Kerala, which is known as God’s own country is situated at the southern part of India. Kerala is a magical land that is rich in cultural diversity, tales and legends. You would find some architectural brilliance when you come here. Apart from some significant historical buildings, you would also find beautiful temples which form an integral part of the state. Many of them are as old as 2000 years, and they were built mainly to offer prayers to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Hence if you like to explore a beautiful place along with some great temples, then Kerala is the right choice for you. You would get to connect with the soul of India when you visit Kerala.
The divine nature of the temples along with the opportunity to explore the spirituality of the religious place would definitely give you a boost to visit all these beautiful places. Along with the religious enthusiasm, the beautiful architecture and the beautiful festivals also add to the brilliance of these temples. In this article, we are going to list down the top 7 temples that you should definitely visit when you are in Kerala.
1. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram
Image Courtesy: Kerala Tourism
The temple was built dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is undoubtedly one of the most famous temples in Kerala. The architectural brilliance of the temple is really praiseworthy, and it is one of the reasons why people from all over the world are attracted to this. The stone carvings and murals of this 8th-century architectural brilliance are something to look out for.
Speciality – the idol of Lord Vishnu in this temple reclines on the eight-headed serpent god called Anantha. Also, you should plan a visit to this temple during festivals like Alpashy which occurs in October – November and Panguni which occurs during March – April month.
Timing – the darshan time of the temple is as follows, between 3:30 am and 4:45 am the Nirmalya darshan takes place followed by darshan timings between 6:30 to 7:30 am, 8:30 to10:00 am, 10:30 to 11:10 am, 11:45 to 12 noon, 5:00 to 6:15 pm and finally 6:45 to 7:20 pm.
2. Udiyanoor Devi temple, Thiruvananthapuram
Another famous worship spot in Thiruvananthapuram is the Udiyanoor Devi temple where the people worship Lord Shiva. Other deities worshipped in this temple includes Nagaraja, Sri Madan Thampuran, Lord Ganesha and Dharma Sastha. This is the only temple in Thiruvananthapuram which faces north direction. This temple is one of the oldest temples in the area which built around 1300 years ago.
Speciality – In this temple, you would find the shrine of Udiyanoor Devi who holds weapons, that has the gesture of Lord Vaishnava and Lord Shiva together in her four hands. You should pay a visit to this place during festivals like Pongala Mahotsav, Urootu Mahotsav and Thrikkodiyettu.
Timings – the temple is open from 4:30 am to 12 noon and from 5:00 pm to 8:15 pm.
3. Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram
Image Courtesy: Kerala Tourism
Located at Attukal in Kerala, this temple worships goddess Bhadrakali who is considered as the goddess of salvation and prosperity. The temple is located very near to the heart of the city and is known for gathering of millions of devotees around the year. It is believed that praying in the temple would help the devotees in attaining salvation and prosperity and all of their heart’s desires would also be fulfilled.
Image Courtesy: www.keralain360.com
Speciality- The main festival for this temple is the Pongala Festival where around three million women gather at the temple every year to pray and cook the famous Pongala to please the goddess. This Pingala is a 10-day festival where the 9th day or the “Pooram Day” is considered to be the most important. With such a massive amount of gathering each year, the temple has made its place in the Guinness Book of World Record.
Timings- the temple remains open between 4:30 am and 8:30 pm.
4. Sivagiri Temple, Varkala
Sivagiri Temple is another must visit place when you visit Kerala. Here you would find the tomb of Sree Narayana Guru. The temple is situated in a huge piece of land which has the Samadhi on a hillock. You can attend the Guru puja here which is performed every day and then you would be offered with lunch for which you have to buy a coupon of INR 50.
Speciality – You would find the main residence of Sree Narayana Guru on the temple premises where all of his personal belongings are displayed.
Timing – the general schedule of the temple is 5:30 am to 12 noon and 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
5. Janardanaswamy Temple, Varkala
Image Courtesy: Navrang India
Janardanaswamy Temple is an ancient temple whose age is about 2000 years, and it is situated in Varkala city. The temple is the home to Janardana Swamy who is another form of Lord Vishnu. The temple also houses an ayurvedic treatment centre, and it is said that the water in the sea near to Varkala Beach has a lot of medicinal values which should not be missed. Going to the temple is not quite easy as the devotees have to go up through a series of steps and that can be challenging for some. The temple also depicts some of the great Kerala culture and architecture.
Speciality- The Aarattu festival is celebrated at the Janardanaswamy temple each year in March and April which is also known as the Meenam Month.
Timings- The temple remains open each day of the week and the timing is 5:30 am to 12:00 and 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm
6. Kottarakkara Sree Mahaganapathi Temple, Kollam
Image Courtesy: Kerala Backwaters
This is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in Kerala and is an ancient Ganapathi temple. Even though you would find the family of Lord Shiva in this temple but devotees give the main priority to Lord Ganapati. The ‘Nivedhyam’ is an exceptional offering that devotees make to Lord Ganesha in this temple, and later they distribute the offering to the devotees coming to the temple free of cost. There is always a heavy rush of devotees at this temple.
Speciality- People say that the first every Kathakali performance took place in the premises of this temple centuries ago. The temple celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganapathi with lots of joy on the Chaturthi day.
Timings- the temple remains open every day between 8:00 am and 7:30 pm.
7. Oachira Parabrahma Temple, Oachira
Image Courtesy: Travels and Tourism
As per the name, the temple is located at Oachira in the district of Kollam. This temple is an age-old one which does not believe in idol worship and offers prayers to the supreme force which is nature. The temple premise is very big and covers an area of about 36 acres. Every year the‘Oachira Vrischikam’ festival is celebrated here in December and January. You would also see many other festivals being celebrated here throughout the year.
Speciality- The temple does not believe in idol worship, and hence they neither have a deity nor a temple structure. The formless Lord Shiva with his ultimate power known as the Para Brahma is worshipped here under the preserved trees.
Timings- the temple remains open from 6:00 am to 7:30 pm.
8. Ambalapuzha Srikrishna Temple, Ambalapuzha
Built in the 17th century, this temple is very famous for the form of Shri Krishna they worship here. He is worshipped in his childhood form as Unni Krishna. Many believe that the idol was transported to this temple during the reign of the famous king Tipu Sultan from Guruvayoor in order to save the idol from the political turmoil that was happening at that place during that time.
Speciality – The temple celebrates the Ambalapuzha temple festival during July along with the Araattu festival that mainly occurs in the month of March and April. During this time, the temple offers the prasadam here which is known as Palpayasam, which is basically a sweet dish which has rice, milk and sugar.
Timings – the opening hours of the temple is between 4 am to 12:30 pm and between 5 pm to 8 pm.
9. Mullakkal Rajarajeswari Temple, Alappuzha
This temple is a multi-faith worshipping temple and hence the temple is accessible to devotees coming from different religions and castes. The temple showcases ancient Kerala architecture. A beautiful pond surrounds the temple. The premises of the temple has many beautiful trees. Devotees worship the Goddess Durga in the form of ‘Mullaka Amma’ in this temple.
Speciality: this 500 years old temple has a lot of specialities. Here, devotees worship with the help of some unique South Indian dishes and sweets and they say that the temple follows the same prasadam recipe since its origin. ‘Mullaka Chirappu’ is the biggest festival at this temple. It takes place for 41 days. The first Sunday of December is the women’s festival when women do everything for the celebration. The temple also celebrates the Navaratri festival with great zeal.
Timings: the timings of the temple are 4:30 am to 10:00 am and 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm.
10. Chettikulangara Devi Temple, Alappuzha
Image Courtesy: https://www.chettikulangaradevitemple.org/
The temple is located at Alappuzha and is one of the most famous temples in Kerala. Devotees worship the deity of Bhadrakali here. It is believed that the goddess brings salvation and prosperity to her worshippers. You would also find many sub-deities in the temple premises. The primary abode of the temple has a small temple.
Speciality- The temple celebrates several festivals including Parayeduppu, Kumbha Bharani, Ethirelpu Ulsavam, Aswathy Ulsavam. The people of Chettikulangara offersKettukazhcha to the deity to attain blessings from her. They also offer Kuthiyottam to the goddess which is a dance practice, and this practice has been perfected in the course of several years.
Timings- The temple remains open on all days between 5 am to 12 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm
11. Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, Aranmula
Image Courtesy: GoTirupati
The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is one of the 108 temples of the Lord Vishnu that has been revered by the 12 saint-poets. Parthasarathy is another name of Krishna in the context of the chariot that he rode for Arjuna in the great war of ‘Mahabharata’. Along with the annual Utsavam, the temple also celebrates many other festivals like the Onam Festival, Khandavanadahanam (which is like a bonfire) etc.
Speciality- On the annual festival each year, the king of Travancore maintains the golden dress to offer to the Sabarimala Ayyapan temple and the temple board practices the golden dress offering to the Sabarimala temple in an annual basis.
Timings- the temple remains open for visitors between 4 am to 11 am and between 5 pm to 8 pm.
12. Sree Vallabha Temple, Thiruvalla
This is one of the highly orthodox Hindu temples in Kerala where devotees worship Lord Sree Vallabha. This temple is one of the biggest temples in Kerala and devotees come from different part of the country. Looking at the temple, you would see it is a temple of grandeur with Kerala architectural brilliance that has stone carvings on it.
Speciality- the temple celebrates two main festivals that include ‘Thiru Utsavam’ and ‘Uthra Sreebali’. Previously, the temple would conduct 108 ‘Paala Namaskaram’ daily, but due to lack of Brahmins, they only conduct one. It happens as an offering by the devotees. The temple also follows a ritual of offering 12,001 bananas.
Timings- the temple remains open from 4 am to 12 noon and 5 pm to 8 pm.
13. Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, Thirunakkara
Image Courtesy: Kerala Culture
The temple is located at the heart of the Kottayam city. Thekkumkoor Raja built this temple 500 years ago. People believe that Parashurama installed the idol of Lord Shiva by himself in this temple. Talking about the structure of the temple, it influences the classic Kerala architecture. The peaceful surrounding of the temple also adds to the attraction of the temple. The premises of the temple is spread over 4 acres of land that has many well-maintained trees and plants. The temple also has many sub-deities spread throughout its stretch.
Speciality- the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple celebrates three festivals with all enthusiasm and grandeur. The ‘Aaraattu’ is another famous festival here. The ten-day long celebration is accompanied by folk music and Kathakali dance.
Timings: the temple remains open on all days between 4 am to 11 am and 5 pm to 8 pm.
14. Ettumanoor Shiva Temple, Kottayam
This ancient Shiva Temple is located at Kottayam in Kerala. It finds a place among the most famous Shiva temple in the state and is a brilliant showcase of the old Kerala architecture. The temple celebrates the “Arattu” festival on a grand scale and the most important days of this festival are the 8th and the 10th day. People come here on a large scale during these days, and to get the view of EzharaPonnana is very pleasing to the devotees.
Speciality: The EzharaPonnana or the Seven Golden Elephants come out for public view during the festival. This is the most precious possession of the temple. The King of Travancore donated it to them. Tulabharam is another momentous occasion in this temple where the devotees make offerings to the lord by weighing the person against fruit or gold in return of the favours that they have received.
Timings- the temple remains open between 4 am to 12 noon and 5 pm to 8:30 pm.
15. Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple, Vaikom
Image Courtesy: vaikomtemple.org
This Hindu temple worships Lord Shiva and is located at Vaikom in Kerala. There is a belief that if a devotee visits this temple along with ‘Ettumanoor Siva Temple’ and ‘Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple’ before the ‘Ucha Pooja’ rituals, then his or her wishes would get fulfilled. You would also find a closed door in the western side of the temple, which is closed since ages and it has not been opened at any occasion since then.
Speciality- One of the main festivals for this temple is Vaikom Asthami. They celebrate it on the auspicious day of Krishna Asthami. The festival lasts for 12 days and the last day of the celebration is ‘Vaikanthasthami’.
Timings- the temple timings are 5 am to noon and 4 pm to 9 pm.
16. Chottanikara Devi temple, Ernakulum
Built to offer prayer to goddess Bhagawati, the temple is very famous not only because of its great location at the hilltop but also because of the idol. The temple looks beautiful, and the architecture of the buildings are unique in comparison to other temples in Kerala.
Speciality – the idol of goddess Bhagawati here is golden and is about 4 to 5 feet tall. The uniqueness of this temple lies in the fact that the idol worship takes place in 3 ways in 3 different parts of a day. In the morning, the devotees worship the idol as Saraswati, in the afternoon as Laxmi and evening as goddess Durga.
Timing- the temple generally opens at 4 am, but during festivals like Mandalam and on Fridays, the temple opens at 4 am. The timing of the temple is from 4 am to 12 noon and from 4 pm to 8:45 pm.
17. Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple, Tripunithura
According to the locals, this ancient temple is one of the greatest temples in Kerala and is very famous for its yearly festivals. Looking into the structure of the temple, you would find simple Kerala architecture but a major fire that occurred in the year 1920 destroyed many parts of the temple. However, what has survived is architecturally beautiful, and you should have a look at the fantastic structures of the eight pillars that supports the ‘Mandapam’.
Speciality- The temple celebrates two beautiful festivals ‘AmbalamKathi Ulsavam’ and ‘VRISHCHIKA ULSAVAM’ with lots of joy and zeal. The latter is the main festival for this temple and it happens during November – December. The festival happens for 24*7 throughout a period of 8 days.
Timings- the temple remains open from 4:30 am to 8:00 pm
18. Thrikkakara Temple, Thrikkakara
Like a very few temples in the country, the Thrikkakara temple worships lord Vamana or Vishnu. It is the origin of the famous Onam Festival. This age-old temple finds a place among one of the most heavenly places in the country. The temple complex is in a large area that offers great views. The main deity of the temple is Vishnu and the sub-deities include Gopalkrishna, Sasthabu and many more. You would also find a Shiva idol in the temple premises.
Speciality- This is the centre for Onam celebrations where the festival takes place for 10days. During the celebration period, they install a pyramidal statue of Lord Vamana in the premises. One can also witness the showcase of art and performance during the celebration days and it comes to an end with a grand procession. During the last two days, the temple also holds a grand feast with more than 20,000 people in attendance.
Timings- the timings of the temple are 4 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 8 pm.
19. Vadakkunnathan Temple, Thrissur
The Vadakkunnathan temple is located amidst nature and that is why the AMASR (The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act) Act declares this beautiful building as a National Monument. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishu, Lord Shiva and Lord Rama and is believed that the first temple here was built byParsurama who was the 16th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple displays some great architectural masterpiece with beautiful pillars and murals.
Speciality – The temple celebrates the Thrissur Pooram during the months April and May and you will fall in love with the experience. You can see elephants with elaborate ornaments during the festivals, and the colourful umbrella adds to the vibrancy of the atmosphere. You would also see that the magic in the ambience spreads when they play traditional drums and chant mantras along with it.
Timing – to do the darshan in the morning, you would have a visit between 3 am to 10 am and for the evening darshan, the time is 4 pm to 10:30 pm.
20. Kodungallur Sree Kurumba Bhagavati Temple, Kodungallur
Image Courtesy: Kerala Tourism
This Hindu Temple is situated at the Kodungallur and is a temple dedicated to goddessBhadakali. Looking at the architecture of the temple, you would find the old Kerala style. The temple follows the old Sakteyam customs. The contemporary temples of the state rarely observe such customs.
Speciality- The temple celebrates several festivals that include Bharani festival which happens in March, along with the Thalappoli festival that occurs in January or February which is the Makaram month. This is a four-day festival where the celebrations take place on a grand scale.
Timings: The temple opens for worship at 3 am and remains open till 9 pm.
21. Sri Krishna Temple, Guruvayoor
Image Courtesy: Awaaz Nation
This is a Hindu temple which is dedicated to Lord Guruvayurappan and is located inGuruvayur. This is one of the holy places which devotees consider to be the purest abode of Lord Vishnu or Sri Krishna. The temple follows a strict puja routine and along with Krishna, people worship other sub-deities like Ganapathi in the sub-temples which also belong to the premises. The temple authority does follow a strict dress code for entry of devotees.
Speciality- One would find a temple yard or Punnathur Kotta where around 56 elephants reside. This is the home to largest captive Asian male elephants. The treatment of the elephant by the temple authority is sometimes under criticism.
Timings- the timings of the temple are 3 am to 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm to 9:15 pm.
22. Mammiyoor Sri Mahadeva Temple, Guruvayoor
This Shiva Temple is near the Guruvayoor temple and as per the rituals, if a devotee goes to one temple, then he should also visit the other one. This is a purely Hindu temple which is a part of the 108 temples in Kerala.
Speciality- the chief deity of the temple is “Uma Maheshwara”, which is Shiva with Parvati to his left. One can also find a shrine of Lord Vishnu in this temple along with other sub-deities like Lord Ganapati, Lord Ayyappan etc. The temple is quite strict when it comes to the dress code. The men must wear the traditional ‘Mundu’ while the women can wear all types of traditional Indian dresses.
Timings: the temple remains open from 4 am to 12:30 pm and 4:45 pm to 8 pm.
23. Kalpathy Heritage Temple, Palakkad
Image Courtesy: RailYatri Blog
This ancient temple has a beautiful ambience and is one of the greatest temples in the city of Kerala. Because of the picturesque surroundings, the temple has got the name “Varanasi of South”. Going inside the temple, one can witness the famous Viswanathaswamy Temple which is an ancient Kerala architectural wonder.
Speciality- The chariot festival or the ‘Rathosavam’ is one of the most important festivals of this temple premises. Devotees from all over the state come here to experience the extraordinary celebration. This is a heritage temple in a heritage village where the people were well-known scholars.
Timings: Pooja is conducted four times a day: 5:45AM Usha Pooja, 9:45 AM Uchikala Pooja, 5:45 PM Deeparadhana, and 7:45 PM Ardhajama Pooja.
24. Sree Cherpulassery Ayyappankavu, Palakkad
Image Courtesy: www.cherpulasserysriayyappankavu.in
This ancient temple is one of the 108 Shastha temples which are present throughout the state. The main deity of the temple is Lord Ayyappan. Many believe that by offering ‘Theeyattu’ to the lord, the devotees can get their wishes fulfilled.
Speciality- the ‘Theyattu’ event takes place in the temple on the 1 st of the Vrichikam month and lasts for around 40 days. The has their own official website, where devotees from all around the world can offer online puja to the lord. The 1 st Saturdays of the Malayalam calendar is unique for this temple.
Timings-Morning from 5 am till 11 am and evening from 5 pm to 8 pm
25. Lokanarkavu Temple, Kozhikode
Many believe that the Vaishnavas, Aryans and Brahmins built the Lokanarkavu temple together. This temple is the perfect example of architectural brilliance. The temple comprises of three different temples that are dedicated to Shiva, Durga and Vishnu. If you are in North Kerala, then this temple should be in your must-visit list.
Speciality – You would find the reference of the shrine of Thacholi Othenan who was a legendary hero, in the ballads of Northern Kerala. The shire is present on the premises of the temple.
Timing – The general schedule of the place is in between 4 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 7 pm.
26. Tali Shiva Temple, Kozhikode
Also known as the Tali Mahakshetram, this Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built long back in the 14th century. This is one of the oldest and sacred temples of Kerala where thousands of people from India as well as foreign land visit. The temple is a great example of the ancient Kerala architecture and is beautified with great woodworks, paintings, roof carvings etc.
Speciality- the temple hosts an annual seven-day event known as Revathi Pattathanam which is the main cultural festival of the same. It occurs in the month of October or November. The event celebrates the art of learning.
Timings- the timings of the temple are 5 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm.
27. Thirunelli Temple, Wayanad
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is one of the ancient temples of the state which is located on the Brahmagiri hillside. Being situated in a valley at an altitude of 900 meters, the surroundings of the temple is stunning and mesmerising. The premises also include a holy pond.
Speciality- This is one of the most popular destinations to perform of the last rites, and the Hindus believe doing so would help the soul to rest in peace. Reaching the temple can be quite an adventure as one would have to drive through 3 wildlife sanctuaries to finally arrive here.
28. Muthappan Temple, Kannur
Image Courtesy: Kerala Tourism
This ancient temple has Lord Muthappan as their chief deity who according to the local tradition is a manifestation of Lord Shiva. The rituals performed inside the temple premises are unique and does not follow the ‘Satvic Brahminical’ form of worship.
Speciality- The temple holds the Puthari Thiruvappana festival each year. It celebrates the harvesting season of the same. Along with that, there is the regular puja of the minimal and the maximal version of the lord in the mornings and evenings daily.
Timings- you can visit the temple between 5 am to 8 am and 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
29. Thaliparambu Rajarajeswara Temple, Kannur
This Shiva temple is located at the Kannur district of Kerala. The temple has the tallest Shikhara and is a very famous name among all the temples of South India. The temple is an excellent display of the old style Kerala architecture.
Speciality- the temple believes in a traditional way of visiting wherein the devotees would first need to worship Lord Krishna and then they can enter the principal Shiva Temple. There is an age-old custom wherein Hindu pregnant women visit the three Taliparamba temples. It should also be mentioned that men are allowed inside the premises all time, but women are permitted only after the completion of Night pooja with pots of ghee.
Timings- the temple remains open between 5 am to 12 noon and 5 pm to 8:30 pm.
30. Ananthapura Lake Temple, Kazargode
This Hindu temple has been built in the middle of a lake and is the only lake temple in the Kerala state. With beautiful surroundings and architectural brilliance, this temple looks serene. The main deity of the temple is Anantha Padmanabha. This temple is open to all the people irrespective of their caste or religion.
Speciality- As mentioned above this is the only temple in Kerala that is in the middle of a lake. The temple and its surroundings are unique and you would not find any other similar temple in the state. The wood carvings present inside the temple also needs a special mention.
Timings- the Darshan timings of the temple are 5:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
While writing this blog I have opted out the Sabarimala Sastha Temple, one of the most famous temples in Kerala, from the list as I will be covering it in an exclusive blog on Shabarimala 🙂
Check out my other blogs on Famous Churches, Mosques or Jain Temples in Kerala.