Netirimangalam Shiva Kshetram.
This ancient Tali, known also as Kaithali is located in a lane of the same name adjoining Alex theatre in the heart of Pattambi town, in Mele Pattambi, quite close to the junction of Pattambi-Palghat and Pattambi-Perintalmanna road.
The temple (protected as a monument by the Archaeological Survey of India) provides a unique example of a stone temple in the Cera country, ascribable to the early phase (early eighth century). The Dravidian structural temples in stone which began appearing sometime in early eighth century in the southern peninsula, had practically scant appeal to the people of Cera country as shown by its rarity in the Cera tract.
Temple Layout and Structure
The temple is set in a vast compound with entrances on the South (from Main Road side) and East. The temple is approached by an array of steps from the lane on the eastern side. Past the asbestos-sheet roofed natapandal one reaches the naalambalam. Only the valiambalam portion in front and the thitappalli (kitchen) in the Agnikone (South-East) have tiled roof. Other portions of the naalambalam have only the basement. The Upa-devatas within the naalambalam are Ganapathy in the Kannimoola (South-West corner) and Shastha in the adjoining cubicle. While Ganapathy is sheltered by a pyramidal concrete roof, Shastha's cubicle is covered by tile roof. The well is located on the northern side of the Namaskara Mandapam.
The shrikovil at Netirimangalam is an early forerunner of Kerala temples in that it is an unfinished granite structural temple, originally built up to the height of the prastara or entablature i.e. bottom line of the greeva. This practice of using stone (granite) for the abode of God had reached Cera country from neighbouring Tamil mainland with the advent of the cave-temples and was subsequently adopted in the early structural temples.
The sanctum stands on an earlier adhishtana leaving a walk-way all around. On plan, the sanctum consists of a square garbha-grha with a projecting mukhamandapa in front. The plain pranala (water-chute) issues out of the usual simha-mukha on the northern side of the adhishtanam above the vrtta-kumuda course and is supported on a stone.
The shrikovil is a nirandhara prasada, without an inner ambulatory. Divided into five bays, the adhishtana as well as the bhitti (superstructure) are built up of granite slabs rough-hewn with chisel marks. The rudimentary outline of the wall ornamentations have been laid with Kudya stambhas (pilasters in relief on the wall surface), makara toranas (garland or scroll joining two pillars at the top) etc.
From the paduka (lowermost strata) of the upapitha upto the top of the vedika (the member intervening the adhishtana and bhitti) itself the height is around seven feet. The tall Shiva linga comes above this vedika level. As such, the roof of the namaskara mandapa in front has been punctured to some extent to afford visibility of the sannidhi from the entrance portion. The sopanam bhitti is also rough-hewn without any ornamentation. Dwarapalakas are absent but tradition consider their presence to be prakshiptam (concealed).
Above the prastara (entablature or decorated wall portion near the ceiling), a laterite superstructure has been added later to serve as greeva and finished with a tiled pyramidal shikhara. The mukha mandapa roof has an imposing shuka-naasa.
To the north of the Shiva shrine outside the prakara is located a circular shrine. The shrine which is square internally houses the idol of Vishnu. Undoubtedly, the shrine has to be dated later thatn the Shiva temple.
The temple being an early phase structure had no namaskara mandapa in the original layout either. As it is not associated with any sculpture or inscription, it is not easy to arrive at the date of the structure. On stylistic considerations archaeologists assign it to the tenth century, with the earlier adhishtana (dating to ninth century) now used as a walkway around.
Rituals and Festivals
Consistent with the modest nature of the temple, only two poojas (morning and evening) are the order of the day with no regular Shribali, though the bali stones stand mute witnesses. The first Sunday and Monday of the vernacular months are important days when Panchagavyam and Appam are respectively offered as nivedya. Shivarathri in Kumbhom and Ardra asterism in Dhanu are celebrated with pomp. The tantric rites are administered by Andaladi Mana of nearby Maruthoor.
Southern side - long shot
Southern side - midrange view
Ganapathy and Shastha shrines - viewed from Southern side
Main entrance - Eastern side
Shrikovil and mukhamandapom
Shrikovil - view 2
Shrikovil and the pranala on the northern side
Last Revised (contents): 1 january, 2002
Last Revised (design) : 17 october 2004