Thirunelli is a famous ancient temple located in the upper regions of north Kerala's Wayanad district. You can reach Tirunelli by road driving from Mananthavady, Sultan Bathery (Battery), Kutta or Mysore. The drive itself will be an exhilarating experience as the road winds its way through scenic Kerala forests home to wild elephants, bison and deer of various species.
Nesting amidst forested hills Tirunelli temple is frequented by hundreds of devotees daily. The most auspicious time of worship is as the shrine opens its doors after the midday pooja (ceremonial worship). The presiding deity Lord Vishnu appears bedecked with diamond jewelry and decorated with pure sandalwood paste head to toe.
The chief attraction though for the pilgrimage is the visit and ceremonial bath at the Papa Nashini pond nearby in the woods where a knee-deep freshwater pool is continuously fed by a mountain stream. Wild animals frequently visit the area in search of drinking water but are kept at bay with electrified fencing erected by the department of forests. Devout Hindus believe that the Tirunelli Papa Nashini bath at least once in a lifetime helps pay what is known as 'pitru rina' or debts owed to forefathers. As you negotiate the rounded boulders on foot on your way to the pool you will find on your left a well maintained lotus pond with a huge rock in the middle of the water with distinct footprint-like impression on the surface - legend has it that the footprints are those of Lord Sri Ram who himself sanctified the spot by his footsteps during his epic sojourn in the south.
Accommodation for those would like to stay over at Tirunelli is available from the guest house managed by the temple. Also aplenty are home-stays, cottages and lodging elsewhere close by the temple. Its well advised to plan your trip to Thirunelli after confirming your reservations!
Here is the link to the Vishnu Temple's website