Thirunelli Temple 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 life after death.
It is one of the most ancient temples in Kerala. It is believed that here the prathishta of Lord Vishnu was performed by Lord Brahma. It is also known as ”Sahyamala Kshetram” and ”Kashi of the South”.Thirunelli Temple draws pilgrims from all over, primarily for ancestral rites. The rituals are performed on the banks of the stream Papanasini which flows down from Mount Brahmagiri. It is believed that this stream has divine power to dissolve sins of all the mortals. Another major attraction of the temple is the holy rock where people pray for their forefathers. On the western side of the temple is the cave temple Gunnika, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Thus Thirunelli becomes blessed by the unique presence of all the members of the Trinity.
The beautiful Brahmagiri hills and the surrounding lush green forests have made the temple premises valley of tranquility. So everybody feels completely relaxed after sitting in the sanctum of the temple. The temple is an embodiment of ancient temple architecture. The aqueduct that brings water to the temple is
also a witness to hundreds of years of history.
Thirunelli is a unique place where one would experience communion of nature with the divine forces. Thus it becomes an ideal spot for pilgrimage as well as an idyllic location for enjoying the nature’s bounties. Sunrise on the Brahamagiri at the backdrop of Thirunelli temple is an enthralling sight. Papanasini,Pinnappara, Panchatheertham and Gunnika Temple are the other places of importance for the pilgrims who come with ardor and devotion.
During early times, water for temple use was brought from Papanasini stream. During a drought period, the wife of Chirackal Raja who was a member of the famous Vaarikkara Nayanar tharavad, came with her attendants to temple to worship. She asked the Priest some water to dissolve the sandal, which he was not able to give. Being enlightened about the water scarcity in the temple she asked her attendants to solve the problem. They found out the water source called Varaham in the thick forest. From there the water was brought, using bamboo halves for immediate use. Subsequent to her return home, she sent men and materials to construct the present stone aqueduct to bring an uninterrupted water supply to the temple.
The granite open channels are supported by pillars with interesting murals carved on. Even till date, cold mountain stream water gushes out of this aqueduct.
Pinnappara This rock is supposed to be the bone of an asura (demon) named Pazhana-bhedi, who was killed by Vishnu. At the time of his death, he prayed to Vishnu that his body be converted into a rock extending from Thirunelli to Gaya and divided into three parts fit for the performance of offerings for the departed, at (1)Thiurnelli representing his foot, (2)Godavari representing the middle part, and (3)Gaya representing the head. Offerings at any of these three places are supposed to have special benefits in producing happiness and in the propitiation of the spirits.
In Thirunelli ritual offerings to the spirits are made at Pinnappara, especially on the New Moon days of the Malayalam months Karkkidakom, Thulam, and Kumbham. It is believed that Sri Rama and his brother Lakshmana performed the ‘pithrukarma’ of their father king Dasaratha, standing on this rock.