Bharananganam is an important pilgrim centre in South India, is located on the banks of Meenachil River, 5 km east of Pala in Kottayam district in the state of Kerala.  Bharananganam is also known as Dakshina Guruvayoor (Guruvayoor of South) because of the presence of Bharananganam Sree Krishna Swami Temple. The place’s name is closely associated with this temple. During their vanavasa (exile) Pandavas and Panchali stayed here for some days. It is believed that Yudhishtira performed Vishnu Pooja here.

The 8 day long annual festival in Makaram (January) is a very vibrant event in the whole region commencing with the hoisting of the temple flag on Makara Samkramam day, and concluding with ‘Arattu’ (Ritual Bath of the deity) on 8th day. Besides the regular daily rituals the festivities include processions of the deity on elephant’s back to the suburban villages like Kizhaparayar, Keezhambara, Chittanappara and bharananganam (on 5 days) the precious ‘Utsava Bali’ (for 6 days) and art and cultural programs every day. The ‘Arattu’, typical of the ‘Arattu’ in almost any temple, is a magnificent night-long ceremony including procession of several elephants and performances by major percussion teams.

This small town is known as Lisieux of India after the birthplace of St. Theresa of Lisieux in France, The thousand year old St. Mary’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church here is one of the famous pilgrim centers of the Christians in Kerala. Also known as Anakkallu Palli, it is the place holding the mortal remains of Saint Alphonsa (1910–1946).

Saint Alphonsa is the first woman to be conferred sainthood from the Kerala Church, which traces its origins to the visit of St. Thomas around 2,000 years ago to preach the gospel in India, and the second Indian to get that status after St Gonsalo Garcia. The death anniversary of Saint Alphonsa, which falls on 28 July is an important day for the devotees. Every year on this day, thousands of devotees visit this holy shrine, where the mortal remains of the saint is preserved, to pray and seek her blessings.

Her tomb has been a centre of pilgrimage and innumerable miracles. The first officially confirmed miracle was that of, a disabled child miraculously cured of his ailment and his limbs restored, due to prayers at the altar of Sister Alphonsa’s shrine. The miracle was approved in 1985 and the beatification of Sister Alphonsa was proclaimed by Pope John Paul II, during his visit to India in 1986. There is a two floored structure in front of the shrine which was originally the Papal podium for the beatification ceremony on 8 Feb.1986. Sister Alphonsa became Saint Alphonsa after she was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI at a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican on 12 October 2008. There is a museum adjacent to the convent chapel where the personal belongings of the Saint are well preserved.



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