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Location : Aranmula, Thiruvananthapuram
Main Deity : Lord Krishna
Famous for : Boat races
Aranmula Temple, commonly called Parthasarathy, is one of the famous temples of Kerela. Located in the banks of the River Pampa, this revered place is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Built in the simple decor, a characteristic of Kerela temples, it is famous for several traditions and rituals that are performed in its premises.
As you would note, the temple is an important pilgrimage place that is visited by thousands of devotees every year. It is situated in Chenganoor which happens to be present on the route between Thiruvanathapuram and Kottayam.
Major attractions of the temple :
Snake Boat Races : It is a water carnival that will completely charm your senses. Commonly called by the name "Vallam Kali", the boat race is organized during the celebrations of Onam festival. It involves the colorful procession of a number of boats which are followed by snake boats. These lovely bots or Kovallams, as they are called by Kerelites, will attract your your attention. As a number of boatmen and helmsmen roar their way into the water of the river and sing beautiful songs called Vanchipattu, the entire atmosphere gets soaked in the gaiety.
This major event of the state is organized to test the physical stamina of the participants. Rowing in accordance with a pace setter, the rowers carry their boats forward with full mental alertness and rhythm. These races are the characteristic feature of the Aranmula Temple.
Legend associated with the race : It is said that first snake boats were formed at Aranmula and served as a guardian of the country crafts that were utilized to carry food items like rice from one place to the other. To protect these crafts from being looted by the dacoits, people of Aranmula constructed huge boats in the shape of snakes. These boats gained significance in due course of time; competitions were organized and were participated by the zealous youth. The popularity of the competition increased manifold after Jawaharlal Nehru instated a trophy for the winner.
People throng to the temple to offer their prayers before the race starts. A number of snake boats get assembled in ware and the race continues for about two hours. Men get dressed in traditional wear. Temple boats, unlike snake boats, do not become the part of the race; instead they are meant for the ceremonial displays.
Khandavanadahanam is another festival of the Aranmula Temple; a small forest is created near the temple and is lit with fire in order to symbolize it with forest fire of Khandavana.
Significance of the temple : As the precious ornaments of Ayyappan, Aranmula is one of the stoppages on way of the procession. The place is counted among the five sacred shrines that are linked with the characters of Mahabharata.
Legend of the temple : It is believed that Pandavas, on their way to the pilgrimage, installed the statues of Lord Vishnu at five places and the place where Arjuna installed the image came to be known as Aranmula Temple. He erected the temple in order to do penance for killing his cousin Karna in the battle of Mahabharata as it is considered sin to attack an enemy who is unarmed.
Another legend associated with the temple is related to Lord Krishna. As per this legend, when Arjuna refused to kill his grandfather Bheeshma in the battle of Mahabharata, Krishna, in a fit of rage, took his chakra (discus) in order to kill Bheeshma. This image of the deity is enshrined at Aranmula.
Aranmula Temple is a worth visiting site that will attract you by its traditional rituals and simplicity.