The Yadava dynasty to which Lord Krishna belonged perished 36 years after the Mahabharata war due to infighting. At around the same time Krishna left for his heavenly abode and his kingdom Dwaraka got submerged in the sea.
Vakkayil Kaimal, a pious man who lived near Triprayar, saw in his dreams that four idols of Lord Rama and his brothers were drifting in the sea. These were the same idols that Krishna used to worship. A group of fishermen who went fishing in the sea caught these idols in their net. Not knowing what to do with the idols, they took them to Vakkayil Kaimal.
Kaimal realized that the idols were extremely powerful and he wanted to install them in proper places. He summoned famous astrologers and they decided that the idol of Rama would be installed at Triprayar, Bharata at Iringalakkuda, Lakshmana at Thirumoozhikkulam and Shatrughna at Payyamal. This is how the four Vaishnava Temples were built. Of these four temples, the Lakshmana Perumal Temple at Thirumoozhikkulam is in the Ernamkulam district. The other three are in the Thrissur district.
Visiting all four of these temples in a single day in the month of Karkkidakam is considered extremely auspicious. Because of this reason, these temples receive huge numbers of devotees during Karkkidakam.
The deities of the temple
There are several Sri Rama temples in Kerala. Of these the Sri Rama Swami temple at Thriprayar and the Villwadrinathan Temple at Thiruvillwamala are the most famous. Just like River Sarayoo which made Ayodhya a holy city, a river flows along the eastern side of the Triprayar Temple. This river is called Theevra River. It abounds in fish and feeding those fish is considered as a sacred offering to the Lord. Fishing is not allowed here. Sree Villwamangalam Swami, a famous Krishna devotee who lived in the 13th century, used to pay regular visits to the Triprayar temple. It was at his insistence that the images of Sreedevi (the goddess of goodness) and Bhoodevi (the goddess of earth) were installed on either side of Lord Rama. Rama’s idol at Thriprayar has four arms bearing a conch (Panchajanya), a disc (Sudarsana), a bow (Kodanda) and a garland respectively.
While the main deity of the temple is Lord Rama, there is a shrine of Shiva inside the Sanctum Sanctorum. Shiva is worshiped as Dakshinamoorthi and his idol faces south. The idol of Vighneswara (Lord Ganesh) is installed in the south-western corner of the temple. Goshala Krishnan is in the north and Dharmashashtav (Lord Ayyappa) is in the south.
The Triprayar Temple does not have a festival. Thriprayar Swami leads the Arattupuzha Pooram festival in which the gods and goddesses of neighboring temples assemble at the Dharmashashta Temple at Arattupuzha. There is a general belief that at some point in the past, the Thriprayar Temple was a Dharmashashta Temple. Even today, the temple conducts special poojas for Shashtav. Special Poojas are also offered to Goshala Krishnan. There are no shrines for Hanuman inside the sanctum; however, his presence is strongly felt and now separate shrines for Hanuman and Balasubrahmanyan are built outside the sanctum. The offering of rice flakes is meant for Hanuman.
Devotees believe that praying to Lord Rama at Thriprayar will relieve them from the affliction of evil spirits. On the first Thursday in the month of Karkkidakam, there is a procession from Nattika Beach to the temple. A bow and arrow offered by fishermen are taken to the temple atop a decorated elephant. This procession will be accompanied by the traditional temple orchestra. Fishermen offer the bow and arrow at the Holy feet of Lord Rama and go back. They believe that this offering will protect their shore from harm and ensure prosperity.
Krishnapaksha Ekadashi in the month of Vrushikam (October/November) and Pooram festival in the month of Meenam (April/May) are two important days for Thriprayar Swami. A music festival is organized at the temple as part of Ekadashi celebrations.
Triprayar temple is famous for its elaborate wood carvings. The sanctum sanctorum (sreekovil) is circular in shape with a copper plated conical roof and is surmounted by a golden Thazhikakkudam. The circular sanctum has several sculptures representing scenes from Ramayana. The walls also have several mural paintings. Namaskara Mandapa (the hall in front of the sanctum) is copper plated. It has 24 panels of woodcarvings.