This temple is situated in Thrikkakara, a village near Cochin in Kerala. This temple is one of the 108 holy Divya desams of Lord Vishnu.It is a 13th Century temple and was built by the Chera King Kulasekhara Varma. The glory of the temple has been mentioned in the ‘Sangam Ktrithikal’ (Tamil literature doing the Sangam period) and has also been sung in many hymns by the Tamil Vaishnavaite Alwars like Nammalvar The current village Thrikkakara was once the capital of the mythological king Mahabali who ruled over Kerala.
The lord Vamana temple in Thrikkakara is one of great mythological significance; this temple has inscription from as early as the 10th century CE and the largest number of stone manuscripts amongst the other traditional temples in Kerala. This temple constructed in a rare type of temples architecture. The temple complex is enclosed in a large and specious area in very picturesque surroundings. A special aspect of this temple is its ‘Vritta’ (circular) Vamana. The sanctum of the temple is dedicated to lord Vamana, (also called as lord Vamanamoorthy), the fifth incarnation of the famed ‘Dasha Avatars’ (ten incarnations) of lord Vishnu.
The Bhagavata Purina describes that lord Vishnu descended on Earth as the ‘Vamana avatar’ to restore the authority of lord Indra over the Heavens, as it had been taken by mahabali, a great and pious Asura King. Mahabali was the grandson of Hiranyakasikudu and the son of Prahladha. And just like his father, he developed a very gentle and good loving nature, though he was born of the Asura. King Mahabali performed severe austerities and penances and henceforth, became the undisputed lord of three words. King Mahabali became me famous not only for this sovereignty over all the world, but also for his kindheartedness and generosity. Anyone who visited king Mahabali and asked him a favor would never go back empty handed!
Lord Vishnu, the sole sustainer of the entire Universe, decided to test for Himself the greatness of king Mahabali. Lord Vishnu took the guise of a short statured Brahmin carrying a wooden umbrella and descended on Earth as lord Vamana. He went king Mahabali and requested just three paces of land from him. King Mahabali was surprised at the request of the small Brahmin. Nevertheless he agreed, against the warning of his guru Sukracharya. The Asura guru Sukracharya was able to perceive that Lord Vishnu himself had come to Mahabali, with the intention of favoring lord Indra. Even though Guru Sukracharya warned king Mahabali, he did not change his mind. King Mahabali argued with his Guru Sukracharya, that if lord Vishnu himself had come to ask something from him, then nothing could be more auspicious! King Mahabali considered it to be the greatest blessing of his life. He calmly pledged the three places of land to the small Brahmin then, lord Vamana revealed his true identity. He took his Viswaroopa from (Universal from) and enlarged himself gigantic proportion, which occupied the entire Universe. He stepped from heaven to Earth with the first step and from Earth to the Netherworld with the second. King Mahabali was given the sovereignty of Pathala (Netherworld). It is believed that the place where this Temple stands today was once, the site where King Mahabali was sent to Patala by lord Vamana with his blessed foot! Henceforth, this temple got its name “Thrikkakara” derived from the Malayalam words Thiru, ‘Kaal and Kara’ meaning ‘Land with the sacred foot’. King Mahabali requested with lord Vamana to have His presence always at that place and also to allow him to visit that place every year. As per the request of King Mahabali, a Swayambhu (self originated) idol of Mahavishnu emerged at that place and a temple was constructed there later, in the course of time.
The devotees visiting Thrikkakara temple first pray at the shrine of lord Shiva (also called as thekkumkara thevar) before visiting the shrine of lord Vamana. There are two separate Sreekovils for lord Vamana and lord Shiva in this temple. There are sub shrines to lord Shasta and goddess Mahalakshmi that devotees can visit and pray in this temple. The daily poojas to lord Vamana are conducted elaborately in this temple. In all five poojas – Ushapooja, Eathruthapooja and three Sheevelis – Ethrutha Sheeveli, Ucha sheeveli and athazha Sheeveli are conducted daily.
It is believed that the Shivalinga in this temple was once worshiped by Mahabali himself and is situated on the southern side of the shrine of lord Vamana. There is a seat of King Mahabali located just in front of the Sreekovils of lord Shiva!
The temple is considered to be the centre of Onam celebrations all over the world, as Thrikkakara is considered to have been the abode of the king Mahabali. The main festival of the Thrikkakara Temple is during the season of Onam and is celebrated over a period of ten days in the Malayalam month of chingam (the months of august – September). The temple installs a pyramidal statue symbolizing lord Vamana during the festive period of Onam, as a symbol of honor At all the sites of the celebration. Lord Vamana is named as Onathappan or Thrikkakara –append. The Onasadya (Onam feast) is held in a grand manner in this temple. In which a large number of people take part, cutting across all religious barriers in Kerala.
The Utsava (festival) in the temple begin with kodiyettu on at ham by and ends with Arattu on Thiruvonam day. Thiruvonam is the birthday of lord Vamana. The devotees who could not attend this Utsavam in this temple celebrate it in their own home by making beautiful Pookkalams and by offering special Naive yams (Prasad) to Thikkakkarayappan. This temple showcases several performances in cultural are during these ten days such as Kathakali, Ottamthullal, Chakra koothu Patakam, as well as dance and musical performances like panchavadyam and thayambaka. This temple performance various ceremonial rites involving the main deity and other deities like ‘Chaarthu’ and ‘Pakalpooram’ during the ten days period of Oman. The Chaarthu is a form of the decoration of the idol of lord Vamana using sandal paste ornaments and clothing. On each day, the idol decorated in the form of one of the ten Avatars of Vishnu, like the Matsya (fish), Kurma (Tortoise), Varaha (boar), and Narasimha (half-man half-lion) Trivkrama (another name of lord vamana), Parashurama, Rama, Balarama, Krishna and kalki. The Pakalpooram is a grand procession which is held on the 9th day of the celebrations.
Onam is the biggest festival celebrated in Kerala and symbolizes peace and prosperity to one and all As per Legend. King Mahabali returns to Earth once every year, during the Onam festival and people celebrate his return by prayers. Onasadya (Onam special community Feasts) and Pookkalams (Floral decoration)! A visit to the sacred lord Vamana moorthy temple in Thrikkakara is very soothing and touches a true devotees heart, a feeling that can seldom be describe!