Taliparamba Rajarajeswara Temple
Lord Sree Rajarajeswara
Rajarajeswara(Rajarajeswara is one of the names of Shiva) Temple is situated at Taliparamba, 25 km away from Kannur. Taliparamba or Perinchalloor was one among the 64 brahminical settlement. The old name of Taliparamba was 'Lakshmipura' as this place was considered as an abode of prosperity. All the fame and prosperity to Perinchelloor Gramam is because of the presence of Sree Raja Rajeswara temple and the blessings of Perum Thrikkovilappan.Perinchelloor Gramam has been referred in the Tamil book "Pathittupathu",Chelloor Nadhodaym Chambu (Sanskrit), Kerala Pazhama, Kerala Mahatmyam,Jambukolpathi,Kokila Sandesam, Keralolpathi and many more. Between A.D.216 and 333 Perinchelloor was the capital of Perumakkans as referred in "Pathittupath".
This temple has a prominent place amongst the numerous Shiva temples in South India. If any problem is encountered in temples of South India, the final solution is sought in this Temple through a prasna, a traditional method of astrological decision making. The prasna is conducted on a peedha (a raised platform) situated outside the temple. Taliparamba is one among 108 Shiva Temples in Kerala(ancient Kerala from Gokarnam to Kanyakumari) created by Lord Parasurama. Among these temples 12 are considered as most important and called Dwadasa Shivalayas(12 shiva temples). They are Gokarnam Mahabaleswara Temple(now in Karnataka), Taliparamba Rajarajeswara Temple, Kottiyoor Perumal Temple, Thrissur Vadakkunnatha Temple, Peruvanam Mahadeva Temple, Kodungalloor Thiruvanchikkulam Mahadeva Temple, Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple, Kaduthuruthy Mahadeva Temple, Chengannur Mahadeva Temple, Kandiyoor Mahadeva Temple and Suchindram Sthanumalaya Perumal Temple(for more details about these temples visit 108 Shivalya page).
Taliparamba is regarded as one of the ancient Shakti Peethams. Legend has it that the head of Sati fell here after Shiva's tandavam following Sati's self-immolation. So this temple is popularly known as Rajarajeswari Temple. Siro Peetham or Sirassu is the other names given for Rajarajeswari Temple in some ancient documents. Interestingly Taliparamba Rajarajeswari Temple is also included in the list of 108 Durga Temples created by Lord Parasuram. In the list Taliparamba is mentioned as "Sirassilum".
The quadrangular sanctum has a two tiered pyramidal roof. In front of the sanctum is the namaskara mandapam. The temple has no kodi maram (flagstaff) as opposed to other temples in Kerala. The balikkal has no roof but is embellished by a mysterious figure with a peculiar face. In front of the balikkal is a small rectangular building with a pyramidal roof, which is not usually found anywhere else. An inscription on the structure of the temple tank (which is a little away from the temple on the north side) indicates that the temple and the tank were renovated in 1524 A.D.
Sub Deities - Upadevathas
The Shiva linga here is believed to be thousands of years old. Legend has it that Shiva gave three sacred Sihvalingas to Parvathy for worship. Once sage Maandhatha propitiated Lord Shiva with intense prayers. Shiva was so pleased that he presented one of the Shivalingas to him with the injunction that it should be installed only at a place where there was no cremation ground. The sage, after searching all over, found Taliparamba the most sacred spot where he installed the linga.
After his death the linga however disappeared into the earth. Then his son Muchukunda offered similar prayers to Shiva and got a second linga, which too disappeared in course of time. Centuries passed. The third Shivalinga was handed down to Satasoman, a king of Mushaka (Kolathunad) dynasty who then ruled the region. He was an ardent devotee of Shiva. On the advice of sage Agastya he prayed to Lord Shiva who granted him the Shivalinga. Parasurama installed the Lingam in the present temple built by Satasoma.
Glory of Namaskaramandapa
The Namaskara Mandapa (mukha mandapa) infront of the Sreekovil(sanctum sanctorum) is the place where Lord Sree Rama (on his way back to Ayodhya from Lanka after defeating Ravana) prostrated before Raja Rajeswara. As a respect to Sree Rama no one is allowed into this namaskara mandapa and offer prayers, which is permitted in other temples for Brahmins.
The temple opens at 4.00 am in the morning and after Uchha pooja the temple will be closed at 12 am. The temple opens again at 5 pm. The Deepaaraadhana is performed at 6.30 pm and the last pooja, the Athazha pooja takes place at 8 pm.
While men are allowed to enter the Nalambalam always, woman are allowed only after the Athazha pooja in the night. At this time the Lord is supposed to be happy in the company of his consort, Parvathi, and pleased to grant the desires of His devotees whom pray to Him with humility and sincerity and this is considered to be the most auspicious time for women to enter the Naalambalam as they get the occasion to worship the divine couple.
Thanthri - Chief Priest
There are four Thanthris belonging to four Illams such as Poonthottathil Pudayoor Mana, Eruvesi Pudayoor Mana Edavalath Pudayoor Mana and Naduvath Pudayoor Mana. The present Thatris are Brahmasri P.P.Vasudevan Namboodiri, Brahmasri P.P.Pandurangan Namboodiri, Brahmasri E.P.Harijayandan Namboodiri , Brahmasri E.P.Kuberan Namboodiripad and Brahmasri N.P.Narayanan Namboodiri.
Traditional way of visiting the temple- Darsana Krama
According to the traditional system of visiting this temple the devotee first worship Lord Krishna at the shrine of Vasudevapuram located at the southern bank of the vast temple tank known as Aashraamath-chira, where there is a beautiful idol of Krishna playing the flute. Then, proceeding towards Sree Rajarajeswara temple one worship at the shrine of Sree Bhoothanatha (Kumbhodhara), who is the chief lieutenant of lord Shiva. The main entrance is on the east and before entering the nalambalam one turns eastwards and offers prayers to lord Vaidyanatha(kanhirangaatt-appan), an aspect of lord Shiva worshipped as the lord of physicians, enshrined in temple about 6 km from Rajarajeswara temple.
On entering the eastern gate the devotee makes a circumambulation of the whole central shrine before stepping inside the shrine. Towards the northern side there is a small shrine of a guardian deity called Yakshi. Usually a Yakshi is considered to be a female spirit with malevolent propensities, but the Yakshi installed here represents a prosperity-giving and benevolent spiritual power. The figure is a life size wooden sculpture of unique charm. The Yakshi is represented as one who is intently into a mirror.
After worshipping this guardian deity the devotee, proceeds towards the front of the central shrine and worships the Rishabha, the bull â€“ mount of lord Shiva out side the central shrine facing the lord. Near Rishabha is the Balikkallu of huge proportions, made of granite with many figurines and intricate carvings. Because of its great antiquity it calls for replacing it with a new one, maintaining its exact proportions and carving.
While circumambulating the Naalambalam (the outer structure around Sree Kovil, the sanctum sanctorum), one walk towards the left side and from the Nirarithikonam (south-west corner) worships Goddess Annapoorneshwari of the famous shrine in Cherukunnu, a few kilometer away, and standing on the west one worships Goddess Bhadrakaali enshrined in another renowned shrine of divine mother in Maadaayikkavu. Originally, it is said, that goddess Bhadrakaali was worshipped in the western Gopuram of Sri Rajarajeswara temple and later the idol was taken and installed in the shrine at Maadaayikkavu.
After making the circumambulation outside the Nalambalam the devotee enters the inner space around the sanctum sanctorum to worship lord Rajarajeswaraâ€™s Jyothirlingam. As usual in the temples of lord Shiva, the circumambulation is performed only up to the theertha-channel and it is completed with a reverse circumambulation up to the channel.
On the west of the sanctum sanctorum is the seat of divine mother Pravathi, the consort of lord Shiva. The door here is permanently closed. There is a symbolic legend regarding the permanent closure of this door. This legend is related to the active presence of both Shiva and Vishnu aspects of reality in this shrine.
Like many a temple legend this aspect is also symbolized by a very personalized legend relating to lord Shiva and lord Vishnu through an interesting story. According to it, once Goddess Mahalakshmi, consort of lord Vishnu, came to the shrine to pay obeisance to lord Rajarajeshwara. On seeing the arrival of Mahalakshmi, the lord decided that there should be her prosperity-bestowing presence also in the shrine. Therefore, the lord immediately assumed the form of Mahavishnu and goddess Mahalakshmi entered the sanctum sanctorum presuming that it was her lord and seated beside him. And only when lord Shiva assumed his original form did Mahalakshmi realize the mistake. After paying her respects to the lord, she was about to make a hurried exit through the back door when lord Shiva ordered his attendants, the Bhoothaganas, to permanentely close the door on western side at the seat of goddess Parvathi so that the aspect of material prosperity which goddess Mahalakshmi represented should also be vibrant in the shrine for the benefit of the worshippers.
Later, when lord Vishnu arrived at the temple in search of his consort, lord Shiva’s attendants prayed to him to allow the presence of goddess Lakshmi also in the temple for the benefit of the devotees, which lord Vishnu gladly conceded to before taking his consort along with him.
The legend thus signifies in a way interesting to the common people the special message that the spiritual presence in the shrine benefits the devotees for their material and spiritual well being. Signifying this combination of the Shaiva and Vaishnava aspects in the shrine, twice a year, during Shivaratri and Vishu, the Uthsavamoorthi of the nearby renowned Srikrishna temple of Trichambaram is ceremoniously brought to Sri Rajarajeshwara temple and both are worshipped on the same peetha. This is a unique custom in Taliparamba temple and thousands of devotees gather here on these days to have the darsan of Umamaheswara and Lakshminarayana. The Vishukkani darsanam in this temple is thus auspicious. This also signifies the fact that Shiva and Vishnu are the same. There is no Shaiva Vaishnava difference exists in Kerala.
The place Taliparamba is also known as Lakshmipuram and it is believed that the name is related to this legend. In some hymns to lord Rajarajeshwara the lord is also addressed as the Aishwarya prabhu, the lord of prosperity and Lakshmi Puraadheeshwaran the lord of Lakshmipuram.
Taliparamba Temple is also connected with two more temples - Thrichambaram Sree Krishna Temple and Cherukunnu Annapoorneswari Temple. Taliparamba, Thrichambaram and Cherukunnu temples are collectively called Moonnambalams (three temples). Those who visit Taliparamba temple should also visit Thrichambaram and Cherukunnu temples. Visit to these three temples is called Moonnambalam Thozhal. Though it is not practised as widely as it was in the earlier days, it is still a religious custom among many local Hindu women to visit four prominent temples in Taliparamba when they are pregnant. For getting good children and for normal delivary pregnant women (before 5 months) usually visit these three temples along with Kanjirangad Sree Vaidyanatha Temple. It is believed that Shiva at Rajarajeshwara temple assures the child a high status, Sri Krishna of Trichambaram bestows with good nature and mental qualities, Goddess Annapoorneswari at Cherukunnam with wealth and the deity at Kanjiragat temple with long life. Now these four temples are well connected with roads. It is very easy now to visit these temples in a single day. Many pilgrims from different parts of the State visits these temples every day. These temples also attract devotees from neighbouring States especially from Karnataka.
Offerings - Vazhipadu
Ghee in small pots are offered to the presiding deity Shiva and are placed on steps leading to the sanctum. Its called Neyyamrithu in Malayalam language. The custom is that just as kings and emperors are seen only by offering some gifts-kazhchha-the Lord of Taliparamba, who is King of Kings, can be seen only by placing naiamrithu on the sopanam (steps leading to the sanctum). The ghee offered is used for abhisheka and for lighting the lamps in the central shrine. On auspicious days like Mondays, pradosham etc., hundreds of such small naiamrithu pots can be seen placed before the deity.
Festivals - Utsavams
Mahasivratri and Vishu are the two main annual festivals here. The 21 days annual festivals start in first week of March every year.
Rajarajeswara Stotras and Songs
The most distinguished of the royal poets of the Zamorin of Calicut, Uddanda Sastri, being a Nirgunopasaka was never given to worshipping of deities. Whenever he visited any temple he simply stood before the deity folding his hands. But when he stood before Rajarajeswara, the Kings, at Taliparamba he was so overwhelmed by the magnificence of the deity that he unconsciously uttered the words, 'Hara Hara Mahadeva', and prostrated himself before the Lord. Then and there he composed a verse to the effect that when he saw the splendorous crescent adorning the idol his hands automatically joined together in prayer. "Moon on your head is like an actual moon which makes the devotees fold their hand as if a water lilly does in the moonlight".
Stotras praising Rajarajeswara are availabile in Sanskrit and Malayalam. Among them Chellooreesa Vilasam and Chelloorppiran Sthuthi are the most important works. Several vandana shlokas are also available. Among the devotional songs "Prabhathamay thrukkani ekiyalum prasadamam ponnoli thookiyalum" sung by Dr. K J Yesudas(Album Gangatheertham (1989) - Lyrics - P.C Aravindan, Music - T. S Radhakrishnaji) is notable.
Kings and Rajarajeswara
In the past Kerala was divided into many small kingdoms and there were many kings/rulers. They all considered Lord Rajarajeswara as their Chakaravarthy (Rajarajeswara or King of Kings). The region was ruled by Zamorins(Samoothiri) of Kozhikkod and they were devotees of Lord Rajarajeswara. One of the Zamorins was an ardent devotee of the Lord of Taliparamba. After years of intense worship he is said to have entered the sanctum sanctorum and merged with the God. Even today when the elder Zamorin dies the information should be given to the temple authorities and the Lord is supposed to observe mourning. Even the distant Travancore kings paid obeisance to the deity by offering an elephant whenever a ruler is crowned or visited the temple.
The Taliparamba temple also was subject to attack by Tipu Sultan. One finds relics of the old gigantic gopuram at the entrance, which was demolished by Tipu's army. The story goes that when the temple was under siege, the head priest was inside the sanctum sanctorum and prayed ceaselessly day and night. it is further said that a black snake bit the commander of the army and a hooded serpent appeared before every soldier thus immobilizing the army and saving the temple from total destruction.
J.Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu visited Sri Rajarajeshwara Temple at Taliparamba in 2001. Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa offered worship at Rajarajeswara Temple many times and in November 2008, he had offered an elephant. He worshipped Lord Rajarajeswara amid the political crisis faced by his government following the decision by 19 MLAs to withdraw support to the BJP government and he survived from the crisis. But even today none of the ministers of Kerala have the courage to enter the temple of Lord Rajarajeswara.
The place is considered as most sacred for performing Koodiyattam and Chakyar Koothu. Whenever a new Koodiyattam is being directed, first it is usually performed at this temple. However only the 'Maani' family of Chakyars solely posses the right of performing Koodiyattam here. Legendary Koodiyattam and Chakyar koothu maestro, Natyaachaarya Vidushakaratnam Padma Shri Maani Madhava Chakyaar had performed here for many decades. The title 'Vidushakaratnam' was awarded to him from this temple. One of the greatest appreciation or award that an artist/scholar can get, is the 'Veerashringhala'- Golden Bracelet, from the temple, given by the unanimous approval of the scholar body of the temple. Guru Mani Madhava Chakyaar is the youngest and last person to get the Veerashringhala from here.
The temple is administered by Malabar Devaswom Board.
Taliparamba Rajarajeswara Temple
How to Reach
Taliparamba is a Muncipality in Kannur district and is the headquarters of Taliparamba Taluk. Taliparamba is on the National Highway–17 and the Rajarajeswara temple is situated 23 Kms north-east of Kannur city. From Kasargod 83 Kms towards south. The devotees coming from Mangalore have to travel about 135 Kms south on Kasargode – Kannur route via Manjeswaram, Kanhangad, Nileswaram, Payyanur, Pilathara, Pariyaram to reach Thaliparamba. The nearest Railway stations are Kannur and Payyanur. Plenty of buses are running to Taliparamba from all the above places. There are boarding and lodging facilities in Taliparama city comparatively on cheap rate.
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