Kochi Tirumala Devaswom Temple
|The Kochi Tirumala Devaswom, one of the important temples in Matancherry, belongs to the Gowda Saraswatha Brahmin community. The temple also serves as a socio-religious institution of the GSB community.
The presiding deity here is Venkatachalapathy. In 1568, with the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire and coercive conversions to Christianity by the Portuguese, the Gowda Saraswatha Brahmins migrated from Goa to Kochi. During their migration, Swami Vijayendra Teertha brought the idol of Venkatachalapathy to Kochi. The majority of households living around the temple belong to the GSB community.
In 1599, a temple, which was to be plundered many times, was built to house the idol. The Portuguese destroyed the temple in 1662, but it was reconstructed, in 1663, during the Dutch reign. In 1719, the idol disappeared mysteriously and was later found on a beach. It was kept at the Dutch Governor’s residence for a while and then restored to the temple.
In 1791, when the temple was plundered yet another time, the idol was kept in Alappuzha for many years. In 1853, it was brought back to the temple.
Other interesting aspects
Apart from the shrine of Lord Venkatachalapathy, there are five other shrines at the temples. These are dedicated to Hanuman, Garuda, Brindavan, Lord Ganapathy and Goddess Mahalakshmi. The various festivals held at the temple fall in the months of November and April.
In the temple yard, there are statues of the Vijayanagara king and Swami Vijayendra Theertha, as well as a temple tank. A notable feature of the temple is its huge bronze bell, about four feet in diameter and six feet in height. In earlier centuries, the chiming of the bell could be heard even in areas far from the temple.