Sree Subrahmanya Swami Temple of Payyanur is believed to be constructed by Lord Parasurama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. There are references in Hindu Puranas about this temple and the temple town Payyanur. In Brahmanda Purana the temple and its town is being mentioned while Muni Garga explains about Kerala to the Pandavas during their exile (vanavasa).
Subrahmanya Swami Temple is closely related with the Payyanur. Even the name of the town is originated due to the existence of the temple. This temple was destroyed two times. Once due to a fire and then during the attack of Tipu Sultan of Mysore The temple was reconstructed in the present form in Malayalam era 967 (AD 1792)
The temple is located 1½ km southwest of Payyanur bus stand and 750m south of Post office junction and a km east of the railway station.
Payyanur is very famously known as the seat of Payyanur ‘Graamakalas’ who were blessed by Lord Parashuraama. The early history of the temple can be divided into two periods:
1. Prior to 964 K.E.
2. Kollavarsham 964 corresponding to 1788 A.D.
According to the Payyanur pattola, the earlier structures were as follows:
- Dwi thala sreekovil (for Lord Subramanya covered with copper roofing and 2 golden stupas and a golden sree mukham).
- A copper roofed mandapam with a copper thaazhikakkutam.
- A Vaathalimaatam with a golden snake motif on its top.
- A Chuttambalam and 2 Natapuras.
- 2 copper roofed sub-shrines for Lord Parashuraama and Lord Ganapathi with Saastha besides 4 Gopuras.
Unfortunately, all these structures were destroyed by fire on 27th Meenam 964 (March- April 1788) by Tipu’s forces. But some of the items in the temple like balithitamb of the Lord could be saved as it was kept at Peringothth Kottathh as arranged by the Chenga Koovilakam Chiraykkal Raja, since the public had previous information about the impending attack of Tipu Sultan. The main idol was broken during this time, but not destroyed. The temple remained closed for 3 years and re-opened onVrschikam 967 by the senior lady of the Thaazhakaat manna. The temple was rebuilt in 968 K.E., the renovation and construction stated as per the measurments given Thaayinneri ottagraha shilpis with the help of 8 Deshams. According to the local tradition, the temple now, represents only a miniature of the earlier original temple, which was believed to be built by Vishwakarma as per the directions of Lord Parashurama.
Both in rites and customs, this temple is unique. As the height of the idol is 1.8m, the priest has to stand and perform the puja to the idol. The main festivals of the temple do not have the usual pomp with caprisoned elephants, fire works etc. Instead, the thitamb of the diety is always taken in procession on the head of the priest both for the daily
Sree-bali and on festive ocassions which may sometimes take even 4 hours. Being a Subramaniya temple, the temple is associated with astrology. By the benevolence of the diety, many persons in the past have achieved great reputation and there are still many adorning high positions.
Another unique feature og the temple is the Pavithra modhiram made here. This is a golden ring of a peculiar pattern worn in the ring finger of the right hand by the Acharyas before commencing important temple rites. The pavithra made here is made up of 101 panavitas (5.05 g). After making the ring, special pujas are performed in the temple.
The temple complex has an extent of 3.5 acres. The main structures are as follows:
- Sree kovil
- Sub Shrines, Agrashaala, Gopuras, Kottaram and tank.
The main deity is that of Lord Subramaniya, an idol which is 180cm tall over the peetham, in standing posture with 2 arms, the right hand holding the Vel and the left hand resting the hip (Kati Bandha). The sub dieties are that of Lord Parashuraama, Sree Boothathaan, Maha Ganapathi, Dharma Shaastha.
Time of worship and pujas:
The temple is open from 4a.m. to 12 noon and from 5 to 9 p.m. The important pujas are
- Nethra Puja ( 5:30 a.m.)
- Usha Puja ( 6 a.m.)
- Pantheerati Puja ( 7:30 a.m.)
- Navakam ( 9 a.m.)
- Uccha Puja ( 10:30 a.m.)
- Aththaazha Puja ( 8 p.m.)
Different Neivedhyams are offered after different pujas. There are 22 Sreebhootha balis in a year in this temple.