The Rajarajeshwara temple also known as the Emperor of Emperors is an ancient Shivan temple that is found in the Taliparamba district of Kannur. The most important architecture detail to be noted in this temple is the absence of flag staff which is a prominent feature of all other Shivan temples. The temple is surrounded by fifteen feet high boundary walls and also has a two-tiered pyramid roof structure. These walls are said to be built without any mortar and have a broad base. This temple is believed to have been renovated by Lord Parashurama in the Kali Yuga. This was later renovated by the Mushika dynasty of Kerala.
Taliparamba is considered as one of the sixty four Brahmin establishments by Lord Parashurama in Kerala. The Raja Rajarajeshwara temple has the most prominent position among temples in the South of India. If any hurdles are faced by the temples in South India, a prasana or astrological decision making is conducted in this temple. Wednesdays are considered most auspicious in this temple for “Kshetra Darshanam”. The Raja Rajarajeshwara temple is also considered as one of the twelve important temples of Lord Shiva or “Dwadasa Sivalaya”. This temple also symbolizes the unity of both Lord Vishnu and Shiva as one Supreme Being. Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is worshiped first prior to Lord Shiva to show this. This place is also called Lakshmipura owing to the abundance of prosperity it bestows upon the devotees.
Legend has it that during the Sivathandavam post Goddess Sati’s self-immolation her head fell in this region. It is also said that the “Jyothirlingam” here was installed by sage Agasthya.
During Tipu Sultan’s attack, the gopurams in the temple were severely damaged, however legend has it that a hooded serpent bit the commander and caused havoc in the army. Thus the rest of the temple vastly remained undamaged. The relics of the gopuram are still visible in this temple.
During the day time only the men can enter the sanctum sanctorum. Like all Shivan temples, the devotees go clockwise the jyothilinga only upto the theertha channel and then go counter clockwise up to the theertha channel. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Parvathy are present in the temple after eight in the night and also grant the wishes of women, hence women in this temple are only allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum after eight in the evening.
There are deviations in this temple when compared to other Shivan temples in South india. The bilwa leaf which is the most common item of worship in other Shivan temples is not used here. Instead, the tulsi leaf is used. Another important change is that Wednesdays and not Mondays is considered important for “Kshetra Darshanam”. Special poojas are conducted on Shivarathiri and on Vishu, however no annual festival is celebrated in this temple. The Deity here is never taken out for procession.
Performance of traditional art forms like Koodiyattom and Chakyarkoothu are performed here regularly. Whenever, a new Koodiyattom is directed, it is first performed in this temple. It is interesting to know that only the “Maani” family of Chakyars have the right to perform in this temple.
Children below four years of age are not allowed in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The temple is open to the public from five in the morning until twelve in the noon and is reopened again at five thirty in the evening and is open till eight thirty in the night. Ney Amrithu and Ney-villaku are the most important offerings in this temple.
Kannur is well connected by buses and trains. Kannur railway station is the nearest station to the temple. The closest airports are the Mangalore International Airport and the Karipur International airport both at a distance of one hundred and twenty and one hundred and thirty kilometres respectively.