Sasthakotta Dharma Sastha
It is another very famous ancient Sastha temples of Kerala. The temple is surrounded by fresh water (sasthamkotta lake) lake on all three sides(The biggest fresh water lake of Kerala) and hill with dense forest on the other side .A small town called Sasthamkotta has come up near these forests.
Shri Dharma Sastha temple is built in Kerala style of architecture and was built by the Pandalam family .Sasthamcotta is a well historic place where the Second World Religion Conference was held in 1971, in which the Global Religious Celebrities participated.
Sasthamcotta is well connected with the other parts of Kerala by road and rail. The National Highway (NH 47) passes through Karunagapally and Chavara. Both these towns are just 12 km from Sasthamcotta. Two other important places on MC Road (SH 1) that connect to Sasthamcotta are Adoor and Kottarakara; both approximately 18 km away.
Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) plies regular bus services to this place from Kollam, Karunagapally, Kottarakara, Adoor and Pathanamthitta. KSRTC also runs regular services to Pampa via Sasthamcotta during the Sabarimala season.
Sasthamcotta has a small railway station about 4 km from Sasthamcotta town. Karunagappally railway station is about 12 km from Sasthamcotta. Kollam Junction and Kayamkulam Junction are the two major railway stations close to Sasthamcotta.
Folklore has that the idol consecrated at Sasthamcotta temple is none other than the swayambhu idol worshipped by Lord Ram during his trip to Lanka (Sri Lanka) in search of his consort, Sita. It seems Lord Rama when he was going from Sri Lanka to Ayodhya visited this place , It is believed that, Lord Rama offered ‘pithru tharpan’ on the banks of the Sasthamcotta Lake and he deputed the chief architect of his vanara (monkey) team, ‘Neelan’ to serve his host. Neelan is believed to be the predecessor of the monkey clan in this temple.It is also believed that Lord Hanuman when he was searching for Sita has visited this place , There is also a prathishta of Ganesa in this temple.
This temple has very large number of monkeys roaming all round it. The monkeys that once colonised the surrounding woods were believed to be followers of the prime diety, Dharmasastha, and hence, are revered by devotees. Thousands of devotees visiting the temple feed these monkeys with nuts and fruits.
A few years ago, the monkeys began to face shortage of food and they began to snatch food from visitors to the temple and children going to nearby schools and colleges. The Courts then ordered the Devaswom (Temple) Board to make arrangements to feed the monkeys of the temple adequately. The Board, being short of funds, sought support from well-wishers of the temple but adequate funds were not forthcoming. Mr Gopala B. Pillai, founder and president of Wild Republic, and a native of Sasthamkotta, heard about this dilemma and offered to set up a Trust Fund jointly with the Devaswom Board to ensure perpetual feeding of the monkeys. This was achieved in 1996 and since then the monkeys of the temple have never been in want of food. On local festival days, when people feast at home, the Trust arranges a similar feast for the monkeys of the temple also.
The presiding deity of the temple is , Shri Dharma Sastha who is accompanied by his consort 'Prabha' and son 'Sathyaka'.
The highlight of this temple is the 10 day annual festival the month of Kumbham (February-March). The festival includes the colourful Kettukazhcha procession of various bullocks, horses, decorated chariots, folk art performances etc. Various folk arts such as Mayilattam, Kaala (bull motif), Kuthira (horse motif), Ammankudam are performed. The festival concludes with the Arattu ceremony, five caparisoned elephants take part in a procession held at midnight. Another important festival is Shiva Prathishta Vaarshikom which is held in Atham in the Malayalam month of Edavam (May-June).
Entry is restriceted to Hindus.
Sasthamcotta Neelakandan is the elephant at Sasthamcotta Temple (Sasthamcotta Manikandan was the first elephant at the temple. Sasthamcotta Manikandan passed away in the year 1999). Neelakandan is the vital part of Sasthamcotta temple. He carries the deity of the Lord Dharmasastha during annual festival processions and ceremonial circumambulations in the temple. Nelakandan is donated by Sri. Ajith Kumar, who is a well known business man in the UAE, as his offering.
Sasthamcotta Sree Dharma Sastha Temple is open from 4:30 AM to 11:30 AM and from 5 PM to 7:45 PM