Written by

Well known as “Kashi of the South”, Thirunelli Temple Kerala is an ancient pilgrim site dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple stands gracefully within the tranquil surroundings of Brahmagiri Hills in Wayanad, making it a peaceful gateway for spiritual harmony and some unique sightseeing experiences. Thousands of devotees visit the temple every year to take a dip in the Papanasini River of the temple, which is believed to cleanse away all sins. Decked up with traditional Kerala architecture, this place also offers an insight into the state’s cultural heritage, architecture and history, making it a prime attraction for all.

Thirunelli Temple Kerala History

Shiva and Nandi statue at Thirunelli Temple Kerala

Image Source: Ms Sarah Welch for Wikimedia Commons

Thirunelli Temple history is a fascinating tale associated with it that dates back to ancient history. According to legend, Lord Brahma was travelling around the world and he discovered Brahmagiri hills. He was captivated by the beauty of the hills and so he resided here. During this time, he came across a Lord Vishnu idol resting underneath an Amla tree and after seeking help from other gods the idol was properly installed.

Then, as the legend goes, Garuda (the king of birds) was flying with Amritakumbha ( pot of Amrut) over Thirunelli, and a few drops fell into the stream. On Brahma’s appeal, Lord Vishnu made a pledge that the water surrounding the temple would have the power to wash away all the sins. This led to the origin of the stream Papanashini, a dip into which is believed to destroy all sins.

Must Read: Temples In Wayanad

Thirunelli Temple Kerala Architecture

Intricate sculpture of an idol at Thirunelli Temple

The architecture of Thirunelli is very similar to that of other temples in Kerala. The open courtyard and title roof structure encircle the inner sanctum. Carved by black stone, the east-facing idol of Lord Vishnu resides inside the sanctum. This idol comprises four arms, holding a conch, discus, lotus, and mace. The east entrance is decked out with granite lamp posts, enhancing the temple’s aesthetic appeal.
In the exterior region of the temple, Cubicle-style granite pillars are present, adding to its architectural grandeur. Around the temple, you can find remains of ancient villages, offering a glimpse of the region’s cultural heritage and rich history. One of the notable features of this temple is an aqueduct, which channels water from the natural spring to the temple premises. A boulder is located at the heart of the pond, deemed to have the footprints of Lord Vishnu.

Thirunelli Temple Timings & Location

 Intricate sculpture of an idol at Thirunelli Temple
Image Source:Vijayakumarblathur for wikimedia Commons

Located in Brahmagiri Hills of Wayanad district, the Thirunelli Temple remains open in the morning and evening. Thirunelli temple opening times are as follows:

  • Morning: 5:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Aarti is performed at around 11.30 am
  • Evening at 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m

Suggested Read: Best Places To Visit In Kerala

Significance & Interesting Facts Of The Thirunelli Temple Kerala

Image Source:Ms Sarah Welch for wikipedia Commons

Thirunelli Temple Kerala is known for its historical significance and amazing facts, a few are mentioned below:

  1. Lord Brahma constructed one of the ancient temples of Kerala, Thirunelli Temple.
  2. Chirackal Raja’s wife built a stone water channel to allow uninterrupted water supply to the shrine due to a scarcity of water in the temple.
  3. Lord Vishnu bestowed this place with sacred water, which can vanish the sins of life after death and lead to a mortal life.
  4. Lord Shiva, Brahma and Lord Vishnu are the three deities present here. People call these deities as the Trinity.
  5. The copper plates in the temple resemble the history of the Thirunelli temple in Kerala. Everything, from the allotment of the land to detailed expenses, is scripted on the copper plate.
  6. Kunhikutta Varman Veera Kurumpurai was the first person to fund the temple’s construction; later, Sankaran Godavarman also contributed to it.
  7. Thevan Chirikumaran, in his book Unniyachi Charitham, crafted a detailed description of this temple.
  8. This temple comprises a holy pond called Panchatheertham. A dip in this pond is believed to wash away all the sins.
  9. Different festivals are celebrated throughout the year, including its annual festival known as Thirunelli Utsavam. On this festival, the temple is lit up with lights, cultural performances, and decorations, drawing the attention of many tourists and devotees.

Thirunelli Temple Rituals & Poojas

Devotees performing pooja at Thirunelli Temple Kerala.

Image Source:RajeshUnuppally for wikimedia Commons

Ancestral rites take place on the Papanasini river’s banks, where people believe that the holy water cleanses away all sins. Tourists come here mainly to perform this ritual and get spiritual purification for their ancestors. The temple also conducts customs associated with the complete life cycle, including funeral rites like Bali Tharpana and Oraalpindam. At Thirunelli Temple, a ritual known as Brahmanas takes place. It involves playing musical instruments while offering food to Lord Vishnu.

Suggested Read: Offbeat Kerala Backwaters

Thirunelli Temple Kerala: Nearby Attractions

From Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary to Pazhassi Waterfall, check out these nearby attractions near Thirunelli Temple.

1. Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary Kannur

Spot wildlife at Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary Kannur a must-visit destination near Thirunelli Temple Kerala.

Image Source:Manojk for wikimedia Commons

Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary Kannur spans an area of 55 square kilometres and is located on the western slopes of the Western Ghats. Exploring Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary Kannur is a rewarding experience, due to its serene atmosphere, rich biodiversity and stunning scenic beauty. This sanctuary is home to many wildlife, including Malabar giant squirrels, elephants and different species of birds. Tourists can also enjoy trekking here and explore the dense forests, waterfalls and scenic landscapes. Also, one can participate in the nature camps, organised by sanctuary authorities.You can get a lot of educational information at these camps and gain insight of the local biodiversity.

Suggested Read: Places To Visit In Thrissur

2. Kuruva Island

Relax on Kuruva Island, one of the main attractions near Thirunelli Temple Kerala.

Image Source:Shutterstock

Tucked away from the hustle bustle of the city, this island is a tranquil heaven amidst natural beauty. One of the highlights of visiting this island is taking a ride on the bamboo rafts. Tourists can enjoy a ride on the bamboo rafts, gliding gently across the calm waters, while enjoying beautiful views of the lush surroundings and exotic wildlife along the riverbanks. Additionally, Trekkers also explore this place, to see the most exotic species of plants, birds and animals. The best time to visit this place is around October to May, where the weather is quite pleasant.

Suggested Read: Hill Stations In Kerala

3. Palchuram Waterfall

Serene view of Palchuram Waterfall, a beautiful spot near Thirunelli Temple Kerala.

You will be amazed by the spellbinding scene of this four-step waterfall descending from 300 metres. Being one of the largest waterfalls in Wayanad, this place is reachable via a trek through dense forests. Palchuram Waterfalls promises an exhilarating experience for nature enthusiasts alike. Besides this, the photographers will definitely love this place as it is surrounded by dense forests and verdant hills, creating a beautiful backdrop for photography. Visit this place from June to September, where the waterfall is in full flow, presenting a breathtaking display of nature’s beauty. Explore this place with your family and friends and have a blissful vacation.

4. Pazhassi Park

Unwind at Pazhassi Park, a famous destination around Thirunelli Temple Kerala.

Image Source:Mananthavady for wikimedia Commons

Named after the freedom fighter, Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, the park serves as a beautiful heaven for locals and tourists alike. Surrounded by lush greenery and scenic walking paths, Pazhassi Park offers a serene ambience to rejuvenate your soul. The boating facility is one of the main attractions of Pazhassi Park. Visitors can enjoy peaceful boat rides, immersing themselves in mesmerising views and the river’s gentle flow. October to March is the ideal time to visit this place, where the climate is pleasant for outdoor activities. Discover this Pazhassi Park and get set for a wonderful holiday right here.

Suggested Read: Kerala Cuisine

How To Reach Thirunelli Temple

To head towards Thirunelli Temple Kerala, you have several options via road, rail, and air.

By Air

Thirunelli can be reached from two different airports. The Calicut International Airport (Karipur Airport) is located at 161 km from the temple. You can book cabs from the airport to reach the temple. You can also reach Thirunelli through Bangalore International Airport which is approximately 280 km away. From there, one must travel to Mysore and head towards Thirunelli via Hunsur and Nagarhole.

By Rail

The closest railway station to Thirunelli is at Calicut. Tourists need to travel to Mananthavady and then proceed towards Thirunelli. There is also Mysore Railway Station, 121 km away from Kerala.

By Road

To reach Thirunelli Temple Kerala by road, travellers have many options depending on the starting point.

  • From Calicut, one can travel through NH766 towards Kalpetta, head towards Mananthavady and finally reach Thirunelli.
  • From Mysore or Bangalore, one should take NH275 towards Hunsur, travel towards Nagarhole, and reach Thirunelli.
  • From Kannur, take Kannur-Mattannur Road towards Iritty then reach Mananthavady, and follow the indicated route to reach Thirunelli.

Further Read: Kerala Honeymoon

Thirunelli Temple, Kerala, is a timeless masterpiece amidst the magnificent Western Ghats of Kerala. Brimming with its rich history, breathtaking natural surroundings, and spiritual ambience, this place draws the attention of many pilgrims seeking peace. The holy water of Panchatheertham, the wonderful architecture, and the vibrant festivals all contribute to the cultural richness and spiritual essence of the temple. So what are you waiting for? Book a trip to Kerala and get set for a journey to experience the cultural splendour and sacred serenity of the city.

For our editorial codes of conduct and copyright disclaimer, please click here.

Cover Image Source: Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions About Thirunelli Temple Kerala

Who is the deity of Thirunelli Temple?

Lord Maha Vishnu is the deity of Thirunelli Temple.

What is the best time to visit Thirunelli Temple?

Thirunelli Temple Kerala is visited throughout the year.

Is photography allowed in the temple?

Photography is permitted in the outer area of the temple, but it is restricted to the inner sanctums or during rituals.

What is Panchatheertham?

Panchatheertham is a holy pond located within the temple complex, fed by streams of mountains. Bathing in this pond is believed to cleanse one of all sins and bring blessings.

Are there any attractions in the proximity?

Yes, there are many prime attractions located near Thirunelli Temple, Kerala, such as the picturesque historical Edakkal Caves, Pakshipathalam Bird Sanctuary, and Thirunelli Viewpoint.

People Also Read:

Category: Kerala, Places To Stay, Temples

Best Places To Visit In India By Month

Best Places To Visit Outside India By Month