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e Profile 'Sopanam' the word meant that with constant practice to reach
a noble aim. With traditional way of practice and study, to bring and improve
'Panchavadyam' and allow one and all to learn its nuances under one roof is the prime
motto of Sopanam school of Panchavadyam.

The idea to start a school for teaching Panchavadyam has come to the mind of
Santhosh Alankode, who is the Director of Sopanam and Instructor, during 2009 at the
devine temple of Sri Kozhissiamgattu Bhagavathi. The fulfilment of this idea could
materialise after several discussions with the temple committee on 9th December 2010
with the whole hearted support of the people surrounded the temple especially Sri.
Jagesh Patteth and Sri. Vijeesh Patteth. The other names to be remembered are Sri.
P.T. Subrahmanian, Temple Trustee Sri. Naripparambu Manakal Vasudevan
Namboodiri, Sri. Govindarajan Master, Sri. P.K. Preman, the Sreedurga Committee
members, Sri. Anvar Valayamkulam and many other well wishers around the temple.
Apart from this there is an advisory committee includes Sir Dr. K.V. Krishnan, Sri.
Alankode Leelakrishnan, Sri. P.T. Subrahmanian, Adv. P. Rajagopala Menon,
Sri.Mohan Alankode who are giving timely advises and instructions for the improvement
of the school.

The 'Sopanam' had inaugurated by lighting the lamp by the famous poet, social and
cultural figure and famous speeker who took the name of 'Alankode' across the border
of this village and state to every place of the world where keralites are living.

After a rigorous training and practice on 24th December 2011, the first bach of 101
students have performed their first public function. This has also turned out to be the
first ever performance of Panchavadyam with 201 members which also become the first
ever record and school won a place in the Limca Book of Records. The distribution of
Limca certificates and the second anniversary has planned to be functioned during
January second week of 2013.

Today, approximately 450 students are studying in the school with classes at Tavanur,
Pazhanji and Thandilam Arayalikkal, Pothanur, Vellalur, Kumaranallur, Edapal apart
from Valayamkulam. Approximately 15 girls have also started learning the nuances of
Panchavadyam at the school. From this year, apart from Panchavadyam, school also
started teaching 'Chenda' at Valayalamkulam, Thandilam Araylikkal, Vellalur and 20
studentsa have already done their first performance.

There is no restriction on Religion-caste to accept the students at the school. All those
who agree and abide by the rules and regulations of the school can join Sopanam for
study of these art forms.

Since our aim is to spread the knowledge of these temple art forms outside Kerala, we
would request you all to provide us as much as possible information/pictures of the
erstwhile artists in this field. Sopanam's aim is to form a Universtity for these temple art
forms of Kerala and a Research Centre. To aid this pursuit of us, we request all help
from all of you.

Faculties :

Thimila : Sri. Mayannur Mani Asan (having 45 years of experience this field)
Sri. Santhosh Alankode (Director of Sopanam School of
Sri. Sudheesh Alankode

Madhalam : Sri. Chalisseri Sundaran Nair (More than 40 years of experience in
this filed)
Sri. Kadavallur Babu
Sri. Kadavallur Biju

Idakka : Sri. Kadavallur Shyam

Kombu : Sri. Kadavallur Velauyudhan

Thalam : Sri. Alankode Venu
Sri. Alankode Mani

Chenda : Sri. Alankode Manikandan
Sri. Alankode Unnikrishnan
Sri. Alankode Gireesh (Limca Book of Record holder for his
performance for 32 hours of Thayambaka)

Courses :

Panchavadhyam (Thimila, Madhalam, Idakka, Kombu, Ilathalam)

Chenda : Thayambaka, Melam, Keli

Sopana Sangeetham (Idakka, Vocal)

Kurunkuzhal :(Kuzhalpattu)

Special Courses :

3 Months special course for those who are in abroad and are in jobs.

Satge Programmes :

Panchavadyam : This is perfromed with minimum 10 persons and with 16, 23, 33, 51,
101, 201 members combination.

Thayambaka : 8 persons for Single Thayambaka and 11 persons for Double

Melam : Can be arranged with minimum 11 and upto 101 perons

Keli : Minimum 4 persons

Panchamadhala Keli : Madhalam -5, Thalam -5, Chenda - 3 = 13 persons

Kombu Pattu, Kuzhal Pattu

Special Programmes:

Vadyasallapam : Fusion with different musical instruments

Thimila Thayambaka

Lecture Demonstration : A detailed class on all instruments used in Panchavadyam,
Thayambaka etc.

Contact for more details :

Please contact Safor studying these temple art forms as well as booking programes for
Temple festivals and stage programmes at the following address :

Sopanam School of Panchavadhyam
Kozhissamgatt Temple premises
Valayamkulam, P.O. Kokkur
Malappuram Dist.
Kerala - 679 591.

Mob: 8086351794 (Santhosh Alankode, Director)
Mob: 8086044262 (Murali Satheesh, Secretary)

Website :
Fb:sopanamschool of panchavadyam


Panchavadyam, as the name suggests, literally meaning an orchestra of five
instruments, is basically a temple art form that has evolved in Kerala. Out of these five
instruments Thimila, Madhalam, Idakka are percussion category, while the fouth one
Kombu is a wind instrument. Ilathalam is a metallic disc like instrument which
provides/controls the 'Thalam' or the beat in particular intervals.

Panchavadyam is characterised by a pyramid-like rhythmic structure - with constantly
increasing tempo coupled with a proportional decrease in the number of beats in cycles.
Panchavadyam is not related very closely to any temple ritual and most
importantlypermits a lot of personal improvisaion while filling up the rhythmic beats on
the thimila, madhalam and idakka.

Panchavadyam bases itself on the 14 beat adanta (also spelt atanta) thaalam (taal), but
amusingly sticks to the pattern of the eight-beat chempata thaalam - at least until its last
parts. Its pendulum beats in the first stage total `,792, and halves itself with each stage,
making it 896 in the second, 448 in the third, 224 in the fourth and 112 in the fifth. After
this, panchavadyam has a relatively loose second half with as many stages, the
pendulum beats of which would now scale down to 56, 28, 14, 7 and three-and-a-half.

A Panchavadyam is anchored and led by the thimila artist at the centre of his band of
instrumentalists, behind whom line up the ilathalam players. Opposite to them stand the
madhalam players in a row, and behind them are the kompu players. Idakka players,
usually totalling two, stand on both sides of the aisle separating the timila an
dmadhalam line-up. A major panchavadyam will have artists totalling around 60.

Instruments :

Thimila or paani, is an hour-glass shaped percussion instrument used in Kerala. It is
made of polished jackwood, and the drumheads made of calfskin (preferebly taken from
1-2 years old calf) are held together by leather braces which are also twined round the
waist of the drum. This mechanism helps in adjusting the tension and controlling the
sound mainly two: 'tha' and 'thom'. It is also used in sree-bali, sree-bhootha-bali and
related temple rites.


The madhalam is a drum made out of the wood of the jackfruit tree. It has two sides for
playing, made out of leather, and has different kind of sound s on each side. The
madhalam is a heavy instrument which is hung around the waist of the person playing,
and the player stands all the while to perform.

Madhalam is considered as a Deva Vadyam as it resembles Lord Shiva and Lord
Parvathi by its sound. It is believed that, Madhalam by its structure, really resembles
the "Shiva Sakthi" swaroopa, in which the right hand side of the Madhalam resembles
SHiva and the left hand side resembles Parvathi.


The Idakka also spelet edaykka is an hourglass shaped drum from Kerala. This handy
percussion instrument is very similar to the pan-Indian damaru. While the damaru is
played by rattling knotted cords against the resonators, the idakka is played with a stick.
Like the damaru, the idakka's pitch may be bent by squeezing the lacing in the middle.

The idakka is slung over the left shoulder and the right side of the instrument is beaten
with a stick. The left hand is used for tightening and loosening the tape would round the
middle. Varying the tension of the tape produces variations in tones. Simple melodies
extending over one octave can be played in this instrument. The idakka is considered
to be Devavadyam (a divine instrument) and is cusotomarily played standalone during
the puja at temples or as the accompaniment to the Sopanam music just outside the
sanctum sanctorum.

This instrument also used in the classical dance and also in Kathakali, when a female
character holds the stage (when the Chenda is not played). In Koodiyattam too, the
idakka gives good support to the mizhavu.


Kombu is a wind instrument (kind of trumpet) usually played along with Panchavadyam,
Pandimelam, Panchari melam etc. This musical instrument is usually seen in Kerala
state. The insruments is like a long horn (Kombu in Malayalam language).


Elathalam or Ilathalam is a metallic musical instrument which resembles a miniature pair
of cymbals. This insturment is completely made out of bronze and has two pieces in it.

Elathalam is played by keeping one part of the cymbal in left hand banging the other
cymbal to the one in left hand. Even though this instrument is small by size, it does
have more thickness than the common cymbal, and thus gives a distinct chime.
Elathalam is used in other percussion ensembles like Chenda melam and Thayambaka
besides by second singer on a Kathakali stage besides providing the beat in Kuzhal
Pattu and Kombu Pattu.


Thayambaka, believed to have flourished during the feudal era spans an average of 90
minutes. It begins at a slow pace before scaling on toa medium tempo and eventually
culminating in high, frenzied speed. It has a skeletal pattern on which the performance
progresses, but the main performer has the liberty to improvise and innovate to
showcase his grip of rhythm, finesse of techniques and cerebral brilliance. In fact,
thayambaka is one chenda concert that allows maximum individual freedom to the main

Thayambaka, like panchavadyam or most chenda melams, is primarily a temple art, but
it is also performed outside shrineslike on proscenium stages, open fields or pagentry
grouns. As a ritual temple art, thayambaka is performed mostly at the annual festivals
soon after the sunset ritual of deeparadhana inside the sanctum sanctorum, following
which the deity is brought to the nadappura (open hall inside the temple precincts). In
such cases too, artful exhibition of skills remain prominent, yet the performance is
regarded as an offering to the presiding god/goddess.


It is a round pillar shape instrument made out of jackwood, drilled and made hollow
inside to make it like a drum, about 2 feet height and 1 feet dia this part is know as
'kutti'. Both sides are covered with cow skin covered in the strong rings made out of
palm tree, these rings are tied with plastic ropes. In this connecting ropes small rings
are put to adjust the tension and controlling the sound. Thayambaka played with stick
and palm on the itantala (treble) of the cheanda, while the rhythm is laid by his fellow
instrumentalists on the valanthala (bass) chendas.

Apart from Thayambaka Chenda also played in Melam, Keli and Kathakali etc.