Unique Siva-Vishnu temple & an amusing ‘dog tale’

The Thirunayathode Siva-Narayana Temple is a historical marvel located at Nayathode, a village about 3km from the Kochi international airport.

Published: 28th January 2023 06:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2023 06:35 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: The Thirunayathode Siva-Narayana Temple is a historical marvel located at Nayathode, a village about 3km from the Kochi international airport. Designated as a protected monument under the state archaeological department, the temple is known for the unique tradition of worshipping Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu alongside each other. 

As per records, the temple was built by king Cheraman Perumal (Rajashekhara Varman) in the 9th Century AD. He is believed to have visited the region during Sree Adi Sankaracharya’s time.  Notably, there are no subsidiary shrines here. The Srikovil or the sanctum sanctorum is circular in shape, and the roof is covered with copper plates. The idols of Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu are placed on a single platform here.

The archaeology department has preserved the paintings on the Srikovil’s walls and other structures, some of which bear marks of Tipu Sultan’s attack on the shrine.

‘Where the dog was slayed’
Sharing an interesting legend associated with the temple, former chief accountant at Sree Sankara College, Kalady, M S Sudhakaran, 65, says the shrine’s history is traced to Cheraman Perumal’s guru’s deathbed wish. “Just before passing away, the guru told Cheraman Perumal that he was under a curse and would be reborn as a dog,” adds the Nayathode resident.  

“The guru gave details of the location where he may be reborn. The king was instructed to ensure that the dog did not eat any unhygienic food, as that may prevent the soul’s liberation. Years later, Perumal came across a puppy with features as described by his guru. 

“He raised the dog with utmost devotion. Once while passing through this village, the dog was about to consume some leftover food. He beheaded it to prevent the food from going down the dog’s throat. The area came to be known as ‘Nayavettithode (place where the dog was slayed)’, and that later became ‘Nayathode’. It is believed that Cheraman Perumal built the temple for redemption from ‘guruhatya papam’ or the sin of killing his guru.”

According to another lore, the area was initially known as Thirunayanarthodu due to its links with the Nayanars, who were Shaivite poets and proponents. Cheruman Perumal was one of the 63 legendary Nayanars. 

‘Lord Siva in marital trance’
It is believed the Lord Siva deity here is in a state of marital bliss, and the area was once known as ‘Parameshwaramangalam’. It is said the Devas requested Lord Vishnu’s presence at Lord Shiva’s marriage. “When Lord Vishnu appeared, Lord Siva offered him a seat at the Sivapeedom,” says Nayathode resident Sreekumar L P, 50.  “At the time of his marriage, Lord Siva went into a meditative state, and this is the deity’s bhava. Visiting the temple is considered auspicious for weddings.”

There & then
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