The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is one of the "Divya Desams", the 108 temples of Vishnu revered by the 12 poet saints, or Alwars located near Aranmula.
Constructed in the Kerala style of architecture, the temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD.
The temple is built in Kerala style architecture, which is common in all temples in the South Indian state of Kerala in Eastern axis. The temple has an elevated structure reached by a flight of 20 steps. The temple has a two-storeyed gopuram or a gateway tower, with the upper storey having wooden trails covering the Kottupura . A rectangular wall around the temple, called Kshetra-Madilluka piereced by the gateways, encloses all the shrines of the temple. The metal plated flagpost or Dwajasthambam is located axial to the temple tower leading to the central sanctum and there is a Deepastamba, which is the light post.
Chuttuambalam is the outer pavilion within the temple walls. The central shrine and the associated hall is located in a rectangular structure called Nallambalam, which has pillared halls and corridors.Between the entrance of Nallambalam to the sanctum, there is a raised square platform called Namaskara Mandapa which has a pyramidal roof. Thevrapura, the kitchen used to cook offering to the deity is located on the left of Namaskara Mandapa from the entrance. Balithara is an altar is used for making the ritualistic offering to demi-gods and the festive deities. The central shrine called Sreekovil houses the image of the presiding deity. It is on an elevated platform with a single door reached through a flight of five steps. Either side of the doors have images of guardian deities called Dvarapalakas.
As per Kerala rituals, only the main priest called Thantri and the second priest called Melshanthi alone can enter the Sree Kovil.The central shrine has a circular plan with the base built of granite, superstructure built of laterite and conical roof made of terrocata tile supported from inside by a wooden structure. The lower half of Sree Kovil consists of the basement, the pillar or the wall, called stambha or bhithi and the entablature called prasthara in the ratio 1:2:1, in height. Similarly, the upper half is divided into the neck called griva, the roof tower called shikhara and the fonial kalasam in the same ratio.
The roof projects in two levels to protect the inner structure from heavy rains during monsoon. The roof of the temple and some of the pillars have lavish wood and stucco carvings depicting various stories of ancient epics, Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The outer walls around the sanctum have a series of wooden frames housing an array of lamps, which are lit during festive occasions. The temples have paintings on its walls dating back to early 18 century.The image of the presiding deity is 6 ft tall. Krishna is in Vishvarupa pose, the one he depicted to Arjuna during the Mahabharata war. As per one legend, Arjuna is believed to have built the temple in Nilakal Narayanapuram and later brought to Aranmula in a raft made with six bamboos. In the second precicnt, there are shrines of Sastha, Yakshi, Nagaraja and Erangavil Bhagavathy Balarama in the lower shrine.
Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple Thiruvaaran Vilai
It is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the legend of Mahabharata. Legend has it that the Pandava princes, after crowning Parikshit as king of Hastinapura left on a pilgrimage. On arriving on the banks of river Pamba, each one is believed to have installed a tutelary image of Krishna; Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Aranmula by Arjuna, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple to Sahadeva.
The image of the temple was brought here in a raft made of six pieces of bamboo to this site, and hence the name Aranmula . As per another legend, the place derives its name from arin-village, a land near a river. Legend has it that Arjuna built this temple, to expiate for the sin of having killed Karna on the battlefield, against the dharma of killing an unarmed enemy. It is also believed that Vishnu revealed the knowledge of creation to Brahma, from whom the Madhukaitapa demons stole the Vedas. There is yet another legend associated with Parthasarathy here. On the ninth day of the battle of Kurukshetra, the Kauravas reigned supreme under the leadership of Bheeshma, when Krishna motivated Arjuna to take initiative and vanquish his foe. Upon his hesitating to do so, Krishna jumped down in rage, and took up his discus; seeing this sight Bheeshma surrendered to him and Arjuna beseeched him not to kill Bheeshma, as it would have been against Krishna's vow to take up arms in his battle.
It is believed that it is this image of Krishna that is enshrined here, with a discus. Aranmula Mirror is also related to the history of this temple. The king of Travancore wanted to donate a crown made of rare metal to the temple and he found a rare combination of Copper and lead. It is believed as per the tradition that preparing the metal polished mirror was produced only by a family. In modern times, the College of Fine Arts has started producing it in commercial scale.
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