Express press service
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple stands proudly in the state capital as an impressive structure of grandeur. Devotees regard visiting the mansion itself as a blessing while the mysteries associated with the temple make you curious every time you read about it.
The richest temple in the world has Ananthapadmanabha (Lord Vishnu) in the ‘Ananthashayana’ posture as the main deity. The structure of the temple is believed to have been built in the 8th century, during the Chera period, with its architecture reflecting Chera and Dravidian influence.
Marthanda Varma, the former king of Travancore, renovated it 300-350 years ago. Science and art blend beautifully according to the ‘vasthu shastra’ in every inch of the structure, especially in the seven-storey pyramidal gopuram, made of granite and brick. It has seven window-like openings through which the rays of the setting sun pass twice a year.
Formerly known as ‘Mathilakam’, the temple has the ‘Mathilakam Rekhakal’ which also contains the history of the kingdom of Travancore in general, such as why Thiruvananthapuram was written as ‘Thiruvananthapuram’. It also talks about Katu-Sharkara-Yogam, the method adopted to make the 18-foot idol of Vishnu using 108 natural materials before covering it with gold multiple times.
Transcripts from the temple indicate that Venga wood was used initially to make the idol, but it began to decay after some time. Also, the Brahmins initially had full control of the temple, but King Marthanda Varma changed its ownership using a royal decree.
“Anantha or Adishesha, the celestial five-headed serpent on which Lord Vishnu leans, has its own temple — Ananthankadu — nearby. It is the sanctum sanctorum of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple,” explains the historian and author Vellanad Ramachandran The “hidden treasure” in chamber B of the temple has attracted worldwide attention, also sparking controversy.
Padmatheertham Pond and Methan Mani are two historical landmarks near the temple. The temple holds a 56-day Murajapam festival once every six years for which various Vedic scholars gather. “Many stories are told about the unopened chamber, but the truth might be something else,” Ramachandran added.