Vadakkunnathan Temple, Thrissur

Kerala, the green paradise, is home to the ancient temples of Guruvayur, Sabarimala & Vadakkunnathan. A visit to the Vadakkunnathan Temple is an integral part of the itinerary of dedicated Shiva devotees from all over the world!

An oasis of peace in the cultural capital of Kerala is the spacious Vadakkunnathan Temple which stands tall, right at the heart of Thrissur. Thrissur got its name from Thrissivaperoor, the abode of Lord Shiva. If you have the Vadakkunnathan temple on your itinerary, feel free to read through to gain an insight into the temple.

This is a complete guide with lots of useful information. You can jump straight to these sections to touch on the specifics.

The Legend behind Vadakkunnathan Temple

The origin of Vadakkunnatha Temple has mention in the Brahmanda Purana. It says Lord Parasurama who exterminated Kshatriyas for 21 times performed a Yajna to get relieved from the Sins and donated all his lands to Brahmans as a Dakshina. He then requested Lord Varuna (God of Rain) to throw a piece of Land from the sea to retire and continue with his penance. Lord Varuna presented him a winnow (Surpa), which turned into a territory.

Another version of the legend is that Varuna asked Parasurama to hurl the axe into the sea which turned into a territory. The land was then known as Surparaka originating from the word Surpa (winnow).  Surparaka is the present day Kerala.

Lord Parasurama then requested his Guru Lord Shiva at Mount Kailash to descend to Kerala and make it his abode. Shiva with his consort Parvathi, Ganapathi, Subramanya and other Ganas followed him and disappeared after reaching Thrissur. Parasurama then saw the self-manifested Siva Linga under the huge Banyan Tree now known as Sri Mula Sthana - The first place where Lord Siva manifested himself!

History of Vadakkunnathan Temple

Sakthan Thampuran, the ruler of Cochin Kingdom, decided to shift the Linga to a more convenient place from the Sri Mula Sthana and enclose it in a temple. Things turned different when the Linga could not be moved without cutting off a large part of the Banyan tree. There was the danger of a piece of the tree falling on the idol and damaging it. However, the Yogatirippadu (priest) covered the deity entirely with his body & protected it. The deity was moved to the new place & a temple was built around it.

Physical Structure

Vadakkumnathan Temple Koothambalam
Photo Credits: Wiki Commons

The Vadakkumnathan Temple amazes you with its potent mix of architectural beauty in wood and stone, heritage, culture, and history! An architectural marvel, the temple is a classic example of the traditional architectural style of Kerala.

The temple enclosed by a massive stone wall with 8-9 acres of greenery has four gopurams indicating the four directions - North, South, East, and West with a multi-shrined complex in the center.

The temple theatre, Koothambalam is magnificent with four ornate gateways called gopurams. Mural paintings depicting various episodes from Mahabharata & Vignettes carved in wood can be seen inside the temple.

The Deity


Lord Shiva is the main deity of this temple worshipped as a huge Lingam. A mound of ghee (16-foot-high) covers it, which is formed by the daily Abhishekam (ablution) of Ghee over the years. The traditional belief is that it represents the snow-clad Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva. Vadakkunnatha temple is the only Shiva temple where the lingam is not visible.


Lord Krishna, Vrishabha, Parasurama, Simhodara, Dharmasastha, and Adi Sankaracharya are the sub-deities in the temple. Nandikeswara is worshipped as a large white bullock in the Nalambalam. There are spaces within the temple quadrangle to worship deities like Lord Shiva of Kasi, Lord Chidambaranatha of Chidambaram, Lord of Shiva of Rameswara, Sree Kali of Kodungallur, Urakam Ammathiruvadi, Lord Bharatha (Koodalmanickam) at Irinjalakuda, Sree Vyasa, Sree Hanuman, and Serpent gods.


Maha Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri, is the main festival celebrated with much pomp & splendor at the temple.  One lakh lamps light up the temple on this day. Known as Lakshadeepam it is a significant offering here.


Aanayoottu, or the feeding of elephants, is another major festival observed here. On festival day, the elephants are lined-up in a single row and fed by thousands of people ready with offerings like Sugarcane, Rice, Ghee, Coconut, Jaggery. Ayurvedic medicines are also added in the special feed for the elephants.

Thrissur Pooram

The festival of colors - Thrissur Pooram is celebrated on the grounds of the Vadakkunnathan temple, the Thekkinkadu Maidanam by mainly the other two temples. Vadakkunnathan is a mere spectator at this festival which attracts large masses of devotees and spectators worldwide. Processions of richly caparisoned elephants from neighboring temples like Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu vying with each other in changing artistic parasols (Kudamattam) & spectacular fireworks lend colors to this event!

Keep reading: Thrissur Pooram

Maha Shivarathri at Vadakumnathan Temple
Maha Shivaratri, Photo Credits: flikr @binilraag
Aanayoottu at Vadakumnathan Temple
Aanayoottu, Photo Credits: flikr @ashitdesai
Thrissur Pooram
Thrissur Pooram, Image Credits: flickr @79991946@N05

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Daily 18.5 kg of Rice Naivedyam is offered to Sree Vadakkunnathan.

Darshan timings

The Vadakkunnathan Temple opens daily at 04:00 AM & closes at 10:00 AM. It again reopens at 5 PM and closes after Trippuka, the last rite of the 8.20 PM

Dress code

Stringent dress code exists for entering the temple:

    • Men can only wear Mundu & Veshti, and boys can wear shorts.
    • Women can wear Saris, skirts & Salwar Kameez.

Entry Rules

    • Entry to the Temple is restricted to Hindus only.
    • Children below one year will not be allowed inside the temple.


The temple has a prime location, at Kuruppam, Anchuvilakku,  just 2 km from the Thrissur city. The Thekkinkadu Maidan, a patch of greenery where Thrissur Pooram is held encircles the Vadakkunnathan Temple.

By Air: The nearest airport is at Kochi which is 53 Km from Nedumbassery

By Train: The nearest Railway station is at Thrissur which is 3 km away

By Road: Regular Buses, Cabs are easily accessible from Kochi, Thrissur stations

Contact details

Vadakkunnathan Temple,
Near Thekkinkadu Maidan,
Kuruppam, Anchuvilakku,
Thrissur, Kerala 680022

Nearby temples

Paramekkavu temple lighted Gopuram
Photo Credits: flikr @rjkumars

Paramekkavu Temple

A small beautiful temple right opposite to the Vadakkunnathan temple. With Goddess Bhagavathi as the main deity. The colorful interior and exterior is a feast to the eyes and the soul to behold forever.

Thiruvampady Temple

Dedicated to Lord Krishna. Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple is one of the two rival groups participating in the Thrissur Pooram. Bhagavad Gita chanting makes the temple alive.

Things to do in Thrissur

Now that you know more details about Vadakkunnathan Temple which might have triggered your interest, if you are planning to visit the same do let us know. You can explore places around Vadakkunnathan in Trichur at your leisure. Dont forget to customize your Kerala tour package with Blue Bird Travels for an incredible holiday experience.

Book now for a memorable holiday in Kerala. Contact us today for a FREE Holiday Plan.

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