Thrissur, the renowned cultural capital of the state of Kerala, offers a fantasy escapade into Kerala’s rich and vibrant cultural heritage. This exotic hub of artistic delights offers the perfect setting to experience the enchanting cultural extravaganza of Kerala. The city of Thrissur built in 1790 A.D by Sakthan Thampuran was once the political capital of the kingdom of Cochin. The city built around the pivot of Vadakkumnathan Temple will stupefy you with its exotic festivals, imposing temples, magnificent palaces, historic monuments, and abounding natural splendor.
Thrissur gets its present name from “Thiru Siva Perur”, which means a town with the name of Lord Siva. Thrissur has always upheld secular views and Hindus, Malabar Mappilla Moslems, Syrian Christians and Jews have peacefully co-existed here from ancient times. Several cultural and literary organizations that have contributed immensely to the growth of Malayalam language, literature and arts, are based in Thrissur.
Vadakkumnathan Temple: This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is a perfect example of Kerala temple architecture style. Legend has it that the temple was built by Lord Parasurama, who raised the land of Kerala from ocean depths. This temple has four majestic gopurams with intricate woodwork, and it also has some of the most beautiful 17th century murals from Indian epics done in natural colors. The temple has shrines dedicated to Lord Vadakkumnathan, Goddess Parvathi, Lord Ganesh, Lord Sankaranarayana and Lord Sri Rama inside the main sanctum sanctorum. The magnificent Koothambalam, a hall inside the temple dedicated for performing arts, is quite distinct from any other in Kerala in its sheer size and aesthetic grandeur.
Archeological Museum: The museum housed in Kollengode Palace, an architectural marvel built in the traditional and western fusion architecture style, has a spectacular display of priceless artifacts. The museum holds an impressive collection of Stone Age weapons, excavated artifacts from Indus valley and Harappa sites, megalithic burial Urns, excavated relics from the ancient port of Crangannore, stone and bronze sculptures from 10th to 18th century, temple models et cetera. The gallery on traditional Kerala mural arts displays extensive copies of murals collected from palaces and temples all over the state. “Veerakallu” or hero stones gallery displays carved stone figurines of ancient tribal war heroes from Wayanad and Thrissur forest belts.
Zoo & Art Museum: The zoo and art museum are located in a sprawling 13.5 acre wooded land with beautiful landscaping and rich flowerbeds. The zoo is home to a large number of endangered animals including lions, tigers, Indian sloth bear et cetera. The reptile park here is said to be one of the largest in India housing the mighty Indian king cobra, vipers, pythons et cetera. The art museum inside the zoo compound has a good collection of religious idols, sculptures, antique jewellery and traditional Kerala lamps. This museum is a real treat to art connoisseurs, offering a gateway into the artistic legacy of Kerala.
Shakthan Thampuram Palace: This magnificent palace also known as Vadakkechira Palace was built in 1795 in the traditional Kerala and Dutch fusion architecture style. This architectural marvel gives new dimensions to the concept of aesthetic opulence. The palace was used by King Sakthan Thampuram during his reign as the Raja of Cochin. This era is acclaimed by historians as the “golden era” of Cochin with many farsighted projects envisaged and strategic relations improved. This palace, a witness to the historic milestones of Cochin, has now been converted into a museum. The museum has a good collection of priceless artifacts classified under the bronze gallery, sculpture gallery, utensils gallery, numismatics gallery, history gallery and megalithic gallery. The palace complex also has an ancient sacred serpent grove, where Hindu devotees offer prayers to the serpent gods.
Our lady of Doloures basilica: This majestic gothic basilica dedicated to our Lady of Sorrows is acclaimed to be one of the tallest and biggest churches in Asia. The shrine has some exquisite frescoes and wall paintings on biblical themes. The huge dome on top of the main altar is adorned with paintings done in vibrant colors on the apostles, Mater Dolorosa and the seven dolours of the Blessed Virgin. The church has vaulted ceiling and encloses the main altar of our Lady of Doloures and 15 beautiful side altars.
Peechi dam & Vazhani wildlife sanctuary: Nestled amidst verdant hills and emerald green forests, the majestic Peechi dam offers picture post card scenery in all its pristine glory. The dam constructed on Manali River is at a distance of 23 km from Thrissur. Peechi offers an ideal spot to enjoy Kerala’s emerald greenery with its vast catchment area, botanical gardens and lush green forests. Private boat services could be availed to best enjoy its sparkling blue waters, lush green forests and to catch a glimpse of its abundant wildlife. The adjoining Peechi-Vazhani wildlife sanctuary is set in the dense green forests near the catchment area. The sanctuary is a safe haven for Tigers, Elephants, Leopards, Indian Wild Dogs and a variety of deer. This sanctuary is also a treasure trove of rare plants of medicinal value and a variety of exotic orchids.
Athirapally & Vazhachal waterfalls: These majestic waterfalls tucked inside the lush green forests of Sholayar are sure to hold you captivated with its astounding beauty. Athirapally & Vazhachal Waterfalls is located at a distance of 65 km from Thrissur inside the dense ever green forest ranges of Sholayar. Athirapally, the tallest amongst the two, cascades down from a height of 80 feet. Come and enjoy this breathtaking natural splendor, one of the best guarded secrets and miracles of nature.
Guruvayoor: Known as the Dwaraka of south, this ancient pilgrim center is located at a distance of 32 km from Thrissur. The majestic Sree Krishna Swamy temple located here attracts hordes of pilgrims from all over India. The temple, shrouded in mystery and legends, is said to house the idol of Sri Krishna worshipped by Lord Brahma at Dwaraka. The temple is widely renowned for its healing powers and is a preferred site to hold Hindu weddings. The entry to the temple is restricted and only Hindus are allowed to enter the premises.
Punnathur Kotta: Located at a distance of 2 km from Guruvayoor, it is here the temple elephants of Guruvayoor are taken care of. In this sanctuary, elephants are prepared and trained for the various rituals and festivals linked with the temple. The Guruvayoor temple gets many elephants as offerings from pious devotees. In Punnathur Kotta elephant venerations including Gajapooja (elephant worship) and Anayoottu (Elephant feeding) are celebrated with much fervor and gaiety.
Kerala Kala Mandalam, Cheruthuruthi: Cheruthuruthi, a small picturesque town basking in pristine bucolic charms on the banks of the scenic river Bharatapuzha, offers an ideal setting for learning Kerala’s myriad performing art forms. Kerala Kala Mandalam in Cheruthuruthi is at a distance of 33 km from Thrissur. This center for learning was the vision of the eminent Malayalam poet Vallathol Narayana Menon for preserving and promoting Kerala’s exotic dance forms. The center established in 1930 is now a deemed university for art and culture offering training in Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Koodiyattam, Thullal and Panchavadyam.
Palayur Church: Acclaimed as the oldest church in India, Palayur Church is the earliest of the 7 churches founded by Apostle St Thomas – the Apostle in 52AD. This church is at a small distance from Guruvayoor and has some exquisite stone lambs and a silver statue of St Thomas. Novena and mass is offered in the honor of St. Thomas every Tuesday drawing pilgrims from all over the state.
Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam Temple: Koodalmanikyam is the only temple in India dedicated to Lord Bharata, the brother of Lord Rama. The temple is located in Irinjalakuda at a distance of 21 km from Thrissur and the specialty is that there is only one idol for worship. The temple has beautiful murals in natural colors and delicate wood works on the sanctum walls. The temple is an important center of pilgrimage for Hindus.
Cheraman Juma Masjid: This mosque located in Kodungallur in Thrissur district is considered to be the oldest mosque in India and the second oldest mosque in the world to offer Jumu’ah prayers. This magnificent mosque built in 629 AD by Malik Ibn Dinar is constructed in the traditional Hindu temple architecture style of Kerala. The burning sanctuary lamp of this mosque is said to be more than a thousand years old. Legends link this historic mosque to the Chera King Cheraman Perumal who embraced Islam in the 7th century AD.
Vilangankunnu: This beautiful hill is located at a distance of 7 km from the city and is an ideal destination for holidaying and picnicking.