History of Temples in Kerala
Short history and summary of temples in Kerala to give a sense of history and general tradition
The history of ancient Kerala is closely related to the neighbouring State, TamilNadu. This is simply because the Kerala mainly adopted the Tamil culture up to the 3rd century. This period was under the rule of Cheras.
Few cave temples found in Kerala are attributed to the temple architecture of TamilNadu where such temples are not uncommon. Kerala temple architecture is based on utility value akin to Kerala’s old residential structures. Stressed on simplicity, sanctity and nature-friendly, a mixed medium of stone, laterite, brick and wood leads the Kerala temple architecture. This unique type of temple architecture is unseen anywhere else in the Indian sub-continent.
Majority of the temples in Kerala is cornered by Bhagawati and Shiva deities. Third position goes to Sastha temples. Shiva and Vishnu are worshipped in equal devotion in Kerala. Elsewhere it is not so.
The Vedic based temple culture of Kerala is centred on ancient Indian epics. The stringent adherence to the ancient practices of worship and the sanctified atmosphere result in the devotees feel they are in a different world when in temple precincts. The oil lamps and their influencing effects on devotees spread an air of serenity and mysticism to the Kerala temples.
Till 16th century the inscriptions found in the Kerala temples were of Vattezhuthu script of Tamil Nadu. From 16th century onward Malayalam script is seen. In Kerala, rebuilding or renovation of temples is a continuing process.
During 15th and 16th centuries there were several literatures on Kerala temple architecture. The Bhakti literature of 16th century is a notable work among them which has helped mould the temple cutlture in Kerala to a great extent.
The Maharajas of Travancore were ardent patrons and devout promoters of temples and their philanthropical gesture has helped the proliferation of temples in Kerala.