Thirunavaya is one of the places in Malabar that has been referred to many times in ancient texts like Keralolpathi (a text that deals with the origin of Kerala). It is located about eight kms south of Tirur.

The serene village, with the picturesque Nila River passing through, attracts many for its religious, historic and cultural importance. 

Historic importance

Thirunavaya is known as the land of Mamankam, the cultural mega event of ancient times. It was conducted once in 12 years and was attended by rulers from various parts of Kerala. The event also featured a grand trade fair celebrated with pomp for 28 days. It is said that traders from outside India would come by ship to Ponnani, and then proceed to Thirunavaya to participate in the trade fair. 

At this congregation, the local rulers selected one among them as the supreme ruler. Some historians say that it was during a Mamankam at Thirunavaya that Kerala Perumal, one of the early rulers of Kerala, was anointed the supreme ruler. Later, there emerged a dispute between the Valluvakonathiris and the Zamorins (erstwhile rulers) over the right to conduct the event. The dispute eventually led to long-term rivalry between the two and during the Mamankam, the Valluvanad King used to send Chaver (suicide) squads to fight the soldiers of Zamorin at Thirunavaya. For the Chaver army, it was a fight to death and so they were famed as warriors on a suicide mission. 

The Zamorins stood on a stage called the 'Nilapadu thara' surrounded by soldiers. These soldiers fought the Chaver armies. The bodies of the warriors who died during the fight were thrown into a nearby well, which is now called the 'Manikinar'.

It is said that in 1766, during the last Mamankam, the Zamorin had a narrow escape from an extraordinarily skilled and valorous 16-year-old Chaver. 

Today the 'Nilapadu Thara', protected by the State Department of Archaeology, is nothing but a slab of stone. 

Religious importance

Thirunavaya is an important place for Hindus due to the presence of the 6000-year-old Nava Mukunda temple, on the banks of the Bharathapuzha. The main deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu (Hindu god). Thousands come here to perform rituals to propitiate the souls of their deceased near and dear ones. 

Exquisite sculptures can be seen around the sanctum sanctorum. These include sculptures of the ten avatars (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu. One of the only two temples in the country dedicated to Brahma, the Creator, is at Thavanur lying close to Thirunavaya. 

Other details

Othanmar madom, the Vedic centre for Namboothiri boys, is also situated in Thavanur near Thirunavaya. The palace of the 'Azhvanchery Thamprakkal', that is referred to in the puranas and legends, is situated five kilometers north of Thirunavaya. The place is also the venue for the annual Sarvodaya Mela, attended by the Gandhians in Kerala.