17 Best Pilgrimage Sites in Kerala

Pilgrimage | Lake & Backwater | Nature & Scenic

Kottayam is a city located in central Kerala and is also the administrative capital of Kottayam district. It is one of the well known Kerala tourist places. About 63 km from Kochi and 155 km from Trivandrum, it is among the most prominent places to visit near Kochi.

Bounded by the Western Ghats on the east and the Vembanad Lake on the west, Kottayam is well known as a beautiful Kerala backwaters destination with stunning landscape and beauty. The city is an important trading center of spices and commercial crops, especially rubber. Kottayam holiday packages are a mix of scenic landscapes, backwaters, bird sanctuaries, temples, and churches.

The Poonjar Palace, Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, Pallippurathu Kavu, Thiruverpu Temple, Mary Church (Cheriyapally), and Thazhathangady Juma Masjid are the popular tourist places in Kottayam. It is also a gateway to the famous Sabarimala Temple. Kumarakom, the most famous backwater destination of Kerala is situated very close to Kottayam (13 km).

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

Thrissur, also known as Trichur, is one of the famous places of pilgrimage in Kerala, and among the must include places in Kerala tour packages. Situated about 81 km from Kochi, and 279 km from Trivandrum, this is one of the ideal weekend getaways from Kochi & Coimbatore.

Thrissur is also known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala because of its cultural, spiritual, and religious leanings throughout history. Vadakkumnathan temple, Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple and Paramekkavu temple, and Guruvayur Temple, Our Lady of Lourdes Syro-Malabar Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral, Thrissur Zoo, Shakthan Thampuran Palace, and Kerala Kalamandalam are the most popular tourist places in Thrissur.

Thrissur hosts the world-famous Thrissur Pooram, the most colorful and spectacular temple festival of Kerala. UNESCO has awarded Thrissur Pooram as the most spectacular festival event on the planet. It is one of the best experience things to do in Kerala as part of Thrissur packages. Thrissur is also the hometown of the great Hindu Saint, Adi Shankara.

Pilgrimage

Sabarimala is one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in Kerala. Situated about 70 km from Pathanamthitta, this temple is one of the oldest temples in India, with a history of more than 5000 years old.

Regarded as one of the popular places to visit in Kerala, Sabarimala temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappan, and is believed that Lord Parasurama installed the idol of Ayyappa here. The pilgrimage season begins in the month of November and ends in January (the temple remains closed during the rest of the year except for the first five days of each Malayalam month).

The devotees following Ayyappa Vratam (Ayyappa Maala - a 41 days Vratam with strict restrictions) carry Irumudi Kettu containing traditional offerings to the Lord. Mandalapooja (Nov17th) and Makaravilakku (Jan 14th) are the important events of the temple. Makara Jyothi (a celestial star) appeared on Jan 14th is the most crowded occasion of this temple that one must witness as part of Sabarimala packages.

Sabarimala temple has no restrictions on caste and religion. The temple is open to males of all age groups, but women between 10-50 years of age are NOT allowed into the temple. Pamba, Erumeli, and Malikappurathu Amma Temple are some other Sabarimala places to visit.

Pilgrimage | Nature & Scenic

Pathanamthitta is a beautiful town and the administrative capital of the Pathanamthitta district in Kerala. Also known as the pilgrim capital of Kerala, Pathanamthitta is the main transport hub to the famous pilgrim center - Sabarimala and among the must-include places in Kerala tour packages. It is situated about 109 km from Trivandrum, & 119 km from Kochi.

Pathanamthitta is situated in the central Travancore region of Kerala, close to the Western Ghats. Pathanamthitta town is located on the banks of Achankovil and three major rivers of Kerala - Achankovil, Pamba & Manimala flow through the district. It is one of the famous places to visit near Trivandrum. The town is endowed with a scenic landscape comprising of low undulating hills, extensive stretches of lush forests, rivers, and charming countryside that one must experience as part of Pathanamthitta tour packages.

Sabarimala is the famous pilgrim center situated in Pathanamthitta. Aranmula, the Kerala Institute of Folklore and Folk Arts at Mannadi, Konni elephant training camp, Pandalam, Perumthenaruvi Waterfall, and Maramon are other prominent Pathanamthitta places to visit.

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

At a distance of about 2 km from Trivandrum Central Railway Station, Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a famous Hindu temple located in the Fort Area of Trivandrum city. It is one of the richest temples in India, and among the must-visit places as part of Trivandrum tour.

Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the 108 Divyadesams of Lord Vishnu and among the most sacred places of pilgrimage in Kerala. Although the origin of this temple remains a mystery, devotees believe it to have existed since the first day of the Kali Yuga, which was 5000 years ago. The Padmanabhaswamy temple also has a mention in the Bhagwad Gita. The scripture states that Balarama, the older brother of Lord Krishna frequented the temple, bathed in the Padmatheertham, and also made several offerings to the deity here.

Padmanabha Kshetram and its properties were controlled by Ettuveetil Pillamar under the guidance of Ettara Yogam. Later, Marthanda Varma defeated the Pillamar and his cousins took over the power. The temple was renovated majorly by King Marthanda Varma, Maharaja of Travancore in the mid of 17th century. Padmanabhaswamy is the tutelary deity of the royal family of Travancore. The titular Maharaja of Travancore, Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, is the trustee of the temple.

Among the major Trivandrum places to visit, the ...

Pilgrimage

At a distance of 27 km from Thrissur & 81 km from Kochi, Guruvayoor is a temple town well-known for the most famous Sri Krishna Temple. This is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites near Kochi, and among the must-visit places during Thrissur tour.

Guruvayur Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Lord Guruvayurappan, a four-armed form of the Lord Vishnu who is worshipped in the form of his avatar Krishna. According to the legends, the idol worshipped here is more than 5000 years old. But there are no historical records to establish it. Often referred to as Bhuloka Vaikunta, it is one of the most important places of worship for Hindus in Kerala and among the most prominent religious place to visit Thrissur.

The earliest temple records date back to the 17th century. In 1716, the Dutch raided Guruvayur, looted treasures, and set fire to the Western Gopuram, which was rebuilt in 1747. In 1766, Hyder Ali of Mysore captured Kozhikkode (Calicut) and then Guruvayur. He demanded 10,000 fanams in ransom to spare the temple. The ransom was paid but due to insecurity pilgrims receded. Later, in 1789 AD, Tippu destroyed the smaller shrines and set fire to the Temple, but it was saved due to timely rain. Tippu lost to the Travancore and the English in 1792. The idol, which had ...

Pilgrimage

At a distance of 11 Kms from Kottayam Railway Station, Mahadeva Temple located in Ettumanoor is one of the most celebrated Siva temples in Kerala. This is one of the popular tourist & pilgrimage sites to visit near Kottayam & Kochi.

This temple is known for its exceptional murals and woodcarvings made in 16th century. The themes of these murals are stills from the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata and the and Puranas.The oil lamp at the entrance of the temple is believed to have been lighted for more than 450 years and it is fed with oil by the devotees everyday. There are 14 decorative gopuras in the temple built in 16th century.

Another attraction of the temple is Ezhara Punnana (golden elephants) donated to the temple by Maharaja of Travancore. The golden elephants are kept on display during the temple annual festival celebrated in the month of February / March. Only Hindus are allowed into this temple.

Ezharaponnaana Ezhunallathu is the main festival celebrated for 10 days in the month of Feb- Mar.

Timings: 4 AM to 12.30 PM & 5 PM to 8 PM.

Pilgrimage

At a distance of 7 Kms from Pathanamthitta, Malayalappuzha Devi Temple dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali (another form of Goddess Parvati) is located in Malayalappuzha town near Pathanamthitta.

This temple is believed to be more than 3000 years old, constructed in Kerala style of architecture. The idol of Goddess Bhadrakali is about 5.5 feet tall. More than 100,000 devotees visit this temple every week, with Tuesday and Friday being the most popular days for darshan. The temple is under the administration of Travancore Devaswom Board. The temple has beautiful wall paintings and attractive sculpture work.

It is the only temple in Kerala where the 'Satha Kodi Archana' is performed which is attended by large number of devotees. Malayalappuzha is connected by bus service with Pathanamthitta.

Pilgrimage

At a distance of 3.5 Kms from Trivandrum Central Railway Station, Attukal Bhagavathi Temple is one of the famous temples in Kerala and famously known as the Sabarimal of Women. This temple got its place in Guinness Book of World Records as 'the largest gathering of women in the world'. About 1.5 million women gather at this temple to celebrate the famous Pongala festival.

Dedicated to Goddess Devi (another form of Goddess Parvathi), this temple is located in the heart of Trivandrum city. Pilgrims visiting Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple consider their visit is incomplete without offering prayers at this temple.

Attukal Pongala is the main festival celebrated at this temple on Karthika day of Kumbham month (Feb/March). During this festival, millions of women gather around this temple and prepare Pongala (rice cooked with jaggery, ghee, coconut as well as other ingredients) to offer to the goddess to seek her best blessings.

Timings: 4:30 AM to 12:30 PM & 5 PM to 8:30 PM

Pilgrimage

At a distance of 29 Kms from Kottayam, 35 Kms from Alappuzha & 33 kms from Pathanamthitta, Sri Vallabha Temple is located near Thiruvalla town (4 Kms) in Pathanamthitta district.

This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is one among the 108 Diva Kshetrams in India. This temple is built in typical Kerala style of temple architecture with fine carvings and murals. The inner sanctum of the temple houses a 6 feet tall idol of Maha Vishnu. The flag staff of the temple is made out of granite and it is about 50 feet tall. A 3 feet idol of Garuda (the eagle vehicle of Lord Vishnu) is installed on top of the flagstaff.

This temple is famous for the traditional Kathakali performances almost every night and it is perhaps the only temple in Kerala where Kathakali is regularly performed as a ritual offering to a deity, after the evening Pooja

The annual festival of the temple is celebrated in Feb / Mar and the Utharaseeveli festival is celebrated for one day on Mar / Apr.

Pilgrimage | Lake & Backwater

At a distance of 18 km from Kumarakom, and 35 km from Kottayam, Vaikom is famous as a temple town in the Kottayam district of Kerala. Situated on the eastern side of Vembanad Lake, popular getaway to experience beautiful backwaters in Kerala, and among the must-visit Kumarakom tourist places.

Vaikom is well known for the ancient Mahadeva temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is believed to be built by Parasurama, the founder of Kerala. The temple has a huge courtyard spanning over 8 acres of land and four towers on each side of the temple. Other major attractions of the Mahadeva Temple include the Garbagriha, a golden Stupa surmounting Garbagriha, 19.5m tall golden staff, etc. The exterior walls of the Garbagriha exhibit several pieces of artwork.

This is the place that had made a significance in Indian history with the Vaikom Sathyagraham in 1924, i.e the movement against untouchability in Hindu society. Leader of the Indian Freedom Movement Mahatma Gandhi had participated in this struggle and with his interference, all Hindus irrespective of caste are allowed to enter the temples.

Backwater trip in Vembanad Lake is a famous activity for tourists who visit Vaikom as part of Kumarakom tour packages. Many tourists are coming to Vaikom to enjoy a backwater tour on traditional non-mechanized kettuvallam. Vaikom village is very authentic ...

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

At a distance of 13 km from Ernakulam Junction (South) Railway Station, St.Francis Church is the first European Church built in India. It is located on Parade Road in Fort kochi, less than 1 Km from Kochi Beach.

The Church was originally named as Santo Antonio, the patron Saint of Portugal. The history of this Church reflects the colonial struggle of European powers in India, from the 15th to 20th Centuries. The Portuguese Vasco da Gama was the first European to discover the sea route to India. In 1503 Alphonso Alburquerque was given permission by the Rajah of Cochin to build a fort. The original structure was built in wood, which was later rebuilt in stone. Vasco Da Gama has died in Kochi in 1524 and was originally buried in this church cemetery. After 14 years, his remains were moved to Lisbon in Portugal. The gravestone of Vasco Da Gama can still be seen here.

The Church became a protected monument in April 1923.

Pilgrimage

At a distance of 14 Kms from Pathanamthitta, Maramon Convention is held on the banks of River Pamba in Kozhenchery town (near Kozhenchery Bridge). With participation of more than 200,000 devotees, this is the biggest Christian gathering in Asia.

The Maramon Convention is being conducted annually since 1896, in the month of February. This event is organized by the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association, the missionary wing of the Mar Thoma Church. The scholars of Christianity from India and abroad participate in this event. Maramon is also famous as the birthplace of Palakkunneth Abraham Malpan, a 19th century leader of the Syrian Church of Malabar.

Kozhenchery is connected by frequent buses with Pathanamthitta.

Pilgrimage

At a distance of 18 km from Ambalapuzha and 32 km from Alleppey, Sree Nagaraja Temple is an ancient Hindu Temple situated at Mannarsala in Alleppey district of Kerala. It is a popular center of pilgrimage for the devotees of serpent gods and also one of the best places to visit in Alappuzha.

Located near Haripad, the temple is dedicated to Nagaraja, the serpent God. It is believed that the deity in this pilgrim center is blessed with the spirit of Lord Shiva and has the form of Lord Vishnu. This is the only shrine in Kerala which is headed by a priestess. According to the legend, the first priestess of Mannarasala Temple gave birth to a five-headed snake, which is believed to reside in the ancestral house to safeguard the family.

The famous Mannarasala Temple covers an area of 16 acres of dense green forest grove. The main Mannarasala Temple premise has two separate sanctum sanctorums, one devoted to Sarpayakshi and the other for Nagaraja. There are over 30,000 idol of snakes can be seen in the temple premises. Women seeking fertility come to worship here, and upon the birth of their child come to hold thanksgiving ceremonies here, often bringing new snake images as offerings. A special turmeric paste which is available at the temple is credited with curative powers.

Mannarsala Aayilyam is the main festival of Sree Nagaraja Temple. On the day of Aayilyam asterism in the months of Kanni and Thulam (September and October), all the serpent idols in the grove ...

Pilgrimage

At a distance of 39 Kms from Pathanamthitta & 10 kms from Thiruvalla, St. Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church located in Niranam (popularly known as Niranam Valiyapally) is a parish under the Niranam Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Founded by St. Thomas in 54 AD, this is one of the most ancient churches in the world. It also contains the mortal remains of St. Thomas.

The present structure was constructed in 1912, and later strengthened in the year 2000. Huge granite Cross, relics of St. Thomas, remains of the old church and the golden cross are the special attractions of the church. The feast of Assumption of St. Mary celebrated on Aug 15th and the Feast of Nativity of St. Mary celebrated on September 8th are important festival of the church. The Feast of St. Thomas on Dec 21st, the Feast of St. Behanan on Dec 27th and the Feasts of Marthoma II and Marthoma V on May10th are also celebrated in a grand manner here.

This place is connected by bus from Thiruvalla.

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

At a distance of 20 Kms from Kottayam, St.Mary's Forane Church (also known as Martha Mariam Church) is located in Kuravilangad, on the way to Muvattupuzha.

Constructed in the year of 105 AD, this Church belongs to the diocese of Palai. It is believed that Mother Mary appeared to a few children in this area and asked them to build a church at the place from where a miraculous spring emerged, which exists even today. The church was built and a statue of the Virgin Mary carved from granite is installed here. A 48 feet single block granite cross is located in front of the church, which was erected around 1597. Three majestic bells of Kuravilangad were brought from Germany in 1911.

The main festival of the church called 'Moonnu Nompu', celebrated for 3 days in the month of xx. Thousands of devotees from all parts of Kerala participate in the festival.

Pilgrimage

At a distance of 22 km from Mananthavady, 28 km from Irupu Falls & 45 km from Kalpetta, Thirunelly Temple is an ancient temple located in a beautiful valley beneath Brahmagiri hill range close to Kerala - Karnataka border (near Kutta). It is one of the most ancient places of pilgrimage in Kerala, and among the most popular religious places to visit as part of Wayanad packages.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu. Situated at an altitude of about 900 m, the temple is surrounded by mountains and beautiful forests. History depicts Chera king Kulasekharan as the founder of this temple. There exists documentary proof that Thirunelly at the time of Tamil Chera king Bhaskara Ravi Varma I (962-1019 CE) was an important town and pilgrim center in South India. In the dense jungles surrounding the temple, the ruins of two ancient villages can be found.

The name Thirunelli derives from Nelli, the Malayalam word for Indian gooseberry of the Amla tree. According to mythology, once Lord Brahma traversing the world on his hamsa saw an idol of Lord Vishnu set in an Amla tree. With the help of the Devas, Brahma installed the idol here and called it Sahyamalak Kshetra. Thirunelli Temple is also referred to as Amalaka temple and Sidha temple. People believe that Lord Brahma worships Perumal in the temple in the wee hours every day, hence the head priest of the temple leaves ...

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