If you are planning to visit Kerala, then you must not miss visiting the Rajarajeshwara Temple (also called the Brihadeshwara Temple) in Kerala. Located at Taliparamba in the Kannur district, this beautiful Shiva temple is a perfect example of Chola architecture.
The Rajarajeswara Temple is regarded as one of the 108 ancient Shiva temples of Kerala and has a prominent place amongst the numerous Shiva temples in South India.
The Rajarajeswara Temple includes a 180 ft long vimana and consists of a quadrangular sanctum with a two tiered pyramidal roof. In front of the sanctum is the namaskara mandapam. The temple has no kodi maram (flagstaff) as opposed to other temples in Kerala.
There is a legend associated with this Temple. It is said that the head of Sati fell here after Shiva's tandavam following Sati's self-immolation. The Shiva linga inside this temple is thousand years old and is believed to be installed by sage Maandhata who after immense searching found Taliparamba the most sacred spot to install this linga. It is even believed that Sri Rama during his victorious return from Lanka stopped here to offer worship to Lord Shiva. And, in honor of his presence, devotees are not allowed into the namaskara mandapam even today.
The Rajarajeswara Temple is considered as most sacred for performing Koodiyattam and Chakyar Koothu. Whenever a new Koodiyattam is being directed, first, it is usually performed at this temple. One of the greatest appreciation or award that an artist or scholar can get, is the "Veerashringhala" (V?rasringhala) Golden Bracelet, from the temple, given by the unanimous approval of the scholar body of the temple.
You can simply visit the Rajarajeswara Temple to view the Dravidian style of architecture. It's a holy pilgrimage in India and you will find absolute bliss of mind and happiness once you come to this place.
The temple at Taliparamba is among the 108 ancient Kerala temples dedicated to Shiva. It is as famous as the Shiva temples at Vaikom, Ettumanur and Vadakkunnathan temple at Trichur.
Taliparamba is regarded as one of the ancientShakti Peethams. Legend has it that the head of Sati (Goddess/ wife of shiva) fell here after Shiva's tandavam following Sati's self-immolation.Sati was the daughter of Daksh, a respected Hindu king who had a disregard for Shiva.
The Shiva Linga here is believed to be several thousands of years old. Legend has it that Shiva gave three sacred Shiva Lingas to Parvati/Sati for worship. One sage, Maandhata propitiated Lord Shiva with intense prayers. Shiva was so pleased that he presented one of the Shiva Lingas to him with the injunction that it should be installed only at a place where there was no cremation ground. The sage, after searching all over, found Taliparamba the most sacred spot where he installed the Shiva Linga.
After his death the Linga disappeared into the earth. Then his son Muchukunda offered similar prayers to Shiva and got a second Shiva Linga, which too disappeared in course of time. Centuries passed. The third Shiva Linga was handed down to Satasoman, a king of Mushaka, Kolathunad dynasty who then ruled the region. He was an ardent devotee of Shiva. On the advice of sage Agastya he prayed to Lord Siva who granted him the Shiva Linga. The king installed it in the present temple built by him.
It is believed that Sri Rama during his victorious return from Lanka stopped here to offer worship to Lord Shiva. In honor of His presence, devotees are not allowed into the namaskara mandapam even today.
Lord Shiva worshiped in this sacred temple is known as Sree Rajarajeswara, which means the Emperor of Emperors — the Lord Supreme. The name signifies the supreme transcendental power in the background of mysterious drama of the boundless universe. That power is invoked here as Lord Rajarajeshwara. Devotees address the lord with such royal appellations as Perumthrikovilappan, Perum-chelloorappan and Thampuraan Perumthrikkovilappan.
The Jyothirlingam in the shrine in vibrant with spiritual power that exerts an enriching influence both on the material and spiritual levels of the earnest devotees. The celebrated ancient sage Agasthya Maharishi is associated with the installation of the Jyothirlingam in the shrine.
The legends of temples are usually symbolic in character and are intended to convey deep messages to the spiritual inquirer and instill faith in the common man. The legends of Sri Rajarajeshwara Temple reveal the antiquity and the special significance of the Spiritual Presence.
A major legend about this temple begins with the visit of the Puranic sage Parashurama, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Seeing there an ancient shrine of vibrant spiritual power in a dilapidated condition, the sage was grief-stricken and wanted to know its history. Thereupon, sage Narada appeared there and related to him the story of the temple. According to it, sage Sanaka and others, the sons of the creator Lord Brahma, churned the disk of the Sun to lessen its fierce heat. They mied the dust, which was formed while churning, with the divine nectar of immortality, Amrita, and out of it gave shape to three spiritually to Lord Brahma presented them to Goddess Parvathi, the consort of Lord Shiva.
Goddess Parvathi presented these Shivalingams to three kings who were doing intense austerities to invoke the Goddess, one in the Thretha Yugam and the other two Dwapara Yugam. Maandhatha was the king to whom the Goddess presented the Shivalingam in the Thretha Yugam, and Muchukundam and Shathasoman were the devotees who received the other two lingams in Dwapara Yugam. Goddess Parvathi advised each of them to install the idols in such a place where no death of any creature had taken place or any dead body had fallen.
After a long search for such a place, which was very difficult to locate, Maandhatha, the first one to receive the lingam found out a small place for that description, only that much land which could accommodate a small plate. Thalika in Malayalam means a plate. It is said that the region came to been known as Taliparamba, which means the place enough to accommodate a Thalika after this legend. Maandhatha installed his Shivalingam at this place.
Eventually this Jyothirlingam disappeared in the earth, maintaining the place spiritually vibrant for ever. Thretha Yugam was over. Then, in Dwapara Yugam, King Muchukundan after receiving the second Jyothirlingam from Goddess Parvathi as instructed, was also in search for a spot where no death had taken place naturally he also came to the same spot where Maandhatha had installed the first Shivalingam. He installed his Shivalingam at the same spot. This Shivalingam was also eventually dissolved into the earth again reinforcing the spot spiritually. Then came king Shathasoman, the one who received the third Shivalingam. He was also naturally attracted to the same spot and installed his Shivalingam there. While installing, this Lingam also began sinking into the earth. King Shathasoman there upon prayed for Sage Agasthya's help. The sage appeared and after lighting a ghee lamp prostrated before the Shivalingam twelve times; when he begun the thirteenth prostration, the Lingam got firmly fixed on the earth — therefore the number of prostration the Sage Agasthya performed for his purpose came to be known as twelve and a half. Thus with the installation of the third Shivalingam has sacred spot became spiritually vibrant threefold.
Hearing this story from sage Narda, devotion welled up in the heart of sage Parashurama and he decided to renovate the temple for the welfare of mankind.
As desired by the sage, the celestial architect Ari Vishwakarma performed the renovation work. During the final stage of the renovation, sage Agasthya appeared on the scene and, after making abhishekam (ablusion) on the idol, lighted a ghee lamp. This lamp shone continuously ever since, with a regular supply of ghee. Offering of ghee in gold, silver and copper pitchers with intense devotion is an important offering for the lord.
Temple legends, as said earlier, are highly symbolic representations of the subtle spiritual principles and highlight the nature and intensity of the spiritual presence at a particular place. They instill devotion and convey their deeper message to the spiritual seeker. The above-mentioned legend highlights the fact that at this unique centre of spiritual power discovered and maintained by the great sages of yore, one can receive profound Divine grace for the material progress and spiritual un-foldment.