Spiritual Sojourn in Thirunelli
Known as the Kashi of the South, the Maha Vishnu Temple in Thirunelli, about 32 km from the Manathavadi town of Wayand, is known for rituals performed to propitiate the souls of ancestors. From time immemorial, thousands of pilgrims have been visiting Thirunelli annually to perform ‘bali’ on the banks of the sacred stream Papanashini, and to pay obeisance to the departed souls of their ancestors.
Thirunelli, besides being a pilgrim centre, also attracts trekking enthusiasts and nature lovers. An early morning visit to this ancient temple located at an altitude of 900m amidst the Brahmagiri Hills, surrounded by lush green forests, is a nature lover's delight. On the north western side of the temple, around one km away, lies the famous Papaanasini, a small mountain stream originating from the Brahmagiri Hills. Devotees believe that a cold dip in the stream washes away all the sins and believers from far off places come here to purify themselves and perform propitiation rites for the departed.
Thirunelli Temple, literally meaning the temple with the sacred gooseberry tree, nestles in a valley amid the south Brahmagiri peaks. Legend has it that during his travels, Brahma was captivated by the scenic beauty of these hills and while resting here, beheld an image of Lord Vishnu on a gooseberry tree. Guided by a divine voice, Brahma built a temple here and consecrated it to Lord Vishnu. Ever since Lord Vishnu has been known here by the sobriquet Thirunelli Perumal. Brahma also ordained that visits to, and prayers at the temple would wash away all sins. Even today the head priest of the temple leaves a portion of the worship materials in the belief that Lord Brahma himself will come and perform Pooja rites deep in the holy hours of early dawn.
Though there are no authentic details available, the temple could be well over a thousand years old. It is an excellent example of ancient temple architecture, built with large pieces of square granite slabs that have been carved and sculpted to perfection. The floor of the temple is made of massive granite blocks. A two-day festival is celebrated in the temple annually, during which time various cultural art forms of Kerala such as Ottanthullal and Kathakali are performed. The climate at Thirunelli is cool and pleasant. The best time to visit Thirunelli is between the months of May to August. Thirunelli Temple is 48kms from Banasura Hill Resort.