Navarathri Concerts at the Navarathri Mandapam, Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Navarathri begins today. On this occassion here is a musical celebration of Navarathri that I want to share with the readers.

The Navarathri festival concerts at the Navarathri Mandapam in the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple precincts in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala has a heritage that is unique. This year, the fest starts on Sept.30 this year.

The classical music ( and dance) are an integral part of the celebrations held by the Travancore royalty in the past and is kept alive by the family of that lineage.

And the rituals and concerts, steeped in tradition, make them unique.

For Navaratri, the idol of Saraswathi is carried on a caparisoned elephant from a temple in Padmanabhapuram ( the erstwhile headquarters of the Travancore royals) and brought to the Navaratri Mantap where pujas are carried out every day for nine days.

The concerts are from 6.30 pm. Rasikas must settle down before that; late comers are discouraged.

Before the evening concert, there is a rendering the ‘Thodaya Mangalam’ and ‘Ganapathy Sthuthi’ composed by Swati Tirunal, by a set of bhagavathars who hail from an ancestry traced to musicians who performed during the era of Maharaja Swati Tirunal.

This compositions of the king have been preserved since those times because the bhagavathars have carried it down the ages faithfully through this oral rendition.

Since the 1920s, great Carnatic artistes were invited to perform for Navaratri. Maharani Sethu Parvathi Bayi, in her time, took immense interest in promoting music and concerts. Of late, Prince Rama Varma who also performs ( as a veena player and a vocalist ) has taken on the assignment of arranging the concerts and he has invited musicians too to perform.

Also, he broke tradition when he invited a woman – Parsa Ponnammal, a sishya of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer – to perform in the mantap.

Since the mantap is part of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, certain rules have to be followed – only Hindus are allowed here, men must be bare-chested, photography / and cellphones are not entertained. Other rasikas can sit outside the mantap and enjoy the concert.

30 Sep Tuesday
6pm to 8.30pm – Navarathri Keerthanam “Devi Jagath Janani” – Sankarabharanam
Vocal : Sri T.M.KRISHNA
Violin : Sri R.K.Sreeram Kumar
Mridangam : Sri Guruvayur Dorai
Ghatom : Sri V. Suresh

01 Oct Wednesday
6pm to 8.30pm – Navarathri Keerthanam “Pahimam Sri Vageeswari” – Kalyani
Violin : Smt. Padmasankar
Mridangam : Sri Nanjil Arul
Ghatom : Sri Manjoor Unnikrishnan

02 Oct Thursday
6pm to 8.30pm – Navarathri Keerthanam “Devi Pavanae” – Saveri
Violin : Smt Charulatha Ramanujam
Mridangam : Sri Mavelikara R. Rajesh
Ghatom : Sri Adichanallur Anil Kumar

03 Oct Friday
6pm to 8.30pm – Navarathri Keerthanam “Bharathi Mamava” – Thodi
Violin : Sri S. R. Mahadeva Sarma
Mridangam : Sri Cherthala S. Dinesh
Kanjira : Sri Uduppi S. Srikanth

04 Oct Saturday
6pm to 8.30pm – Navarathri Keerthanam “Janani Mamava” – Bhairavi
Violin : Sri S. Varadarajan
Mridangam : Sri Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam
Ghatom : Sri T.V.Vasan

05 Oct Sunday
6pm to 8.30pm – Navarathri Keerthanam “Saroruhasana” – Panthuvarali
Vocal : Prince RAMA VARMA
Violin : Sri S. Varadarajan
Mridangam : Sri B. Harikumar
Ghatom : Dr. S. Karthick
Morsing : Sri Payyannur Govindaprasad

06 Oct Monday
6pm to 8.30pm – Navarathri Keerthanam ” Janani Pahi” – Sudhasaveri
Vocal : Padma Bhooshan Sri TRICHUR V. RAMACHANDRAN
Violin : Sri M.A.Sundaresan
Mridangam : Sri Bangalore Praveen
Ghatom : Dr. S.Karthick
Morsing : Sri Payyannur Govindaprasad

9.30pm – Mohiniyattam by Dr. Deepthi Omchery Bhalla ( entry restricted to invitees)

07 Oct Tuesday
6pm to 8.30pm – Navarathri Keerthanam ” Pahi Janani ” – Nattakurinji
Violin : Sri R. Madhavan
Mridangam : Sri A. Balakrishna Kamath
Ghatom : Sri Perukavu P.L.Sudheer

08 Oct Wednesday
6pm to 8.30pm – Navarathri Keerthanam ” Pahi Parvathanandini”- Arabhi
Vocal : Sri Thamarakkad GOVINDAN NAMBOOTHIRI
Violin : Sri Sampath
Mridangam : Sri Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan
Ghatom : Sri Uduppi Sridhar

Here is some more information from  probably Prince Varma himself at

The ambiance there is something to be experienced to be believed. Perfectly balanced acoustics, lighting by oil lamps, the divine grace of the Goddess in whose honour the concerts are conducted,
utterly disciplined and informed audience, the feeling of having travelled back in time by around two centuries…..the list is endless. As I said before… is something that has to be experienced to be
There are some restrictions though.
1) Only Hindus are allowed inside since it is a temple.
2) Men have to wear a mundu/veshti/dhothi and take off their shirts.
3) Everybody has to be seated by 6:00 pm at the latest.
4) Nobody can leave before the concerts finish.
5) The concerts start at 6:00 pm Sharp and finish at 8:30 pm Sharp.
6) Since the concerts are done as offerings to the Devi and not as “Performances” there is no applause.
7) Mobile phones are STRICTLY Forbidden inside.
8) The main krithi for each day is fixed.
9) Women were not allowed inside the Mandapam for 200 years but I had the privilege of getting
this tradition changed after fighting against this for 22 years. And now women can enter the place
both as performers as well as listeners.
A speaker will be kept outside the steps of the Shree Padmanabhaswami Temple (Which is adjacent to the Navarathri Mandapam) for the benefit of those who wouldn’t be prepared to follow all the restrictions listed above, but would still like to enjoy the concerts.
A chunk of each concert would be broadcast by the All India Radio, Trivandrum on all days from
9:30 pm till 11:00 pm.
For further information, queries, feedback, please write to me at
(Much safer than sending a letter to the administrator by post by the way.)


Read an article titled The Navarathri Mandapam Experienceby Rama Varma in the Hindu here


One response to “Navarathri Concerts at the Navarathri Mandapam, Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala

  1. Hello Maestro. I tried to reply to your scrap at Orkut
    but it doesn’t seem to be going through, for some reason. So I am copying it and pasting it here. Hope this will work 🙂

    Hello Maestro. Your blog was nice and informative
    🙂 Yes, I organize the Music concerts but not the dance recital, which is done by others. If you are in India in January, please feel most welcome to visit Trivandrum, in Kerala, any day (Or days) from the 6th till the 15th, when I hope to have my music festival. I am afraid I don’t have a video of Dr.Deepthi Bhalla’s performance. I heard from others that she danced exquisitely and that the music was horrendous ….. which is the single most important reason why I normally keep away from dance myself 🙂 Keep up the good work you are doing through your blog and have a great day !
    Kind regards and good wishes,

    Thanks Varmaji .
    I am sorry that my orkut settings didnt allow you to scrap. Really appreciate your effort to communicate through the blog.
    Well if I am blessed enough to make it to Kerala during Jan, will sure make it to the music festival..
    I am so sorry that the music was horrenendous at her recital.. Well I attended a few local Bharathanatyam recitals today, while the dancing was horrendous this time , the music was tolerable since they were all commercially made CD’s. 🙂


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