Monday, May 27, 2013

Temples of Kerala: Shree Muthappan Temple, Kannur

Resonating true to the nature of Kerala, its Temples too painted a picture of peace and calm. So peaceful were its precincts that there were a few instances when I was discouraged even ringing the bell so that its tranquility could be maintained! Presented in the following series are a few temples we visited while our stay in Kannur. Come along!

Shree Muthappan Temple, Parassinikadavu, Kannur

Highly recommended by our Kannur homestay host, Indu, we started our temple tour of Kerala with Shree Muthappan temple dedicated to a highly revered deity of northern Kerala - Shree Muthappan, characterized by Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.

A narrow lane lined by hotels and shops selling different kinds of toys amongst other things lead you to the main temple complex. In the complex, one comes across the gopuram before entering the main temple.


Lane leadind to the Shree Muthappan Temple, Parassinikadavu, Kerala
The lane leading to the temple

Lane to the Shree Muthappan Temple, Parassinikadavu, Kerala
The entrance to the temple complex

The temple is one of the most significant ones for the Kannur-ites and attracts many a visitors like me for more reasons than one; one of the chief features being the existence of dogs. You find them everywhere - Outside the temple, inside the temple and even near the sanctum - real as well as artificial!

Some keep themselves busy by catching a nap,

Dog sleeping at the Shree Muthappan Temple, Parassinikadavu, Kannur
Outside the temple

... while the others have an important job to do!

Dog at the Shree Muthappan Temple, Parassinikadavu, Kannur
One of the two temple guards at the entrance

The temple regards dogs as sacred creatures and this fact is very well highlighted at the entrance itself. The main temple is neatly defended by two fierce looking statue of dogs installed to keep a watch at the pilgrims and the visitors. Besides these, one also comes across a large number of bronze dogs guarding the sanctum. If one were to believe ancient stories, Muthappan used to have a dog accompany in his journey and that is how dogs have come to enjoy a special place in the temple today.

Entance to the Shree Muthappan Temple, Parassinikadavu, Kannur
A glimpse of the main temple, through the door

The second feature of the temple and probably the most significant one is the aura of a ‘Live’ God. Here, you not only pray but also interact with the deity through a special folk dance that is held everyday during the morning and evening time. Theyyam as it is called; this folk art entails an ornately dressed resident priest to perform a special dance representing the Lord himself. The devotees watching it from the sidelines get a chance to interact with the Lord at the end of the show.

Muthappan Theyyam (as Lord Vishnu) at the Shree Muthappan Temple, Parassinikadavu, Kannur
Muthappan Theyyam (as Lord Vishnu) at the temple
(Image courtesy: wikipedia.org)

Alas, I reached the place at odd times when the sanctum was closed and the Theyyam hours away. Hence, I could only imagine the feel of how ‘networking live’ with the Lord must be. But even then, peeping through the crevices of the closed sanctum door and getting His glimpse through the faint natural light was quite an enlivening experience as well.

At the other end of the temple, flows the serene and calm Velapattanam River. It is said that one should purify oneself in its sacred waters before entering the temple.


Velapattanam River of Shree Muthappan Temple, Parassinikadavu, Kannur
A family at the Velapattanam River

The last distinctive feature of the temple is the offering made to the deity. Fish and toddy are the favorite meals of the Lord but we rather chose to substitute these by our humble prayers.

Important travel tips and information:

1. Theyyam is held everyday all round the year, in the morning (7.30 am to 9.45 am) as well as in the evening (6.40 pm to 7.40 pm). Try to plan your visit around those times during the day and try to catch it live.

2. Festival: Muthappan Thiruvoppana Mahothsavam is the major festival of the temple, celebrated for three days every year on 19, 20 and 21 of Kumbham (the days correspond to 3, 4 and 5 March).

3. Accommodation: Hotels and other stay options are available outside the temple.


4. Photography is prohibited inside the temple.


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43 comments:

  1. Arti, This temple looks very interesting to me. Being a dog-lover, I must visit this temple now. The LIVE God sounds cool...wow, never heard about this temple before..Thanks for the details..I shall be there one day for sure!!
    Lovely, colorful images made the arm-chair tour absolutely fascinating. Thanks so much.

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    1. Indeed, it is very interesting and as you said you love dogs.. I was reminded of one more temple. Try reading more about the Khandoba temple in Jejuri area, Pune. Dogs are an important part of that temple too.

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  2. Hello Arti, I'm enjoying your trip very much. I enlarged your photos to better see the beautiful colors on the women's saris.

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  3. I have never heard of the dog worshiping temple, do they feed the stray dogs in the area? What awesome big balloons!!!

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    1. I read this somewhere that the food after being offered to the Gods (prasad) is first offered to the dogs and not the pilgrims. So, I guess they take a lot of care as far as dogs are concerned.

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  4. Wow interesting Arti, this is the first time i saw dog stone inside the Hindu temple in India, so sacred just like in egypt :)

    I just curious, so this temple not realy have big stoned of god/goddes to be worship...? and the centre of worship is Muthappan Theyyam as lord vishnu...?

    And this is always same person to be the Muthappan Theyyam..?

    Just google the other pic of Him, so colourfull with great costums , I'm sure he will do blessing with the dance.

    That's south area, always make me interest because everything full with art touch :)

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    1. Good questions, Mareta. Thanks for asking :)

      There is one more temple Mareta where dogs roam freely inside the temple premises - the Khandoba temple in Pune, Maharashtra.

      The Muthappan temple does have a sanctum with the deities (just like the other hindu temples); only difference being that the sanctum remains closed for the entire day and opens only during the theyyam hours. Which means God is awake and comes alive at those times in the day in the form of the theyyam.

      The temple head priests are generally responsible for performance of the Muthappan Theyyam, this is what I read.. And you are so right, southern temples are really fascinating on many counts. :)

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  5. Thank you, Arti for yet another delighful darshan at the temple in Kannur:)

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  6. What a lovely temple! That dog outside is just too adorable.

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  7. Beautiful post, Great description & photos :)

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  8. Hi Arti,

    I enjoyed reading about your visit to the Temple and seeing your photos. Thanks for sharing and also for your kind visit.

    Happy week
    Carolyn

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  9. so you finally got to go on a south india temple tour!! great!!! looking forward to reading more about all of them.... and kerala is one state i have visited too few temples in.... havent been to this one either.

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  10. This is one temple i always wanted to visit. Thanks for re-kindling my interest. Wonderful post on the same.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/2013/05/nagaon-beach-mini-goa.html

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  11. Good information with photos...

    Welcome to kerala

    thanks

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  12. Love the dog sculpture - and the fact, that dogs are regardes as holy. for they are such great friends to humans! A vivid post Arti, great work, as always. Hugs for a happy day!

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  13. Hi Arti: You have captured life around the lanes and river near the temple very well. The sleeping and the statue dogs offer a good contrast.... :)

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  14. Beautiful post. I visited this temple quite some time back. Still I learnt some thing new. I would suggest you to go through my own post in Hindi which seems to be quite exhaustive. You would love it. Here it is:
    http://goo.gl/enSDa

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    1. Wow, I just had a fleeting glance through the article and it looks wonderful! Thank you for sharing the link, I will read it all up soon. Have you watched the theyyam? If yes, can you please tell us a bit about it? I would love to hear it from someone who might have experienced it first hand.

      PS: Sorry, was not keeping well hence comment moderation had got a bit delayed. :)

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  15. too bad we didn't have to to go to kerala the last time. maybe next time. :)

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    1. Do keep some time for Kerala the next time you are in India, Angeli. I am sure you will love it! :)

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  16. I was quite surprised about the dogs (but it made sense when you explained about the reason). Also was surprised at what looks like a bazaar or gift shop on the way in...I haven't seen that before in your posts.

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  17. I love temples in US as there is no noise here. Peaceful and you just want to sit there. Those two are interesting things in a temple. :)

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  18. nice place , boat ride in the river is refreshing .

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  19. Hi Arti,how are you doing?temple looks beautiful...seems like a beautiful place to visit

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  20. Good info on Muttappa temple, hope next time i will make it.

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  21. I am a big fan of temples and I can't wait to see this one as well. Planning my trip there so I will add it to my bucket list :) Lovely photos!

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  23. I always have a fascination for temples, and I think they are just amazing to see.

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  24. An interesting temple so well portrayed by you with beautiful pictures and crisp description.... Will love to be there once.... Thanks for the share......

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  25. Spiritual places in Kerala are always great! And yeah, for the first time I saw Dog sculpture that has been kept outside the temple as a Gatekeeper...

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  26. Lovely pictures and surprised to know how they treat dogs there. Great post, Arti!

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  27. Nice to know the interesting connection between the dogs and this temple. That was news to me.
    There'll be a next time for Theyyam, I'm sure. Doesn't this trip make you want to visit Kerala again? :)

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  28. I'm always struck by the colorful surroundings - clothing, the paint on the doors, etc. I love that. and I love the photo of the napping dog! I'm glad they are held in high esteem. as always, an endearing and interesting post Arti. Happy week to you.

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  29. good to visit your blog after a long time. Interesting temple and nice photographs. We have strange temples in our country and I think this temple is also quite different from others. A good post.

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  30. I am not too much into temples but I do love observing what others do whenever I visit one. Loved the dog pics both the sleeping and the guard dog :).

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  31. Hi,Arti
    I am enjoying your trip in those photos. Very interesting to see women wearing sari and the dog keeping a watch at visitors. Lovely to see the family together.
    Have a good weekend.

    Rainy season has already come in Japan!!
    Tomoko

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  32. The dog is so cute. The town must be kind for dogs.

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  33. It's amazing we have a temple where dogs are given so much importance. The temple seems to be a peaceful place where one can spend some time in soul searching. Amazing pics as always.

    One major turn off for me while visiting temples in Kerala has been the practice of taking of one's shirt before entering the inner sanctum of the deity. It never made any sense to me.

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  34. Hello, Arti. I like your contrasting way of free and idle real dog and vigilant stone dog. And I like to see some similarities: we have a pair of guardian stone dog at the entrance of Shinto shrines, and since ancient times, pilgrims to some shrines have purified their hands in the rivers like the Isuzu to Ise Shrine. Photos are so colorful and beautiful. Wish you a lovely June.

    Yoko

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  35. Interesting..a unique facts about dogs..

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  36. Hey thats another temple! This one seems to be more crowded. And poor dog (in the pic)! :P

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  37. Your journey continues. Always something new and interesting.

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