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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What are the religious places in and around Kumarakom?

Aloke Bajpai DEC 10 2012
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Though at first glance it may seem that the Christian majority in Kerala is sky high , a look at the number of temples and mosques in and around Kumarakom itself will make you reconsider you thought. Here’s a list of some religious places around Kumarakom that will help you understand it’s the religious culture in Kerala. Don’t forget to drop in your prayer petitions, when you get awestruck by these stunning structures.

  • Cheriyapally

Literally translates to small church is popularly known as St. Mary’s Church. This is one of the oldest and most stunning churches in the heart of Kottayam. The beautiful murals on the wall (some say is made of vegetable dye) seem to bring alive the various episodes from the Bible. Amidst this divine narration, don’t forget to fold your hands, close your eyes and drop in a prayer or petition.

  • Valiyapally

In Malayalam, Valiyapally literally translates to big church (perhaps because of its enormous size). And, this is the second church dedicated to Mother Mary, Jesus’ mother. This too is located in the core of the Kottayam town and has some 8th century crosses on display and some Persian inscriptions as well. The air is serene and perfect for you to have a one on one with the Almighty.

  • Juma Masjid

A quick 16 km from Kumarakom at Thazhathangady (Kottayam town) is the Juma Masjid. They say it’s been standing there for over a thousand years now, along the River Meenachil. It has stunning interiors with gorgeous architecture and detailed wood carvings and traces of some historical cobwebs spun here and there. The members of this Mosque also contributed greatly to the freedom struggle. Note the different style in which the Muslim men wear their munda (dhoti).

  • Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple

Bang at the centre of the city is this temple built by the Raja of Thekkumkoor. The interiors are adorned by the murals which are episodes right out of the epics. Although the main deity is Lord Shiva, there are shrines dedicated to ganesha as well. The temple celebrates three festivals with much zeal and fervour. One in March-April, another in June-July and the third in October-November. Within the temple there is a very popular cultural centre too.

Timings: 5 am to 12 noon and 5 pm to 8 pm.

  • Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple

With an illustrious entrance gate, there is no way you can miss this temple on your way from Kottayam to Ernakulam. This is also an important stopover for the Sabarimala pilgrims. The interiors are also as extravagant as the gate outside. The copper roof is also an architectural beauty. Ettumanoor Shiva temple is built on the Dravidian architectural lines and has thousands of pilgrims paying homage each year. Once again, the main deity here is Lord Shiva with Goddess Bhagavati, Sastha, Ganesha and Yakhsi as subordinate deities.

Each year, around February-March, the temple hosts the arattu festival. On the 8th  and 10th day of the celebration, the statue of seven and a half gold elephants donated by the Travancore Maharaja are displayed here. The ritual of offering gold in lieu of petitions is a common practice here. People weigh themselves or the people for whom the petition has been made and offer gold or fruits of the same weight to this temple.

There is also St. Mary’s Church, Kudamaloor where the first Indian Saint, Saint Alphonsa was baptised. There is also a church and a little museum at Bharananganam. There are several other churches in and around Kottayam that you could visit. Each junction has a pillar with the statue of the saint that the main church is dedicated to. Each area has at least a temple or local deity temple (kshetram) and a mosque. There is also a synagogue at Kochi.

You are required to take off your shoes in the churches and women are required to cover their head of the service if on. In temples, men are required to wear only munda (dhoti) and no shirts are allowed. Women have to wear sarees or set-munda (traditional sari sort of attire). Some temples also have rules that restrict the entry for Non Hindus, so be careful with that. Maintain silence in the religious places and switch off your phones.

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