Kerala - Thirunelli Temple Wayanad

Introduction :

Thirunelli Temple is an ancient temple located at an altitude of 900 meters amidst the serene Brahmagiri hills in Wayanad district. The temple is bordered BY Udayagiri, Brahmagiri, Karimala and the Narinirangimala range and the Papanasini mountain spring flows by it adorns the place. Thirunelli Temple is dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu and is the only temple in the world where the devotees can perform all the rituals related to one’s life, starting from birth to death and also life after death. There is a cave temple, known as Gunnika on the western side of the temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Thus, Thirunelli Temple has three deities, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma and hence the temple is blessed by the unique presence of all the members of the Trinity. It is believed that the Prathishta of Lord Vishnu of this temple was performed by Lord Brahma. This temple is also popular as the ''Sahyamala Kshetram'' and ''Kashi of the South''.

Thirunelli Temple

The rituals of this temple are performed on the banks of the stream Papanasini which flows down from the Brahmagiri hills. This stream is believed to have divine power to dissolve sins of all the mortals. There is a holy rock at this temple where the people pray for their forefathers and it is a major attraction of this temple.

History of the Temple:

As per the legends, Thirunelli Temple is one of the oldest temples of Kerala, believed to be built more than 3000 years ago by Lord Brahma – The Creator of the Universe. This temple is also known as the Sahyamala Kshetram and Kashi of the South. The story goes like this, one day, when Lord Brahma was moving around the world, he saw an idol of Lord Vishnu resting on an amla tree, at the Wayanad Valley. Lord Brahma installed the idol of Vishnu at that place wherein the Thirunelli Temple was built. Hence, the temple is known as Amalaka Temple and Siddha Temple. It is also believed that Lord Vishnu blessed this place with sacred waters which can wash away the sins both of mortal life and life after death.

Another legend states that Chera king Kulasekhara, who was in power from 767 A.D to 834 A.D built this temple. And after that, he became a saint and practiced Vaishnava order. He is also the writer of the Sanskrit book Mukunda mala.

The temple contains a holy rock where the devotees perform the funeral rites of their ancestors. The devotees believe the rock is actually the bone of a demon, named Pazhana-bhedi who was killed by Lord Vishnu. During his death, Pazhana-bhedi prayed to Lord Vishnu to divide his body into three parts so that devotees could use it for offerings to the departed souls. Likewise, Lord Vishnu divided his body into three parts, his feet at Thirunelli, head at Gaya, the middle part at the Godavari. It is also believed that Lord Rama and his brother Laxman carried out the funeral rites of their father, King Dasharatha at this rock.

Speciality of the Temple

Thirunelli Temple in Wayanad is the only temple where a devotee can perform rituals from life to death and also for life after death.

Thirunelli Temple has three deities, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma whom the devotees call as Trinity.

On the western side of the main temple, there is a separate cave temple known as Gunnika temple with Lord Shiva as the presiding deity. And the temple represents Kongu-Chera style of handiworks.

Thirunelli Temple showcases Kerala style of architecture. The inner sanctum of the temple has a tiled roof and an open courtyard. The granite lamp post is another feature of the temple.

The outer wall of the temple has granite pillars that are cubical in shape. This feature is different from the standard Kerala architecture.

In the olden days, Thirunelli was an important business hub. The copper plates that are excavated recently describe the history of the Thirunelli Temple. These copper plates contain every detail from the land allotment for the temple to details of expenses.

The inscriptions say that the Kunhikutta Varman VeeraKurumpurai was the first donor and Sankaran Godavarman, the second donor for the temple construction.

An elaborate description of the Thirunelli temple is mentioned in the Unniyachi Charitham, a popular poetical work written by Thevan Chirikumaran.

Lord Vishnu is the Chaturbhuja at the Thirunelli Temple. The Panchatheertham water tank of the temple has the marks of Lord Vishnu’s feet which is known as Vishnupad.


  • 5 AM to 1 PM.
  • 5 PM to 9 PM.

  • Festivals in the temple

    Thirunelli Temple celebrates its two-day annual festival in the month of April which is known as Thirunelli Festival.

    The temple performs Bali Karma wherein devotees perform rituals (bali) for the departed souls during the new moon days in the months of Karkkidakam (July-August), Thulam (October-November) and Kumbham (February-March).

    Puthari, Chuttuvilakku, Navarathri, Sivaratri and Sreekrishna Jayanthi are the other important festivals celebrated at the Thirunelli Temple Wayanad.

    Dress Code to visit the temple:

    Devotees are requested to wear traditional wear while visiting the Thirunelli Temple in Wayanad.

    Men are not allowed to wear shirts while entering the Thirunelli Temple.

    Leather apparels and leather items are prohibited inside the temple. Devotees must wear dhoti which is available at the priest office.

    Best Time To Visit

    Thirunelli Temple in Wayanad can be visited throughout the year. But the best time to visit the Thirunelli Temple is between October and March.

    Way to reach :

     By Air - Calicut International Airport is the nearest airport to Thirunelli Temple Wayanad which is situated at a distance of 140 Km. On reaching the airport, one can hire a taxi, bus or autorickshaw to reach the temple.

     By Rail - Thalassery Railway Station is the nearest railway station to Thirunelli Temple Wayanad which is situated at a distance of 110 Km away. On reaching the railway station, one can hire a taxi, bus or autorickshaw to reach the temple.

     By Bus - Thirunelli Temple is situated about 32 Km away from Mananthavady which is well-connected with major cities via road.