Often referred to as ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala is not only known for its backwaters and beautiful landscapes but also for its rich spiritual heritage. Each with its unique history, Kerala temples are a must-visit when you’re in the beautiful coastal state.
Drawing a large number of devotees and tourists alike, these Kerala temples are stunning examples of the architectural prowess of the rulers of the state. These temples also regularly host festivals, where you can get to see a glimpse of the local culture and experience the vibrance that comes with them. Kerala temples are also renowned for their absolute devotion and adherence to cultural norms and social rules. If you wish to visit these Kerala temples, we suggest you read up on the norms and prerequisites before planning your trip to these sacred sites.
Temples in Kerala you must visit for a unique spiritual experience
1. Guruvayoor Temple, Thrissur
Situated in a small town in the district of Thrissur, Guruvayoor, this is one of the largest Lord Krishna Kerala Temple. Being almost 5000 years old and known as the ‘Dwarka of the South’, Guruvayoor Temple is believed to be one of the 108 holy Vishnu temples all over the world.
This Sree Krishna Kerala Temple, graced with traditional Kerala architecture, is famous for its unique rituals like the 'Krishnanattam' dance, and the ‘Guruvayur Ekadasi’ festival.
Just a few kilometres away from the Guruvayoor Temple is the Guruvayur Devaswom Elephant Sanctuary and Chavakkad Beach. The Sanctuary is one of the largest elephant sanitariums in the world, also known as Punnathur Kotta.
Where: Temple, East Nada, Guruvayur, Kerala 680101
2. Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram
Another Kerala Temple among the 108 holy temples of Lord Vishnu, it is situated in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram and is one of the wealthiest Temples in the world. Believed to have been founded 5000 years ago by the sage Divakara Muni Vilwamangalam according to the palm leaf records at the temple, this Trivandrum temple is made in dedication to Lord Anantha, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. The name of the city, Thiruvananthapuram translates to ‘The land of Lord Anantha’ signifying the importance of this Trivandrum temple in the region. This Thiruvananthapuram temple is also renowned for its stunning idol of the reclining deity and the architecture is a mixture of Chera and Dravidian styles. The Thiruvananthapuram temple also features a 100-foot tall gopuram and an 18-foot idol of the deity lying on AdiShesha.
Where: West Nada, Fort, East Fort, Pazhavangadi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695023
3. Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple,
Located in Kottayam, this centuries-old Kerala Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the statue is said to have been donated by the Maharaja of Travancore himself and has a very interesting story behind it.
According to the legend of Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple, it is believed that an Asura called Khara got three Shivalingas from Lord Shiva himself and took them with him to Kerala, holding one in each hand and the third one by his teeth. The Lingam held by his teeth was consecrated in the Thali Temple in Kaduthuruthy, the one in his right hand was consecrated in the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple and the one in his left hand in the Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple.
The Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple is also famous for its exceptional Dravidian style of architecture, its murals and the annual festival, 'Ezharaponnana Ezhunnallathu,' where seven and a half elephants are adorned in gold.
Where: Ettumanoor Temple Rd, Ettumanoor, Kerala 686631
4. Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is the second part of the holy trinity of the most sacred of Lord Shiva shrines, this Kerala Temple sees a huge influx of devotees believing that offering worship at these three temples before the ‘Ucha Pooja’ can fulfil any wish. According to the legends of Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, Vyaghrapada Maharshi had an encounter with Lord Shiva here, leading to its name, Vyaghrapada Puram which later got transformed into Vaikom Puram due to the diffusion of Tamil.
Located at the banks of Vembanad Lake, the temple has a huge courtyard of around eight acres of land protected by four Gopuras or towers.
Where: Vaikom, Kerala 686141
5. Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple
Located on a hilltop in the western ghats in Pathanamthitta district, Sabrimala is a sacred shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa and one of the most famous Sastha Kerala Temple. This Kerala Temple is open to all irrespective of caste or religion, and hence gathers a huge number of pilgrims, as huge as over 100 million devotees annually, making it one of the largest annual pilgrimages. Every visiting pilgrim is given the status of ‘Ayyappa’ stating that they are a form of god themselves. Women of reproductive age, however, which is 10 to 50 years, are not allowed in the temple premises.
An interesting fact to know before you make plans to visit is that it is popularly said that pilgrims need to observe celibacy for 41 days before visiting Sabarimala.
Where: Sabarimala, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689662
6. Chottanikkara Devi Temple
Dedicated to the divine mother Rajarajeswari (Adiparasakthi), this Kerala Temple is located in Ernakulam, the suburbs of Kochi. The goddess is worshipped in her three divine forms here- Goddess Saraswati in the morning, Goddess Lakshmi in the noon and Goddess Durga in the evening.
The most important festival of this Kerala Temple 'Makom Thozhal', is celebrated in the month of Kumbham as it is said that Bhagavathy gave darshan to Vilwamangalam Swamiyar on this day in her full roop. Hence, devotees flock to this Kerala Temple on this day for a darshan in her special appearance.
Where: Chottanikkara, Kochi, Kerala 682312
7. Sree Krishnaswamy Temple, Ambalappuzha
Famous for its Palpayasam, a rice pudding prepared in sweet milk, offered to the deity, this Kerala Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna in his Parthasarathy form, the charioteer of Arjuna from the epic Mahabharata. The Kerala Temple is believed to be built around the 15th to 17th AD by the local king Chembakkassery Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayanan Thampuran and the annual 'Ambalapuzha Arattu’ festival is a sight to behold, attracting devotees and tourists alike.
Where: SH 12, Ambalapuzha, Kerala 688561