In older days Sree Padmanabha Kshetram and its properties were controlled by powerful lords known as Ettuveettil pillamar under the guidance of Ettara Yogam. Later, Marthanda Varma defeated the Pillamar and his cousins "Kunju thampis", took over power.
The last major renovation of the temple was done by King Marthanda Varma, Maharaja, of the erstwhile pincely state of Travancore. He dedicated his kingdom to the deity, and pledged that he and his descendants would serve the kingdom as Padmanabha Dasa, meaning "servants of the Lord Padmanabha". With this, Sri Padmanabha became the nominal head of the state of Travancore, assuming the title Perumal, the Emperor. The British Government saluted the Lord with a 21-gun salute, a military tradition of colonial days, which was continued by the Indian Army until the abolition of the privy purses by Government of India with Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister.
The royal insignia of the Lord, The Valampiri Shankhu or dextral conch-shell, served as the State emblem of Travancore and even continued so for some time after the re-organization of the States. Sri Padmanabha is still regarded as regional deity of Travancore. The two annual festivals of the Temple culminate in a grand procession, in which the three deities (Sree Padmanabha, Narasimha Swamy and Krishna) are carried on flower-deck and aesthetically decorated Garuda Vahanas to the Shankhumukhom beach, for 'aaraattu' (sacramental ablution). The 'aarattu' days are declared as local public holidays in Thiuvananthapuram. The Idol is made of Kadusarkkara Yogam, an ayurvedic mixture, with Lord Vishnu sleeping on Anantha with his head pointing towards south and facing east.
On the 30th of June, 2011, 50,000 crore rupees worth in gold, diamonds, and other treasures were unearthed in the vaults at the temple. Several antiques such as 18th century Napoleon-age coins were also discovered at the temple. A local lawyer, Sundar Rajan, filed a case in the Kerala High Court demanding the takeover of the temple, saying that the current controllers were incapable of protecting the wealth of the temple because it did not have its own security force.
This incident propelled the Padmanabhaswamy temple into the league of the most wealthy temples in India, with the likes of Tirupati Balaji and others.
Sree Padmanabha Temple - Gopuram
The foundation of the present gopuram was laid in 1566. The temple has a 100-foot, seven-tier gopuram. The temple stands by the side of a tank, named Padma Theertham (meaning the lotus spring). The temple has a corridor with 365 and one-quarter sculptured granite-stone pillars with elaborate carvings. This corridor extends from the eastern side into the sanctum sanctorum. An eighty-foot flag-staff stands in front of the main entry from the 'prakaram' (corridor). The ground floor under the gopuram (main entrance in the eastern side) is known as the 'Nataka Sala' where the famous temple art Kathakali was staged in the night during the ten-day uthsavam (festival) conducted twice a year, during the Malayalam months of Meenam and Thulam.
Sree Padmanabha temple--Garbhagriha
In the Garbhagriha, an idol of Vishnu is depicted in a reclining position over the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha. The serpent has his face pointed upwards, as if enjoying the fragnance emanating from the lotus held in his left hand. His right hand hangs over Shiva. Sridevi and Bhudevi, two consorts of Vishnu stand by his side and the Brahma is seen on a lotus, which emanates from the navel of Vishnu. The idol is made up of 12008 Saligram that compose the reclining Vishnu. These Saligram are from the banks of the river Gandaki in Nepal, brought with much ceremony on elephants. On top of the Saligram, "Katusarkara yogam", a special ayurvedic mix, was used to make a plaster. The katu sarkara mould keeps the idol free from pests. The abhishekam of the Lord is not a traditional ritual. The daily worship is with flowers and for the abhishekam special separate idols are used. The flowers have always been removed using peacock feathers fearing damaging the katu sarkara on the idol.]
The GarbaGriha is carved out of a single stone and hence called "Ottakkal Mandapam". In order to perform darshan and puja, one has to climb on to the "Ottakkal Mandapam". The deity is visible through three doors - Face of the Lord and Siva Linga underneath his hand in the first door, Brahma seated on lotus emanating from the Lord's navel along with the "Utsava moorthi" and idols of Lord MahaVishnu, Sreedevi and Bhoodevi in the second door and the Lord's feet in the third door. Only the King of Travancore may perform Namaskaram, or bow prostrate on this "Ottakkal Mandapam". Since the idol of the Lord is also on this "Ottakkal Mandapam", anybody who bows prostrate, or any material object that is kept here, henceforth belongs to the Lord. Here, the King is called a "Padmanabha Dasa", or a "servant" of Vishnu. Adherents believe that it is actually Vishnu who rules the state of Tranvacore.
In the 108 Divya deshams, or holiest shrines of Lord Vishnu, the idols of the Lord are in one of the three different postures. Either reclining, sitting, or standing. A unique feature of the Padmanabha Swamy temple is that it has idols in all these three postures. The main idol inside the sanctum sanctorum and viewed from three doors is in the reclining posture, the idol viewed through the central door in the standing posture, and the "Utsava Murthi", the idol taken out for the festival processions is in the sitting posture.
There are other important shrines inside the temple for Hindu deities Sri Narasimha, Sri Krishna, Sri Ayyappa, Sri Ganesha and Sri Hanuman. Many other small shrines like Kshetrapalan (who guards the temple), Vishwaksena and Sri Garuda are also present.
A unique feature that came to light recently is the fact that Lord Padmanabha's idol is entirely cast in gold except for the face and chest. Katu sarkara yogam was used to ward off invasion of the temple by the Muslim rulers. The crown of the Lord sporting kundalams in the ears, the huge salagrama mala adorning the chest and the finely chiseled poonal are in gold. The various ornaments covering the chest and the right hand sporting a huge kankanam shielding Lord Siva, the left hand holding a Kamalam are in gold. The stalk of the kamalam rising out of the nabhi is also in splendid gold. The entire length of the Lord's legs is again cast in gold.
The katu sarkara yogam was obviously an ingeniously conceived plan to avoid the prying eyes of the invaders who attacked the city.
There are many legends regarding the origin of the temple. One such legend says that Vilamangalathu Swamiyar alias Divakara Muni prayed to Krishna for his darshan. Krishna came in disguise as a small, mischievous boy. The boy swallowed the Saligrama which was kept in Puja. The Sage became enraged at this and chased the boy until the boy hid himself behind a tree. The tree fell down and became Vishnu in Anantha Shayanam (reclining posture on Anantha the serpent) --but when he did so, he was of an extraordinarily large size. The Sage, recognizing that the tree was Vishnu, pleaded that because of the huge form the lord had manifested before him he could not either have a mind fulfilling darshan or circumbulate him. He then asked the Lord to shrink to a smaller proportion - thrice the length of his staff. Immediately, the Lord Vishnu shrunk himself, and told the sage that he should be worshipped through three doors. These doors are now the doors in the temple through which the idol may be viewed. Through the first door, the worship is offered to Shiva; through the second entrance to Brahma on the Lord's lotus navel, and through the third is Vishnu's feet, which are said to lead to salvation.
There was a great fire accident in which the original Murti which was made of the wood of that tree got burned during a fire that engulfed the temple complex, was a sign of the unhappiness of the lord with the king.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple stands at a place considered as one of the seven Parasurama Kshetras; texts including the Puranas, particularly the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, have references to this shrine. Another story tells of a pulaya couple seeing Vishnu in the form of a child. The child took morsels of rice from the hands of the couple. Also it is believed that Divakaramuni, when he saw the deity he took the first food item he saw which was an Unripe Mango and a coconut shell as an offering plate and performed primary pooja. In memory of this legend, naivedyam or offering prepared from rice is offered to the deity here in a coconut shell.
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple -The temple Mahatmyam history
The idol is made up of 12008 salagramams that compose the reclining lord. They are special because they are from Nepal, from the banks of river Gandhaki and they were brought to the temple with all pomp and gaiety on elephant top. On top of them "katusarkara yogam",navaratnams, a special ayurvedic mix, was used to give a plaster. Followers believe that the Lord has personally come in disguise and had saved many times the TravancoreKingdom from the clutches of enemies.
Nivedyam or offering to Perumal
Apart from the usual rice offering various other items are offered including Retna Payasam or offering of Payasam in a Gem studded Golden Vessel, Meni Thula Payasam or the Delicious Rice and Jaggery Pudding entirely made in Ghee, Pal Manga, Otta Thula Payasam, Panthranu Kalam Payasam, and Paal Payasam (Milk and Rice Pudding) which is very famous. During Thursdays, special Panakam is offered to Lord Narasimha. Unni Appam, Mothakam, Aval with sugar is also offered to Lord.. But the most important Nivedyam in this Temple is the Uppu Manga (unripe mango soaked in brine water) which is offered in a gold covered chiratta or coconut shell. This coconut shell is more than 1200 years old. The Great Sage Vilwamangalathu Divakara Acharyar offered an unripe mango in this very same coconut shell and it is still prserved with thick layers of pure gold as an outer covering.
Sree Padmanabha Temple-The festival
There are many festivals related to this temple. The major festivals are bi-annual. The Alpashy festival which is in October/November and the Painkuni festival which is in March/April, lasts for 10 days each. These 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 King of Travancore escorts the Aarat procession by foot. The idols of Sri Padmanabhaswamy, Krishna and Narasimha are given a ritual bathe in the sea, after the prescribed pujas. After this ceremony, the idols are taken back to the temple as a procession in the light of traditional torches, marking the conclusion of the festival.
The major annual festival related to Padmanabha temple is theNavaratri festival. The idols of Saraswati, Duga, and Murukann are brought to the kuthira malika palace in front of Padmanabha temple as a procession. This festival lasts for 9 days. The famous Swathi music festival is held every year during this festival.
Sree Padmanabha Temple--The idol and its importance
The idol of Sree Padmanabhaswamy can be viewed through three doors in the sanctum. And is made up of 12008 salagramams that compose the reclining lord. They are special because they are from Nepal, from the banks of river Gandhaki and they were brought to the temple with all pomp and gaiety on elephant top. On top of them "Katusarkara Yogam",Navaratnams, a special Ayurvedic mix, was used to give a plaster. Followers believe that the Lord has personally come in disguise and had saved many times the Travancore Kingdomfrom the clutches of enemies.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is Worshipped through 3 Doors
The garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is located on a stone slab and the Lord who is seen resting on the serpent inside is viewed through three different doors. The head and chest are seen in the first door; the middle portion and hands appear through the second door and the feet are seen through the third door. His right hand is hanged over Lord Shiva. Beside him are his consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi and Lord Brahma is seen on a lotus, which comes from the navel of Vishnu. The idol is about 18 feet long built with 10, 008 Saligram stones and covered with gold and precious stones. The distinctive feature of the temple is that it has idols of the Lord in three postures. Main idol inside the sanctum is in the reclining posture; the idol seen through the central door in the standing posture, and there is an Utsava Murthi (the idol taken out for the festival processions) in the sitting posture.
Sree Padmanabha temple - The other dieties in the temple
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple has separate shrines for Hindu deities including
1) Lord Narasimhar -The shrine of Lord Narasimha Swamy is situated outside the main sanctum sanctorum near the main door.
2) Lord Ayyappa - The temple has a separate shrine for Sree Dharma Sastha.
3) Lord Ganesh - The temple of Sree Maha Ganapathi is on the left side while entering from the main entrance.
4) Lord Krishna - The shrine of Sree Krishna is situated near the South Entrance of the temple.
5) The shrine of Lord Rama, Seeta Devi and Lakshmana are inside the main sanctum sanctorum.
6) Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple also has a shrine dedicated to Sage Veda Vyasa.
Other deities enshrined in the temple include Lord Hanuman, Lord Garuda, Kshetrapalan (who guards the temple), and Vishwaksena.
Sree Padmanabha Temple -Abhishekam and offerings
1. Aval (Sree Krishna Swamy)
5. Unniyappam (Unni Appam)
6. Modakam (for Sree Ganapathi)
7. Paal Payasam
8. Ghee Payasama
9. Sharkara Payasam
12. Idichu Pizhinja Payasam
13. Milk Abhishekam
14. Nei Vilakku
15. Vada Mala (Sree Hanuman Swamy)
Sree Padmanabha Temple Darshan and timigs
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Darshan Timings in Morning
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple opens daily at 03:30 AM and closes at 07:20 PM. However, there are specific timings for darshan.
03:30 AM to 04:45 AM
06:30 AM to 07:00 AM
8.30 AM to 10:00 AM
10:30 AM to 11:00 AM
11:45 AM to 12:00 PM
Evening Darshan Timings of Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple
05:00 PM to 06:15 PM
06:45 PM to 07:20 PM
Please note that the temple worship timings are subject to change during festival occasion.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Dress Code
Only Hindus are permitted inside the temple. And dress codes are to be strictly followed before entering the temple. Men should wear 'Mundu' or 'Dhoti' while visiting the temple. They also have to remove shirt or t-shirt above waist. Women have to wear Sari (Saree), Mundum Neriyathum (set-mundu), Skirt and Blouse, or Half Sari. This means no pants for men or churidhar for women is allowed inside the temple.
Dhotis are available for rent near temple locker room. Nowadays temple authorities allow to wear Dhotis over pants or churidhar for the convenience of devotees.
Sree Padmanabha Temple in the news
The value calculated and submitted in the court in the year 1990 was 1 Lakh and 60,000 crores and now it will come up to 8 Lakh crore rupees- Reports Mathrubhumi daily dated 6-7-2011
Zee news reports that "The valuables found in the secret cellars of Kerala's famous Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple could be worth Rs 5 lakh crore, believes former chief secretary of Kerala CP Nair".
Another Cellar B has not opened yet.
The Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple was built in the 16th Century by the kings who ruled over the then kingdom of Travancore. Local legends say the Travancore kings sealed immense riches within the thick stone walls and vaults of the temple. Since Independence, the temple has been controlled by a trust run by the descendants of the Travancore royal family. After 1947 the kingdom of Travancore merged with the princely state of Cochin, which eventually became the present-day state of Kerala. The inspections at the temple began after India's Supreme Court appointed a seven-member panel to enter and assess the value of the objects stored in its cellars, including two chambers last thought to have been opened about 130 years ago.
As already mentioned, there are two chambers unopened for 130 years and the other four have been sealed since the 1950s. The temple itself was the royal repository-treasury of the erstwhile ruling house of Travancore; the dynasty ruled in the name of the temple since the mid-18th century. The chambers had not been opened for a variety of reasons and the SC, on a petition that this be done in the national interest, had so ordered, entrusting a committee of seniors, including two retired judges, with the job.
The committee started earlier this week on one and then another of the four chambers sealed since the 1950s. Treasure worth Rs 10,000 crore has come forth. Then they began on one of the two sealed for 150-odd years, termed Chamber ‘A’. Nothing was found on the first day and the search continued yesterday, for secret lockers deeper inside. They then stumbled upon the stockpile, and about Rs 20,000 crore of gold, silver and precious stones was the haul. This is only the estimated physical value; the antique value is considered priceless.
Three sets of gold crowns, supposed to have been worn by the kings of Travancore, including the precious ‘Kulasekhara Perumal’ one, were found. There were an immense number of gold ornaments, studded with precious stones, and golden rods. Pearls, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds were in huge boxes. There were heaps of gold in the shape of piled paddy. There were about 1,000 Sarappoli chains, the traditional royal ones; the longest was 18 ft and four of them weighes two kg each. There were piles of golden ropes. In many cases, the boxes and bags in which all these were stored had worn away. The total weight of chains and necklaces is more than a quintal. There are a huge number of pendants, goldenbatons, 12-layer chains studded with emeralds and rubies. The number of gold and silver coins are around 100,000. There are also gold waistbands, studded with diamonds, each weighing two kg. Gold and silver bars, each weighing 1-2 kg...the list goes on.
The committee believes there is much more. Citizens speculate that Chamber ‘B’, the other one unopened for 150 years, will have a similar repository. Experts told Business Standard the valuation of the stones would be tough, as estimating the antique value is a task of some magnitude. The final haul, one is told, could total the equivalent of Rs 1 lakh crore, and this is only the physical value, not the historical one. The panel does not itself estimate the value of the items; it only weighs and records. These records will be given to the SC. Security of the temple has been strengthened, photography strictly restricted.