Kerala’s Cultural Capital
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.
Athirapally is a famous destination near Thrissur. Plan Athirapally Sightseeing Tour to enjoy the waterfalls.
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.
Kerala Kala Mandapam: “A Day with the Masters” is a unique Cultural Tourism initiative promoted jointly by Kala Mandalam and the Kerala Tourism Department. Under this a visitor can spend a whole day inside Kala Mandalam - a repository of Kerala’s rich tradition, learning about various indigenous art forms.
Ayurvedic Spas: A visit to Thrissur is never complete without a visit to one of those rejuvenating Ayurvedic spas. There are different sorts of treatments available guaranteed to rejuvenate your body and soul. Treat yourself and indulge in this amazingly refreshing Ayurvedic spa experience.
Boating: It is a popular way to explore the mesmerizing greenery and picture perfect beauty of Peechi dam and Vazhani wildlife sanctuary. Private boats could be hired on hourly basis to explore this beautiful area and to spot some wildlife.
Trekking: It is a popular sport around the Athirapally- Vazhachal waterfalls area. The unique ecosystem of the region can be best experienced with a trekking expedition through the evergreen forests. Trekking through this fascinating jungle crisscrossed with narrow silver streams and small waterfalls is a real treat to the nature lovers. It also brings to life some of the most amazing spectacles of nature.
Kathakali: The dance-drama of Kathakali is a temple art form re-enacting stories from the Hindu epics. The characters are attired in elaborate costumes with brightly painted faces. Catch a glimpse of this exotic dance-drama in one of the various centers located in and around Thrissur.
Thrissur Pooram: Thrissur Pooram, widely acclaimed as the mother of all Poorams or festivals is the most colorful temple festival in Kerala. This celebration, a grand affair of colossal magnitude attracts tourists and spectators from all parts of the world. The Pooram festival is celebrated during the April-May period with elegantly caparisoned tuskers, traditional parasol exchanges, rich percussion and a dazzling fireworks display. The festivity offers a sensual overload and extends to over 36 hrs, with the usually quaint town of Thrissur turning into a cornucopia of endless mirth. Adored with exquisite gold decorations a total of 30 tuskers line up accompanied with more than 500 orchestra artists for this magnificent display of color, music and grandeur. The Pooram festival is held in the historic “Thekkinkadu” grounds adjacent to the Vadakkumnathan Temple.
Onam – Tiger dance: The tiger dance or “pulikali” is a colorful procession that takes place on the 4th day of Onam festival. The dancers participate in this procession with their bodies painted with natural vibrant hues of yellow, red and black to resemble tiger stripes complete with tiger masks. This stunning folk art is 200 years old and still meticulously preserved by trained artists in the state. The theme of the dance is a usually a “tiger hunt” complete with a hunter armed with a gun. These tigers dance to the beat of drums shaking their bellies and the game-hunter tries to hunt the tigers down.
Thriprayar Temple festival: The main 11 day long festival of the temple is held during the November- December period complete with a colorful parade of 17 caparisoned tuskers accompanied with traditional orchestra music. The annual snake boat race held during August- September, as part of the Onam celebrations is also a huge crowd puller.
Aarattupuzha Pooram: The annual Pooram festival of Aarattupuzha Ayyappa temple is celebrated during the month of March. The temple festival is a rich spectacle of 61 caparisoned tuskers bearing bright colored traditional umbrellas and parasols. The entire village of Aarattupuzha comes alive with a dazzling mood of abounding rapture.
Koodalmanikyam festival: The annual temple festival held in April-May with a breath-taking display of 12 caparisoned elephants marks the end of the Hindu festival season in Kerala. The temple also hosts an array of cultural activities on this occasion complete with traditional temple art forms on a grand scale.
Thrissur offers a wide range of shopping options sure to tire even the biggest shopaholic. There are innumerable gold and textile shops which dot the town. Traditional Kerala jewellery in gold and studded with precious and semi precious stones can be bought in Thrissur. Thrissur boasts of a number of good textile showrooms making your shopping a delightful fantasy woven in silk threads. Thrissur also has some really good authentic handicraft shops if you are looking to buy souvenirs. The city offers some good shopping complexes to cater to the urban brand conscious crowd.
Cabs could be availed to travel to distant locations. Within the city auto rickshaws are the best bet. KSRTC buses and City buses ply frequently between Thrissur and all locations, it is also the cheapest mode of commuting.
Thrissur is home to traditional Hindus, Syrian Christians and Malabari Mappila Moslems. Thrissur is the perfect place to try out some exotic Syrian Christian dishes like Fish Moily with Appam, Fish/Chicken Mappas (fish/chicken cooked in coconut milk), Beef Vindalu, Duck Roast, Pork curry, Jackfruit halwa et cetera. Malabari Mappila cuisines like Neychoru which is rice fried in ghee and exotic spices, exotic Malabari Mappila biriyani and Chattipathiri are must tries. You can also try out traditional vegetarian kerala dishes like “aviyal”, “thoran” etc with boiled rice.
The Cochin International Airport located at a distance of 55 km south is the nearest airport to Thrissur. The Kozhikode/Calicut airport located at a distance of 80 km north is another airport close to Thrissur.
Thrissur is well connected with a wide network of roads and highways. NH 47 passes through Thrissur.
Thrissur railway station is well connected with the all major destinations in Kerala and India. All trains from the south of Thrissur passes through Thrissur.