The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, located in the picturesque village of Aranmula in the southern Indian state of Kerala, is a revered Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, worshipped here in the form of Parthasarathy, the charioteer of Arjuna in the epic Mahabharata. This temple holds immense religious significance and cultural importance, particularly due to its association with the famous Aranmula Boat Race. In this article, we will delve into the history, rituals, significance, and unique traditions associated with the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple.
The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple boasts a rich and ancient history, dating back over a thousand years. It is believed to have been constructed during the reign of the Pandya king, Pandya Varma, and is closely associated with the Mahabharata. Legend has it that Arjuna, the mighty warrior prince of the Pandavas, installed the idol of Lord Parthasarathy in this temple, which gives the deity his unique form as the charioteer of Arjuna.
The temple architecture follows the traditional Kerala style, characterized by its grandeur and intricate woodwork. The sanctum sanctorum houses the idol of Lord Parthasarathy, portrayed here with a whip in one hand and a conch shell in the other, symbolizing his role as Arjuna’s charioteer. The temple complex also features a majestic, multi-tiered gopuram (tower) at the entrance, adorned with intricate sculptures and carvings.
Significance and Rituals
- Aranmula Boat Race: The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is most renowned for the annual Aranmula Boat Race, also known as the Aranmula Vallamkali. This spectacular event is conducted on the Pampa River, and it is closely associated with the temple’s cultural heritage. Held during the Onam festival season (usually in August or September), the boat race is a grand spectacle that attracts thousands of spectators. The oarsmen row snake boats (chundan vallams) in a fierce competition, and the winning team is considered blessed by Lord Parthasarathy.
- Annual Festival: The temple hosts an annual festival known as the Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali, which lasts for eight days and concludes with the famous boat race. The festival includes colorful processions, traditional music and dance performances, and elaborate rituals.
- Pallimetta Sreekovil: The temple’s inner sanctum is known as the Pallimetta Sreekovil. It is where the idol of Lord Parthasarathy is adorned with magnificent jewelry and offered special prayers and rituals.
- Aranmula Kannadi: Aranmula is also famous for its unique metal mirror, known as the Aranmula Kannadi. These mirrors are handcrafted using a secret alloy and are considered a symbol of prosperity and good luck. They are often offered to the deity as part of the temple rituals.
- Visitors should dress modestly when visiting religious sites in India, covering shoulders and knees.
- Be respectful of the temple’s rules and customs, including removing footwear before entering the temple premises.
- Plan your visit during the annual boat race or festival season to witness the grand cultural celebrations.
How to Reach
- By Air: The nearest airport is Trivandrum International Airport, located approximately 110 kilometers (68 miles) away.
- By Rail: Chengannur Railway Station is the nearest railway station, situated about 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) from Aranmula.
- By Road: Aranmula is well-connected by road. Visitors can reach the village by taxi or private transport from nearby towns like Chengannur or Pathanamthitta.
The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is not only a place of religious worship but also a custodian of Kerala’s rich cultural heritage. Its association with the renowned Aranmula Boat Race and the unique Aranmula Kannadi mirrors adds to its allure. A visit to this temple provides a glimpse into the deep-rooted traditions and spirituality of Kerala and an opportunity to partake in the vibrant celebrations that define this revered pilgrimage site.