Sreevallabha Temple is Hindu Temple dedicated to Purusha as Lord Sreevallabhan, is one among the oldest and biggest Temples of Kerala Being one among 108 Divya Desams.
Present Thiruvalla was once a village among 64 Namboothiri villages in Kerala and is one among the oldest human settlements in India. Since the this place is situated at the mouth of Manimala River it had been known as ‘vallavai’ and later transformed into ‘thiruvalla’. Historical evidence point out the place had been inhabited by humans before 3000 BC. The Thiruvalla inscriptions say the temple for Sudarshana Chakra was built in 2998 BC . Another opinion is that the place was named after sreevallabha temple as sreevallabhapuram and Thiruvalla in colloquial Malayalam.The temple for Sudarshana Chakra was built by Sreedevi Antherjanam of Sankramangalathu Illam and it was elaborately rebuilt by Queen Cherumthevi in 59 BC. Sreevallabha temple flourished to a major spiritual and educational centre by AD 1100.
The temple had governed a Vedic school with around 1500 students and 150 teachers. Veda, Vedanta, Tarka, Mimamsa, Jyotisha, Ayurveda, Kalaripayattu etc. were taught here. The temple also owned an ayurvedic hospital with facilities to admit and treat 100 patients at a time. Addressing lord Sreevallabhan by names Kolapiran, Thiruvazhmarvan and Sundarayan, the Tamil vaishnavite saints Nammalvar of the 5th century AD and Thirumangai Alvar of the 9th century AD had praised the glory of the temple. Famous Sanskrit poet Dandin of Kanchi mentioned the temple in his works. The first ever prose work in Malayalam is the Thiruvalla inscriptions dated first half of the 12th century AD, which was obtained from the temple during 1915.
The famous Unnuneeli Sandesam of the 13th century AD highlighted the grandeur, beauty, serenity, fame and status of the temple during its time. Other works that glorified the temple are Sreevallabha Ksethra Mahathmyam of the 10th century AD, Sreevallabha Charitham kavyam, Thukalasura Vadham Kathakali, Sreevallabha Charitham Kathakali, Sreevallabha Vijayam Kathakali, Sreevallabha Suprabhatham, Sreevallabha Karnamritha Sthothram, Yajanavali Sangrham etc. From the date built, the temple was under control of thiruvalla pattillathil pottimar till 1752-1753. Sreevallabha Temple emerged out as a major spiritual destination for devotees all over India centuries before. It had 15 major priests and 180 sub-ordinate priests all the time and another 108 for only daily noon pooja. Temple provided staying and food facilities for all visitors, students, teachers etc. and also used to conduct annadanam daily. Naivedyam of Lord Sreevallabhan for a single time used to be made from 45 para rice. In all these years, temple acquired the enormous amount of wealth that it even used to serve food in golden banana leaves and throw them considering as the leavings. It also had thousands of acres of land too which are lost now.
During 1752-1753 Marthanda Varma of Travancore captured the temple from Pathillathil Pottimar and it is believed that Ramayyan Dalawa looted whole temple assets to Thiruvananthapuram. Up to 1968, ladies and elephants were not allowed in the temple. The temple used to be opened for ladies only during Thiruvathira of dhanu month and Vishu of medam till then. Anyhow now this custom is not in practise. These facts clearly say that how popular and wealthy the temple was in those days.
Built in the silent and picturesque land on the banks of Manimala river, this icon of Kerala temple architecture, covers an area of 8.5 acres and ranks first among the temples of old Travancore state in terms of an area inside the compound wall. The temple is surrounded on all sides by 12 feet, tall 566 feet long, 4.5 feet thick red granite compound walls with a two-storied gopuram on each side.This a huge wall was built in 57 BC and is believed that it was completed in a single night by bhoothagana of The Lord. Outside eastern wall a big pond covering 1.5 acres is seen in north-eastern direction with a copper flagstaff on its southern bank. A platform for performing kathakali is seen just in front of the eastern entrance. Inside the wall pradakshina veethi or outer circumambulation path is seen with four small aankottils and a big one on the south-eastern corner. South-east to this an oottupura or dining hall is seen which is built in all other temples only on the northern side and this is unique to Sreevallabha temple only. Temple auditorium and administrative offices can be seen next to this. Smaller shrines for lord Ganapathy and Ayyappan and another auditorium are seen in a south-western side.
The position of kshethra palan or temple guard which is strictly built in all temples on the northern side is found here just in front of Ganapathy’s shrine i.e. on southern side which also is another peculiarity found nowhere else.The sacred fig and mango trees beneath which sage Durvasa meditated is found near Ayyappan shrine. Just outside the western gopuram, Sankaramangalth Illam where Sreedevi Antharjanam lived is seen well preserved for the initiation of any pooja in the temple. Northern gopuram is closed always and is opened only for Uthra Sreebali festival. North east to pradakshina veethi, a self-originated pond called Jalavanthi or Khandakarna theerthem which is believed to contain 64 hidden idols of the Lord is seen. It is for only the use of priests. The spot where sage Vedavyasa and sage Durvasa disappeared is found on its eastern bank and resting building for the priests on the southern side.
North to the temple a roofless shrine dedicated to kurayappa Swamy is seen. No pooja is done here, but only banana as naivedyam. The bahir bali vrutham or outer circle of sacrificial stones is built inner to bahir pradakshina veethi. The temple koothambalam was destroyed by fire in 1915. The most highlighted construction of the temple is the Garuda dhvaja sthambam or flagstaff of Garuda, the majestic eagle mount of lord Vishnu. This monolithic structure is completely built from black granite and elevated 53.5 feet above the ground with its lower end touching water table. Constructed in 57 BC, this structure was also built in a single night along with the outer wall. And an amazing fact is that no black granites can be found in an area ten miles around the temple. A 3 feet massive idol of Garuda is placed on the top of it facing the main sanctum.
Since this flagstaff started slanting and reached its current position, a three-tiered copper roofed construction has been made all around it to prevent further slanting. West to this, currently used golden flagstaff can be seen. West to the third flagstaff, balikkalpura is built around a ten feet tall balipeetha . Vallyambalam is a double storied copper sheet roofed building standing on 16 stone pillars. These pillars and the roof are noted for their exquisite and minute carvings demonstrating the excellence of those who built it. The central corridor of vallyambalam leads to naalambalam with thidappalli or holy kitchen, navakappura or room for navaka pooja etc. The 150 feet long, 11 feet Broad square naalambalam is completely made out of black stones and supported by 54 stone pillars beautifully carved with the image of a Salabhanjika on each. Outside naalambalam, a deepasala is built on teak wood. The western part of naalambalam is adorned with some murals and a small shrine for vadakkum thevar i.e., the idols of Vishnu, Shiva, Parvati, Murugan and Nrithaganapathy worshipped by Sreedevi Antherjanam. Two namaskara mandapam are built against both doors of Sreekovil and only Brahmins are allowed there.
The eastern mandapam is 24 feet long square building with a copper sheeted roof and stand on 12 wooden and 4 stone pillars. All these are well known for their fine carvings. The western mandapam is small and also square shaped. The circular, copper roofed, golden domed sreekovil is adorned with finely etched murals of matsya, kaaliyamardana, kurma, Dakshinamurthy, varaha, venu gopala, maha ganapathy, narasimha, vamana, sudarshana, parashurama, sree rama, Purusha sukta, balarama, sreeKrishna, lakshmi, kalki and garuda in clockwise manner.Sreekovil has an outer perimeter of 160 feet and has three concentric walls. It enshrines Lord Sreevallabhan facing east and Sudarshana chakra facing west under the same roof. Sreevallabhan is portrayed as bearing a lotus in right hand, chakra in right upper hand, sankha in left upper hand and his left hand kept on his waist . This 7 feet tall massive idol is situated at a height of 10 feet in such a way that one has to bend his body to see it and its top and bottom cannot be seen.
Along with this idol, other idols of Vishnu, Lakshmi, Dakshinamurthy, Varaha and Sreebali bimbam or procession idol of Sreevallabhan are also there. Unlike usual yantra form, here Sudarsana is installed in eight handed human form bearing sankha , chakra, gada, padma, pasha, ankusa , musala, and dhanu.No other temples are known to enshrine lord Vishnu and lord Sudarsana under the same roof
Sree Vallabha Temple Pathanamthitta
Legends have their own space in relation to the history of a temple, but they should never be mixed up. While going through the legends related to Sreevallabha temple it is clear that even though Sreevallabhan’s idol is older, it was the temple for Sudarshana built first. These legends can be summarised as below.
Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple
Kaviyoor Mahadeva Temple
Sree Vallabba Temple
Chenganoor Madathilkkavu Devi Temple
Karunattukavu Bhagavathy Temple
Palliyarathalam Shree Badhrakaali Kshethram