Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, Alleppey
About Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple
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 hall of drum beating during festivals). A rectangular wall around the temple, called Kshetra-Madilluka, pierced 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 Nalambalam 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 ritualistic offering to demi-gods and the festive deities. The central shrine called Sreekovil houses the image of the presiding deity, who is a standing four-armed Lord Vishnu worshipped as Parthasarathy. It is on an elevated platform with a single door reached through a flight of five steps. Either sides 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 terracotta 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 conical kalasam (made of copper) 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 (1.8 m) tall, making it the tallest among the idols of all Krishna temples in Kerala. Krishna is in Vishvarupa pose, the one he depicted to Arjuna during the Mahabharatha war. It is thus considered to be in fierce form. 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 bamboo. In the second precicnt, there are shrines of Sastha, Yakshi, Nagaraja and Erangavil Bhagavathy Balarama in the lower shrine.