Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is located in the city of statues,Thiruvananthapuram. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The name Thiruvananthapuram means The city of Anantha referring to the deity of Padmanabhaswamy Temple. This temple is an indigenous fusion of Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. It is one of the 108 sacred Vishnu temples called as Divya Desams in vaishnavism. Divya Desams are the holiest abodes of Lord Vishnu that are mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhvars.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy is the tutelary deity of the royal family of Travancore. In 1750, Marthanda Varma dedicated the kingdom of Travancore to Lord Padmanabha. Marthanda Varma vowed that the royal family will rule the State on behalf of the Lord and he and his descendants would serve the kingdom as Padmanabha Dasa or the Servant of Lord Padmanabha. Since then the name of every Travancore King was preceded by the title Padmanabha Dasa.
The donation of the kingdom of Travancore to Padmanabhaswamy was known as Thripadidanam. In line with the Temple Entry Proclamation of Marthandavarma, only those who profess the Hindu faith are permitted entry to the temple and devotees have to strictly follow the dress code. Men need to wear mundu or dhoti (worn around the waist and going down up to the heels) and should not wear shirts of any kind. Women need to wear sari, mundum neriyathum (set-mundu), skirt and blouse, or half sari.
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple and its property were controlled by the Ettara Yogam (King’s Council of Eight) with the assistance of Ettuveetil Pillamar (“Lords of the Eight Houses”). The principal deity Vishnu is idolized in the “Anantha Shayanam” posture, the eternal yogic sleep on the serpant Anandhan(Adhisheshan). The serpent has five hoods facing inwards The Lord’s right hand is placed over a Shiva lingam. Sridevi-Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity and Bhudevi the Goddess of Earth, two consorts of Vishnu are by his side. Brahma emerges on a lotus, which emanates from the navel of the Lord. The deity is made from 12,008 saligramams.
The deity of Padmanabha is covered with, “Katusarkara yogam”, a special ayurvedic mix, which forms a plaster that keeps the deity clean. The platforms in front of the vimanam and where the deity rests, are both carved out of a single massive stone and hence called “Ottakkal-mandapam”. The Deity is visible through three doors – the visage of the reclining Lord and Siva Linga underneath the hand is seen through the first door; Sridevi and Bhrigu Muni in Katusarkara, Brahma seated on a lotus emanating from the Lord’s navel, hence the name, “Padmanabha”, gold abhisheka moorthies of Lord Padmanabha, Sridevi and Bhudevi, and silver utsava moorthi of Padmanabha through the second door; the Lord’s feet, and Bhudevi and Markandeya Muni in Katusarkara through the third door.
The idols of two goddesses holding chamaram, Garuda, Narada, Tumburu, the divine forms of the six weapons of Lord Vishnu, Surya, Chandra, Saptarshi (Seven Sages), Madhu and Kaitabha are also there in the Sanctum. Inside the Temple, there are two other important shrines, Thekkedom and Thiruvambadi, for the Deities, Ugra Narasimha and Krishna Swami respectively. On Ekadasi days the Lord is dressed and decorated as Mohini. There are also shrines for Ramaaccompanied by ita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, Vishwaksena (the Nirmalyadhari of Vishnu and Remover of Obstacles), Vyasa, Ganapati, Sasta and Kshetrapala (who guards the temple).
Grand idols of Garuda and Hanuman stand with folded hands in the Valiya balikkal area. The thevara idols of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma and Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma are housed in the south east part of the Temple. A major annual festival related to Padmanabha temple is the Navaratri festival. The biggest festival in this temple is laksha deepam, which means hundred thousand (or one lakh) lamps. This festival is unique and commences once in 6 years.