In Kerala, take the name of Aranmula and three things will come uppermost to the mind. The ‘Val kannadi’, the Boat race, and, of course, the Parthasarathy temple.
First, the ‘val kannadi’ or the mirror with the tail. Aranmula kannadi, is a handmade metal-alloy mirror which unlike the normal “silvered” glass mirrors, is a first surface mirror or front surface reflection mirror, which eliminates secondary reflections and aberrations typical of back surface mirrors. The exact metals used in the alloy are maintained as a Vishwakarma family secret. It is polished for several days to achieve the mirror’s reflective surface. They are considered to be one of the eight auspicious items or “ashtamangalyam” that play a role in the entry of the bride at a wedding venue.
These unique metal mirrors are the result of Kerala’s rich cultural and metallurgical traditions.They are produced by one extended family in Aranmula. The origins of the Aranmula
kannadi are linked to the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple. The legend says that some centuries ago, eight families of experts in temple arts and craft were brought to Aranmula from Thirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. They were given the task of undertaking works in the Parthasarathy Temple. While working with bronze to make a crown for the presiding deity of the temple – Lord Parthasarathy, they accidentally stumbled upon a unique reflective property of one alloy comprising copper and tin. The craftsmen later tried different compositions, which eventually led to the standards of making the metal mirror
This Temple is one of the five important temples in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the legend of Mahabharata, where the five Pandavas are believed to have built one temple each. This one was built by Arjuna. Thrichittatt Temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyoor by Bhima, Thiruvanvandoor by Nakula and Thrikodithanam by Sahadeva, all Mahavishnu temples are the other four.
You may know that the sacred jewels, called Thiruvabharanam are taken in procession to Sabarimala each year from Pandalam, and Aranmula Temple is one of the stops on the way. Also, the ‘Thanka Anki’, golden attire of Ayyappa, donated by the king of Travancore, is stored here and taken to Sabarimala during the Mandala season in December.
The temple has four towers over its entrances on its outer wall. The Eastern tower is accessed through a flight of 18 steps and the Northern tower entrance flight through 57 steps leads to the Pampa River. The temples have paintings on its walls dating back to early 18 century
Legend has it that the deity of Sri Krishna here, is in the form of Parthasarathy, about to throw a wheel at Bhishma, on the ninth day of the battle, when he inflicted so much havoc on the Pandavas, that the Lord is forced to use weapons on him, despite his vow of not fighting in the battle.
According to the locals. the idol of the main deity of the temple was brought here in a raft made with aru (six) pieces of mula (bamboo), and that’s how the temple was known as Aranmula.
Aranmula is also famous for the annual Snake Boat Race held in the Pamba River nearby. The snake boat, or the ‘chundan vallom’, is about 105 feet of length with the bow and stern being about 5 and 18 feet above the water respectively. There would be about 4 helmsmen, 100 rowers and 25 singers in each boat. They sing the vanchipattu, the boat song.
The Temple hosts the annual festival called the ‘vallom kali’, literally, the boat festival. After the festival, there is a vallasadya, a feast for the participants, offered by the devotees. Really a Temple steeped in rich traditions and culture of the local people. Definitely a must place to visit. This should motivate you to pay homage at this wonderful House of God