Nalambalam means four temples in Malayalam. Nalambalam is a group of four temples; each one devoted to one of the four sons of Dasharatha, from the Indian epic Ramayana. Lord Dasharatha had four sons – Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna – and each one is the main deity in these four temples. Three of the temples are situated in the district of Thrissur while one is in the district of Ernakulam, close to the Thrissur border. Growing up in Kerala, I ignorantly believed that Kerala did not have a popular temple dedicated to Rama. So, I was surprised when I found not only Rama but also his brothers not so far away from my home in Kerala.
Most, if not every, temple in Kerala has an associated legend about it’s inception. As for legends related to Kerala, there is no one better than Kottarathil Shakunni to chronicle these. But I have gone through his Aithihya Mala (published in 8 volumes and later published as one book featuring all these 8 volumes) many times. I do not remember seeing anything about a Rama temple. Knowing my penchant for reading (and also regurgitating the same on the blog), my sister picked up a booklet detailing the origin and stories of Nalambalam. It is a 34 page booklet written by Radhakrishnan Pottakkal in Malayalam. This gives a lot of insight into these temples.
Many centuries back, Vakkayil Kaimal had a bizzare dream. He was a prominent figure near the place that is called Tripayar now. He had dreamt of coming across four idols from Krishna’s reign. In a few days after the dream, some fishermen netted four idols while fishing. After consulting the astrologers and the scholars, it was decided to place these idols at four different places and built a temple around each. These temples came collectively known as Nalambalam and consists of
- Triprayar Sreeramaswamy Temple
- Irinjalakkuda Sreekoodalmanikyam Temple
- Tirumoozhikkulam Lakshmanaperumal Temple
- Payammel Shatrughnaswamy Temple