In News: The Aanayoottu (feeding of elephants) festival was held in the precincts of the Vadakkunnathan temple in City of Thrissur, in Kerala.

About the Festival:

  • The festival falls on the first day of the month of Karkkidakam (timed against the Malayalam calendar), which coincides with the month of July
  • It involves a number of unadorned elephants being positioned amid a multitude of people for being worshipped and fed. 
  • It is believed that offering poojas and delicious food to the elephants is a way to satisfy Lord Ganesha—the god of wealth and of the fulfillment of wishes. 
  • Among the temples the most popular Anayoottu is at the Vadakkunnathan temple, which is considered to be one of the oldest Shiva temples in southern India.
  • Elephants are an integral part of Kerala culture, and elephants are integral to all festivals, including the Aanayoottu. 

Vadakkunnathan Temple 

  • It is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva at Thrissur, Kerala.
  • It is a classic example of the architectural style of Kerala and has monumental towers on all four sides and also a kuttambalam. 
  • Mural paintings depicting various episodes from Mahabharata can be seen inside the temple. 
  • The temple, along with the mural paintings, has been declared as a National Monument under the AMASR (Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958).
  • According to popular local lore, this is the first temple built by Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu.  
  • In the year 2012 the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has recommended Vadakkumnathan Temple and palaces, from Kerala for inclusion in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

A "Monument of National Importance" is designated by the Archaeological Survey of India and includes the following:

  • The remains of an ancient monument
  • The site of an ancient monument
  • The land on which there are fences or protective covering structures for preserving the monument
  • Land by means of which people can freely access the monument

Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 defines an "Ancient Monument" as follows:

Ancient Monument means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years