Kerala, God’s Own Country is visited by a large number of pilgrims due to its various religious sites of spiritual and cultural significance. Lots of pilgrimage centers are located in various parts of the city. The Hindu pilgrimage centers become an attraction to the Hindu devotees of the country as well the world. There are also several mosques located in various district of Kerala.
Christianity was spread to Kerala about 1st century AD and various Christian churches are located in various cities and villages of Kerala. Christmas is celebrated with great vibe and color in many Churches of the state. Hindu temples of Kerala are known for their colorful festivals celebrated with great devotion. Devotees from all over the state visit the temples in the festival time. The pilgrimage centers of Kerala are discussed in separate pages.
The most renowned Kerala pilgrim centers are Varkala, Sabarimala, Guruvayoor, and various others. On a Kerala tour religious devotees can explore these religious centers of the state.
Alleppey Pilgrim Centre
Alleppey Pilgrimage centers attract the tourists for its deep religious significance. The main pilgrim attractions of Alleppey are :
1Sree Krishna Temple, Ambalapuzha
Sree Krishna Temple is located at a distance of 15 kilometers from Alapuzzha and the architecture is typical Kerala style. The temple feast namely Palapayasam, sweet milk porridge is famous among the devotees of the temple. A festival is celebrated in the months of March and April in this temple.
2St. Sebastian's Church, Arthunkal
St. Sebastian's Church was constructed by Portuguese missionaries; it is a pilgrim centre for the Christians located near Sherthallai at a distance of 22kms North of Alapuzzha. In January, the feast of St. Sebastian is celebrated here.
3St. Mary’s Church, Champakulam
People of Kerala believe that this church is one of the churches in Kerala established by St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Christ who came to Malabar Coast in the first century AD to spread message of Christianity. The feast of the church is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of October.
4Holy Shrine, Chavara Bhavan
It is just 6 kilometers from Alleppey. An ancestral house of saint Kuriakose is now a spiritual resort for the devotees. A 250 year old lamp is found inside it in original form. This holy shrine can be reached only by boat. Legend says that Kurikose Elias Chavara, the Catholic saint was born at Chavara Bhawan. The feast is celebrated on 26 December.
This church dedicated to St. George was built in 1810. It is located at a distance of 24 kilometers from Alapuzzha. One who prays in this church get relief from mental disorders and other ailments. Pilgrims from all religions visit this church. The feast is held for three days on 5th, 6th and 7th of May.
6Buddhist Centre, Karumandi
Karumandi is a village located to the east of Ambalapuzha. It has an age-old black granite figure of Buddha called Karumandi Kuttan. There are interesting legends connected to it.
7Sree Nagaraja Temple, Manmarasala
Sree Nagaraja Temple is 32 kms away from Alappuzha near Harippad. This temple is dedicated to Nagaraja, the king of serpents. It is believed that childless couples are blessed with children if they pray at this temple. Also the turmeric paste that is found at the Serpent Shrine can cure leprosy.
The great religious convention of Christians namely Maramon Convention is celebrated at Kozhenchery. Christians from all over the world come to join in this great festival. It is celebrated on the bank of the River Pamba. It is said that it is one of the greatest religious gatherings in Asia.
9Mullakkal Rajarajeswari Temple
Dedicated to Goddess Rajarajeswari, this temple is located in the heart of Alleppey town. The Navarathri festival is celebrated with great vibe and color for nine days in this temple. Colorful cultural procession and cultural programmes are main features of this festival.
Ernakulam (Cochin) Pilgrim Centre
Ernakulam district of Kerala has a few travel attractions, the religious centers are one of the prominent among them. The religious centers of Ernakulam are discussed below
1Jewish Synagogue :
Jewish Synagogue is the oldest synagogue built in 1568. The main attractions of the synagogue are 18th century hand printed, willow patterned flow tiles from china, a clock tower, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, ancient scripts on copper plates, the great scrolls of the Old Testament, etc. There are also gold and silver crowns preserved in this synagogue.
2Kalady - Adi Sankaracharya :
It is located on the banks of River Periyar, which is the birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya, the great Indian philosopher of the 8th century. A shrine is here dedicated to Adi Guru in the name of Dakshimurthy and a temple dedicated to Goddess Sharada. A Sri Krishna temple is also located near it. A crocodile Ghat is located here. Adi Sankaracharya took his vows of renunciation at this Ghat.
3St. Thomas :
It is a famous church located 47 kms away from Kochi. It is a catholic church perched on the 609 feet high Malayattur hill dedicated to St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. It is visited by thousands of devotees during the annual festival "Malayaattur Perunnal", which is held in the months of March- April.
4Munnikkal Guhalayam :
Munnikkal Guhalayam is perched on the top of a hill. It is believed that it was the residence of sage Jangaman before 2000 years ago. A famous temple of Lord Murugan is located in close proximity.
5St. Francis Church, Fort Cochin :
St. Francis Church, the first European Church in India was built by Portuguese in memory of Franciscan Friars in 1503. The protestant Dutch restored it and later it was converted to an Anglican church by the British in 1795. The Portuguese navigator Vaso-Da-Gama was buried here.
The other religious centers located at Ernakulam are Pazhur, Santhanagopala Krishnaswamy Temple and Vamanamoorth Temple.
Idukki Pilgrim Centre
Idukki district of Kerala has some renowned pilgrimage centers which attract the tourists throughout the year.
This is a famous Christian pilgrim centre and on the first Sunday after Easter is celebrated here by the Christian devotees. This Kaveri Mount matches the Mount Cavery where Jesus Christ was crucified. It is located at a high altitude.
2Mangala Devi Temple :
The ancient temple, 15Kms from Thekkady, is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1337 m above sea level. The temple is built in the traditional Kerala Style of architecture; visitors are allowed here only on Chitra Pournami festival day.
3Munnar CSI Christ Church :
The history of Munnar CSI Christ Church is unique which begins with a cemetery. This church was handed over to North Kerala Diocese by the British in 1981. It is now
Head quarters of CSI Munnar Pastorate.
4St. George C.S.I. Church :
St. George C.S.I. Church is the oldest church in Idukki and it was built by the British. The founder of this church is Rev. Henry Baker Jr. It is revered church for the Europeans as many British planters were buried at the cemetery of this church.
Kannur Pilgrim Centre
Kannur has lots of travel attractions, the pilgrimage centers are one of them. The main pilgrimage centers of Kannur are :
Thodikalam Temple is located at a distance of 34 kilometers from Kannur on the Thalasseri-Mananthavady road. This temple is famous for mural paintings.
It is a sacred place of Vaishanava cult located at a distance of 20 kilometers from Kannur at Taliparamba town. The deity of the temple is Sree Krishna. The annual festival of the temple is held in the month of March.
Cherukunnu is known for its Anna Poorneswari Temple and its weeklong annual festival celebrated in the month of April. A Kathakali Panchavadya school called Ashtikalaya is located near the temple.
A Shiva Temple is located here on the banks of the River Bavali. This temple celebrates an annual festival in the months of May or June. It attracts a large number of devotees.
5Madayi Para (Sacred Town)
Madayi Para has Madayi Kavu Temple, Vadukunnu Temple and the 7th century mosque. It is 28 kms from Kannur. The mosque located here is said to have been built of white marble brought from Arabia. There is also a fort at Madayi built by Tipu Sultan of Mysore.
6Sree Muthappan Temple
Sree Muthappan Temple dedicated to Lord Muthappan, an incarnation of Lord Shiva is located at Parassinikadavu on the banks of the Valpatanam River. It is 18 kilometers away from Kannur. In this temple only Theyyam, the ritual dance form of North Kerala is performed daily. There is a unique way of offering here as dried fish and toddy are offered to the deity as offering. A Kathakali centre is also located here.
7Sree Ramaswamy Temple
Sree Ramaswamy Temple is 23 kms from Kannur and this temple is dedicated to Sri Rama. The 400 years old carvings of the temple is the main attraction of the temple.
The other temples of Kasargod are Taliparamba (Siva Temple), Taliparambu (Vishnu Temple), Thodikalam Temple and Trichambaram Temple.
Kasargod Pilgrim Centre
1Malik Deena Juma Masjid
Muslim tourist visit Kasargod as it is the centre of Islam on the west coast. It is believed that the Malik Deena Juma Masjid (Mosque) was founded by Malik Ibin Deenar. The architecture of the mosque is typical Kerala style. It is located at Thalankara.
Manjeswaram is a popular pilgrim centre known for its temples and mosques. It also houses the memorial of late Sri Govinda Pai, the grand patriarch of Kannada literature. Kanwatheertha beach is a large swimming pool located near it. The Cultural Kalayottam (bull race) contest is a great extravaganza held here. Keralite people from all over the state come to witness this bull race.
3Sree Mahalinheshwara Temple
Sree Mahalinheshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is 45kms from Kasargod. It is situated on the southern banks of the river Payasurini. This ancient temple has a Sanskrit inscription in Kannada script.
4Ananthapura (Lake Temple)
It is located at a distance of 12 kilometers from Kasargod town. It is the original seat of Anandapadmanabha, the deity of Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.
Bela Church, a church of Lady of Sorrows is located at a distance of 15 kms away from Kasargod. It was constructed in 1890 and the oldest church of the district.
The other religious centers of Kasargod are Kanhangad (Spiritual centre), Madhur Temple and Madiyankulam Temple.
Kollam Pilgrim Centre
Mayyanad houses a few shrines and temples and it attracts large number of tourists. The nine Subramanya Temple located at Umayanallor are its main attractions.
2Oachira Temple (34 km)
Oachira Temple is located to the north of Kollam and the main significance of this temple is that it has no idol or deity. The famous one among them is Parabrahma Temple which is dedicated to the Universal Consciousness.
Rameshwara Temple has some inscriptions in Tamil language depicting the epic stories of Mahabharata. These inscriptions belong to 12th to the 16th centuries.
4Ariankave (Pilgrim Center)
Ariankave (Pilgrim Center) is about 70 kms from Kollam. It is famous a shrine devoted to Lord Shasta. A festival is celebrated in the month of December.
Kottayam Pilgrim Centre
1Bharananganam Pilgrimage Center
Bharananganam is a renowned pilgrimage center in Kottayam district located on Etumanoor Poonjar state highway. It became a world-famous pilgrimage center of Christians when Pope Benedict XVI canonized the first Indian saint Alphonsa. The mortal remains of her are kept in a chapel near St. Mary’s Church. The Church has a 1000 years old grotto of Virgin Mary.
2Bharananganam Sree Krishna Swami Temple
Known as Dakshina Guruvayoor (Guruvayoor of South), Bharananganam houses a Sree Krishna Swami Temple. A legend says Pandavas and Panchali during their exile days spent some days here. Yudhishtira, the eldest one of Pandavas worshipped Lord Vishnu here and he had a mind to solemnize Dwadasi Pooja on Shukla Paksha Dwadasi day. Krishna sent a Vishnu idol to Yudhishtira in the hands of Vedavyasa Muni and Narada Muni. They bring the idol and perform Vishnu pujja for Yudhishtira.
A pilgrim centre for Hindu and Muslims, Erumelli attracts a large number of pilgrims. . The Sree Dharmasastha Temple located here is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The mosque is dedicated to 'Vavar' who is said to be the friend of lord Ayyappa. A festival namely 'Petta Thullal' of Kanni Ayyappa is held in December or January.
Mannanam is a Syrian Christian Centre located at a distance of 8kms from Kottayam. The St. Joseph Monastery, related with Fr. Kuriakose Elias of Chavara (1805-71), one of the saintly figures of the Syrian Catholic Church of Kerala is located here. The St. Joseph Press established in 844 is located here.
Ettumanoor is 12 kms north of Kottayam. The ancient Shiva Temple located here has exquisite mural paintings and sculptures. The Archaeological dept.of Kerala state government opened a mural art centre near the temple. This temple celebrates an annual festival in the months of February or March.
6Other Religious Centers in Kottayam
Kottayam has more religious places of worship which are visited by large number of devotees. The other centers are Changanachery Thrikodithanam Temple, Mahadevar Temple, Pundareekapuram Temple, Shiva Temple, Thirunakkara Mahadev Temple, St. Mary's Church, Kuravilangad and Valiyapalli Church and Cheryapall.
Kozhikode Pilgrim Centre
1Maccunti Mosque, Kuttichira
Maccunti Mosque located at Kuttichira is a religious center of the Muslims. The architecture of the temple has a resemblance to the typical temple complex of Kerala. The stone inscriptions of the mosque reveal an aspect of the Zamorins and have great historical significance.
Both artistic simplicity and legendary aura of the temple attract the devotees. Art lovers would like to explore its candid murals and carvings.
Tali Temple was built by Swamy Thirumudpad, a Zamorin. It is located within the palace complex. It was the venue of Revathy Pattathanam, the annual cultural festival as well an intellectual event at the Zamorins court.
Malappuram Pilgrim Centre
1Angadippuram (Religious Center)
This place is an important religious center both for Hindus and Muslims. The Tirumandhankunnu Temple located here is dedicated to goddess Durga. The Puthanangadi Mosque is a religious center of the Muslims and it has Arabic inscriptions engraved on its Planks.
2Kadampuzha (Bhagavathy Temple)
Kadampuzha is located on the highway of Kozhikode and Thrissur and it is famous for its Bhagavathy Temple. It was set up by Sree Sankaracharya, the philosopher.
Kondotti is religious center of the Muslims located on the way to Malappuram and its Valia Nercha festival celebrated at the 500-year-old Pazhayangadi Mosque falls in the months of February-March. It draws a large number of devotees.
4The Jama-at Mosque
Kerala Muslims visit this center in great devotion. An annual festival is celebrated at the mosque for four days in the month of April. Near the mosque the mausoleum of the Malappuram Shaheeds is located. Mappila Ballads (Muslim ballads) tells the brave story of the martyrs.
Thirunavya is situated on the banks of the Bharathapuzha. Mamangam festival conducted here once in 12 years was a grand assembly of the rulers of Kerala. The tradition of this festival is started by Cheraman Perumal, and it was conducted for the last time in 1755.Today Thiruvanya is visited for its annual Sarvodya Mela. The Thiruvanya Navamukunda Temple located here which is believed to have founded by nine saints is a famous pilgrim centre
The other temples of Malappuram are Malappuram Mosque,Thai Temple, Thirumandhankunnu Temple, and Trikandiyur Shiva Temple.
Palakkad Pilgrim Centre
5Punarjini Guha (Natural Tunnel)
Punarjini Guha, a natural tunnel in rocky cliff is 2 kms away from the Thiruvalla Temple; the deity of the temple is Sri Raman which is believed to be 'Swayambhoo' (Born on its own), and its abode is on the western side. On can reach this spot on foot trekking through the rugged hills. The narrow tunnel is about 15 meters long. People have a belief that if one crawls on the tunnel he is relived of sins and gifted with rebirth. Only men can crawl here, women are allowed once a year on Ekadeshi Day.
5Jain Temple of Jainmedu
Jain Temple of Jainmedu is located in Vadakkanthara village to the west of Palakkad town. This temple is 32 feet long and 20 feet wide granite temple. Jainism is survived in this region. The famous poet Kumaranasan wrote his monumental famous poem 'Veenapoovu' ('Fallen Flower) at this Jain house.
5Thenari (Natural Spring)
The waters of Thenari Natural Spring is believed to be holy as once Sita Devi, wife of Rama drank water here. Legend says that one day on their exile days Sita felt thirsty and Rama using his bow created a spring to satiate Sita's thirst. A temple dedicated to lord Rama is located here.
The other religious centers of Palakkad are Kalpathi temple and Thrithala Shiva temple.
Pathanamthitta Pilgrim Centre
5Sabarimala (Pilgrim Centre)
Sabarimala (Pilgrim Centre) is a famous pilgrim center in Kerala located on the mountain ranges of Western Ghats. The altitude of the center is about 914 meter. One can reach on foot this pilgrim center walking from Pamba. The shrine of the temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The two main events of the temple are Mandalapooja and Makaravilakku which fall in the month of November to mid January. The temple is opened only for the five days of every Malayalam month and during 'Vishu' in April.Hazardous hills like Karimala and Neelimala surround Sabarimala. Men of all ages can enter this temple, but women only below 10 and above 50 ages are allowed to enter the temple.
Aranmula houses the Parthasarathi Temple which is located on the banks of the holy River Pamba. This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and it attracts a large number of tourists. Aranmula snake boat race is held on the last day of the weeklong Onam festival which is a great attraction to the tourists. The 'Vijinana Kalavedi" at Aranmula is a training centre for traditional folk arts like 'Kathakali', classical dances, classical music as well as 'Kalaripayattu' martial art. The fine murals of the temple are worth viewing.
5Pandalam (Pilgrim Town)
Pandalam is a holy town located at a distance of 14 kms from Chengannur railway station. The Valiyakoikal Temple is located on the banks of River Achenkovil has a close resemblance to the Sabarimala Shrine. Before proceeding to Sabarimala, pilgrims worship at this temple.
5Kaviyoor (Temple Area)
Kaviyoor is located on the banks of the River Manimala and visited by the devotees for its temples. It is 5kms east of Thiruvalla. Both Kaviyoor Temple and the rock cut temple located in close proximity attract the devotees. The Hanuman temple is perched on a hillock and it displays the gable style architecture.
Malayapuzha is visited by the Hindu devotees for its Bhagavathy temple. It is 8 kms away from Pathanamthitta.The main attraction of the temple are its wall paintings and artistic stone carvings.
The other religious centers of importance are Cherukolpuzha (Convention Place)at Cherukole Kadamanitta (Famous Temple), Kozhencherry (Maramon Convention), Nilackal (Place of Worship, Niranam (Oldest Church), Thiruvalla (Religious Place), Manjanikara Church, etc.
Thiruvananthapuram Pilgrim Centre
Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala is visited by a large number of tourists. It has mainly two pilgrimage centers Padmanabha Swamy Temple and Varkala.
5Padmanabha Swamy Temple
Padmanabha Swamy Temple is the landmark of the city signified by a seven-storied tower built by Raja Marthanda Varma in 1733 A.D. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the deity reclines on the serpent Anantha, the seat of Vishnu. Only Hindu can enter the temple and one has to maintain dress codes. There is a pool behind it for ritual bathing. The main attractions of the temple are innumerable pillars, intricate carving and mural paintings, inside the temple. The temple architecture symbolizes the Dravidian style of architecture.
5Varkala Pilgrim Centre
Varkala is a beach located to the north of Thiruvananthapuram. The main pilgrim attraction is the Samadhi of Sree Narayana Guru, the great social reformer and philosopher. Devotees also visit here the mineral water springs at the Papanasam Beach which said to have curable power. It is said to have cure impurities of soul. The Janardhana Swamy Temple is located at Varkala.
5Aruvikkara (Ancient Temple)
Aruvikkara is 16 kms away from Thiruvananthapuram and gifted with scenic beauty of nature. It has ancient temple on the bank of the River Aruvikkara dedicated to Goddess Durga, on the banks of Aruvikkara River. The other renowned religious centers in Thiruvananthapuram are Aruvikkara (Ancient Temple), Sarkara (Temple) and Thiruvallam (Temple).
Thrissur Pilgrim Centre
Thrissur, the culture capital of Kerala houses the most renowned pilgrimage center of Kerala, Guruvayoor and other temples also. The pilgrimage centers of Thrissur are :
1Guruvayoor Pilgrim Centre
Guruvayoor is 32 kms away from Thrissur. This is the most visited Hindu pilgrimage centre in Kerala and known as the Dwarka of the south. The main attraction is its Sree Krishna Swamy Temple dates back to 16th century. It is dedicated to Krishna, and so known here as Guruvayoorappan (the Lord of Guruvayoor). People have a belief that the idol is worshipped Lord Brahma himself at Dwaraka. The poet Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri composed this well-known Sanskrit devotional poem, 'Narayaneeyam' at this temple. Guruvayoor temple is also the site for ritualistic weddings and 'Annaprasanam' the first feeding ceremony of a child.
2Irinjalakuda (Pilgrim Centre)
A temple of Bharatha is located at Irinjalakuda which is 21 kms from Thrissur. This is the only temple dedicated to brother of Rama, Lakshmana.
3Arattupuzha (Temple Festival)
Arattupuzha village is visited by the tourists for its well known annual Pooram festival celebrated at the temple in the months of April-May. The main feature of this festival is that the colorful ceremonial processions which carry the images of the deities of 41 neighboring temples to this village.
4Rama temple, Tripraya
This temple is 25 kms away from Thrissur. The architecture of the temple is similar to the Vadakkumnathan Temple.
5Divine Retreat Centre
This Christian Retreat Centre is located at Muringoor and Potta adjacent to Chalakudy. The weekly retreat is held from Sunday to Saturday.
Vadakunnathan Temple displays the typical Kerala architecture and it houses sacred shrines of Paramasiva, Paravathy, Shankaranarayana, Ganapath, Sri Rama, and Sri Krishna. Legend says that this temple is founded by Parasurama, the mythical character relates with the creation of Kerala. Pooram festival, celebrated annually in April-May is its main attraction to the devotees.
Wayanad Pilgrim Centre
The Glass Temple is one of the most visited temples in Wayanad district of Kerala perched on a slope of the Vellarimala hill in Koottamunda. It is 20 km away from Kalpetta. Dedicated to Paraswanatha swami of the Jain faith, this temple is a Jain religious center. The mirrors of the walls reflect wide variety of images.
Thirunelly, known as the Kasi of the south is 32 kilometers away from Mananthavady. It is located on the scenic backdrop of the Brahma-giri hills. The shrine of the temple is shielded with 30 granite columns and the ground cemented with huge square shaped granites. "Papanasini" is located near the temple and it is believed that its waters can wash away one’s sins.
Valliyoorkkavu Temple is located near and the main deity worshipped at the temple is Goddess Durga. Tribal communities of the region visit this shrine. The tenth day annual festival is a great religious extravaganza for the tribals.
The other religious places of worship are Jain Temples at Panamaram, Pallikunnu Church, Puliyar Mala Jain Temple, Sulthan Bathery Jain Temple, Varambetta Mosque, etc.