Thrikkakara Vamana Moorthy Temple

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Sree Kaatkarai Appa Perumal

Thrikkakara Temple is one of the few temples in India dedicated to Lord Vamana the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is situated in Thrikkakara, 2 kilometers east of Idapally near Cochi. The name Thrikkakkara means the holy place where Lord placed His foot. Thiru-kal-kari later became Thrikkakara

The Lord is seen in a standing posture facing south. The temple is also locally known as the Thrikkakara Vamanamurthy Kshetram

Deity   : Katkarai Appan 
Goddess : Perunchelva Naayaki, Vaathsalya Valli

Katkarai Appan is seen with Conch, Chakra and Padma Hastam.

Bali is said to have invoked Lord Shiva every day. Hence, one can see a Paramasivan Sannidhi to the right of the Perumal Sannidhi, with Bali seen invoking the blessings of Sivan.


The legend is closely linked with the story of Mahabali and Lord Vishnu's Vamana or Trivikrama incarnation. Mahabali was an efficient and popular Asura king. His kingdom stretched the earth, the patala (the underground), and was threatening the skies. The gods (suras) grew worried of Mahabali's rule and popularity. Vishnu, in his avatar as Vamana, asked Mahabali for a piece of land only three paces wide. Bali, ever the generous king, granted this wish, whereupon Vamana grew to an immense size and covered the heavens with one step and the earth with another. There was no space left for Vamana to measure his third pace. "Where is my third foot of space?" asked Vamana. Tricked by this deceit, but as one who would never go back on his promises. Mahabali offered his own head for Vamana to place his third step. These events were happened at this place.

As he was pushed down into Suthala, King Bali made a last request. He requested that he be allowed to visit Kerala once in a year to ensure that his people were still happy, well fed and content. Lord Vishnu was pleased to grant Mahabali his wish. Mahabali comes to visit his people and his land during Onam. This is the legend behind the Onam festival.

Another legend associated with this temple is that Kapila maharshi did penance here and Vishnu pleased with the rishi’s penance appeared before the rishi. At the behest of the rishi, Vishnu decided to stay in this place.


Vamanamoorthy Temple is of great mythological significance. Most number of stone manuscripts were found in this temple amongst Kerala temples. The Thrikkakkara temple has about 18 important stone inscriptions dating back to 10-13 A.D.Thrikkakkara or Thirukalkarai, as it was known in the days of the Kulasekharas, was the capital of Kalkarainadu, a fiefdom under the Kulasekharas

Temple Front

By the turn of this century, Thrikkakkara Temple was in utter ruins with only the Adhishtana remaining. All the standing structures were dilapidated and the image of the deity was also broken down. After repeated pleas from the Vaishnavaites and the report of the Archeology Department the Maharaja of Travancore reconstructed the temple in its present form. Remnants of the old temple wall described by Nammalvar as 'kodimathil' can still be traced beneath the new structure and the pathway surrounding the temple.

In this temple there are two seperate sreekovils for Lord Vamana and Lord Shiva.The sub-deities of Vamana temple are Sree Bhagavathi, Sastha, Gopalakrishna, Nagam, Rakshass and Yakshi. Surrounding the inner complex walls is a series of thousands of lamps called Chuttuvilakku which translates to 'surrounding lamps'.

The Shivalinga in this temple is believed to be worshiped by Mahabali himself and is situated on the southern side of Vamana shrine. Devotees must visit the Shiva shrine before visiting Vamana shrine.e temple pond in the northern side is called Kapila Theertham and is considered holy. Only the temple priests are allowed to enter into this pond compound. The seat of King Mahabali is located infront of the Mahadeva sreekovil.

Other Historic Stories

Once a farmer prayed to Thirkkakkarayappa that he would present with a bunch of golden bananas if his plantation yielded fruits. Thirkkakkarayappa blessed the land and there was a heavy yield of Kadalipazham a type of plantain. The farmer kept up his promise by making golden bananas and at the behest of the priest he left the bunch of golden bananas outside the Sreekovil and left the place.

When the priest returned after bath, he was shocked to see the bunch missing. As only a yogi was present there, he suspected the yogi and the matter was reported to the king. People started accusing the yogi for the theft. Next day, when the pujari performed abhishekam to the Lord, he observed that the abhisheka water was getting stagnated . This was because the drain hole was blocked with the golden bunch of bananas. The pujari realized his mistake and the king and others along with the pujari approached the yogi for forgiveness. But the humiliated yogi before committing suicide cursed them that they would lose their wealth and that his curse would end only after the town lost all its wealth.

Accordingly,the town lost all its wealth. The yogi became a brahma rakshass due to his untimely death and the people to protect themselves from the wrath of the brahma rakshass constructed a small shrine and offered prayers to him. Even today, after nivedyam is offered to Thirkkakkarayappa the same is offered to the brahma rakshass too.


Nammazhwar has sung 10 Verses in Praise of Shree Thiru Katkarai Appan

அறிகிலேன் தன்னுள் அனைத்தும் உலகும் நிற்க
நெறிமையால் தானும் அவற்றுள் நிற்கும் பிரான்
வெறி கமழ் சோலைத் தென் காட்கரை என் அப்பன்
சிறிய என் ஆர் உயிர் உண்ட திரு அருளே     

In this Pasuram, Sri NammAzhwAr says that the Lord Sri perumAL who contains the entire Universe is also contained in everything. Out of extreme humility, Sri Azhwar says that the Grace of Sri Perumal is unfathomable for a lowly person like him.


Thrikkakara temple is considered to be the centre of Onam celebrations over the world, as Thrikkakara is considered to have been the abode of the King Mahabali. The celebration of the Onam festival is the main religious event in the temple. The festival is celebrated over a period of ten days in the Malayalam month of Chingam. The temple houses the main deity Lord Vamana.During the Onam celebration period, a pyramidal statue symbolizing Lord Vamana is installed as a symbol of honour at all other sites of the celebration, and named Thrikkakara-appan. The temple is the site at which the king Mahabali is said to have been sent to the underworld Patala by Lord Vamana with his foot, hence marking the genesis of the Onam festival.


The festival of Onam that first began to be celebrated at Thrikkakkara has spread from there, spanning caste and creed, penetrating the farthest corner of the world where Malayalees have reached, even as the cold inscriptions from a bygone era remain silent spectators for all the pomp and splendour of the celebrations raging around every year.

  • Arts performances: During the period of 10 days, the temple showcases performances in several cultural arts such as Chakyar Koothu, Ottamthullal, Kathakali and Patakam as well as dance and musical performances such as Panchavadyam and Thayambaka. Each day also has its own ceremonial significance, and the temple authorities perform several ceremonial rites which involve the main deity and the other deities housed at the temple (namely Lord Ayyapa, Devi, Lord Krishna and Rakshassu). The Shiva temple located beside the main temple is also involved in these rites. In 2015, the Malayali actress Navya Nair presented a dance performance named 'Shivoham' at the temple
  • Flag-hoisting and lowering: The temple festival begins on the first day (Atham) with the Kodiyettu (കൊടിയേറ്റ്) ceremony, which is a flag-hoisting ceremony common in festivals in temples in Kerala.[16] Parallel to this, the festival is flagged off all over Kerala by a grand procession beginning at Thrippunithura near Kochi called Athachamayam (അത്തച്ചമയം). In olden days, the Kochi Maharaja would head a grand military procession in full ceremonial robes from his palace to the Thrikkakara temple. The festival ends on the 10th and final day, which starts off with a symbolic welcome of the Asura king Mahabali.The closing of the festival is marked with the lowering of the flag and bathing of the idol, referred to as Aarattu (ആറാട്ട്)

  • Onam feast: A highlight of the festival is the grand banquet, or Sadya, held on the last two days of the festival at the temple campus.The feast has grown significantly in magnitude each year, and is currently attended by more than twenty thousand people. People belonging to different faiths and religions turn out in large numbers for the sadya in keeping with the spirit of the festival.
  • Decoration of idol: The Chaarthu (ചാർത്ത്) is a form of decoration of the Vamana idol using mainly sandalwood paste, ornaments and clothing. On each day, the idol is decorated in the form of one of the Ten Avatars of Vishnu, including the Matsya (fish), Kurma (Tortoise), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (half-man half-lion), Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Balarama, Krishna, Kalki and Trivikrama (another form of Vamana).
  • Processions: The Pakalpooram (പകൽപൂരം) is a grand procession held on the penultimate (9th) day of the celebrations. A similar procession, called Seeveli (ശീവേലി), is also held on the final day.The procession involves leading the main deity Vamana on a ceremonial elephant around the temple campus, along with a group of about eight caparisoned elephants and accompanying Panchavadyam. The procession pauses at each of the gates of the temple (East, West, North and South), and proceeds to return the idol back to its inner sanctum. The procession is similar to the one held in festivities at the Guruvayur temple.

Temple Timings

Morning 5AM - 11 AM

Evening 5PM -8 PM

Nearby Temples

  • Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple is 35 Kms North of Trikkakara
  • ThiruMoozhikulam Divya Desam of Lakshmana Perumal is 25 Kms North
  • Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Amman Temple is 15 Kms South

How To Reach

The Temple is 11 kms from Ernakulam South Railway Station and is well Connected by road & with all Cities & Towns.

Cochin Airport is 22 Kms from the Temple

Bus Facilities are available from Ernakulam to this Temple

Lot of Stay options are available in Ernakulam/Kochi

Websites & Blogs