An Introduction to Kerala Divyadesams. (Malai Nadu Divyadesams)


Swami Nammazhvar  the most celebrated   amongst all the Azhwars  quotes in one of  his  paasuram  6.9.5 ( 3435)

“vinmeediruppAi, malaimElnirppAi, kadal sErppAi

manmeeduyalvAi evattrul engum maraindhuraivAi

enmeedhiyandra puravandaththAi enadAvi

vunmeedhAdi vurukkAttAdhE olippAyO?”


The above  pasuram reveals that LORD existence at

paravatam .. vin meediruppAi .. (staying in the sky/heavens)..

malaimEl nirppAi ….to archai (staying in divya desams like Tirumala , thirumAlirunchOlai , Sholinghur , Bhadri , Saalagramam …

(Standing on hills/mountains) kadal sErppAi refers to vyuha moorthi, (Residing in sea)

… meedhuyalvAi ….refers to vibhavams (HE …came down  due to causeless mercy as Lord  Rama and Krishna) (Walking  on earth)….

evattrul engum maraindhu vuraivAi ……refers to antaryami who stays inside each one of us , being invisible to all ,  beyond comprehension and beyond one’s understanding and  stay in the entire vast universe and protect  us.


Merciful “Lord Sriman Narayana” appears in  five different forms  as




archai     and

antaryAmi .

 Lord Sriman Narayanan appears in the above five forms. 


 LORD  in response to the ardent prayers of revered saints and  various advanced  devotees appeared to them and conceded  their request of continuing to grace with  darshan in the same form for the benefit of the future generations .  The deities  were duly consecrated with various hymns and temples were constructed by various generous kings.


Archai Murthies are the Lordships who grace us inside the  temples and the temples  which have been glorified by revered   Azhwars  through their emotional out pours  are called Divya Prabhanda pasurams.


 Azhwars   were  the incarnations of  of Lord Sriman Narayana’s divine weapons .(“Azhwar” in Tamil means ‘one who is immersed’. Since these advanced  saints were always immersed in the Lord and His qualities, they were called Azhwars )  And the places which was glorified by Azhwars  are earmarked as Divya desams .   Out of the  12 azhwars, 4 Azhwars appeared towards the end of Dwapara yuga and  


Eight Azhwars appeared during  Kali yuga.


The Srivaishnava  Divyadesams are a group of 108  SriVaishnava  Temples. Among the  108 Divyadesams, 105 temples are located in India and one  in Nepal. The remaining  two temples are in the celestial world glorified as  Sri Vaikuntam  and ThiruParamapadham.


These temples  are very old and have been  renovated by pious kings and advanced  devotees  periodically .


These 106 temples are classified into six  zones-

  • Chola Nadu divya desam –  40 temples  situated in Central Tamilnadu around Trichy,Kumbakonam,Mayavaram, Srikazhi,Nagapatinam
  • Pandya Nadu divya desams 18 temples situated in southern part of Tamilnadu around Madurai,Tirunelveli, Ramnathapuram, Sivakasi..


  • Nadu nadu divya desams – 2 temples in the northern part of Tamilnadu located near Vizhupuram and Cuddalore
  • Thondai nadu divya desams -22 temples in the northern part of Tamilnadu located in and around  Chennai(4),Kanchipuram (15), Arakonam(3)



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  • Malai nadu divya desams 13 temples out of which 2 are in Southern tip of tamilnadu and the rest 11 temples are in Kerala scattered around Trivandrum,Chenganoor, Ernakulam, Thrissur
  • Vada nadu divya desams – 11 temples out of which 2 are in Andhra Pradesh, 1 in Gujarat, 4 in Uttar Pradesh, 3 in Uttaranchal and 1 in Muktinath.


Malai nadu divya desams are  classified due to its location   mostly located in Kerala that  are scattered from Central ,  North to South Kerala. 


Devotees keen to have darshan can start  from Thrissur which is in the North Kerala , come downwards to visit Chenganoor, Ernakulam  and go further south to visit Thiruvananthapuram, Thiruvataaru,Thiruvanparisaram else  start from South  and complete the yatra  in the reverse direction.


Kerala as we  believe is God’s own country aptly deserves the name.  The pristine nature with plenty of water resources with  lush greenery and calm surroundings add beauty to the divya desams in this serene location .


Kerala experiences tropical climate and as nature is still preserved, it enjoys beautiful weather  with frequent rains.  


Hence, the houses and temples are constructed in such a way that the conical roofs do not retain the rain water. Another interesting feature  of the temples are the beautiful murals made of teak wood . 


A brief note about the nearest town /city from where these temples can be accessed is given below:-

North Kerala:– Thiruvithuvakodu near  Pattambi  and Thirunaavai   near Kuttipuram can be accessed along with Guruvayur. 

1) Thiruvithuvacode:– popularly known as “Anjhu murthy kovil” on Shoranur-Kallikatai rail route. Bus from Pattambi to Kootupatha ( app one hour bus drive) and from there to take an auto to go to temple.

2) Thirunaavai :– Shoranur -Kuttipuram bus route.  Bus from Guruvayoor to Kuttipuram and from there another bus to Thirunaavai  (app. travel time 2.5 hours by bus)

The travel time from Thiruvithuvakodu to Thirunaavai is about one hour by car. Guruvayur is about 40 minutes drive from Thirunaavai and as the temple closes at 1 P.M., we can  visit this temple a bit late


Central Kerala:– Thirumoozhikalam,Thirukatkarai near Ernakulam; Aranmula, Thiruvanvandoor, Thirukodithanam, Thirupuliyur, Thiruchenkundroor (popularly known as Pancha Pandava prathista temples) and Thiruvallavaazh can be accessed from Chenganoor. 


These temples are located in different directions from Chenganoor and can be covered within 7 hours(to start very early)

3) Thirumoozhikalam:– In Alwaye-Ernakulam bus route- 7 kms from Kaladi road and 12 kms from Alwaye. Take bus from Ernakulam to Alwaye-Change bus to Edapally at Alwaye .  From Edapally take an auto to go to the temple. Total travel time app. 1.5 hours

4) Thirukaatkarai:- Take bus from Alwaye-Thirukatkarai and from there auto to go to temple which is about 3 kms away.(travel time app 1 hour)

Ernakulam-Chenganoor travel time is app. 2.5 hours.  Six divya desams can be accessed from Chenganoor

5) Thiruchitraaru(Dharman temple)- 2 kms from Chenganoor station

6) Thirupuliyur (Bhiman temple)- 6 kms west of Chenganoor/ 16 kms from Aaranmula

7) Thiruvaranvilai/Aaranmula(Arjunan temple)-10 kms from Chenganoor

8) Thiruvanvandoor (Nakulan temple) -4 kms north of Chenganoor

9) Thirukodithanam(Sahadevan temple) – 2 miles east of Chenganachery  on Thiruvalla-Kottayam road

10) Thiruvallavaazh- one hour by bus from Chenganoor


 South Kerala:- Thiruvananthapuram and the 2 malai nadu temples in Tamilandu namely, Thiruvataaru and Thiruvanparisaaram can be visited together.

11) Thiruvananthapuram:– 1 km from Trivandrum railway station



12) Thiruvaataru:- Trivandrum to Nagercoil bus , change at Thakalai / by car 40 kms short cut

13) Thiruvanparisaaram– 4 kms from Nagercoil/ 40 kms from Thirukurungudi


Most of the Kerala divyadesam temples have  divine connection with the two great epics-

Srimad Ramayanam and Mahabharatam .

The divyadesams around Chenganoor are popularly known by the  great heroes  of Pandavas as they were responsible for constructing them.

 For example  ..


Imayavarappan temple at Thiruchenkundroor is known as “Dharmar/Yudhistira temple, Mayappiran temple at Kuttanadu Tirupuliyur is known as “Bhiman temple”,

Parthasarathy temple at Aaranmula as Arjunan temple,

Pambanaippan temple at Tiruvanvandoor as Nakulan temple,

Athputha Narayanan temple at Thirukodithanam as Sahadeva temple

Likewise, there are temples related to Ramayanam too.


(There may be a slight  variation in the distances as mentioned in the write up which was shared by the  locals .)


The four temples around Ernakulam popularly known as “Nalambalam” meaning Naalu(four) ambalam(temples) are known by the name of Srirama at Thriprayar,, Lakshmana at Thirumoozhikalam, Bharata at Iranjalkudi and Shatruguna at Payammal.


 It is usual practice in kerala  for devotees to recite entire Srimad Ramayanam during Karkataka maasam and do “Naalambalam”(circumbulation of four temples) – most  prevalent practice in Kerala where parikrama around all the four temples dedicated to  Lord Sriramar at Thriprayar, Bharatan at Iranjalakudi (Koodalmanikyam temple)  Lakshmanar at Thirumoozhikalam (Sri sukitnathar), and Shatruguna at Payyammal in a single day starting from Thriprayar  Lord Ramar temple is accessed .


The temple at Thiruvaataru is glorified as the place associated with Brahma Samhita. As told by a devotee inside the temple ,


 the Acharyar of Gaudiya sampradaya His holiness Sri Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is believed to have  accessed one part of this Brahma Samhita which forms the basis of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.


Utsavam  ( Festivals) is performed in almost all the temples for about 10 days and  during that time, Srimad Bhagavatam would be recited .  


The inaugural day is known as “Kodi Etram” and the final day is known as “Aaratu”Only during sevali (Sri veli) which is performed after bhog is offered to Lord, when the processional diety goes around the temple to supervise the food offerings to the guarding deities, musical instruments are played except in one divya desam .


In Thiruvananthapuram, Thirukatkarai excellent stay facilities are available.  In Tirupuliyur, pilgrims amenities are provided taking into consideration the influx of pilgrims.  


 All the temples in Kerala open by 4 A.M. and close by 11 A.M. and in the evenings, the temples are opened for a shorter duration from about 4.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.



The timings are strictly followed without any deviation.  Also, out of the 13 temples, in 11 temples Lord gives darshan as as  Sri Vishnu murthy adorning  Sankhu, Chakram, Gada,Padmam in standing posture.  Only in Thiruvananthapuram and Thiruvaataru,  Lord gives darshan in reclining posture.  Another common feature is there is no separate sannidhi for Thayar in all these temples except Thirunaavai.  


Kerala is located on a hilly location and hence the travel time taken is more compared to the plains.  Also, there are state run buses available which are quite cheap but the only drawback is the name boards will be in   Malayalam and we may not be able to understand !!!!


In our first trip during 2001 we traveled from North to South and covered these divya desams in five days as we commuted through public transport.

A recap of the journey done is reproduced in the below url..

However, in   our recent trip ,  our merciful Lord  blessed with  a very comfortable trip.  We could cover temples starting from South towards north from

Thiruvanparisaaram-Thiruvaataru-Thiruvananthapuram-Chenganoor divya desams-Thirukodithanam-Thirukatkarai-Thirumoozhikalam-Thiruvithuvadoe-Thirunaavai-Guruvayoor…


  By Acharyar’s blessings we decided to club  Pandya nadu and  Malai nadu  divya desams darshan hiring a vehicle  from Srirangam..  


A distance of about 900 kms to and from Srirangam covering around  32 temples within a span of 4.5 days  could be possible  by sheer mercy of  Acharyar  and the Divyadesam Perumals ..


 Prostrating at the lotus feet of asmath acharyar,H.G.Sri Sri  Mudaliandan Swami and JagathaAcharyar   Swamy Ramanujar, adiyen wishes to share the recent travel details of the  18 Pandya nadu divya desams, 13 Malai nadu divya desams,Guruvayur(abhimana sthalam) commemorating the Sahasrabhdhi celebrations of Swamy Ramanujar  within a span of five days(4.5 days precisely) .


We commenced our yatra on the auspicious  Kaisika Ekadasi with blessings of our Acharyar and Elders -10 th Dec 2016 with prayers to our Thirumaligai  Perumal.  


Seeking blessings from Asmath Acharyar HIS HOLINESS SRI SRI MUDALIAANDAN SWAMY before commencing the journey

After obtaining Asmatha acharyar’s anugraham at Mylapore, we proceeded to srirangam  by car . We reached midnight and were fortunate to have darshan of Lord Namperumal adorned with 365 silk clothes .( Kaisika Ekadashi special)  Namperumal blessed us with theertha,prasadam . 


We carried our  yatra deities (Sri Sita ,Lakshmana, Hanumath sametha Sri Ramachandran, Swamy Ramanujar )along  with Lord Guruvayurappan-the aradhana deity of our advanced  devotee friend to all the temples and puja was performed to them along with the divyadesam Perumals.


Our yatra commenced from Srirangam at 5 A.M on Dwadasi day immediately  . . We were joined by a  advance devotee couple Smt &  Sri Thiruvengada ramanuja dasan who resides  in Srirangam serving  Acharyar, His holiness Sri Sri Rangaramanuja Jeeyar.




The approximate distance from Srirangam to visit Pandya nadu and Malai nadu divya desams and drop at Srirangam is about 900 kms. …..


We opted to visit these divya desams by   engaging a nice devotee   cab driver  sri .Ramu-(a devotee  from Kumbakonam who is very familiar with the location of the temples and the priests ).

 He can be contacted on 94866 56052.


Our route details ……………

(1) Srirangam      -Thirumeyyam ( 85 kms via Pudukkottai)

(2)  Thirumeyyam-Thirugoshtiyur    – (40 kms)

(3)Thirugoshtiyur-Thirupullani ( 130 kms via Manamadurai, Paramakudi,Ramnad);

(4) Thirupullani-Thirumoghur ( 165 kms via Ramnad, Madurai)

(5) Thirumoghur-azhagar kovil tirumaliruncholai(15 kms)

(6)Thirumaliruncholai- Thirukoodal  (15 kms)

(7)Thirukoodal-Thiruthankaal(75 kms via Virudhunagar)

(8) Thiruthankaal-Srivilliputtur(25 kms via Sivakasi),

(9) Srivilliputtur-Varaguna-mangai (Alwar Tirunagari) (140 kms via Tirunelveli),

(10) nava tirupati divya desams in and around Azhwar Tirunagari(total 35 kms); (11)srivaikuntam(navatirupati)-Vaanamamalai(70 kms via Tirunelveli/Palayankotai);

(12) Vaanamamalai-Tirukurunkudi (18 kms)

(13) Tirukurunkudi-Thiruvanparisaaram(40 kms short route);

(14) Tiruvanparisaaram-Thiruvaataru(60 kms via Padmanabhapuram);

(15) Thiruvaataru-Thiruvananthapuram(40 kms via Maarthandam);

(16) Thiruvananthapuram-Chenganoor (150 kms via Athur/Kottarkadai)

(17) six divya desams in and around Chenganoor upto Chenganachery (60 kms);

(18) Chenganachery Thirukodithanam-Thirukaatkarai(70 kms);

(19) Thirukaatkarai-Thirumoozhikalam(25 kms)

(20)Thirumoozhikalam-Thiruvithuvacodu(150 kms via Angamaali/Thrissur) 

(21) Thiruvithuvacodu-Thirunaavai(30 kms short route)

(22)Thirunaavai-Guruvayoor(55 kms)

(23) Guruvayoor-Coimbatore domestic  airport(150 kms)

Day Morning Evening Night halt
 Darshanam at    ( number of temples )
 01 Srirangam,








Madurai         7
02 Thiruthankaal




Iratti Tirupati

Then Thiruperai

Alwar Tirunagari



Srivaikuntam           9
03 Perungulam





Thirukurungudi Malai nambi (afternoon)




Trivandrum            6
04 Thiruvananthapuram







ERnakulam           7
05 Thirukatkarai





   Yatra  ends …..



Total 34 temples

Malai nadu      13

Pandya nadu   18



The complete  details of  all the  13 temples  would be shared in the upcoming posts soon .


Adiyen Ramanuja dasan