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Thiruvalla Vallabha Swamy Temple

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By P.R.Ramachander


This is another temple in Kerala which is one among the 108 Vaishnava Divya desams. This deity has been sung about by Thiru mangai Azhwar. It is ten km from Changanassery station which is in the rail route between Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. This temple can also be approached by road or boat.

In a place called Sankaramangalam nearby there was a very devout old lady who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu She was referred to by people as Sankaramangalathu amma.She was very particular about observing Ekadasi. It seems an ogre called Thugala (tholaga) used to trouble her a lot. One Dwadasi day she could not find any Brahmin to partake of her food. Lord Vishnu himself took the form of a Brahmachari and came there as her guest. Sankaramangalathamma requested him to take bath in the nearby well and come in. Lord Vishnu asked her whether there are any rivers nearby. She then told him that an Asura was living near the river and was not allowing any one to take bath there. Lord Vishnu went to the river and killed the Tholagasura with his Sudarshana Chakra and washed the Chakra in the river. This place is presently referred to as Chakrasala ghat. When the lord returned, there were four more Brahmins. Sankakamangalathamma served food to all the five of them in areca nut sheath (paala) Even today this feeding is done in areca nut sheath and is referred to as Paala Bhojanam.

There is another interesting story about this great devotee. It seems she was illiterate and used to calculate the occurrence of Ekadasi, by putting one stone everyday from the fifteen stones given to her by a literate person. Once some Brahmins came to her house and requested for food. When she told them that it was Ekadasi, they laughed at her and informed her that the day was Dasami. To prove same, one of them who was an astrologer, did a Prasna to find out the exact Thithi. The Prasna showed that it was Ekadasi but when they stepped out of the house, it showed it was Dasami.

It is believed that when Lord Vishnu came as a Brahmachari to the house of Sankaramangalathamma he consecrated His Sudarshana Chakra there. This Chakra has eight corners denoting Conch, wheel, mace, lotus flower, rope, goad, bow and stick. Sacred ash called Vibhuthi is given as Prasada in this temple of Chakra. The main deity of this temple is Sri Vallabha. This is an eight foot tall idol in the standing pose which faces east. Here sandalwood paste is given instead of sacred ash. There is a story about Sri Vallabha.

It seems it was the same statue which was got made by Lord Krishna using the expertise of Viswakarma,and he was worshipping this idol. When his end came near, he entrusted the idol to his cousin Satyaki for consecration in a proper place. Sathyaki entrusted the Job to Lord Garuda but unfortunately while carrying same, it slipped from his talons and the idol fell into a river.

After a long time, when Cheraman Perumal was ruling Kerala, God appeared in his dreams and pointed out the exact location of the idol and asked him to consecrate it in a temple. The king found the idol and since there was an empty temple in Thiruvalla which was waiting for a suitable idol, the king consecrated the divine idol there. When the original idol ordered for that temple came, it was consecrated in a place called Malayin Keezh. Even today the people of Malayin Keezh call their God as Thiruvalla Appan. There is an inscription on the stone on the temple indicating that it was constructed in the year 59 AD. It is learned that Padathi Banana was used as an offering by Sage Durvasa when he visited the temple. Even today Padathi Pazham is offered to the God. The temple is built in such a way that if you are looking at the face of the idol, you would not be able to see his feet and vice versa.

People believe that the great devotee of Vishnu called Gandakarna who used to hang two bells in his ear lobes to prevent hearing the name of Lord Shiva attained salvation in this temple.

There is a 50 feet black granite flag pole in this temple. This flag pole is buried very deep and only a small portion is visible above ground. A Garuda statue made of Panchaloha is chained to the flag pole. It is said that when Perumthachan made the Garuda, it started flying away. So he decided to chain it to the flag pole. In 1970 a new flag pole has also been installed.

During earlier days women were not allowed to enter the temple. The story goes that a lady was so enchanted by the beauty of the Lord that she refused to go out of the temple. Nowadays ladies do visit this temple.

In this temple the God is worshipped five times a day in different forms. In the early morning pooja God is worshipped as Brahmachari, in the Pandeerati pooja he is worshipped as a sanyasi, at noon Pooja he is worshipped as Vaasudeva dressed in royal dresses. In the evening Pooja he is worshipped as Narayana and during night Pooja he is worshipped as Lakshmi Narayana. While the goddess is dressed in the usual manner, the God during this Pooja is dressed as a Sanyasi. The custom here is to continue to keep all material necessary for doing pooja inside the sanctum sanctorum before closing the door, in the belief that sage Durvasa would come in the night and do Pooja to the Lord.

Apart from Lord Vallabha, this temple also has temples of Varaha, Dakshinamurthy, Sastha, Ganapathi, Koorain Appan, Ayal yakshi and Maya yakshi.

Performing Kathakali is one of the main forms of worship to this Lord. It seems when Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar visited this temple, he found the Lord watching Kathakali along with the audience. Thereafter,whenever Kathakali is performed at this temple, they keep a seat covered with silk with a lamp lit near this divine seat, .

In the Kumbha month (February march there is an Arattu to the God, In the Meena month (March-April) again there is a grand festival called Uthra Seeveli.