Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is located in Thirvananthapuram, Kerala in South India and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is the most prominent of the 108 Divya Deshams (Holy abodes of Lord Vishnu) in India. The Dravidian Kovil architecture of the temple is glorified further with its ornate Gopurams (temple towers). The capital city of Kerala, i.e. Thiruvananthapuram derives its name from the temple deity which literally means the Sacred Abode of Lord Anantha Padmanabha. The principal deity of the temple, Padmanabhaswamy is enshrined in its sanctum sanctorum in the form of Anantha-Sayanam or the eternal sleep posture on Anantha serpent.
The sanctum sanctorum of the Padmanabhaswamy temple has the idol of Lord Padmanabhaswamy who is reclined over Anantha serpent. The mythological serpent has five inward facing hoods, signifying contemplation. The lord has his right hand on Shiva Lingam while goddess Sridevi and goddess Bhudevi share the pedestal with the lord, who are his two consorts. The main idol of the lord is made of 12000 Saligaramas which were collected from the banks of river Gandaki in Nepal. The temple has a 100 ft seven pier Gopuram constructed in Pandyan style of architecture and a corridor with 365 and a quarter granite sculptured pillar with elaborate cravings.
Legend has it that once saint Vilvamanangalathu Swamiyar prayed Lord Vishnu for his darshan. Obliging him, Vishnu appeared before him in the form of a mischievous boy and defiled his Saligrama which was to be used for the pooja ceremony. An enraged Swamiyar chased the boy into the woods who suddenly disappeared. The sage then saw the boy merging into a luppa tree which then fell down and emerged as Anantha Sayana Moorti or a posture in which Vishnu was reclined over the Anantha snake. But the lord was of a huge size with his head lying at Thiruvallom, navel lying at Thiruvananthapuram and lotus feet at Thrippadapuram. Swmiyar requested the lord to shrink his size so that he could have his full blissful darshan. His request was obliged by the lord and hence all these three places now have Vishnu temples with Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple of Thiruvananthapuram becoming the most glorified ones out of the three.
Many festivals are celebrated in Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, out of which Laksha Deepam festival is the biggest one. Laksha Deepam literally means hundred thousand lamps. The festival is celebrated with much ado every 6 years. However, before the grand festivities, chanting of Vedic mantras is done for 56 days continuously and then on the last day, hundred thousand deepams or lamps are lit in the temple complex.
09 days long Navaratri festival is another major festival of Temple in which the idols of Saraswati, Lakshmi, Parvathi and Kumara Swami are brought to the Kuthira Malaika Palace in the temple in a grand procession.