Kalpathi Ratholsavam or Chariot festival is an annual temple festival celebrating in the month of November at the Sri Visalakhi Sametha Sri Viswanatha Swami temple, Kalpathy Palakkad. Kalpathi also known as Dakshin Kasi or the 'Varanasi of the South is an early Tamil Brahmin settlement (agraharam) in the Palakkad District of Kerala state, south India. This festival is one of the main attractions in South India for thousands of devotees and tourists.
Kalpathy Agraharam (Brahmin village) in the heart of Palakkad town is being notified as the first heritage village in the State. An area of 22.36 hectares of Old Kalpathy and New Kalpathy, constituting the famous Kalpathy Agraharam, will be notified for preservation. Kalpathi or Kalpathy also known as Dakshin Kasi or the 'Varanasi of the South .
The festival is at the Sri Visalakshi Sametha Sri Viswanatha Swamy temple where the deities are Lord Siva (Lord Viswanatha) and his consort Visalakshi, another name for Parvati.Kalpathy Viswanatha swamy temple is the oldest Siva temple in Malabar. It was built around 1425 AD.by Kombi Achan, the then Raja of Palakkad. Legend has it that a Brahmin widow named Lakshmiammal went to Banaras and brought Lingam and installed in the present site on the Southern bank of river Neela Bhagirathi. The location of the temple and steps leading to the river brings mind of a visitor the Banaras Temples on the bank of Ganges. Hence this temple is called "Kasiyil Pakuthi Kalpathy" (Half Banaras).
The annual ten day chariot festival conducted here during the month of November is one of the most remarkable festivals of Kerala.This year festival will be celebrate from 07th to 17th November, first week carnatic music festival organised by Department of tourism and ratholsav is organised by local committee. Vedic recitals and cultural programmes are held in the temple during the first four days of the festival. This is believed to be over 700 years old. On the last three days, thousands of devotees gather together to draw decorated temple chariots through the streets. On the fifth day night is the Rishabha Vahana procession. The deities from all the temples are taken out in beautifully adorned chariots and after their meeting at western end of new Kalpathy village ground at midnight, they disperse after two hours. The deities of Viswanathaswamy Temple are taken out and installed in the three chariots, one for the main deity Viswanathaswamy and consort Goddess Parvathi; the second for Vigneshwara and third for Lord Subrahmaniya Swamy.The deities of Old Kalpathy Temple and Chathapuram Temple are taken in procession on the chariot and procession is made through all villages. By sun set, all the chariots return to the original place. Abhishekams (offering with rituals) are then performed to the deities who are decorated again and taken out on procession in floral palanquins during midnight. The palanquins then return to the temple at dawn on the first day of the Tamil month of Karthigai.