Temples built in different historical time reflect the spirit and idioms of the people and their way of life as existed then. The splendor of architectural designs of temples are embodiments of the aesthetic taste of the people and society. The cultures heritage reflected in temple designs in different parts of India has evoked interest and has attracted tourists from far and wide. There are wide regional variations in structural design and layout of temples. Temples of South India are different form that of North in both the architectural and technological contents. Apart from the external architecture internal organization of temples such as placement of deities rites and rituals vary widely from place to place within the country.
In Kerala known as God’s own country the study of temples has a special relevance. The study report of 1991 Census on temples of Kerala was acclaimed and appreciated by the well known personalities and scholars alike. The present report on temples of Trssor district is the 8th publication in the series on the study of temples.
This report has been completed by Shri Jayashanker who retired as Deputy Director of Census operations Kerala. The painstaking efforts made by him reflect his sensibility towards Indian religion and culture. The rich collection contained in the present volume perhaps would invoke admiration form those who have interest in Indian culture.
I am confident that this volume would further enrich the existing literature religion art, culture and society.
The monograph Temples of Kerala which was published earlier covered the general aspects on temples in Kerala like history of temples over the last two thousand years mode of worship architectural features carvings and paintings iconography of idols deva-prasnam (astrological prediction relating to temples) rites, priesthood, offerings temple customs and administration ritualistic and performing arts etc. this volume the seventh in the series of district monographs is an addendum to the monograph temples of Kerala and it attempts to cover an account of the temples of Trsoor district.
The background of taking up this exhaustive study needs little elaboration. The census organization of India undertook a study on temples of madras state as an ancillary study of the 1961 census. This study evoked keen interest among scholars, the Government and statutory bodies of Kerala. Late Sree R. Vasudeva Sree A. Chandrasekhar) as early as 1969 to launch a study on temples of Kerala similar to the one that was conducted in madras state and the latter readily pressure to this suggestion. But the study could not be taken up due to heavy pressure of work in connection with the 1971 census. In 1973 the Travancore Devaswam board also came up with a similar request but the backlog of census work of 1971 census stood in the way in launching the study. In 1979 the advisor to the government of Kerala on Temples and traditional Arts again requested the Director of Census Operations to commence the study. But again some unforeseen circumstances prevented the organization form taking up the study. However in May 1990 the Government of Kerala again requested the Census Directorate to take up a detailed survey on temples of Kerala and the Register general (Sree A.R. Nanda I.A.S) directed to commence the survey in June 1991.
The schedule which was canvassed was finalized in consultation with tantris and silpis. Sree A.R. Nanda I.A.S (former Register General India) Dr. K.P Ittaman (former Registar General India) and Sree K.C. Narayana Kurup (former Deputy director of Census Operations Madras) gave invaluable suggestions in designing and finalizing the schedule. The schedules were printed in September 1991 and the work commenced.
Originally it was decided to collect data of temples by mailing the schedules to temple authorities of statutory bodies and by trained field staff to temples exclusively managed by private individuals and institutions. But this procedure did not work well as the response from the statutory bodies was found defective as the filled—in schedules had both content and coverage errors. Therefore in March 1992 it was decided to engage a small team of trained staff (of the Directorate of Census Operations, Kerala) for the field—study. The survey covered all temples, which are open to public, irrespective of whether they are owned by statutory bodies, private institutions, families or individuals.
The procedure for the collection of data for the survey deserves special` mention. The staff deputed for this study was directed to visit all Panchayatts, village offices and note down the names and location of all temples. Then the field-staff visited all such temples located in every nook and corner of the Panchiyatt, some of which situated even in dense forests and in areas inaccessible by roads. During their visits they also made local enquiries on any possible omissions. The data so collected through these visits and enquiries helped to prepare a Directory of all temples open to public and collect data regarding the name, location, principal deity, antiquity, structural type of main sreekovil, time of worship and poojas, utsavam/festival besides details on ownership/management. The data made available through the survey are presented in Section 3 of this monograph.
Further based on certain criteria i.e., all the temples having swayambhoo (self revealed) idols and other important temples depending on number of prakaras, architectural excellence, number of poojas, antiquity and number of worshippers were selected for detailed study. The data thus collected through a separate detailed schedule on all temples, which satisfy the criteria, are presented in Section 2 (Salient features of important temples) of this monograph. This does not mean that other temples are unimportant. But the procedure adopted was to give more weight to more prominent temples.
Section l gives an overall review and analysis on temples of Trsoor district with a backdrop on geographical setting, historical and other aspects.
It is worthwhile to mention here the limitations of the data. The informants, mainly temple authorities, were generally co-operative. However, some of them were reluctant to provide details fearing that their private temples might be taken over by the Government and they took the stand that those temples were exclusively used by family members and not open to public. On the other hand some insisted` on having their temples enumerated hoping to get some financial assistance for their family temples at a later stage. Another difficulty encountered by the field staff was that very often they had to go to the same temple several times to collect details as the temples were kept open only for specified hours (either morning or ‘noon or evening) or on specified days besides non—availability‘ of reliable informants. Similarly it was difficult to verify the claim of informants on the data of antiquity and myths associated with those temples. In spite of these limitations-every effort was made to collect detailed data as one could.
The field-survey of Trsoor district was done at different periods during1993-97 and, therefore, subsequent changes on structures, idols etc. have not been incorporated in this monograph except in few cases where re—visits were done. The data thus collected through the field-survey is published in this monograph. The earlier proposed title of the monograph, i.e., Temple Directory (Mentioned in the first monograph - Temples of Kerala) had to be changed in the district monographs consequents on the introduction of a section dealing with the General background of temples of the district. Thus this volume has three sections viz section 1 General background section 2 features on important temples and section 3 temple directory (which covers list of all temples in the district).
The field survey was initially monitored by Sree K. Sivaramakrishna Iyer (former Assistant Director of Census operations) the field staff included Sarvasree R. Chandrachoodan, M. Chandrasekharan, M.R. Sukumaran Nair, Thampi N. Suresh, G. Sivadasan, R. Madhavan Nair, T. Veugopal and P. Radhakrishnan Nair of the Census Directorate. The wholehearted dedication of the field staff in spite of several odds of travel through difficult terrain on foot withstanding the onslaughts of climate is highly commendable. At the time of writing this volume I had to again directorate. I take this opportunity to record my great appreciation and special thanks for his invaluable and dedicated contribution. I would like to mention my sincere appreciation and sincere thanks to Sree V. Thulasedharan Seniro Draftsman who has meticulously drawn the rough taluk maps and also for designing plates of photographs given in this monograph. The photograph on the temples of the district were taken by Sree Santosh Channankara still photographer. I express my appreciation and thanks to him. I also record my thanks to the Archaeological Survey of India for providing photographs of Sree Vatakkunathan and peruvanam temples and also to Mr. C.A. Menon (Editor Kerala festival Message Trsoor) for giving photographs of Sree parmekkaav temple and Trsoor Pooram.
The keying of data layout of pages and preparing camera ready copy of this volume were conscientiously done by Sree G.S. Sudheer Kumar as a love for labour. I am deeply impressed by his stupendous work and place on record my profound thanks to him.
The writing of monographs was taken up after my retirement. The field data and many published and unpublished reports had to be utilized in writing this monograph. My wife Prof. A. Anandam gladly and conscientiously undertook the brunt of the work of reading the proof and gave me valuable suggestions. I have no words to thank her.
I am ever grateful to all authorities of temples and the informants who willingly furnished date to the field staff.
It is my pleasant duty to acknowledge the co-operation extended to me by officers and staff of the census Directorate. I got full encouragement at the initial stages of this project from late Sree N.M. Samuel, I.A.S Director of census Mr. N.M. Samuel as the director of Census operations for her sincere help as otherwise this monograph would not have seen the light. Sri A.G. Bhaskaran Joint director and his colleagues had given full co-operation to me at all time. I place on record my sincere thanks to all of them.
Now it is my pleasant duty to thank the officers and staff of the office of the register General India for their great help in bringing out his monograph.
It is my great privilege to acknowledge my unfailing obligations I owe to Dr. M. Vijayanunni I.A.S. former register general and Census commissioner India who had always guided me by giving his valuable advice and helped me a lot by his timely intervention at a critical juncture when the project was about to of Kerala and completing the field work and bringing out two district monographs on this subject well in time. I am ever grateful to him for laying the foundation for this project which brings out the cultural heritage of Kerala.
Shri Jayant Kumar Banthia I.A.S. who succeeded Dr. M. Vijayanunni as the Registrar general and Census Commissioner India was also very generous extremely considerate and greatly helpful in solving many problems associated with the printing and release of the four district monographs. I express my deep gratitude to him.
I am deeply indebted to Shri Devender Kuamr Sikri I.A.S. the registrar general and Census commissioner India for the valuable guidance and encouragement given to me in the preparation of this monograph.
While writing this volume I have experienced the divine grace of the almighty and boundless blessings of gurus and I have no words to express my deep feelings. I humbly pray for their continued benediction.
The views expressed in this monograph are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of India.
I am sure that this monograph will indeed be useful for posterity and I am happy to dedicate this monograph as a background document on the subject for the use of administrators devotees and the general public.
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