Sree Thirunelli Mahavishnu Temple Wayanad

Sree Thirunelli Mahavishnu Temple Wayanad

Thirunelli Maha Vishnu Temple

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 allover, 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 a 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 aquaduct 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 back drop 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 ardour and devotion.

Papanasini- the holy mountain stream that flows near the temple

It is a wild stream that originates from the Brahmagiri Hills which later joins River Kalindi. It is almost 400 mtrs away from the temple, on its western side. Literally it means, extinguisher of sins. It is believed that River Ganga and River Saraswathi join in Papanasini. Therefore Papanasini is called the Southern Kashi. A ritual dip in Papanasini is believed to wash one away, of all worldly sins committed in a life time. If we immerse the ashes of the dead in Papanasini, it is equivalent to that of doing Karmas(Rituals ) in Gaya. At Papanasini there is a sacred rock called Pinnappara where ritual offerings to the spirits of the departed are made (known as bali). People believe that Parasurama, the famous incarnation of Lord Vishnu visited Thirunelli and performed last rites at the death of his father sage Jamadagni. He also took immersion in the Papanasini to wipe away sins committed owing to the annihilation of Kshatriyas. The ashes of Rajiv Gandhi was immersed in Papanasini in 1991. Papanasini (destroyer of sins) has an interesting story to reveal. When Brahma was consecrating Vishnu’s idol Garuda (the carrier of Vishnu) reached over the sky, above the installation venue with the Amrit Kumbha (pot of nectar). During Garuda’s circling over, a drop of Amrit fell on the stream, which provided purifying power to the water in the stream. After that incident the stream came to be called Papanasini. Papanasini later joins in River Kalindi which is a tributary of River Kabani which later joins in River Kaveri.

Panchatheertham- the temple pond

The steps at the back of the temple actually leads to the tank Panchteertham. It is believed that Panchteertham, at one point of time was a meeting point of five rivers. Hence its sacred importance was immense. But today most of the water has dried up and the only remaining attraction is the footsteps of Vishnu, Vishnupad. It is the image of a footprint on a boulder in the middle of the tank.

Gunika temple dedicated to Lord Shiva

As you walk from Thirunelly temple to Papanasini along the riverbank , somewhere midway on your left, a small bridge appears. Cross this to go to a cave temple called Gunnika temple dedicated to lord Siva. Legend is that a fruit ( again Nelli fruit ) plucked by a pilgrim was turned into a Phallus (Shiva linga), as he was finishing bath in the Papanashini.

Sree Thirunelli Mahavishnu Temple 360° View



Visitor's Information

  • Devotees generally come in traditional wear. Men need to enter the temple without shirts. Leather apparels and items cannot be brought into the temple complex. Worshippers need to wear dhoti which is available at the priest office.
  • Puthari, Chuttuvilakku, Navarathri, Shivarathri and Sreekrishnajayanthi are the major festivals of the temple.
  • Ritual at the Papanasini River: Pilgrims from all over the world gather at the Thirunelli Temple to perform the ancestral rites. The rituals rake place at the banks of the river. Locals believe that the holy waters can wash away all the sins of the mortals.
  • Pithrukarma: Also, there is a holy rock at the temple complex where worshippers pray for their forefathers.
  • The temple also practices various customs related to the complete life cycle. Bali Tharpana, Oraalpindam are the other funeral rites that people do here.
  • Another unique custom of the Thirunelli Temple is Brahmanas play musical instruments during food offerings to Lord Vishnu.

Tourist places near Sree Thirunelli Mahavishnu Temple

  • Trisillery temple
  • Phantom Rock
  • Neelimala View Point
  • Jain Temple
  • Soochippara Waterfalls

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