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Aazhimala Shiva Temple

By Lakshmi Menon, Bangalore

Aazhimala Siva temple is located near Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala State. The temple is perched on the cliff adjoining the Arabian Sea. it is an ancient temple of 8th century.

In local language, 'Aazhi' means Sea and 'Mala' means Hill- and the temple has been named so because it rests right on the golden shore of the Arabian sea on a slightly elevated platform. Of late this temple is attracting many tourists.

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Main Attraction of the Temple

The main attraction of this temple is its 58-ft-tall statue of Lord Shiva, standing majestically in a classic posture, atop a rock as if touching the sky, against the backdrop of the cascading waves of the turquoise blue waters of Arabian Sea . In this posture, one of Shiva’s four hands  rests on his right thigh, another holds up a Trishul (Trident), another holds the Damaru, while the fourth  hand is lost in his matted hair. . Lord Shiva’s neck is adorned with snake Vasuki and a necklace of Rudraksha beads. His face is very calm.

In this spectacular statue, Lord Shiva holds Ganga Devi on his head and his intervened locks flutter in the sea breeze, as he gazes towards the heavens. In this temple, Lord Shiva is worshipped as Gangadhareswara. 

Unique Features of Aazhimala Shiva Temple

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  •        The original name of this temple was Aazhimala Pulinkudi Sree Mahadeva temple. Now it is called Aazhimala Gangadareswar temple.
  •        There is a meditation center called Dhyana mandapa inside it.
  •        The temple has the largest statue of Lord Shiva in Kerala.
  •        The height of this Shiva statue is 58 feet.
  •        It was inaugurated on 31st December 2020.
  •        This fascinating statue is built in concrete.
  •        This majestic sculpture is located on a rock at an altitude of 20 feet from the sea.
  •        Just adjacent to this temple complex is Azhimala beach.
  •       The sculptor of this statue is P.S. Devadattan, who took up this work when he was just 23 years old, and completed after 6 years. This statue is sculptured such that lord Shiva is gazing gracefully at the sky as if invoking bliss in times of trouble.

History of Aazhimala Shiva Temple

The history of Azhimala Siva temple dates back to Mahabharatha.  It is believed that during the exile period of Pandavas, they had passed through this place. When Draupadi wanted to quench her thirst Bheemsena broke a rock here with his elbow and a stream of fresh water gushed in. Even today this water body is here in one of the caves. 

The original idol worshipped in the temple was consecrated by a Vedic scholar named Neelaniyeru who later attained Samadhi in the temple. Later, Sri Narayana Guru revived the temple in the 20th century when he discovered Shiva Chaitanyam in this place.

Today the main attraction of this temple is the gigantic and mesmerizing statue of Lord Shiva with nerves and muscles delicately carved, his hair flowing in the wind and clenching Ganga, gazing angularly at the sky, leaves a long-lasting impact on the minds of the visitors. The temple gives a glimpse of India’s glorious culture and an unbelievable  blend of divinity and natural beauty.  One can spend hours together, just gazing at this divine Azhimala Gangadeswara statue, that seems to emerge from the sea. This statue was made on the suggestion of the chief priest Jyothish Potti.

The temple is opened  from 5.30 AM to 11.00 AM again from 5.00 to 8.00 PM.

Who is the creator of this breathtaking sculpture?

It was created by P S Devadathan, a native of Azhimala,  who took six long years to complete this stunning work. He had started this work when he was just 23 years old and kept working on the sculpture along with his graduation in fine arts. He spent almost eight months studying the topography and climate of the area before the pre-production of the sculpture.   

Architecture of the temple

The architecture of the temple is similar to the temples in neighboring Tamil Nadu. The temple has a square sanctum sanctorum. There is a chuttambalam, small gopuram and kodimaram.

The upa devatas worshipped in the temple are Ganapathi and Sastha.

Main Festivals of the temple

Shivratri is the most important festival in the temple.

Fortnightly pradosham and Mondays are significance in the temple.

What is the best time to visit here?

The early morning and evenings are the best time to visit this temple and enjoy the view of vast Arabian Sea and the amazing statue of Gangadareswar.

Reaching there

Trivandrum International Airport is just 21 kms away.

Trivandrum Central railway station is just 20 kms away.

Azhimala Shiva Temple is situated on Poovar to Vizhinjam road which is well connected through road network. And you can easily reach this temple by using your own vehicle or public buses or taxi.

From the main road, a steep and narrow road leads down to the Azhimala Shiva temple.

Ample parking space is available. 

Nearby attractions

Other nearby attractions are Kovalam beach, Shanmukham beach, Sri Padmanabha swamy temple and Sreechitra art gallery. 

Please check our video about our visit to this temple. 

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