Thirunelli Temple wayanad

About Thirunelli Temple

Thirunelli is Located in north Wayanad, 34-km away from Mananthavady.thirunellii is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu on the side of Brahmagiri hill in Kerala.Classical Kerala temple architecture. Inscriptions in this temple date back to the period of Bhaskara Ravi Varma I (962–1019 CE).God-blessed setting all around .The only remaining attraction is the footsteps of Vishnu, Vishnupad. Its enthralling and scenic beauty once imbibed can never be erased from the mind. Papanashini (sin’s destroyer): There is an interesting tale behind the stream attaining the power to ward off sins A short walk from Thirunelli temple is the clear mountain spring known as Papanasini. A ritual dip here is believed to wash one away of all worldly sins. Thirunelli, known as Southern Kasi, is 30 km from Mananthawadi in Wayanad district, Kerala. Its main attraction is the famous temple of Lord Vishnu.thirunelli The temple is located on to of a hill that is surrounded by mountain ranges all around.

IMG_6884In other words the temple sits hidden in the middle of a secluded forest . The temple faces east where sun raises over the Udayagiri range. At the north is the formidable Brahmagiri Range which appears so close to the temple. You can see the trees and the undulating grass slops of Brahmagiri from the temple compound. At the west and south are Karimala and Narinirangimala respectively. How to reach:By road: There are regular bus services from Mananthavady to Thirunelli temple. Route: From Mananthavady to Kattikulam (10 km), Katikkulam to Thettu road (8 km) and from Thettu road junction turn left to Thirunelli (13 km)

Temple History

Thirunelli is wellknown for the ancient temple located on the side of Brahmagiri hill in Wayanad and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. According to legend, Lord Brahma was attracted by the beauty of the area around the Brahmagiri Hill. Descending upon the spot, Brahma noticed an idol of Lord Vishnu on an Amla tree and installed the idol there. At Brahma’s request Vishnu promised that the waters of the area would have the power to wash away all sins. The river near the temple is called Papanasini, which means the cleansing of sins.kalpathi

Brahmagiri-Prehistoric Period(B.C.5000)

IMG_6897The Brahmagiri hills are one of the most ancient habitats of men.From Prehistoric to modern times,waves of immigrants who belonged to different racial groups of mankind have been settling down here.One of them are”Negritos”or “Negroids”the first human inhabitants of Pre-historic India.The Negroid or Negrito people,who were primitive in culture and black in colour.During the early stone-age,of the pre-historic period,Indias earliest inhabitants were found in many parts of india,along the river valleys and mountain slopes.Brahmagiri is one of the sites among them.

IMG_6872These old stone-age man led more or less an animal existence.They appear to have come originnally from Africa and now they arrive in a primitive tribes in South India,Assam and Andaman Islands. Like the old stone-age man,the new stone-age man-the proto-Astraloids- were also dark and short,but were more advanced in culture than the Negroids.Some of the fundamental bases of Indian civilisation on the material side would appear to be the gifts of these Austric speaking proto-Australoids.They survive in a good many aboriginal people of present day in India,although more or less mingled with othr people.Thier decendants who still live as the lower castes of Hinduism may still be seen among the “Thoda’s” of Nilgiris and the “Paniya’s” of Wayanad and Brahmagiri valleys.The reasearch based on them has proved that the tribals of kerala,especially of Wayanad are the decendnts of these New stone-age man and there period was B.C.5000-4000.

The“Malayar”,”Irular”,”malapulayars”,Malavetas,Malappandarams,Mannans,Muthuvas,Kada’s,Emada,Earalies and Paniyas are the main castes who now exist in Kerala forests of the above kind.In this,the only people who live in Wayanad and around Tirunelly are Paniyas.Up to the invasion of Vaishnavism the Paniyas were large in number in Tirunelly and in the hill slopes.From these things we get the history of the tirunelly & Brahmagiri Hills which exist here at the period of B.C.5000-4000 and now their representatives and prehistoric proofs are spread all over Wayanad like Edakkal caves,tirunelly,Panamaram etc. The excavations and experiments by Sir.Mortimer Wheeler in 1947 at various parts of these Brahmagiri Hills discovered much evidence these above said facts.He collected.many weapons and accessories from here.thirunelli12And the radio carbon tests have proved that the new stone-age in Brahmagiri hills slopes existed upto B.C.1500-100 and the advent of Dravidians had started by that time.And later, many historical changes happened here by the migration of Dravidians,followed by the Aryans. The Dravidians,as we call them at present were the people who belonged to the Grat “Indus-valley civilization” and were Totally distroyed and expelled by the “Aryans” from their place of origination.A few of them moved up to Himalayas and other sides.A Few of them moved to and Southern forest of India.All of us know tht the Dravidians are now represented by the people of South-India-Via the Tamils ,Malayalees,Telugus and Kannadigas.

IMG_6856The political structure of the Dravidians is characterized by the extra ordinarily high position of the king at the top and below him the Noble men(Vellal) Landlords (vellalar),merchants(Vanigar),Vinaivalar Adiyas who were the working class people and personel servants. In Tirunelly,now also we can see and witness that the major part of the tribals are Adiyas and they have their own God places, cultural valuees,social ethics and special burial ground etc. It is said that the instition of Kingship,which was an ancient one among the Dravidians ,was copied by the Aryans who were originally led by their tribal the history of Tirunelly we can see all these specialities very clearly and now also continues in other forms. The main features of their religious life were worship of Kali, or Sakti,Siva,in different names and through Linga’s. Also animals,trees,nature,river hills and even yoga.Religious significance was attached to bathing,worship of Rivers,Serpent and Yogis.

The method adopted for the disposal of the dead were 1. Complete Burial,2. Burial after exposure of the body to birds and animals,. Cremation followed by the burial of ashes.The period of Aryan colonisation of the Deccan (South India) might have begun about the 7th century B.C. The earliest Aryan penetration to the Deccan was led by sage Agastya, who introduced Aryan customs to the Deccan for the first time.
Tirunelly as the part of ancient Tamilakam (Tirunelly before 1000 years)

 The territory lying South of the river Krishna on the far east end of the Indian Peninsula which includes the recent Malabar up to gokarna-was known as “Tamilakam”.The ancient Tamil Kingdoms-”Pandyas”-”Cholas” and the “Chera’s” were the most representative members of the Dravidian Community and their language was Tamil.The people of Deccan on the other hands were only tribes of Dravidian extraction and the products of non-Aryan and Aryan combination.The period of these powerful kingdoms are known as “Sangam Age” which produced many classical literary works in Tamil,and three literary academics-”Sangams”- which met at Madurai.In many pieces of Sangam period literature, we can see portions on Tirunelly.

Everyone knows the Cholas were strictly Saivites and they developed the Dravidian style of temple architecture.The most remarkable features of the Chola administration are the organisation of local Governments on democratic lines,with the help of village assemblies.The empire was devided into Mandalams,Valanadus and Nadus or Kurroms.The ordinary village assembly was known as “Ooru” and it’s leaders are “Ooralar”, while that of the Brahmin village was known as “Maha sabha”. Actually the name “Wayanadu” is a deformation of that “Walanadu” which is a pronunciation style of English and we can see many villages where the name is followed by “Ooru”and there is a place called “kurrom”now also in Wayanad.And also one “Karanjanoor Mahasabha was linked with Tirunelly then.From these facts we are getting the clear picture at the time of Chola dynasties,about Tirunelly.

IMG_6855The territory that lies in the extreme south of India between the Western Ghats and Cape-comerin (Kanyakumari) was occupied by Cheras in their period.It included the whole modern Kerala totally and parts of Coimbatore,Salem,Kanyakumari , Tirunelveli Districts.The name “Kerala” also derived from Chera.For the British it was “Cheraland”.Due to different types of pronunciation the “Cheraland”converted as “Kerala”. During this time Tirunelly was its top and we have got the clear evidences of the relation between Chera kings and the temple situation.The king arrived here and arranged all things in the temple such as the ruling,daily poojas ,expense managements,care takers and even punishment also if anything failed.Those Royal Orders are known as “Tirunelly pattayams”.

During the Chera Dynasties the Gurus were Saivities,but the rules under them followed Vaishnavism. And also it was the time of the Great Himdu reformer “Adi Shankara”.he established 4 mutts for 4 Vedas and 4 name of each Vedic scholar which are Rithwik,Adhwaryu,hothavu,and Udgathavu.All the recreation,social activities were strictly through the vedic way of knowledge called Yajnas and Yagas.For a Yajna it is compulsory that 4 groups having 4members of each Veda and a president who knows all the 4 vedas should manage it.The chief person who knows all 4 Vedas who guides all the scholars of 4 groups is known as Brahma Rishis.These Brahma Rishis are God people at that time who create almost everything for the society.This was a new attempt in History by “Sankara”.who introduced the first Hindu monasteries into the Brahmenic fold and it reverts the excellance of the South Indian Brahmin as a religious organizer of the first order.

thirunelli14Brahmarshis who can creat everything for the societies were considerd as the living GOD for the society and even or King.During their starting time of Yajnas Inder Cheras King’s support ,one Brahmarishi conducted a Mahayajna and Yaga in Brahmagiri and Tirunelly and established Vaishnavanism here,replacing the existing Saivism Dravidanism.This is the fact that behind the legend which says”Lord Brahma founded this temple.”

The excavations and experiments by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1947 at various parts of these Brahmagiri hills discovered much evidences of these above said facts.He collected many weapons and accessories from here.And the radio-Carbon tests have proved that the new stone-age in Brahmagiri Hills slopes existed upto B.C.1500-100 and the advent of Dravidians had stsrted by that time.And later, many historical changes happened here by the migration of Dravidians followed by Aryans.

During 14th to 18th century A.D.(Before 500years)

IMG_6901In one of the “Manipravalam literatures”, “Unniyachi Charitham “ is wellknown which written in 14th century,the poet illustrates clearly about both Tirunelly and Trissilery temples,in detail. It explains the heroe’s pilgrimage to Tirunelly to do some pithrukriyas and Darshan,and on the way he visits Trissilery and Tirumarudur also.We can see a detailed classic picture of these places, Tirunellly,Papanasini,Brahmagiri this.

Linked with valliyoorkavu Temple(A.D.1000-1400)

Valliyoorkavu is major temple in Wayanad and famous for the assembling of nearly all triabals of Wayanad. All the tribal will come and celebrate a one month festival on the yard of the “Bhagavathi temple.”Actually during British rule it was famous slave market where all the land lords,British people etc,purchased the tribal people as slaves.During that time all the trials will meet there and they will follow the land lord or Yajman as per this choice.The present festival is a remembrance of the old market and a chance to meet all togethr once in an year.

Anyway there is a Devi temple.There is a story connecting its formation and Tirunelly’s greatness.Once a Brahmin priest was on the way to Tirunelly pilgrimage.While arrived here nearby the river ,and before bathing he left his luggage under a tree in the nearby dense bushes with his sword-a special sword known as “Nandakam”.After his bath and poojas he decided to walk ahead and he collected his luggage and when he tried to pick up his sword,it become sticked in the bush.By all effort he tried to take it but didn’t move.Then he meditated about the reason and he understood,that it is the symbol of Sakthi who occupies this place storngly and Devi herself even came in his mind and said to him that she was permanently existing here without ashelter or temple.After this he completed the pilgrimage and constructed a Devi temple and thus the Devi temple came there.Fro m this we can see before the birth of Valliyoorkavu temple.

From the “Vadakkan Folk Songs”(AD 1400-1500) (Before 500years)

The Vadakkan Pattukal is notable factor in the history of Kerala.Even now people are singing it with great love and devotion.They are tha Warrior stories of Thacholi Othenan/unniyarcha,Aromal Chekavar etc.Their period was around AD 1400-1500. In one of the song which illustrste the history of “Thacholi Othenan”, it describe the incident of the death rituals of Thacholi Othenan done in Tirunelly and Papanasini.It also maintains that Othenan’s soul is now situates nearby Tirunelly Vishnu.

In Tippu’s time (AD 1700-1800) (Before 300years)

kalFrom November 1773,the forces of Tippu and Hyder passed through here four or more times,on the way to Calicut-Telichery from Mysore . They distroyed and robbed most of the main temple on their way. During these war race,they distroyed Tirunelly temple too which was one of the most famous powerful temples at that time and they have burned the sanctum sanctorium.After Tippus period ,the temple reconstructed first with grass roof and later renewed and covered with copper sheets.During these war time , the daily pooja stopped and the priests run away with their companions.These story have clearly recorded by a Malabar Deputy Collector Rao Bahadur C.Gopalan Nair.

Pazhassi Raja’s Time (1796-1805) (Before 200 years)

IMG_6902Thirunelly has close relation with the history of Pazhassi,”The Lion of Malabar.”The famous Wayanadan fort is considered as one of the strong boundaries of Pazhassi’s kingdom is the Brahmagiri Hills itself.Manathavady is the place where his dead body buried and it is only 6miles away from Tirunelly temple, forests and Pakshipathalam caves as a secure hide outs.And also his history says he had regularly came here and worshipped here and done the “Balikriyas” here.There are even records saying once he was going to Mysore secretly to make a contract with tippu to fight against British and then he was lieing that he is going to Tirunelly.

The Mass distruction by East India Company (From 1817) (Before 200 years)

Since 1817 Wayanad completely came under East India Company as their company area.For their various types of plantation they brought huge amount of slaves of different part parts of India,and cleared the Brahmagiri-Nilagiri areas totally and started plantations. And alos cleared the forest for timber export. They divided the wayanad area into 14 Blocks and 6 reserve forest.Tirunelly was the “Imperial Reserve Forest” which spread between Mananthavady , Bavali-Brahmagiri.The place known as ‘Kuthirakodu’ which is very near to Tirunelly temple was their collection depot them. During their period ,to construct their hut,office etc,they were using the temple part and other building belong to swameyar mutts.So a mass distraction happened here.These things were happening just 124years back only. And when independance got they left all thie things and most of these plantations arrived in some missioneries hand and few of them kept by the relatives who liked to continue in india.

In Early period of independant India (Before 50 years)

After independance the Tirunelly area was totally ignored for sometimes and it came under a Coorg family when the government took.Over the temple , the temple custodians were this family and now also they are the traditional trustees of the temple.Within this period after independance , Tirunelly became a remote centre for a Naxalite groups and so the para military and police of Kerala camped here and the whole Tirunelly forest was converted into a warground of Naxalites and police.After the death of Varghese and surrender of Ajitha, some Brahmins from Palghat,Kannur,Calicut etc came to Tirunelly under Govt. rule and slowly Tirunelly started to woke-up as a spiritual centre.When Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in Sriperumpudur,his ashes were spread throughout the country.In Kerala ,Tirunelly was selected for immensing his ashes.Due to this incident the modern world heard about the importance of Tirunelly and due to that publicity people from all over Kerala started to visit Tirunelly in bulk numbers.

About Temple Offerings, Poojas

IMG_6945The main ritual under this temple is “Death rituals and death after ceremonies known in Hindu as ‘Pithrukarma’ -the worship of thirunelli4our parents and relatives including the series of our forefathers/ grandfathers, grandmothers upto 6th generation of the past.And also after one’s death and his cremation ,Hindus will dip the ashes in holy rivers.As Kaveri is one of the 7 sacred rivers equal to Ganga,Yamuna,Indus,etc.The SouthIndians do all the death rituals in Kaveri with great relief and devotion.Papanasini is one of the essential part of Kaveri and it is very holly too.Among the after death worships there are certain specil offerings to the ‘Pithrus’ or dead souls.

Pinda Samarpan

All such kriyas are done in Papanasini,but you should get the permission of priest from the temple.For this purpose you should pay a normal donation in this office,where they will give a receipt. With the receipt you should collect the pithrukarma materials from another counter.And before proceeding to papanasini all devotees who do the pithrukriya should perform a prayer in front of the temple entrance.After evening arathy and pooja priest will leads this. If you are in the morning , then you should also pray under the guidence of temple priest.

After then,with the receipt,and with balikriya materials you go staight to the tarpan ghat.Remember you need only a bathing dress,a changing of dress after bathing and the personel donation for the priests in tarpan ghat.So please avoid other luggage there and keep all luggage in your room or vehicle including your valuables.You may loose them due to monkey and other naughty wild friends.

Routine Pooja Schedule

  • 6.00 am Abhishekam
  • 6.30am Ganapathy Homam
  • 7.00am Pithru Pooja in Temple
  • 8.30am Usha Pooja-Seeveli-Gundika Temple Pooja
  • 10.00am Pantheeradi Pooja
  • 12.00 Noon Pooja-Seeveli
  • 01.00pm Temple closes
  • 05.30pm Temple open
  • 06.00-06.30pm Sandhya Deeparadhana,Prayer for Pithrukarmees
  • (depends on sunset)
  • 07.30pm Last Pooja-Seeveli
  • 08.00pm Temple Closes

Temple Festivals

The temple’s main festival is considered to be ‘Vishu’,the new year day of Old Kerala Calender which is equal to ‘Ugadi’ Andhra and Karnataka.thirunelli5It comes in the middle of April every year.But the crowded day is in July-August which is known as ‘Karkidaka Vavu’.,the Amavasi of Ashada or Gurupoornima.About 50000 devotees will commence pithrupooja every year here on that single day.The same situation is in Tula vavu also(Oct-Nov).

All the amavsis are also like festival day here.And Amvasis of Shivarathri,Deepavali are also creat a replica of festival days.
Important places in Tirunelli

In Tirunelli there are many important places are there,

Kalindi: Kalindi is the main source of Kaveri and the only part of Kaveri which belongs to Kerala.After a few kms. the Kalindi is known as Kabani.There is a Triveni Ghat in Kalindi where Papanasini joins with.There was an annual ritual called ‘ arrattu’-s o it is known as the Arrattukadavu also.At the bank of this Triveni Ghat locate the burial ground of tribals which existed from very ancient times.

Papanasini falls:thirunelli13Where the tharpan cum bathing ghats and crimitation ash depositing place is situated.(Chithra Bhasma Nimanjana Ghat).

Gundika Siva Temple: A place like an ancient “Parnasala” an extreme beauty of ashram and at the centre a cave temple; it is Gundika near by Papanasini.gundika Gundika is a small pond near by the cave.It is same as the Gundikatheertha of Talakkavery-With equal importance to Talakkavery’s Gundikatheertham,Rishi Agastya stayed in this cave,did his penance by the side of Gundikatheertha and Papanasini.

Panchatheertham: Every main temple will have a water tank for the public.In Tirunelly too there is a tank,but it is not like other temple’s tank. There were 5 streams which came from the hills in the past and all those 5 streams were directed through rock channels and,that water was stored in a tank.These 5 channels were called panchatheertham and these 5 theerthas were considered as the 5 significance of Vishnu.Which are Sanka-Chakra-Gada-Padma-Pada.panchatheerthaA representation of this is carved in a rock at the centre of the tank.But now thre is only one channel ,and the other channels were removed by the various distruction processes which happened in the past.

Karinkalpaathi : It is an important thing in Tirunelly there is no ‘well’ or ponds to collect the water in temple for pooja and other purposes.In ancient periods the priests were in pots from Papanasini.Later it replaced by the Karinkalpaathi.

kalpathiOnce a Nayanar Queen belonging to Malabar visited the temple with royal group and after her pooja darshans she asked the priest for some drinking water.But at that time there was not a cup of water out in the pooja pot.The priest told the truth with great regret.Suddenly the Queen ordered her companies,”Water shoulid come here permanently now.Up to that I will not consume food or water.”Suddenly the people who accompanied her kalpathibecome desparate and they quickly started plans to solve the water problem.With the help of the tribal leaders they found out an ever flowing stream at the hills and brought that water through bamboo channels.The Queen become happy and returned to her palace and told the whole story to the king.Later the king sent people and they constructed stone channels to replace the bamboo channels with.So now also 24 hrs water is reaching at the centre of the temple like a permanent stream.We can see this at the left side of the temple.

Places to visit nearby Thirunelli

  • Thrissilery Siva Temple
  • Begur Wild Life Range
  • Nagarhole National Park
  • Kutta-the boarder town of Karnataka
  • bavaly
  • Kuruva Islands
  • Valliyoorkavu
  • Ammakavu
  • Kuthirakodu Temple
  • Bylakuppa-the Tibetan settlement
  • Kottiyoor Siva Temple

All places are in approx 30km radius.

Thirunelli Temple Map

Mananthavady is located nearly south side to Thirunelli Temple.There are regular bus services from Mananthavady to Thirunelli temple. Route: From Mananthavady to Kattikulam (10 km), Katikkulam to Thettu road (8 km) and from Thettu road junction turn left to Thirunelli (13 km)


STD code: 04935

Rest house: 210055

Thirunelli temple office: 210201

Temple timings

5.30 am to 1 pm and 5.30 pm to 8 pm.


The Executive officer
Tirunelli devaswom PO
Tirunelli temple,