108 Divya-deshams: Thirumoozhikkalam

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BY: SUN STAFF - 8.5 2024

Thirumoozhikkulam Lakshmana Perumaal Temple

A tour of the 108 Divya-desams, the divine abodes of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi.

Thirumoozhikkulam Sree Lakshmanaperumal Temple is located in Thirumoozhikkalam (Moozhikkulam), in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. One of the 13 Malai Naatu (Kerala/Chera) Divya Desams, the temple is associated with the Ramayana legend where Rama's brother Lakshmana worshipped Rama at this place along with their other brother, Bharatha. The presiding deity took the form of Lakshmana and worshipped here. In Vishnu Sahasranama, Lakshmana is one of the names of Lord Vishnu.

Bharata, the brother of Rama and Lakshmana, came to invite Rama, then in exile, to take over the reins of the kingdom. An angry Lakshmana, suspecting Bharata's intentions, intended to kill him; however, Bharata's innocence was very soon revealed, and the two of them offered worship together at Tirumoozhikkalam. The name Tirumoozhikalam is said to have originated from the phrase tiru-mozhi-kalam, which means 'the site where sweet words were uttered'.

This is one of four temples that are part of Nalambalam Yatra: Rama at Thriprayar, Bharata at Irinjalakuda, Lakshmana at Moozhikkulam and Shathrughna at Payammal. According to legend, at the end of the Dvapara Yuga, Dvaraka was swallowed by the sea and four idols of Sreerama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shathrughna, which Sree Krishna worshipped, were also washed into the sea. Some fishermen subsequently rescued the four deities near Thriprayar and they were given to Vakkay Kaimal Naduvazhi. Vakkay Kaimal had a dream one night in which some mysterious person appeared before him and told him that four idols had been washed ashore and that they were to be consecrated at such and such places. They were duly installed in four temples as directed in the dream: Rama at Thriprayar, Bharata at Irinjalakuda, Lakshmana at Moozhikkulam and Shathrughna at Payammal. It is believed that worship at all these four temples on the same day is especially meritorious.

The sage Harita once performed penance here, on the banks of river Poorna (Chalakudy River). Vishnu was pleased by his devotion and appeared to him, at the beginning of Kali Yuga. The sage requested Vishnu to provide the way in which all men can proceed to Varnashrama-dharma, overcoming the difficulties of Kali-yuga. Vishnu uttered the sacred words, after which the place came to be known as Thirumoozhikalam. The Lord's advice is referred to as thiru mozhi, or sacred words.

Temple shrine

The temple is believed to be of significant antiquity with contributions at different times by the ruling empires. Constructed in Kerala style architecture, the temple complex is enshrined within granite walls. The main sanctum is dedicated to Lakshmana Perumal. The sanctum sanctorum of the main shrine houses the deity of Mahavishnu.

The central shrine, or Sreekovil, housing the presiding deity is on an elevated platform with a single door reached by five steps. The central shrine has a circular plan with the base built of granite, the superstructure built of laterite, and the conical roof made of terracotta tile supported from inside by a wooden structure. The temple has shrines of Shiva in the form of Dakshinamurthy, Krishna, Bhagavathy and Ayyappa.

Temple shrine

The temple has no gateway tower (rajagopuram), but has an arch from the main road. The temple wall, called Kshetra-Madilluka, is pierced by gateways. The metal plated flag post or dvajasthambam is located axial to the temple tower leading to the central sanctum.

Chuttuambalam is the outer pavilion. The central shrine and the associated hall is located in a rectangular structure called Nallambalam, which has pillared halls and corridors. Between the entrance of Nallambalam to the sanctum, there is a raised square platform called Namaskara Mandapa, which has a pyramidal roof. Thevrapura, the kitchen used to cook offerings for the Deity is located on the left of Namaskara Mandapa from the entrance.

Temple entrance

This is one of the few temples where the traditional Kuttiattam dance form is practiced.

The temple finds mention in the ancient Nalayira Divya Prabhandham sung by the Sri Vaishnava Alvars.

Slow moving Swans, who search of happy meal in wide water sources, I have thinned in his (Thirumoozhikalam Lord) thought that my clothes no more fit me and fall down while the soul still dwells in body. Tell my lord of Thirumoozhikalam that it is not fair to desert me without moksha.

2061, Tirunetuntantakam (Tirumangai Alvar)

O First Lord! O Golden Lord, sentinel of the seven worlds! Other than exclaiming, "What happened to you? Where are you?", this despicable lowly devotee-self knows nothing. O Lord of the South, Lord of the North, Lord of East and west! O Rutted elephant! O First Lord of the celestials! You are the radiant Lord of Tirumoozhikalam, where later generations will worship you forever.