Thursday, February 18, 2010


This is a famous temple in Kerala where the worship of Pithrus (manes) is done. It is 32
Km from the Manandavadi town of Vayanad district, which is a dense tribal area of
Kerala. The nearest Railway station is Kozhikode in Kerala, which is 72 Km from this
place. It is in a valley called “Brahma Giri” (Mountain of Brahma)
It is believed that Lord Brahma did a great fire sacrifice here and because of that, this
place is divine. According to legends, once upon a time, some Brahmins happened to
travel through these dense forests. When they were very hungry and had nothing to eat,
they called Lord Vishnu for their help. Then they saw a goose berry tree. (Called Nelli in
Malayalam), which was laden with fruits. All of them satiated their hunger by eating
fruits of this tree. Suddenly their hunger and thirst was satiated and they felt the divine
presence. Then they decided to call the place as “Thiru Nelli (sacred Gooseberry). “
Records exist to prove that this temple of Lord Vishnu is at least 1000 years old. It is
also referred in Unni neeli Charitham which is the first book written in Malayalam.
The temple is a very simple structure made of granite stone. The idol consecrated in
this temple is that of Lord Vishnu with four arms. The walls of this temple are also made
of granite. On these walls, very beautiful etchings are there. It seems one king of Coorg,
tried to renovate this temple. When he was half through, the Vellattiri king who owned
the temple objected. The renovation was discontinued. Even today we can see proof of
the half finished renovation work. There are no wells in this temple. Water is being
brought by a stone aqueduct from a stream in the Brahma Giri valley.
Very near the temple , there is a river called Papa Nasini(killer of sins). It is believed
that if we do rituals to the manes (pithrus), they would get salvation. It is believed that the
good effect is equivalent to doing Karmas(Rituals ) in Gaya. The Pindas (rice balls ) are
placed in the stream after the worship. People believe that both Lord Rama and Lord
Parasurama did the Pithru Karmas here Also in the vicinity is a sacred rock where ritual
offerings (known as bali) are made for the ancestors on the New Moon days of the
Malayalam months Karkkidakom, Thulam and Kumbham. Besides the rituals during the
two-day festival, art forms like Kathakali and Ottanthullal are performed. Very near the
Papa Nasini is the Padma Theertha pond. . In the middle of it on a raised stone, you find
the marks of Lord Vishnu’s feet. People believe that Lord Vishnu stood on this rock and
gave divine advice to Lord Brahma. Nearby in a cave there is a Shiva temple also. All
the people who do Pithru Karma visit this temple on their way back.
There is a great lodge called “Thirunelli Agraharam” in these sylvan surroundings. Its
address is
Yatri Nivas Road
Thirunelli Temple Post
Manathavadi, Wayanad
Kerala - 670646

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