5 Famous Narasimha Temples in Kerala
Below is a list of five well-known Narasimha Swamy temples in Kerala.
Lord Narasimha is probably the most intense incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is a fierce form who protects his devotees from all evils and dangers. While his torso and lower body are that of a man, his face and claws are that of a lion. He has more than 74 forms, each having a different posture and holding different weapons in his hands. Depending on the posture, each form should be worshipped with strict discipline. Of these, nine forms are widely described. They are Ugra Narasimha, Malola Narasimha, Krodha Narasimha, Jwala Narasimha, Bhargava Narasimha, Varaha Narasimha, Karanja Narasimha, Yoga Narasi,mha, and Lakshmi Narasimha. Lakshmi Narasimha is the form where his consort Lakshmi sits on his lap. In this form, he appears calmer than the other forms.
The Story behind Narasimha Avatar
Lord Narasimha finds mention in many ancient Hindu scriptures like the Puranas and Vedas. This is his fourth incarnation and follows his Varaha or boar avatar. He had taken the boar avatar to retrieve the earth from Patala, where the demon, Hiranyaksha, had hidden it. He also killed Hiranyaksha, whose brother Hiranyakashipu decided to avenge his brother’s killing and did penance at Mount mandarachala for many years to please Lord Brahma. Hiranyakashipu wanted to be the ruler of the three worlds and gain immortality. But, understandably, Brahma was wary of granting him immortality. So the demon asked for some other wishes. One – that no man or beast could kill him. Two – that he should not die during day or night. Three -he should not be killed by steel, wood, or stone. Four – his death would not occur indoors or outdoors, on earth or in the sky. An unsuspecting Brahma readily granted all these wishes, unaware that, in effect, they made the demon near invincible.
Armed with these boons, Hiranyakashipu ran amuck, terrorizing the denizens of the three worlds. Ironically, his own son turned out to be a great devotee of the God he despised. Prahlad, his son, refused to subscribe to his father’s hatred of Vishnu. This angered the demon, who made several attempts to kill his recalcitrant son. But each time, Vishnu rescued Prahlad. Finally, one day, when his son declared that Vishnu was present even in a pillar at his palace, the furious demon struck the pillar, and from it emerged the fearsome specter of a half-man, half-lion form who was Narasimha. Narasimha killed him with his claws, on the threshold of his palace, and during twilight. Thus, he did not violate any of the boons the demon had received from Brahma.
The legend of Narasimha speaks of the omnipresence of God, who appears without fail to protect his true devotees in their times of need. Though there are many Narasimha Swamy temples in Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, and the northern states of India, there are only a few such temples in Kerala. Find below a list of five well-known Narasimha Swamy temples in Kerala.
Kozha Sree Narasimhaswami Temple Kottayam
Kozha Sree Narasimhaswami Temple is at Kuravilangad in Kottayam, Kerala. This temple is very ancient. The main deity here is Lord Narasimhamurthy. The idol in this temple is the only swayambhu idol of Narasimha in Kerala. Until circa CE 1752, this wooded and uninhabited area was part of the Vadakkumkoor principality and was ruled by the Vadakkumkoor Raja. Supposedly, a Vana Vedan (forest-dwelling hunter) found the idol of Lord Narasimha in the jungle. The locals, with the blessings of the rulers, consecrated the idol, and later it became a full-fledged shrine. Some feel that the hunter was Lord Siva himself. The Vettakkarumakan (son of Shiva and Parvathy when they took the forms of Kiratha and his consort) temple located near the Narasimha Swamy temple seems to support this story. The region is mostly Shaivaite in orientation. Dakshinamorthy (an aspect of Lord Shiva) and Lord Ganesha are the sub-deities. They are present in a single sanctum sanctorum besides the right side of Lord Narasimha.
Address: Kuravilangad, Kottayam, Kerala 686633, India
Phone: +91 4822 234309
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Thalassery, Kannur
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is in Thalassery in Kannur district, Kerala. The main deity here is Sri Lakshmi Narasimha, who is flanked by Sri Pattabhi Narasimha and Veera Vittala on either side. Only Gowda Saraswat Brahmin priests can touch the idol and offer services to the deity. Some of the major festivals here are Brahma Rathotsava, Karthik Pournami, and Navarathri Utsav.
Address: Main Road, Pilakool, Thalassery, Kerala 670101, India
Phone: +91 490 2326244
Thuravoor Mahakshethram, Cherthala
Thuravoor Mahakshethram is in Thuravoor in Cherthala, Kerala. The temple houses Sree Narasimhamoorthy and Sree Maha Sudarshanamoorthy. There are two separate temples situated in close proximity within the same compound. This is quite unique. Supposedly, the temple dedicated to Sudarshanamoorthy was the first to be built and is over 1300 years old. Some scholars say that the circular-shaped Sreekovil belongs to the Thretha Yuga; others claim that it dates back to the Dwapara Yuga. There are some palm leaf texts on the temple, but nobody has been able to decipher them.
As per records, the Narasimhamoorthy temple came into being sometime in the 7th century AD, during the reign of a Chera king called Keralendran. The great Muringottu Adigal, a renowned Tulu Brahmin priest and scholar, was his guru. The idol of Narasimhamoorthy supposedly originated in the holy city of Kashi (Varanasi). The chief disciple of Adi Sankaracharya Swami, Padmapadar (8th century AD), worshipped the very same idol at Kashi.
The temple legend says that a Namboothiri priest from Angamaly, who was on a pilgrimage to Varanasi, had a supernatural vision. Seeing a bright beam of light descending towards the earth and moving in a southwesterly direction, he followed it closely. At a certain point in a village called 'Poothanilam' in central Kerala, the light touched the earth and vanished into the ground. The priest dug the earth there and saw a very beautiful idol of Mahavishnu made of Anjanakallu (a rare black stone) buried in the ground. As the idol was being salvaged, the heavens opened up, and there was a shower of fireworks. It lit up the sky and shook the earth with a thundering noise. This Vishnu idol became famous as Sree Narasimhamoorthy.
The priest enshrined the idol in its own Sreekovil near the sanctum of Sudarshanamoorthy. Supposedly, the site that the idol occupies was originally the abode of Goddess Bhagavathy. The idol of Bhagavathy was relocated a little towards the west, as per Hindu ideology. As if to validate this belief, the multi-tiered bronze lamp in front of the Narasimhamoorthy temple has the image of a lion - the vehicle of Goddess Bhagavathy. The place also got the name of 'Surapuri' – maybe due to the presence of an entire galaxy of gods and goddesses.
Address: Thuravoor PO, Cherthala, Kerala 688532, India
Phone: +91 478 2563050
Anayadi Pazhayidam Sree Narasimha Swami Temple, Kollam
This Narasimha Swamy Temple is at Anayadi in Kollam, Kerala. The primary deity is Narasimha Moorthi. Anayadi means ‘footsteps of the elephant’. The temple is world-famous for its Anayadi Gajamela or elephant festival. This is the largest elephant festival in the world. Devotees offer elephants to the temple deity, and they are lined up for a grand procession. The annual festival here has many rituals. Traditional performing arts like Kadhakali, Chakyar Koothu, Nangyar Kooth, Villadichan Paattu, Harikadha, Kadhapresangam, music and dance are staged at this time. Caparisoned elephants, fireworks chenda melam, and sheevali are part of the festivities. The Gajamela is on the last day. The temple is traditionally decorated with flowers, plantain, coconut leaves, traditional lamps, and lights. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists, including foreigners, come to see it every year. Festivals celebrated here are Anayadi Pooram, Navarathri Festival, Narasimha Jayanthi, Sreekrishna Jayanthi, and Sapthaham.
Malaparamba Mattummal Narasimha Moorthy Temple
The temple stands on a beautiful hillock called Malaparamba, 4 km southwest of Angadipuram near Perinthalmanna in Malapuram district, Kerala. The main deity is Narasimha Moorthi. For entering the temple, devotees have to observe a dress code. As per astrological calculations, the antiquity of the temple dates back to nearly 4,000 years. It is believed that many Rishis did penance here in ancient times. Supposedly, one Rishi had a darshan of Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha Avatar, and later he initiated the construction of the Narasimha Swamy temple. With the passage of time, the temple gained name and fame and began to attract devotees from far and wide.
During the following centuries, the Brahmins who managed the affairs of the temple split into Shaiva and Vaishnava sects. This led to sectarian conflicts, which had an adverse impact on the temple administration. The temple’s fortunes began to decline, and it fell to ruins. Later, the local ruling family of Kundarackkal took over the temple management, and the temple was able to recover its lost glory. The temple was also destroyed by Tippu Sultan’s army at one time.
Address: Malaparambu, Palacode PO, Malappuram District, Kerala 679338, India
Phone: +91 9847359967, 9895671195