Manalikarai Azhvar Krishna Swamy Temple, Kanyakumari
Manalikarai Azhvar Krishna Swamy Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located at Manalikarai, a small village located in the southern part of ancient Travancore state, presently under Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu in Kalkulam Taluk. The area comes under Padmanabhapuram division in Kalkulam Taluk in Kothanallur Panchayat. The Malayalam name Manalikkara was very popular during the Travancore state rule and after the reformation of Indian states in 1956, this place is more known as Vazhikkalampadu and it became the part of Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu.
This place belonged to constituency of Princely Travancore State in 1235 AD. The Inscription about Taxation was written in a pillar in front of the Manalikkara Alwar Temple in year 410 ME during the rule of Venadu ruler King Veera Ravi Kerala Varma. The place Manalikkara has its influence as one of the branch of Travancore royal family in Kalkulam in 1610 AD. Raja Sri Illaya Rama Varma from Venadu was from Manalikkara branch of the family in Kalkulam.
Years ago, this temple was known as "Manalikkara Thiruvannur Azhvar Temple". Azhwar’s are the followers and core devotees of Lord Vishnu. The Kulasekhara Azhvar who had been the 9th Azhvar from Kerala ruled Travancore during 800-825 AD. The presence of Manalikkara Alwar temple is mentioned in the "Manalikkara inscription" during the year 410 (ME). The re-installation of deity is happened by year 411 ME. The present "Kodimaram" (flag pole) in front of the temple is installed in the year 1141 ME.
This temple is believed to be found before 411 ME Kollavarsham. The temple main deity is Krishna (Vishnu). The full structures of the temple are made up of long granite stones. This temple is believed to be constructed around 700 years ago. This construction is similar to other old temples in Kanyakumari like Thiruvattaru Adhikesava Temple and Vellimalai Murugan Temple.
Although it was part of the Travancore state, the style of construction shows similarities with Tamil style. The Manalikkara inscription issued by the Venadu king Ravi Kerala Varma (AD 1215-1240) was written in 1236. It shows the king's keen interest in ensuring people's welfare. The inscription says that while fixing the tax rate for tenant’s exemptions should be given in times of crop failure.
The Manalikkara Azhvar Sree Krishna Swamy temple is managed by Tamil Nadu Devasom Board under Tamilnadu Government. This is one of the temple in Tamilnadu follows the Kerala style of tradition and culture. The Major temple festival is conducted by April–May of every year. The yearly temple festival called Utsavam is conducted here on Malayalam month (Malayalam calendar) Medam on Rohini Nakshatram (star) day represents the birthday of Lord Krishna. On Rohini Nakshatram day the "Kodikayataam" (flag hoisting) is carried out in the morning represents the begin of Utsavam which would be followed by another nine days of functions.
The ten days of Utsavam is auspicious and covered with special pujas in the morning and evening. Elephant procession is carried out in the temple all the day. In the late evening, cultural programs like Nadakam (Drama), Kathakali (Traditional art), Bale (Dramatic dance), Ottanthullal etc. are conducted. The ninth day of Utsavam, late in the evening the custom called "Palli Vetta" is carried out on the belief that Lord Krishna is on his way for Vetta (hunting). The tenth day function is a "Aaraat Mahotsavam" during which the Lord Krishna is on elephant procession to the place called Valliyatumugham.
The procession starts by 4 pm is accompanied by different traditional melas, vadhyas and full of devotees. The whole procession is completely colorful with the presence of traditional instrumental performances like Panchari melam, Chenda melam, Singari melam and other folk artistic performances like Theyyam, Puli Kali etc. The procession would reach to a place Valliyatumugham at 11pm night followed by poojas on the valley of the river and final dip bath in the Valliyar river.
Thereby lord Krishna finishes the Aaarat and the procession would be returning to Manalikarai temple. Once lord Krishna is back from Aaarat (holy bath), the last tribute was the Kodiyirakkam. This is the symbolic end of the 10 days Utsavam followed by "Vedikette" (bursting of crackers) to show and notify the pleasing end of Utsavam.
The Temple is located at about 4 Kms from Manalikarai Bus Station. Manalikarai is located at about 13 Kms from Marthandam, 10 Kms from Thiruvattaru, 10 Kms from Padmanabhapuram, 12 Kms from Eraniel, 20 Kms from Nagercoil, 9 Kms from Thuckalay, 18 Kms from Colachel, 42 Kms from Kanyakumari, 27 Kms from Boothapandi, 16 Kms from Thirparappu and 58 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Nearest Railway Station is located at Eraniel and Nearest Airport is located at Thiruvananthapuram.