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The temple is on the left bank of the Pampa River. The sacred jewels of Ayyappan (Thiruvabharanam) are taken in procession to Sabarimalai each year from Pandalam, and Aranmula Temple is one of the stops on the way. Also, the Thanka Anki (golden attire) for Ayyappa, donated by the king of Travancore, is stored here and taken to Shabarimala during the Mandala season (late December). Aranmula is also known for the watersports involving a spectacular procession of snake boats. It is also linked with legends from the Mahabharata.

It is one of the most important Krishna temples in Kerala, the others being at Guruvayur, Trichambaram, Tiruvarppu and Ambalappuzha.Also, it is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the Mahabharata. The Chengannur temple is related to Yuddhishtra; the Tiruppuliyur temple to Bheema; Aranmula to Arjuna; Tiruvamundur to Nakula and Tirukkadittaanam to Sahadeva). It has been glorified by the Tamil hymns of Nammalwar of the 1st millennium CE.

The boat race: Snake boats from 48 Karas from Chennithala in the west to Ranni in the east participate in the watersport Vallomkali. These boats assemble at dawn and sail in pairs for about 2 hours. A snake boat is about 103 feet in length. Each boat has about 4 helmsmen 100 rowers and 25 singers. After the watersport there is an elaborate feast in the Aranmula temple.

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