One of the 108 Divya Desams (“Holy Abodes”) Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is located in Thiruvananthapuram which is the capital city of Kerala. Thiruvananthapuram in Malayalam translates to “The City of Lord Ananta”, refers to the deity of the Padmanabhaswamy temple. The well-preserved antiquity “Padmanabhaswamy temple” is built in an intricate fusion of the Chera style and the Dravidian style of architecture, featuring high walls, and a 16th-century gopura. While the Ananthapura temple in Kumbla is considered the original seat of the deity “Moolasthanam”, architecturally to some extent, the temple is a replica of the Adikesava Perumal temple in Thiruvattar. The principal deity Padmanabhaswamy (Vishnu) is enshrined in the “Anantha Shayana” posture, the eternal yogic sleep on the serpent Adi Shesha. This is the temple of Lord Shri Vishnu which is an ancient structure that was even visited by Balarama, according to Srimad Bhagavatam. This temple also has references in Epics and Puranas like Skanda Purana and Padma Purana. According to the ancient scriptures, it was believed to be built over 5000 years ago but has no perfect pieces of evidence.
The main Idol of Shri Anantha Padmanabhaswamy is located in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple where the presiding deity is Lord Vishnu reclining on Anantha with his right hand on Sivalinga and having a lotus in his left hand. The lord Brahma is seen in the lotus flower which is originated from the navel of the Lord Vishnu. The idol is 18ft long and can be seen through three doors, which means head and chest through the first door, hands through the second door and feet through the third door. This posture is called as Anantha Sayanam meaning Yogic sleep. The idols of Sridevi, Bhudevi along with Narasimhaswamy, Ganapathi and Gajalakshmi are seen beside this idol. Padmanabhaswamy is the tutelary deity of the royal family of Travancore.
Embellished in gold-plated covering, the temple is opened only to Hindu followers. Dedicated to Lord Padmanabha, one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu, the Temple is the principal center of Vaishnava worship in the dharma of Vaishnavism.
Once, Tulu Brahmin hermit named Divakara Muni consecrated the temple. He was a great devotee of Vishnu and performed in-depth meditation in order to attract the divine. One day, Lord Vishnu appeared in front of him as a small boy child, and the hermit took an instant liking to him. He requested the God-like child to stay with him in the Hermitage. The child agreed, but there was a condition. If the hermit failed to treat him with respect, the child would vanish. Things went well for a while, and the hermit adored the child and treated him with respect. One day, when Divakara Muni was in deep meditation, the child took the salagram that the hermit used to worship and put it in his mouth. As hermit came to know this, he was very angry and chastised the child. The agreement was broken, and the child vanished telling the hermit that if he wanted to see him again, he had to search for him in the “Ananthankaadu”. With regret, Divakara Muni realized who the child was and what he had done. He followed the route taken by the child when he ran away and gave up food, sleep and rest. Eventually, he reached a wooded spot where he thought he saw the child disappearing into a huge Ilappa tree. The tree fell to the ground and instantly transformed into the form of Lord Vishnu, with the head at ‘Thiruvallam’ (a place about 5 kilometers from East Fort where the Temple of Sree Padmanabha Swamy is located) and the feet at ‘Trippapur’ (8 kilometers away towards the North). Divakar Muni was overjoyed to see the divine form of the Lord and stood in awe. Eventually, the hermit, in total bliss, requested the lord to condense himself so he could behold the form. It was he who started the custom of presenting the lord with the raw mango in a coconut shell, and this continues even today. Navaratri is the major annual festival related to Padmanabha temple. The idols of Saraswati Amman, Mun Uditha Nangai (Parasakti who appeared before Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati to help them identify their husbands who had been transformed into infants by the power of chastity of Anasuya) and Kumara Swami (Murugan) are brought to the Kuthira malika palace in front of Padmanabha temple as a procession. It is 9 days long festival. The famous Swathi music festival is held every year during this festival.
The biggest festival in this temple is laksha deepam, which means 1 lac lamps are lit. This festival is unique and commences once in 6 years. Prior to this festival, chanting of prayers and recitation of three vedas is done for 56 days (Murajapam). On the last day, 1lac oil lamps are lit in and around the temple premises. During the entry of Temple Proclamation, only those who profess the Hindu faith are permitted enter to the temple and devotees have to strictly follow the dress code.