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Kerala Pilgrim Centres

Kerala Pilgrim Centres: Kerala is unique in its culture. There are many pilgrim centers of different religion in the state, which attract large number of visitors every year within and outside the state. But in most of these centers, the basic facilities available for visitors are non-existent or minimal with sub-standard facility. Department of Tourism is now involved in developing quality basic infrastructure for the visitors at important tourist centers in the state of Kerala and as part of this initiative, department desires to develop quality facilities at important pilgrim centres too for the pilgrims visiting these places. It is in this context Department of Tourism decided to formulate a new scheme for the development of Pilgrim Facilitation Centres at important pilgrim centers in the State of Kerala in association with the authorities of the Temple/Church/Mosque / and other places of worship.

Varkala :
Located 40 km from Trivandrum in Varkala, Sivagiri Mutt in Varkala is the final resting place of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru. The Papanasham (redemption from sins) beach here is the place where Narada is believed to have thrown his valkalam. The 2000 year ols Sree Janardhana Swamy temple here is famous for the Arattu, the annual festival celebrated in March-April. Siva Temple, Ernakulam : This temple is situated in the centre of the town close to the Cochin Cultural Centre, very near the Durbar Hall Ground. The presiding deity is Lord Siva and the annual festival in the temple is conducted for 8 days during the month of January.

Kalady :
Kalady is the birth place of Adi Sankaracharaya the great Indian Philosopher who lived in the 8th century is 45 Kms from Cochin. It is situated on the banks of river Periyar and there are two shrines in memory of Sree Sankaracharaya. One dedicated to him as Dakshina Moorthi and the other to the Goddess Sharada. Adi Sankara's Shrined in Kalady are open to all pilgrims irrespective of Religion and caste. The spot were Adi Shankara's Mother was cremated is called Vrindavan. Nearby is an old Krishna Temple, the family temple of Sankaracharaya. Another Temple known as Sri Ramakrishna International Temple was built in 1976 with the hope that it would ultimately become a temple for all religions and an abode of peace.

St. Sebastian's Aruthunkal :
One of the most important pilgrim centres of the Christians in Kerala, popularly known as St. Sebastian Church, 22 kms. north of Alleppey.This church was established by Portuguese missionaries, which is near Sherthallai. The feast of St. Sebastian is held here every January. A well-known Christian pilgrim centre in Alappuzha coast . The 11-day festival of St.Sebastian is celebrated in the second week of January. To decongest the festival days, a low profile festival, Ettamperunal, is being celebrated on the 8th day after the main festival. A peculiar votive of the church is Urulu nercha( an offering of a devotee by crawling on the ground). devotees crawl from the church premise to the local beach. Material offerings of the festival include gold and silver replicas of human limbs, bows and arrows. The festival has also chipped in for communal amity. On January 18, two days left for the main festival, thousands of Sabarimala pilgrims, while returning home, bathe from the church tank and pay homage to St. Sebastian.

Holy Virgin Mary Church (Valiyapally) :
The church was built in the year 1550 AD by the descendants of the Syrian Knanaya Christians who migrated to India in 345 A.D. from Jerusalem and near-by places under the leadership of Kana Thoma. The migrants consisted of Bishop Joseph of Urhoy (Edessa), two priests and two deacons, besides a group of four hundred persons, representing seventy-two families from seven clans. They landed at Kodungallor and were cordially welcomed by Cheraman Perumal, the then ruler of Malabar, Northern region of modern Kerala.

The Cave Temple :
A rare entity among the temple architecture of Kerala, cave temples is few and arouses great curiosity. The one at Ittiva at Chadayamangalam in Kollam district is one such temple, virtually carved

Manarcad Church, Kottayam :
St. Mary's Church, Manarcaud is one of the outstanding churches of the Syrian Jacobite Church of Kerala. The most important festival here is the eight-day fast in honour of St. Mary, starting on September 1. Holy Mass is offered on the feast days. On the concluding days, colourful processions are held.
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