The vibrant pageantry of the Thrissur Pooram festival in many ways encapsulates the rich cultural, religious and political heritage of this ancient town. At its very center is the Shaivite Vadakkunathan temple situated atop a hillock named the Thekkinkadu Maidan, a landmark around which the town has developed over centuries. The hillock is also the venue of the Pooram festival, the highlight of the town’s annual cultural calendar.
Once the capital of the Kochi ruling dynasty, Thrissur has variously been under the power of the Zamorins, the Portugese, the Dutch and the English. It was also briefly a tributary of Hyder Ali of Mysore. His son, Tippu Sultan, too, invaded the city and burned a few of its churches.
Historically a center of Hindu scholarship, Thrissur has at the same time served as the gateway to Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Thomas the Apostle set foot on the coast nearby and the country’s first mosque, Cheraman Juma Masjid, opened here in AD 62. Old churches and mosques dotting the landscape are a common sight. Thrissur is also Kerala’s cultural capital and home to various institutions that nurture many classical performing arts.