If you are visiting Palakkad in Kerala, I would strongly recommend making a trip to the Shri Randamoorthy Temple at Thiruvalathur. A visit to this temple, apart from spiritual reasons, is also a wonderful opportunity to see some majestic temple architecture as well as the meandering Bharathapuzha River next to the temple and the beautiful, lush green countryside throughout the drive from Palakkad to Thiruvalathur.
Thiruvalathur is only about 10 kms from Palakkad Town Railway Station on the Palakkad-Chittur road. After going for about 9 kms, one turns to the right off the Chittur road at Kodumba, near the Kodumba Co-operative Bank. It is a short and easy drive, among some of the greenest paddy fields you can imagine and full of swaying and coconut trees. It is ‘God’s Own Country’ at its best.
The temple is a very ancient one and is one of the 108 Devi temples said to have been established by Parasurama. “Randamoorthy” means “two idols” in Malayalam. Interestingly, there are two deities in the temple, each having its own ‘sanctum sanctorum’, one founded by the Gods and one by the ‘Asuras’. It is a temple where the fearsome goddess “Mahishasura Mardhini” (idol made of wood) and the calm and gentle goddess “Annapurnneswari” (idol made of stone) co-exist together.
The temple complex is very large and covers about two hectares of land. One of most striking features is the huge stone walls all around the complex. The massive stones have been beautifully chiselled and have been piled on top of each other without any mortar. They give an impression of being unfinished, but are in fact fully complete and have withstood the ravages of time and weather without damage. Legend has it that these walls were constructed by an army of Devas overnight. As dawn broke, the work was still incomplete and people started waking up. The Devas did not want human beings to see them. so they left for their heavenly abode, ostensibly leaving the construction incomplete here and there.
There are majestic entrances on all the four sides. There are about 10,000 beautifully designed stone lamps on the outer walls which are lit during the festival time in November-December. The inner area has many superb murals, depicting scenes from Devi Bhagavatha and Ramayana. Another attraction is a big Mizhavu (percussion instrument used for Chakyarkoothu and Koodiyattam). There is also a stage called “Koothambalam” where performances are held during the festival season.
Right next to the temple, reached by a flight of steps, is the magnificent Bharathapuzha River. One can spend hours sitting on its banks, enjoying the peace and serenity of the place. One of the prime attractions of Thiruvalathur is that apart from weekends and festival days, it is very quiet and there are no crowds.