Mahabharat. The Northern Gopuram of the temple is of a Pagoda type resembling a Tibetto Indian architecture. Its roof is copper plated and is two storied. Invaluable artistic and rich carv­ings on wood handled by indigenous craftsmen depicting various scenes from Puranas and old Indian epics can be noticed in this Gopuram. The Lake Mandapam situated on the northeastern side of the Eastern Gopuram is noted for its artistic excellence. The lake is known locally as Papanasam, as it is believed that a bath in the tank will relieve a person from all sins committed by him. The artistic beauty of the Mandapam in the lake exhibits the supreme mastery of indigenous artists and is the main attraction for tourists. The interior of the temple is also decorated with paint­ings of exquisite beauty.

The Cochin Thirumala Devaswom at Cochin today maintains a fullfledged Higher Secondary School, a Vedic and Sanskrit Patasala (with a library containing a good number of re­ligious and literary books in Sanskrit) two lower primary schools for girls and boys, a Teachers Basic Training School and a separate school for pre-primary children for teaching under the name Saraswathi Vidya Mandir. Also, it maintains a Goshala where a large number of cattle are fed and properly maintained out of the Devaswom funds.

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