Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Uthralikkavu – A Durga Devi temple in Central Kerala


Uthralikkavu, or Rudra Maha Kali Kavu, situated in the halcyon pastures of Akamala Desham (aka 'inside'; mala ‘woods’, in other words, a valley), in Thalappilli Taluk, Enkakkad Village, Wadakancheri Panchayat, Trichur District, Kerala, is famous for its annual pooram/vela festival. Uthralikavu Pooram is one of the spectacular temple festivals to be witnessed in Central Kerala during Summer (Feb-March). It is a festival filled with thrills and excitements with the procession and marching past of a number of elephants with colourful decoration to the accompaniment of the resounding Panchavadyam and the Pandimelam - two types of drum orchestration quite loved by the locals and tourists alike - and the fireworks that follow after the panchavadyam and chendamelam is one, it can be said, with no parallels to be found anywhere, even in Trichur Pooram that is wellknown all over the world.

Regarding the history of Uthralikavu, there is a story told by the elders about this temple in Enkakad. They say, the name Enkakad is derived from the word Thinkalkadu meaning The hair of Shiva(thirujada) in which moon resides. Lord Siva begged rice from the hill nearby called Uriyarikunnu (Uriyari—About 150 ml of rice) and with the rice so received, he prepared his dinner at a nearby place. This place was called Vechanad in Malayalam, which later became Machad. Lord Siva found this place so beautiful that he gave seats here to the two goddesses (Bhagavathies), one at the north east i.e., Akamala for Rudrakali (Rudhiramahakali or Uthrali as known now) and the other at south i.e., near Vazhani for Thiruvaani (Vaani means voice, speech, music etc.). It is also believed by the local people that Thiruvaanikavu Bhagavathy is elder sister of Uthralikkavilamma. Accordingly, Thiruvanikkavu Vela / Pooram (better known as Machad Mamankam or Kuthiravela) takes place one week prior to Uthralikavu Vela / Pooram.

There is also another belief that Uthrali Bhagavathi who is another form of Mookambika Devi, is the sister of Mahakurumba Bhagavathi, who is one of the deities installed in the Shiva temple in Karumarakkad, Wadakancheri, 3 Kms. away to the south from Uthralikavu. So, on the day of Pooram, Karumarakkad Bhagavathi comes to Uthralikvau on elephant back to see her sister. Poorams at both these locations, Karumarakkad and Uthralikavu, with caparisoned elephants, start simultaneously and then from Wadkancheri the decorated elephants in procession come to Uthralikavu with the ‘akambadi’ (protection) of a team of policemen and a large number of devotees. They converge in Uthralikavu where both the Bhagavathies meet and stand in line and a *Kootti Ezhunnallathu takes place.

However, there are variations in the story. As legend goes, Kelathachan was a local chieften in Talappilli Taluk of Trichur District, like the Paliathachan of Trichur. Kelathachan had his mansion in the bosom of Akamala, an evergreen forest famous for its flora and fauna. The green stretches of paddy fields owned by him on the western valley of these forests were rich in yields.

During his tours Kelathachan used to keep a palm-leafed umbrella (Olakuda). It was believed that Goddess Mookambika, when once Achan visited Kollur, came alongwith him sitting on top of his umbrella. When he kept his umbrella on the ridges of the paddy field owned by him near his Farm House in Mullakkal, Akamala, on the east side of the railway line, bhagavathy got out of the umbrella and sat on the ridges. This place is known as the Mullakkal Sreemoolasthanam of Uthrali. An ‘Aal’ tree was planted behind this place, to protect Devi from sun and rain.

After a long time, once a harijan lady had a strange experience a little away from this location on the other side (west) of the railway line. While sharpening her sickle on a stone, under a ‘Poovam’ tree, she saw blood dripping from the stone and was frightened and therefore screamed aloud. Male workers who heard the sound, came to the scene to witness the strange incident. They reported the matter to Kelathachan. As was the practice, he consulted the Astrologer. According to the astrologer, bhagavathy liked to have a permanent abode there under the tree to bless her devotees. In the ‘Prasnam’ i.e. indications appearing to the astrologer, this goddess was found to be ‘Vana Durga’, who liked to be under the tree, and so an open roofed temple protecting the Poovam tree was built there and Bhagavathy was consecrated in it and worshipped with all relevant rituals. Even now the sanctum sanctorum of this temple is under a Poovam tree, which is replanted after the earlier tree perished over time.

It was also seen in the Prasnam that this Devi liked a poojari belonging to tamil Brahmin community only rather than the usual Namboodri community who used to be ruling in most of the temples in Kerala. A Tamil Brahmin was, therefore, located in a nearby village called Padinjattimuri village (near Wadakancheri) and he was appointed there as the Chief Priest. He belonged to Chakkingal Madam and to this date for generations from Tippu Sultan’s time, the priest here is from Chakkingal Madam only.

In fact, this tamil Brahmin family originated from a Brahmin lady who had run away from Palghat (previously of Madras State) hearing that Tippu Sultan was going to conquer Palghat very soon. She wanted to escape from the Muslim Ruler and came over to central Kerala. She came to a place called Vlaha near Triprayar Srirama temple and took abhayam/asylum in a Namboodri’s Illam. She had her small child and an ‘Uruli’ (a vessel of a particular alloy which is used for making Payasam especially in temples) with her when came over to Vlaha. The boy was, later on, known as Vlahayil Annayan Pattar and the Uruli his mother (the Paatti who came to Vlaha) had carried along with him was available, fully worn out, even till recently with the descendents of the family as a piece of evidence of their ancestral history traced from the time of Tippu Sulatan’s padayottam.

Annayan Pattar was a very good cook (cooking was his profession – As TN Sheshan very aptly told, only three categories were there among tamil Brahmins settled in Kerala and they were, cooks, crooks and civil servants! The three Cees. - His progenies, Chakkingalmadam descendents, became very famous people such as Judges, Lawyers, CEOs, Collectors, Musicians, Doctors, Priests, Landlords, and whatnot. They all owe their progress to the devotion and dedication with which they worshipped Uthrali Bhagavathi.

Chakkingalmadam Krishna Iyer, - CK Krishna Iyer – a descendent of this family, fondly called by everyone as Ambi Swamy, and father of the existing chief priest of Uthralikavu, Sri CK Rama Iyer alias Ramu Swamy was the Chief Priest here for more than six decades, from 1918 to 1981, and during his time the temple developed from stage to stage from frame to fame. He used to devote his entire time for Devi upasana and dedicated his life for the service of the devotees coming to this temple. He was a vedic scholar by profession who had his ‘Adhyayanam’ (Gurukula learning) at the Sanskrit Veda Patashala at Thiruvidaimarathur for over seven years.

Figure 1 A 1970 file photo of the Chief Priest, Sri Ambi Swami and wife
The temple administration and other routine maintenance, etc. was previously in the hands of the people belonging to the three villages – Enkakkad village (in which the temple is situated), Kumaranellur and Wadakancheri villages, the two neighbouring villages adjoining. They conducted the annual temple festival (Vela) in a small scale by collecting subscriptions from the villagers then and now they conduct it in a grand scale by collecting money from devotees all over the world. However, the administration was eventually passed on to the Cochin Devaswam Board and this temple is under this Devaswam who takes all the income from this temple and also make monthly payments to the employees of this temple such as melsanthi, keezhsanthi, variar, marar, masappadi, velichappad, etc. who eke out a living by serving the temple.

Uthralikavu pooram - In olden days it was Uthralikavu Vela. Now it is called pooram. The change from vela to pooram – bigger form - was gradual. Seven days in advance of the Pooram day, the flag hoisting ceremony (kodiyettam) takes place. Bhagavathy comes out of the kavu (temple) and goes around the nearby villages to bless her devotees at their residence and to accept their offerings, in the form of Nirapara (Para is an old measurement of grains in Kerala). The materials offered should have minimum one Para of paddy, supported by flowers, raw rice, fried paddy, jaggery, turmeric, fruits etc. The Komaram/Velichapad who visits the homes (Velichapadu being the representative of Bhagavathy) gives oracles, in a faith-evoking atmosphere created by Chenda (trumpet), Ilathalam (cymbals) and Kombu (musical horn). The first Para in this weeklong tour of Bhagavathy is expected to be given by a member of the family of Kelathachan at his Mullakkal Tharavadu. Both the temple (Uthralikavu as it is called by the public) and the Sreemoolasthanam (Akamala Mullakkal Alinchuvadu) are situated in Enkakad Village. Therefore, the villagers of Enkakad have the privilege of beginning the pooram, on the pooram day. This will be followed by Kumaranellur while the pooram procession from Wadakancheri will reach the temple premises when the pooram by Kumaranellur is half way through. Later all the three parties will join together and line up the decorated elephants at the main pooram venue in front of the temple after the fireworks are over. This is called *Kootti Ezhunnallethu in Malayalam (means joint procession) which will be a wonderful scene to enjoy with all the elephants with glittering and colourful decorations alongwith Pandi Melam (orchestrated drum beating).

Uthralikavu Pooram / Vela is also a festival of Villagers, after the harvesting season presenting various rural art forms like pootham, thira, nayadi, kummatti, kalakali etc.
Uthralikavu pooram is conducted with the active participation of the three villagers in Wadakanchery Panchayat, viz. Enkakad, Kumaranellur, Wadakanchery, who mobilize resources from all over, and make the Pooram more and more grand year after year. They vie with each other in presenting leading elephants, percussionists and pyrotechniques.

Figure 2 A scene from Uthralikavu Pooram

How to reach the temple and where to stay
10 degrees, 40 minutes, 21 seconds North, and 76 degrees, 15 minutes, 47 seconds East

Uthralikavu temple is well connected by State Highway (Trichur-Shornur State High Way-22); it is at the very brinks of the Highway in a valley which is full of greenery and food-crops. In fact, Uthrali Bhagavathi is Annapoorneswari Herself as is evident from the richness of the area and ambience of the temple where She resides. The Trivandrum-Shoranur-Chennai railline is running next to the boundary of the temple and a rail traveler in this route can see this temple from the train and enjoy the scenery.
One can reach the temple by any mode of road transport running between Trichur and Shoranur or between Trichur and Chelakara. The nearest town is Wadakancheri which has got a Railway Station (barely 4 Kms. from the temple) where most of the trains do halt. However, Trichur is the major railhead south of Uthralikavu where all the long-distance and other high speed trains, like Rajadhani Express, will stop. Trichur is only around 20 Kms. from the temple. Similarly Shoranur Junction is another major railhead north of Uthralikavu where people from North Kerala, such as Pattambi, Calicut, Kannur, Kasargod, and also from Mangalore can disembark and come to the temple travelling a small distance of 10 Kms by road which is well connected by buses and taxies.
The nearest airport is Nedumbansseri, near Cochin and the distance is about 50 Kms. from there to the temple which can be travelled by rail upto Wadakancheri and from there by road 4 Kms, or the entire distance by road / by bus or taxi. Calicut and Coimbatore are the other two airports nearest to this location from where plenty of surface transport (rail and road) is available to reach the temple. The approximate time to reach the temple from these two airports either entirely by road/taxi/bus, or rail and road will be around 4-5 hours only including the time taken to travel from the airport to the departure railhead and from the arrival railhead to the temple by road.
One can stay put in Wadakancheri town with a moderate budget in small hotels, but if one is particular about staying in high class accommodation/some star hotels, one has to seek such accommodation in Trichur town only which is the nearest major town in the mainline at a distance of 20 Kms. from the temple. Besides, Trichur does have three famous temples viz., Vadakkumnathan Shiva temple, Parmelkavu Bhagavathi temple and Thiruvambadi Krishna temple. Apart from these, the famous Guruvayoor temple is only at 40 minutes’ travel by train from Trichur.
The temple can also be located/viewed by Google search at geographical coordinates: 10 degrees, 40 minutes, 21 seconds North, and 76 degrees, 15 minutes, 47 seconds East. [ 10°40'21"N 76°15'47"E ]
Other festivals in the temple

Uthralikavu temple was re-constructed a few years ago with more beautification plans and the picture given on top of this description is the current view of the temple from the State Highway. As a result of the re-construction ‘Kalasam’ was done (it is a ceremony performed for the purification of the temple and its premises) and the day on which the Kalasam was performed is called ‘Prathista Dinam’ and it is celebrated every year with pomp and pageant. Although this concept of celebrating an ‘installation day’ or Prathista Dinam as is known in Malayalam, is contrary to what was stated above in the history of the origin of this temple, (i.e., that the Bhagavathi here is not an ‘installed’ deity, that it originated itself as Swayamboo) under a Poovam tree, for the sake of commemorating the reconstruction of the temple, this annual festival is conducted. During the re-construction, however, care was taken to preserve the Poovam tree as it is and the Sreekovil (sanctum sanctorum) was done up only without disturbing the tree and the open sky nature of the same.
On the day of Prathista Dinam which is conducted on the Avittam Nakshatram/star during the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May), there will be Sheeveli (Elephant ride) of Bhagavathi with three elephants for about two hours in the morning from 10 AM and also two hours in the evening from 4 PM. A smallscale fireworks will also follow this. In other words one can witness a Mini Pooram here on this day. There will be Annadanam for all the devotees visiting this temple on that day.

Another notable event in the temple calendar is Mandalam which is a period of 41 days during which special puja is performed beginning from the Malayalam Month Vrischikam upto 10th of Dhanu (November-December). The temple premises will be decorated during these days and special pujas will be offered. It is said that during these days, the goddess will come out of Sreekovil and remain in the special Mantapam decorated for this purpose. It is during this season generally Ayyappa devotees start penance and visit Ayyappa temple at Sabari Mala. So one can see many Ayyappas visiting this temple during this time, taking bath in the temple pond and calling Saranam.

Temple timings and main vazhivads/offerings

The temple is thrown open early in the morning by 4-30 and it is closed by 10-30 every day except on Fridays, Tuesdays and Sundays when the closing will be done only at 11 AM. Similarly, in the evenings, the temple opens at 5 PM and remains for darshan till 8 PM on all days. On the Pooram day, however, the temple will be open throughout day and night. The main vazhivads/offerings in the temple are:
Niramala, Chuttuvilakku, Nei Payasam, Kadana Vedi, Nei Vilakku, Pushpanjali/Archana, Mala and Bhagavathi Seva. Apart from these, there are offerings such as Chatussatayam, Thrikala Puja i.e., Udayasthamana puja, and such other normal vazhivadus found elsewhere.
To perform special pujas such as Chuttuvilaku, Niramala, Udayasthamana puja, etc., one has to book in advance and for all offerings, one has to take receipt from the Devaswam Board employees posted in the temple. The items of offerings and their rates are displayed in a board kept near the cash counter in the temple.

Uthrali Bhagavathi Sahayam

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chenganoor Mahadeva and Bhagawathi temples

Chengannur Mahadeva and Bhagawathy Temple
Chengannur is a village which is 40 km away from the town of Kottayam in Kerala. Lord
Maha Deva is consecrated facing east and the Goddess is facing west in this temple.
What is very unique about this temple is that people believe that the Goddess undergoes
periods once in a while at this temple. There is a temple of Vishnu also in Chengannur.
Nammazhawar has visited this temple and sung about the Lord Vishnu there. People
believe that Yudhishtra built the first temple of Lord Vishnu to get rid of his sin of telling
a lie in the battle field,
Outside the main temple of Shiva and Bhagawathy, there are temples for Sastha,
Neelagreeva (blue necked Lord Shiva) and Sthaleesa.
People believe that in the southern part of the temple, several great Manthra books to
get rid of poison are buried. If the devotee stands on the rock cover and sees the tip of the
Sree Kovil, for that entire day, people believe, that he would not be affected by poison
There is also a belief that, if some one puts his hand in the hole in the western wall and
takes a false oath, he would be bitten by a divine snake. It seems a local boy of the poison
doctor family was challenged by a great Azhwar. That night the boy cried to the Goddess.
She told him that in a pipe in her granary a snake was living. The boy took out the pipe
and challenged the Azhwar to make the snake come out of the pipe. Though the Azhwar
tried his best he could not. The boy then commanded the snake to come out. The snake in
the pipe came out and started chasing the Azhwar. He pleaded with the boy to control the
snake and then the boy then requested the snake to go back to the pipe and put the pipe
out through the hole in the western wall. People believe that this divine snake is still there
and would bite the one who takes a false oath.
There are several stories about this temple.
One belief is that when Lord Shiva cut the body of his consort Sathi Devi in to pieces
and threw them all over India, the middle part of her body fell in the place where this
temple is located. (Kamkahya temple in Guahathi believes that this part fell in that place).
Because of this they believe that the Goddess in this temple has monthly periods. People
also believe that because of this the Shiva Linga in this temple is consecrated on a
triangular pedestal.
There is also a belief that the Goddess consecrated here is not Parvathy at all but that of
Kannagi, the Tamil heroine who burnt the city of Madurai for avenging the injustice done
to her husband. It seems she crossed over to Kerala and stood below a Vengai tree. One
huntress saw her and made her statue in mud. Later Cheran Chenguttuvan made an
exactly similar statue and consecrated it here.
Yet another story is there. It seems when Shiva got married to Goddess Parvathi, since
the entire world went to attend the marriage, the earth became unstable. Lord Shiva then
sent Sage Agasthya to go to the south. The sage made, Lord Shiva promise that he would
once more celebrate the marriage in front of the sage in the south. When Lord Shiva
came along with Goddess Parvathi to Chengannur, she came to age. The devas celebrated
this event at Chengannur. Later this place was completely forgotten. This place was
called Sonadhri (Red Mountain) and sage Parasurama established an Agraharam here. At
that time one tribal woman sharpened her sword on a stone and blood started oozing from
the stone. The Brahmins were called and they found that this was a statue of Lord Shiva.
They decided to build a temple. The astrologers also found the presence of Goddess
there. So it was decided o build a temple for the Goddess also. At that time the famous
Perunthachan visited the temple. The people requested him to make a statute of the
Goddess. But he showed them a spot in the north-west of the temple and asked them to
dig there. They did and the present statue was recovered from there. Then they
consecrated both the gods after performing Kumbhabhishekam.
One the mesanthi (the chief priest) opened the temple of the Goddess in the morning to
change the flowers. He was astounded to find that the cloth which the Goddess was
wearing had a stain. This cloth was shown to the ladies of Vanchi Puzhathu Madam as
well as the land lady of the house of Thazhaman pothy. Both of them confirmed that
Goddess was undergoing periods.
Thazhaman pothy advised the Mesanthi to remove the statue to a separate temple and
close the door. The pooja for the next three days was performed in the north eastern
corner of the temple He also asked his wife and the chief lady of Vanchi Puzhathu
Madam to keep company to the Goddess during night. For several generations the ladies
of these houses keep company to the Goddess during the time of her periods. It was
regularly occurring every month for some time but nowadays, it happens three to four
times a year. The cloth which the goddess wears during this time (Thiru poothu) is
considered as a prized possession and is worshipped in many homes.
On the fourth day , the goddess is taken on a she elephant for her ritual bath ,
accompanied with musical instruments to the near by Mithra River. The namboodiri
women give the Goddess an oil bath and bring her back. The statue of the Goddess is
secretly taken out and mounted on the top of the elephant and the temple closed. Ladies
raise Mangala Dwani with their throat (called Kuruvai) . The elephant on which the
goddess rides is received with Nira Para. After the ritual bath given by the ladies , the
priest does ceremonies like Oil Abhishekam, Milk Abhishekam etc and after worshipping
her , the goddess is brought back to the temple.
There is another story which is popular. It seems after consecration of the Goddess,
Perunthachan once again came to the temple along with a Pancha loha idol of the
Goddess. He predicted that the temple will catch fire and then the Devi idol will be
destroyed. He said at that time this new Pancha loha idol should be consecrated.
It happened the same way. During the fire the Shiva Linga was saved by coating it with
mud but the idol of the goddess could not be saved. When they were searching for a
suitable replacement one Neelakandan of Thazaman Pothi’s house saw a dream and was
told about the above story. He was also told that the idol brought by Perumthachan was
preserved below a stone in the river.
Though they tried several times to locate the idol, they were unsuccessful. At that time
some fisher men from Karunagapally came to this place and they were able to locate the
idol. They brought the idol to the temple and handed it over the temple priest. That day
coincided with the festival of Shiva Rathri. Even now on every Shiva Rathri day , the
fisher folk of Karunagapally are honoured at the temple.
This temple was under the control of Travancore kings,. One British resident called
Munro laughed at the belief of the periods to the Goddess and stopped all grants for
observing it, it seems then onwards his wife started to bleed without stop. Though he
tried with several doctors, the bleeding could not be stopped. One well wisher of Munro
told him that it may be due to his action in stopping the grants to Chengannur temple.
Then Munro said that if his wife is cured , he will create a trust whose interest would be
sufficient to observe the celebration of the Thirupoothu (periods) of the Goddess. His
wife was cured .Apart from a creating the trust , Munro also presented two n golden
bangles to the Goddess.
The temple opens at 3.30 Am and remains open with several functions till 11.30 Am. It
again opens at 5 Pm and remains open up to 8 Pm. The major festival of the temple is in
the month of Dhanu (December-January) and the Arattu (ritual dip in the river) is on
Thiruvadira day.

Thiruvarppu Krishna temple

Thiruvarppu Krishna temple
This is one of the famous temples of Krishna in Kerala which is at least 1500 years old.
This temple is located in Thiruvarppu, which is 6-8 km from the town of Kottayam on the
shores of Meenachil River. (Varppu is the cast used by smiths to make bell metal vessels)
There are several stories about its origin. All of them talk of recovering the statue of
Lord Krishna with 4 hands which was kept in an Uruli (Flat vessel made of bell metal).
Here are some of the stories:-
1. This temple is connected to Mahabharata. When the Pandavas lived in the forest, Lord
Krishna gave them his statue with four hands so that they can daily worship it. It seems
when Pandavas finished their sojourn in the forest and wanted to go back, the people of
that area, requested for that statue. ,. This was worshipped by the people of Cherthalai.
But after some time due to reasons beyond their control, they were not able to continue
their worship. So they simply dropped the statue in the sea.
After a long time a great sage (some say it is Vilwamangalam Samiyar and other say it
is Padmapadacharya , the disciple of Adhi Shankara) was travelling by a boat in these
parts. Suddenly his boat became immobile. When some one got in to the sea to find out
the reason, the sea dried at that spot and they were able to recover this statue. The divine
person took the statue with him. Though he wanted to go west, the boat travelled to the
east via Kunnam and Pallikkara and reached the present spot of the temple.
The divine person got down there along with the statue and found a temple of Dharma
Sastha without any idol. So he consecrated the idol in that temple.
2.The above divine person got down from the boat along with the statue. But due to
inclement weather he was not able to provide any further. So he kept the statue in an
Uruli , which he found near the tank and went away. Later when he came, he found that
the statue has got pasted to the Uruli. That Uruli belonged to an individual called Kunnan
Kari Menon. As soon as he knew about the statue in his Uruli , he gave the land for
temple construction and completed the temple with the help of a saint called
Madappurathu Samiyar. Even today special Pushpanjali ( offering of flowers) is done on
behalf of the Asram of Madappurathu Samiyar in this temple.
3.It seems Pandavas put the statue that they were worshipping along with their Akshaya
Pathra in the sea , before leaving to their Agnatha Vasa. It seems the fishermen fishing in
the Vembanad back waters in a place near Vechur (called Mangalathu Vila) recovered
only the statue and not the vessel. They built a temple in a place called Chara Mangalam
and consecrated the statue there. It seems various calamities occurred in their village. So
they again put the statue in the back waters. It seems this time statue fell inside the
original vessel itself. It was then the divine person referred to earlier found it out. He
found the statue as well as the vessel .His boat travelled via Kunnam and Palikkara and
was not able to travel further due to dense aquatic plants. It seems the people of the area
swam in to the water and made way for the boat to reach the shores.. The statue in the
vessel was kept in the shore temporarily in a structure called Valiya Madam. On that day
they were able to offer to the God only tender mango pickles and tender coconut water.
Later the statue was shifted to the present temple. During the Arattu , the statue is taken
to Valiya Madam and Tender mango and tender coconut water is offered to it even today.
The Lord faces west along with his four hands. The temple opens very early around 2
AM in the morning. Around 3 AM a special offering called Usha Payasam is offered to
this lord. This is prepared using rice, jaggery , ghee , kadali banana fruit and dried
coconut. When the rice is cooked well, the melted Jaggery is poured in to it till it stops by
itself. This method of preparation is very peculiar to this temple.
Another peculiarity of this temple is that , the priest is given an axe as well as the key
to open the door in the early morning. People believe that this God cannot tolerate
hunger and so if there is any problem in opening the door with the key, the priest is
permitted to break open the door with an axe. People believe that Lord Krishna’s statue in
the temple is of the very exhausted Krishna after he killed Kamsa. So after the
Abhishekam is over, the Lord’s head is first dried,, the Naivedyam offered to him and
then only his body is dried.
There are five times pooja but the Deeparadhana is only after the Athazha pooja (last
pooja carried out at night 7 PM ).Since people believe that the statue came from
Cherthalai, the priest after the Athazha pooja asks “Is there any body from Cherthalai
here who is hungry?” . It is believed that no body from Cherthalai in the temple should be
Another peculiarity of this temple is that even during eclipse, the temple is not closed.
People believe that this God would become hungry. It seems once , the temple was closed
during eclipse. When they reopened the door they found that the waist belt of the Lord
has slipped down. Vilwamangalam Samiyar who came at that time told that , it was
because God became very hungry. From then on, they stopped closing the temple during
This temple has a very peculiar drum made of bell metal. It seems Lord Krishna
announced the killing of Kamsa , playing on this drum. There is a 12 tier brass lamp in
this temple gifted by a Christian devotee .This temple also has a sub temple for
Bhoothanatha .All offerings to the main deity are also offered to him Outside the temple
there are temples for Subramanya, Ganapathy, Yakshi , Shiva and Bhagawathy.
The temple festival is during the first ten days of the month of Medam.(april-may) .On
the tenth day there is a race of Elephants like that in Guruvayur. During the festival time
girl children who are less than ten years of age dress themselves like Lord Krishna and
offer lamp to the Lord during morning and evening. On the tenth day of the month when
the sun sets, his rays enter inside the sanctum sanctorum and this referred to as Pathaam
Krishna’s birthday during Ashtami Rohini is celebrated in this temple. Sundays and
Thursdays are special in this temple and attract lot of devotes.
Another peculiar celebration of this temple is Pullattu Pooja,. It seems there was a rich
nair without children in the Pullattu house. He wanted to donate all his wealth to the
temple and requested them to observe his death anniversary. When astrologers consulted
the God, his consent was given. On the Thai poosam day , Pullattu Nair came inside the
temple, kept all his wealth , keys to treasures and documents for all his properties before
the Lord. Then he prostrated before the Lord. It seems he died there and then. Even today
three special poojas one day before his death and fifteen special poojas on the day of his
death are performed in his name and referred to as Pllattu Pooja.
Milk Payasam, Ghee Payasam, Appam etc are offered to the Lord usully. There is a
special offering called Chathurchathadam also.

Thiruvalla Vallabha swamy Temple

Thiruvalla Vallabha Swamy temple
This is another temple of Kerala which is one of the 108 Vaishnava Divya desams. This
deity has been sung about by Thiru mangai Azhwar. It is ten km from Changanassery
station which is in the rail route between Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. This
temple can also be approached by road or boat.
In a place called Sankaramangalam nearby there was a very devout old lady who was a
devotee of Lord Vishnu She was referred to by people as Snakaramangalthu amma. .She
was very particular in observing Ekadasi. It seems an ogre called Thugala (tholaga) used
to trouble her a lot. One Dwadasi day she could not find any Brahmin to take food. Lord
Vishnu himself took the form of a Brahmachari and came there as her guest.
Sankaramangalathamma requested him to take bath in the nearby well and come. Lord
Vishnu asked her whether there are any rivers nearby. She then told him that an Asura
was living near the river and was not allowing any one to take bath in the river. Lord
Vishnu went to the river and killed the Tholagasura with his Sudarshana Chakra and
washed the Chakra in the river. This place is presently referred to as Chakrasala ghat.
When the lord returned back , there were four more Brahmins. Sankakamangalathamma
served food for all the five of them in areca nut sheath (paala) Even today this feeding is
done in areca nut sheath and is referred to as Paala Bhojanam.
There is another interesting story about this great devotee. It seems she was illiterate
and used to calculate the occurrence of Ekadasi , by putting a stone everyday one out
of the fifteen stones given to her by a literate man. . Once some Brahmins came to her
house and requested for food. Sankaranmangalathamma told them that it was Ekadasi.
They laughed at her and told that it was Dasami. One of them was an astrologer and he
used Prasna to find out the exact Thithi. When the Prasna was done in her house it
showed Ekadasi but when they stepped out of the house, it showed Dasami.
It seems when Lord Vishnu came as a Brahmachari to the house of
Sankaramangalathamma he consecrated Sudarshana Chakra there. This Chakra has eight
corners denoting Conch, wheel, mace, lotus flower, rope, goad , bow and stick. Sacred
ash called Vibhuthi is given as Prasada in this temple of Chakra. The main deity of this
temple is Sri Vallabha. This is a eight foot tall statue in the standing pose which faces
east. Here sandalwood paste is given instead of sacred ash. There is a story about Sri
It seems it was the same statue which was got made by Lord Krishna using the
expertise of Viswakarma,. Lord Krishna was worshipping this statue. When his end came
near he entrusted the statue to his cousin Satyaki for Consecration in a proper place.
Sathyaki entrusted the Job to Lord Garuda. But unfortunately it slipped from his talons
and fell in a river.
After a long time when Cheraman Perumal was ruling Kerala., God appeared in his
dream and pointed out the exact location and asked him to consecrate in a temple. The
king found the statue. There was an empty temple in Thiruvalla which was waiting for a
suitable idol. The king consecrated the divine statue in that place. When the statue
ordered for the place came, it was consecrated in a place called Malayin Keezh. Even
today the people of Malayin Keezh call their God as Thiruvalla Appan. There is an
inscription on the stone on the temple indicating that it was constructed in the year 59
AD. It seems Padathi Banana that was used as an offering by Sage Durvasa when he
visited the temple. Even today Padathi Pazham is offered to the God. The temple is built
in such a way that if you are seeing the face of the God, you would not be able to his feet
and if you are seeing his feet, you cannot see his face.
People believe that the great devotee of Vishnu called Gandakarna who used to hang
two bells in his ears so that he will never hear the name of Lord Shiva attained salvation
in this temple.
There is a 50 feet black granite flag pole in this temple. This flag pole is buried very
deep and only a small portion is visible outside. A Garuda statue made of Panchaloha is
chained to the flag pole.. It seems when Perumthachan made the Garuda, it started flying
away. So he decided to chain it to the flag pole. In 1970 a new flag pole has also been
During olden days women were not allowed to enter the temple.,. This was because a
lady was so enchanted by the beauty of the Lord and refused to go out of the temple.
Nowadays ladies do visit this temple.
In this temple the God is worshipped five times. In the early morning pooja God is
worshipped as Brahmachari, in the Pandeerati pooja he is worshipped as sanyasi, in the
noon Pooja he is worshipped as Vaasudeva dressed with royal dresses. In the evening
Pooja he is worshipped as Narayana and in the night Pooja he is worshipped as Lakshmi
Narayana. While the goddess is dressed in the usual manner, the God during this Pooja is
dressed as a Sanyasi. Later they will keep all material necessary for doing pooja in the
sanctum sanctorum before closing the door, in the belief that sage Durvasa would come
in the night and do Pooja to the Lord.
Apart from Lord Vallabha this temple also has temples of Varaha, Dakshinamurthy,
Sastha, Ganapathi, Koorain Appan, Ayal yakshi and Maya yakshi.
Performing Kathakali is one of the main forms of worship to this Lord. It seems when
Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar visited this temple, he found the Lord watching Kathakali
along with every one. So they keep a seat covered with silk and a keep a lit lamp near this
cdivine seat , when Kathakali is performed at this temple.
In the Kumbha month (February march there is an Arattu to the God, In the Meena
month (March-April) again there is a grand festival called Uthra Seeveli.

Thiruvithikou Uyya vanda Perumal

This is one of the Vaishnavite Divya desams located in Kerala. It is located about 2 km
from Patambi, which is a village with a railway station near Shoranur. You have to get
down in Pattambi, cross the Bhatatha Puzha River and walk about 2 km to reach this
temple. This temple also is called Thirivichikodu, Thiruvinchi Kodu and Anjumoorthi
As soon as you enter the temple you see Lord Shiva facing the east. Behind him is the
temple for Lord Vishnu. He is called as Uyyavanda Perumal (The lord who came to give
salvation). He is also called Abhaya pradhan (One who saves you) and also as Abath
sagayar. The goddess is called Vithuvakottu valli and also as Padma pani nachiyar.
This temple has been sung about by Kulasegara Azhvar, who was a Chera prince as
well as one of the Twelve Azhwars of Tamil Nadu.
People believe that originally this temple was built by king Ammbareesha, This king
used to observe Ekadasi fast religiously and take food after feeding a Brahmin the next
day. It seems once sage Durvasa came to his place on an Ekadasi day and accepted his
invitation to take food on Dwadasi. He went to take bath in the near by river but did not
come back till Dwadasi thithi was over. King Ambarresha took Paranai before Durvasa
came back at the proper time. Sage Durvasa got very angry and sent an ogre to kill him.
But Lord Vishnu came and saved Ambareesha by killing the ogre. Durvasa realized his
mistake and requested the king’s pardon. Ambareesha then requested the Lord to appear
him from all directions. The five statues of the Lord are supposed to have been
consecrated by the Pancha Pandavas. The centre one by Yudhishtra, the one in the west
by Arjuna, that in the left by Bhema sena, that in the right by Nakula. It seems Sahadeva
also joined in the worship of the statue in the right.
It is also believed that king Amabareesha attained salvation in this temple.

Kaviyur Shiva and Hanuman Temple

Kaviyur Shiva and Hanuman temple
This small village is near is about 5-6 km from Thiruvalla. The Shiva temple here is
about 100 years old. The architecture of the temple is really great. The Shiva in this
temple is not a swayambhu.
There is a story about its consecration. It seems Lord Rama on his way back to
Ayodhya from Sri Lanka, wanted to build a Shiva temple here. So he entrusted the job of
getting a good Shiva Linga to Hanuman. Hanuman who was proud of his capabilities was
late in arriving with a shiva Linga. But by that time the holy time (muhurtha) was passing
away. So Lord Rama took a stone from the neighboring mountain and shaped a Shiva
Linga out of it and consecrated it here. When Hanuman came back, the consecration was
already over. Hanuman was terribly disappointed and realized that his power was granted
to him by Lord Rama. Then Lord Rama requested Hanuman to do Thapas here for some
time. Obeying his words, after the pattabhisheka of Lord Rama, Hanuman spent some
time here. Then it was called Kapiyoor (The village of the monkey). Later over time the
name became Kaviyoor.(the village of poets).(an exactly similar story is told about the
Shiva Linga of Rameswaram temple, except , it is told that Sita fashioned the Linga out
of sand and after coming with a Linga from Kasi, Hanuman tried to break it.)
The hanuman temple inside the Shiva temple is considered as very important by
devotees. Hanuman idol made of Panchaloha has the Hanuman who told the story of
Ramayana to Goddess Sita in the Asoka Vana. People believe that by doing
Pandhirunazhi in this temple and by offering beaten rice to Lord Hanuman, their wishes
can be completely fulfilled.
There is a ten day festival starting with thiruvadira in the Shiva temple and Hanuman
Jayanthi(Moolam of Dhanu month-November-december)) is celebrated in the Hanuman

Trichur Vadakkunathan temple

Vadakkunathan Temple, Trichur
Vadakkunathan temple also known as Then Kailasam (Kailasam of the South) and
Vrishabhachalam occupies the pride of place on a hill top in the center of Trichur town of
Kerala. The Malayalam name for Trichur is Trisiva Perur (The big town of holy Shiva).
People believe that this is one of the fist consecrations done by Sage Parasurama after
he recovered the present land of Kerala from the sea. It seems he requested Lord Shiva to
show him the proper spot to build a temple. Lord Shiva then sent his steed Nandi and
Simhodara to choose a proper place for the temple. They chose the present place and
Lord Parasurama consecrated the present temple here for Lord Shiva. It seems he also
consecrated the statues of Lord Rama and Lord Shankaranarayana in this temple. Besides
these three Gods, the temple also has Lord Ganapathy, and Goddess Parvathy.
In the Shankara Vijaya , it is mentioned that Adhi Shankara’s parents came to this
temple and did Bhajanam(prayer) for a son. Lord Shiva blessed them with Adhi
Shankara. Some people also believe that except for the Lord Shiva in this temple all other
Gods were consecrated by sage Adhi Shankara when he visited this place. There is also a
belief that Adhi Shankara wrote his magnum opus “Soundarya Lahari” extolling the
virtues of Goddess Paravathi in this temple.
There are many interesting stories about this great temple. Some of them are:-
1. When Poonthanam Namboodiri did pooja in this temple., Lord Shiva appeared
before him as Lord Vishnu and told the assembled people about the oneness of the
2. When Adhi Shankara came here he first did Pooja to Lord Shiva. But he was not
able to walk to the temple of Pravathy which is behind this temple.At that time a
baby girl came and offered him a cup of milk. But Adhi Shankara could not lift
his hands to reciev the milk. He told the baby, “I do not have Shakthi (strength) to
receive this cup from you.”. Then the girl told him, “That is because you seem to
have forgotten about Shakthi.” It seems then he realized his mistake and started
composing prayers in praise of the Goddess. Soundarya Lahari is among the first
and it was composed here.
3. Once a handsome saint used to daily sing the praise of the Lord. All the women
devotees used to watch him with great devotion. But it seems , all the children
born after that had the features of the handsome saint. People started getting
perturbed. Then Lord Shiva sent his white bull to this temple. Then people saw
that all the Calves born after that were white. Then they realized their mistake and
requested pardon of the great saint.. The statue of this white bull is still in this
4. The statute of Vadakkunathan is that of the hunter who gave Pasupathasthra to
Arjuna. In the altercation, Arjuna hit the Lord with his bow. This caused a wound.
When the doctors were consulted, they told that pouring of Ghee over the wound
will cure it. Because of this the main worship of the Shiva temple is Abhisheka
(Anointment) with ghee. Since this has been going on for ages, we will not able to
see the God but only a mountain of ghee. It is a wonder of wonders that this ghee
never gets spoiled and never melts. Once in a while a small portion of the ghee
falls from this mountain of ghee. This is given to the devotees and it is believed
that it has lot of curative properties.
5. There is big ground of 18 acres surrounding the temple. This was once upon a
time a teak wood forest(Even today it is called Thekkin Kadu ( teak wood forest) ,
one great king of Cochin who was interested in the development of Trichur town
ordered the clearing of the forest. Then the soothsayer of Parmekkavu temple told
him that the teak wood trees are the hairs of the goddess and should not be cut.
But Shakthan Thamburan first cut off the head of the soothsayer and later cleared
the forest.
Another strange fact about the temple is that though Tippu Sultan marched
through Trichur he did not cause any harm o the temple.
There are no festivals in this temple except the observation of Shiva Rathri. But
several temples in the neighbour hood viz Thiruvambadi, Chembukkavu, Paramekkavu,
Naithalakkavu, Panekkam palli, Karamukku , Ayyanthol, Lalooru, Kanimangalamand
Panekkampalli come to see Lord Shiva on the Trichur Pooram day along with their
elephants. Thirty elephants assemble in the courtyard,. Those night huge quantities of
crackers are burst . This festival is one of the greatest festivals in Kerala.
In this temple there is a very elaborate routine for a visit. As given in the prayer
“Vadakkunathande Darshana Kramam.”
First we have to take bath in the tank which is to the west of the temple .Then we have to
Go round the banyan tree seven times. And enter the temple through the main gate. In the
left there is the pit made by Arjuna’s bow. We have to wash our legs there and visit the
Lord Krishna’s temple. Then we have to salute the statue of Nandi followed by saluting
Lord Parsurama’s statue. There we have also salute the Simhodharan who was one of the
co founders of the temple. Later we have to walk towards north and salute Lord
Viswanatha of Benares.. Then we have to walk towards south east and climbing the
stone salute Lord Ramanatha of Rameshwaram and Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram. Then
we have to move south and salute the Bhagawathi of Kodungallore, and later the
Bhagawathy of Oorakam and then later Lord Bharath of Irinjalakkuda. Then we have to
meditate on Veda Vyasa and write the 51 alphabets on the stone of Vyasa. Then we have
to salute Lord Ayyappa and walk towards north. There we have to pluck a flower , wear
it and after saluting the conch and the holy wheel enter the temple of Lord Shankara
Narayana. And offer salutations to the picture on the left , offer prayers to Bhoomiswara
and then enter the temple of Lord Shiva.
There we have to salute the learned people sitting in the Mandap and salute the dance
of Chandika on the left side.
Then with all devotion salute the Vadakkunathan. Go to the right and again salute the
Lord..Then in order salute Bhagawathy, Ganapathi, and the God in the centre in the
south, then Ganapathi, then Bhagawathi and then again Vadakkunathan.

Chothanikkara Bhagawathi temple

Chottanikkara Bhagawathi



This is the most famous temple of Kerala where mentally disturbed people, come in thousands and get cured. This temple is 8 KM away from Thripoonithura a suburb of Cochin.
There are two main temples here. One as soon as we enter is the temple of Rajarajeswari and the one behind it in a slightly lower elevation called Keezhekavu has Bhadra Kali consecrated there. The Rajarajeswari is worshipped as Goddess Saraswathi in the morning, worshipped as Bhadra kali in the noon and Durga in the night. This temple opens every day at 4 AM. People believe that Goddess Mookambika of Kollur attends the first worship here before going to her temple. Another peculiarity of this temple is that the Goddess is not fixed to the ground but rests on sand. Nearby her is the statue of Lord Vishnu. So the devotees always pray her together with her brother Lord Narayana and say Amme Narayana.
It seems once the place this temple is located was a dense forest. There lived a tribal man called Kannappan, whose wife had died. Kannappan was a great devotee of Goddess Parvathy. He used to daily sacrifice an animal to his favourite Goddess. He had a cute daughter who was very fond of her pet, which was a cow. Since her father used to sacrifice cows, she kept her pet cow very near her and looked her after well. One day Kannappan could not get any animal to sacrifice to her Goddess. So he ordered his daughter to give her pet cow , for that days sacrifice. His daughter requested Kannappan to sacrifice her instead. The heart of Kannappan changed and he realized that he was doing a wrong thing by practicing animal sacrifice. He and the pet cow stayed near the temples Bali stone the entire night. In the morning, the cow herself had turned in to a stone. That place is called Pavazha malli thara (Place of the coral jasmine flower). People believe that pet cow of daughter of Kannappan was indeed Goddess Mahalakshmi. That day Lord Vishnu appeared before Kannappan and pardoned his sins and decided to be present in the temple along with the Goddess. That is how the concept of Lakshmi Narayana came in to this temple. The place where Kannappan used to sacrifice his cows is the location of the Keezhe kavil Bhagawathi.
It seems this temple location was rediscovered accidentally by a low caste grass cutter, who found that blood was flowing out of a stone which she accidentally cut. That day the Brahmin of the Yedattu house came along with the puffed rice in a coconut shell and this was offered to the Goddess for the first time. Even today this system of offering puffed rice in a coconut shell continues. The Brahmins of Yedattu house became priests at this temple. It was Adhi Shankara who visited the temple , who brought in to the Statue the presence of Mookambika. It seems when Vilwamangalam Swamiyar visited this temple he saw a powerful halo of light over the temple pond. He instituted a search and the present statue of Keezhe kavu was found in the tank. There is also a story of certain Gupthan Namboodiri who was pursued by a Yakshi. It seems the Yakshi took a form of a pretty maiden and tried to entice the Namboodiri. Since Namboodiri was carrying a Devi Mahatmyam book, she was not able to do anything. But being attracted by her Gupthan Namboodiri wanted to leave the book, with his magician friend Kosapilli Namboodiri. The magician found out that the lady was a Yakshi. He gave Gupthan Namboodiri an enchanted towel. With the enchanted towel Gupthan ran up to the Chottanikkara temple. There he threw the towel outside and jumped in to the temple. The Yakshi who was pursuing him could catch hold of his feet. When Gupthan cried for help from the mother, she came out and cut the Yakshi in to pieces and threw her in to the temple tank. That tank is known today as Yakshikkulam or Rakthakulam. It is to Keezhe Kavu Bhagawathi that the mentally disturbed people turn to for a cure. They are brought tied to the temple. As soon as they see the goddess, especially during the Guruthi (anointing with red saffron liquid), they start jumping uncontrollably. At night after 8.30 Pm, there is a valiya Guruthi in which Guruthi from 12 huge vessels is poured over the Goddess. It seems if the mentally disturbed people see this Guruthi daily, the spirit which is affecting them will run away. There is also a pala tree, in which these people drive huge nails by knocking the nails with their foreheads. People who are having a weak mind and are easily scared are requested not to go to the Keezhekkavu temple. There are also temples of Lord Shiva, Ganapathi and Nagar in this temple.
The major festival of this temple is in the month of Kumbam (February –march). The goddess comes out of the temple blesses all and after ritual bath (aarattu) goes back to the temple.
In the same month on the Makha star day between 2 :Pm to 5 Pm, there is a observance of Makham thozhal People believe that if unmarried people do that , they will get married and if married people do that the understanding between husband and wife would increase.

Chandanakkavu Ganapathi Temple

Chandanakkavu Ganapathi
This unique temple managed by Shaiva Vellalars of Tamil Nadu is situated in a place
called Chandakkavu which is about 16 km from the town of Aleppy. It seems that a large
number of Shaiva Vellalars migrated to places near Aleppy in search of job. One of them
brought a Ganapathi statue from Shanrkaranayinr koil in Tirunelveli district of
TamilNadu. Initially a small temple was built in a place called Purakkadu , which was in
the shores of the sea. Once this temple was destroyed by the sea waves. Then they
requested the king of Champagaserry to allot them land to build a temple of their own.
The king gave them 3 acres in Chandanakkavu initially they only built a Ganapathi
temple. Later they added a Durga of Ujjaini with 18 hands. She is called as
Mutharamman in this temple and is the family deity of the Vellalars. Slowly they added
Lord Shiva, Brahma rakshas, Yogini devi, Madasamy, Bhairavaswamy, Nagaraja and
Naga Yakshi, Madasamy and Bhairavasamy are the guardian Gods of some of these
The most important festival of the Ganapathi temple is Vinayaga Chathurthi. That day a
maha Ganapathi Homam is held there. Besides this every Friday a Ganapathi homam is
also conducted.
The shiva temple which is in the north east is considered as very important.
Mruthyunjaya Homam leading to long life is conducted here on request. Shivarathri is
celebrated in a grand scale.On that day little children will bring all the necessities of
Pooja on a Kavadi from the nearby Saraswathi Temple.
There are special poojas for Mutharamman during the Mandala period. On the tenth
day of Chithirai (Meda masam), Pongal is offered by ladies to Mutharamman.

Thiruvairanikkulam Shiva temple

This temple of Shiva is situated near a village called Srimoola nagaram, in the banks of
Periyar, near the town of Alwaye
The temple consists of two temples-One dedicated to Lord Shiva facing the east and
another dedicated to Goddess Parvathi which is facing the west. The peculiarity of this
temple is that while Lord Shiva’s temple is open all round the year, the temple of
Parvathi is open only for 12 days in a year. There is an interesting story behind this
It seems the Shiva temple was not here but in a place called Iranikkulam near
Irinjalakkuda. An old Namboodiri from Srimoola nagaram who was a devotee of the God
Shiva used to daily cross the river and walk a long distance to pray to this God. There
was a boatman called Chathan, who used to keep a stone boat and who used to help the
Namboodiri to cross the river. (He was one of those great people called Parachi Petha
Pandheeru Kulam) When the Namboodiri became very old, one day he cried before Lord
Shiva and told him, “Oh God, this is my last visit. I simply cannot come and see you.”
That day while returning home, Namboodiri felt that his umbrella was unusually heavy.
But as soon as he crossed the river and got down, it became very light. Chathan, , the boat
man told Namboodiri that Lord Shiva had come along with him in the umbrella and as
soon as he got down, has occupied some place in the village. Next day a lady grass cuter ,
when she was cutting the grass, happened to cut a stone and the stone started bleeding
.That women was terribly scared and ran about three kilometers and died at that place
.Chathan told all people that the stone she cut was God Shiva of Iranikkulam. A temple
was built there for Lord Shiva and tit was called Thiruvairanikkulam. They also built a
temple for Goddess Parvathi. The place where the grass cutter fell is today called
Varanattumadam. In this place annually a special Pooja called Irukki Pooja is conducted
every year. After the pooja puffed rice is given as Prasada. People believe that by taking
this puffed rice all diseases are cured. The stone boat of the Chathan is still preserved in
this temple.
Initially it seems the priest used to keep all material for making offering to God
(Naivedyam) in the temple of Goddess Parvathi and close. After some time, the fully
cooked Naivedyam was prepared and kept ready in her temple by Goddess Parvathi. One
day one devotee peeped through the Window as to see what was happening in side the
Parvathi temple and he saw that Goddess Parvathi herself was cooking the Naivedyam.
But because of this the Goddess got very angry and asked the priest to close her doors for
ever. All the devotees wailed and requested her to pardon the act of the ill conceived
devotee. The goddess pardoned him but gave permission for her door to be opened for
only 12 days in a year.
Her temple gate opens on The Thiruvadira festival day. A minstrel singer called
Brahmani amma sings about the Goddess before her gates are opened .Recently the only
member of that family called Sridevi refused to sing at the festival. It seems her husband
became terribly sick and goddess appeared in her dream and pointed out to her that she
was insulting the Goddess. Sridevi realized her mistake and started singing in the festival
again. Not only her husband was cured but she was also blessed with divine powers.
Since any body with prayer for marriage or child birth who visit the Goddess Parvathi
during those 12 days, gets their prayers fulfilled, large number of devotes from all parts
of Kerala visit the temple during that time.

ARpuda Narayana temple, Thirukodithaanam

This is one of the few temples in Kerala which is a divya desam of Vaishnavas. This
means that it has been sung by one of the 12 Azhwars, the minstrels of Vaishnavism of
Tamil Nadu. In fact Nammazhwar one of the greatest saints in this pantheon has sung
about this temple.
This temple is about 3 km from Changanaseery town, which is near Kottayam. The
God in this temple is called Arpuda Narayana (Narayana of wonder) or amrutha
Narayana(Narayana who is nectar)).It is believed that the God in this temple is
consecrated by Sahadeva, the youngest of the Pandavas. It seems Sahadeva wanted to
build a temple for Lord Vishnu here. Since he was not able to get a proper idol he
decided to die by entering the fire. But then in the fire , he got the present idol of Lord
Vishnu. Since it was a great surprise he preferred to call it Arpuda Narayana. It is
believed that every 60 years this idol gets extra power and at the beginning of the deluge,
this idol will convert itself in to light and merge with heaven.
The God in this temple is in a standing pose and has four hands. The goddess is called
Karpaga Valli. There is also a temple for Lord Narasimha, which is possibly a later
addition. On the southern part of the temple there are two temples , one for Lord
Dakshinamurthy and the other for Lord Ganapathi. Both these temples do not have doors.
Normally Pal Payasam (milk Kheer) is daily offered to Lord Narasimha. It is
believed that this being done to reduce his fierceness.
This temple also has sub temples for Lord Subrahmanya., Nagar (snake), Lord
Ayyappa and Goddess Kali. The Dasavathars are carved in this temple.
It is believed that King Rukmangadha used to rule over this place. It seems he used to
maintain a great flower garden. It seems Devas used to steal the flowers and take it to
heaven. The king’s soldiers caught them. Because of this the devas, lost their power to
go back to heaven,. They then requested King Rukmangada to give the effect of
observation of Ekadasi by him. When he gave it to them, they were able to go back to
There is grand ten day festival in the month of Vruschigam(November-December)
.During this time 1008 lamps are lit in this temple. Once lit , these lamps burn all night.
The reason why Karthigai festival is celebrated in a Vishnu temple is as follows. It
seems once Lord Shiva appeared before Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma as a ball of fire.
Unable to bear the heat , they prayed Lord Shiva. Then on Karthigai day, Lord Shiva
transformed himself in to a small lamp.. There are Tamil inscriptions in this temple
indicating the fact that once upon a time, this place was ruled by Tamil kings. This place
in these inscriptions as “Nandru Uzhaitha Nadu(The country which worked hard).”
It is also believed that Kunti the mother of Pandavas died in this place.. There is a
custom of lighting lamps in the corner where this happened.
Records indicate that this place was a Gadiga Sthana where Vedas were taught to
people. The present name must have derived out of Gadika.
The walls surrounding this temple are famous and are supposed to be built by Ghosts.
They are an arrangement of stones not pasted by any material. Even today , no harm has
come to these walls.

Panachikkadu Bhagawathi Temple

Panachikkadu Bhagawathi
This temple is situated near Singavanam, which is a place in between Kottayam and
Changanassery. It is the only temple of Goddess Saraswathi in Kerala. People also call it
Dakshina Mookambika (Mookambika of the south).
There were three Namboodiri families near this temple. One of them was
Kizhuppuram Namboodiri. Since he did not have children, he decided to undertake a
pilgrimage to Kasi. On the way he visited the Temple of Mookambika. That night
Goddess came in his dream and told him, “You do not have the luck to have children in
this birth. One lady of Karunattu house in your place will give birth to twins. If you
request them, they will give one of them for adoption by you. Once this boy grows up he
will have 10 children and your family would grow in leaps and bounds.
The Namboodiri returned home and kept his umbrella in the shores of the temple tank
and went to take bath. But after bath he was not able to move the umbrella. A sage who
came there at that time told him that Goddess Mookambika wants to have a temple there
and he can get her statue, near the forest of the local Vishnu temple. He was told that a
Yakshi was guarding that statue, so before taking possession of the statue, he should
please the Yakshi by offering her Tender coconut water, fried rice powder and Jaggery.
He recovered that statue and consecrated it facing the east. According to the words of
the sage he also consecrated in the same place another statue facing west. Only the statue
facing the west is worshipped. This statue does not have any form. But the statue facing
east which has a form is not worshipped .Mountain and water falls surround this temple.
Water would be falling on the statue always. This water is removed constantly and is
used for the pooja at this temple. Opposite the statue, a stone lamp will always kept
burning. Near by rough sand is spread on the wall. After saluting the Goddess people
write “Hari sree Ganapathaye Nama” on the sand. People believe that by doing this their
knowledge would increase and they would become very intelligent.
Plants called “Panathi Kuthu Chedi” completely surround the Goddess facing east. It is
not permitted to cut or remove these plants. People say that this plant has never ever
wilted. Some times due to wind or rain, the plant is disturbed and we may be able to see
the Goddess. But this is very rare.
Just above the Saraswathi idol, the Rakshasas, Nagar (snake) and Yakshi are
consecrated. For any important pooja or change in the Saraswathi temple, it is a custom
to seek the permission of Yakshi and then only do it. It is the custom in this temple to
offer Trimadhuram in the morning, milk and sugar in the noon and Jaggery payasam
made of rice at night.
The Navarathri festival is celebrated in a grand manner in this temple. On Vijaya
Dasami day, all children who are going to start learning are brought here, placed in the
lap of Guru. He writes” Hari sree” on the toungue of the child using silver or gold coin.
Later they are made to write ”Hari sree”on the sand.
Saraswatha Ghruthm - Saraswatha ghrutham purified and enriched with
saraswathasooktham thousand times repeated is given to the devotees from the temple which
is a medicine for boosting memory power by the grace of Devi.
The temple is open between 5.30 Am to 11.30 am and between 5Pm and 7.30 Pm.

Kumaranallore Karthyayani temple

Kumaranallur Karthyayani temple
Kumarnallur is a small village which is 4 km from the town of Kottayam .The goddess in
this place is considered as very kind, merciful and soft. She is Karthyayani.
It seems long long ago, once the nose stud of goddess Meenakshi of Madurai was
stolen. The king suspected the innocent priest and told that if he does not return the stolen
nose stud by the next day, he would be killed. That night, Goddess Meenakshi appeared
in the dream of the priest and told him, “You are in great danger. I would be leading you
out of the country in the form of light. So follow me.” The priest did what he was told
and followed the light and reached Kumaranallur. There was a vacant temple in the
village ready for consecration of the God. When the priest came near the temple, the
leading light vanished from his vision. When he went inside the temple he saw Goddess
Karthyatani sitting in side the sanctum sanctorum. Though he could see it, nobody else
could. They all simply laughed at the priest. At the time Kula Shekhara the king at that
place happened to visit this temple. He had decided to install Lord Subrahmaanya inside
this temple. But the priest from Madurai told him that since Goddess was already inside
the temple, only goddess Karthyatani should be installed there. But the king could not see
anything in side the temple. So he told the priest, if there is a goddess inside let her
construct a temple for herself and left that place. But when he came outside he was not
able to move out as the entire place was completely covered with fog. He realized his
mistake and went and approached the priest. The priest then requested to touch him and
then see inside the temple. When the king did that, he was able to see the Goddess. At
that time the king was also constructing a temple at Udayanapuram for the Goddess. So
he decided to shift the Subrahmanya temple to Udayanapuram and shift the Bhagawathi
temple to this place. So he sent people to bring the idol of the Goddess from
Udaayanapuram. Some how at the appointed time the idol of the Goddess did not reach
Kumaranallur. The goddess came in the dream of the king and told him, “In a well in the
forest nearby there is the idol of the Goddess which was personally worshipped by Lord
Parasurama. You can bring the idol and consecrate it here.” The king did exactly that.
The main idol at the temple is made of black stone. It is extremely pretty, with four
hands and is in a standing posture. She likes to be showered with turmeric powder and
that is the major worship in this temple. Unlike other temples, the worship by lights
(Deeparadhana) of this temple in not done at dusk but at night. There is huge stone lamp
in front of the temple, which was gifted by the king of Chembakassery. At a time 24
wicks can burn from this lamp. Lighting this lamp is also one of the important methods of
worship. Since the original priest came from Madurai, even today the priest’s family is
called Madurai Namboodiri.
Just outside the temple there is a temple of Vana Durga. There is no roof for this
temple.She is called Aalingal Bhagwathi (The goddess of the Banyan tree) , possibly
because it was originally consecrated below a Banyan tree. There is also a Temple of
ayyappa on the west side of the temple. He is called Manibhooshanan in this temple.
There is a small temple for Lord Shiva in the southern side.
The major festival in this temple is the Karthiga Festival in the month of
Vruschiga(October-November)in this festival there is a usual parade of the elephants but
in this temple only she elephants can participate. People believe that all the Gods are
present with Karthyayani on the Karthiga day. There is a story that on that day
Vilwamangalam Samiyar happened to visit Vadakkunathan temple but found that the
God was not there in the temple. He saw him in a particular spot of the temple watching
the festival at Kumaranallur.
After the morning worship they make the Goddess wear her golden dress. This is
removed only on the next day.
People believe that by Worshipping Karthyayani, your marriage would be settled
quickly, the children would become intelligent etc.

Mangombu Bhagawathi temple

Mangombu Bhagawathy
Mangombu is a very prosperous island about 15 km away from Aleppy town. Most of
people in this village cultivate high rise paddy. You can go to this island only by boat.
Nowadays there is arrangement to carry the vehicles in floats. Dr.M.S. Swaminathan, the
father of modern Indian Agriculture is from this place.
There is a great Bhagawathy temple in Mongombu. There is a very interesting story
about its origin. During the reign of king Veera Marthanda Verma of Travancore , it
seems one official called Pavvathil Kaimal. He requested the king to allot him some
forest wood so that he can build his own house. The king asked Kaimal to cut trees from
Mangombu hills near Palai. Kaimal cut the required logs and when he was trying to
transport the logs by the river, three very pretty women approached Kaimal and requested
for a lift. Kaimal told them , he would allow them to travel with him provided they
became ugly. They then transformed themselves to ugly women and travelled along with
the logs. When the boat reached the present location of Mangombu , it stopped there and
refused to move. Then the pretty women told Kaimal that they were goddesses and
wanted temples to be built there. They then transformed themselves to idols. For the first
Goddess a temple was built in Koyikkal , the second in a place called Vadaiattu. When
they were thinking where to consecrate the third goddess, Goddess entered one of the
people assembled there. That man threw a branch of a mango tree and requested them to
build a temple where it falls. They did it as per the wish of the Goddess. Since it was the
place where the branch of mango fell, it was called Mankombu , meaning “Branch of a
mango tree”. Till this day the descendents of the man who threw the mango branch have
a say in the affairs of the temple. The temple was consecrated in the month of Meenam
(March april ) in the star of Bharani. The founders day is celebrated during this occasion.
The goddess faces west. A big lamp is lit all the time without stop in front of the
Goddess , as it is believed she likes light. Lighting lamps is one of the very important
worship form in this temple. In the south eastern corner of the temple of the Goddess is
the temple of Lord Shiva. So it is a practice in this temple to come round the sanctum
sanctorum four times. The idol of the Goddess is made of Jack wood and has a fierce
form of Mahishasura Mardini. But a golden face and coat is given to the goddess so that
she looks very peaceful. This idol has a crown with 15 serpents, has a symbol of elephant
in the right ear and symbol of lion in the left ear. She also wears an Yerukku Malai.
Raktha Pushpanjali for fulfilling all desires and Swayamvara Pushpanjali for early
marriage are performed at this temple. Pregnant women observe 12 day Bhajanam in this
temple for safe delivery. Several types of Payasams are also offered to the Goddess.
The first eight days of Mredam (april-may) is celebrated as Mangombu Mala ketham
(Moncombu mountain climbing) . Irumudi which is similar to the Sabarimala Irumudi is
taken and people go round the temple with chanting of “saranam”., Then the night pooja
is performed in the south east of the temple in a place called Malai Nadai Most of the
important Hindu festivals Like Navarathri , Krishna Jayanthi , Deepavali etc are observed
in this temple. In the Dhanu month (December-January a ten day Chirappu is also
observed. During this festival the Goddess would be covered with sandal paste.
In the month of Meenam , the foundation of the temple is celebrated. A kavadi pooja is
performed during this occasion

Chettikulangara Bhagawathi Temple

Chettikulangara Bhagawathy
(I have used the write up on this temple in the Wikipedia in many places verbatim. My
acknowledgements are due to that great work.)
Chettikulangara, Bhagawathy temple is one of the very renowned temples of Kerala. It is
about 5 km from Mavelikkara and 6 km from Kayangulam. In this temple the Goddess
appears like Goddess Saraswathy in the morning, Goddess Lakshmi in the noon and
Goddess Durga at night. The temple is believed to be 1200 years old and is in the middle
of 13 Karas (Residential areas of Nairs). It is one of the temples with very high income
running to several crores in Kerala. Nairs and Ezhavas play a major role in the worship
and conduct of festivals in this temple.
The idol of the temple is made using Jack wood. It seems once the idol got slightly
dilapidated and the people decided to have a new idol. They after arduous search located
a suitable Jack wood tree in a private compound in Aranmula. But the owner of the tree
refused to give the tree for making of the idol. That day it seems the owner of the tree
dreamt that he was being beaten by The Bhadrakali. When he woke up next day all over
his body were the mark of the beating. Immediately he offered the tree and the present
idol was made from that tree.
There are several stories about the origin of this temple. It seems the people of this
area used to attend the festival in the Koypallikarazhma Bhagavathi temple before this
temple was built. That chieftain of that village humiliated the people of this area.
Because of this they prayed Goddess Bhagawathi to come to their country. In the dream
of one of them, the Goddess appeared and told that she will come to their country. After a
few days an old woman was seen walking towards the temple. She needed to cross a river
to reach this place. A Christian boat man helped her to cross the river and also started
helping her to reach her destination. On the way that old lady became very tired and sat
down below a tree. The boatman went to a nearby house, where some work was going on
and brought some Kanji (rice gruel) and chutney made using horse gram. The old lady
took them and went to a near by tank to wash her hands. There was a Brahmin lady in
steps of the tank. She saw the old lady getting in to the tank and vanishing there. She also
saw a very bright light there. The people of the village called the astrologers who found
out that that lady was Bhagawathy herself. So they built a temple for her there. The
family of the Christian boatman were entrusted the job of the Fire cracker worship in the
temple. They also offer daily to the Goddess the rice gruel and Horse Gram Chutney.
Below the tree where the goddess took rest, they also built a temple for her called
Puducherry temple.
According to another version, this temple was consecrated by Padmapadacharyar (a
leading disciple of Adi Shankara) on the Uthrittathi day of Makara month in A.D. 823.
There is a firm argument that the goddess here was a family deity, and later emerged as
the village and regional deity. Local historians oppose the argument that the temple is not
as ancient as the nearby Kandiyoor Mahadeva temple or Mavelikara Krishna Swamy
temple as it had not been mentioned in Unnuneeli Sandesam written in the 14th century.
According to late Kandiyoor Mahadeva Shasthri, Samudra Bandhan–a leading courtier
of Ravi Varman, an ancient King of Venad had visited this temple and wrote poems on
Bhagavathi.Similarly Aadithya Kulasekharan, the King of Venad (1374 A.D. to 1389
A.D.) also had visited the Chettkulangara temple, argues them. However, it is to be said
that the present Sreekovil of the temple is only 450-480 years old, and the Chuttambalam
is not more than two centuries old. Local historians say that the temple infrastructure and
the surroundings were developed by various local chieftains from time to time. The
present Sreekoil was revamped during A.D.1540. Because of a small fire at this temple,
the Chuttambalam was slightly modified during the Malayalam year 1002.
It is also believed that Chettikulangara Amma (the main deity) is the daughter of
Kodungallur Amma, brought to that place for the well being of all people at
In front of the temple there is a huge lamp in which you can put thousand wicks. One
of the major offering at the temple is lighting the lamp. Since the statue of the Goddess is
made of Jack tree wood, it is coated with red paste of Kumkum(called Chandadal often.
Besides the main deity there are also temples for Yakshi, mukoorthi, Rakthakshi,
Thevara Murthy, Kannampalli Bhagawathy, Ganapathy , Naga raja, Naga Yakshi,
Brahma Rakshas, Valia Achan and Balakan in this temple.
Festivals of the temple
The Temple has a number of festivals. The important ones are
In the numerous temples of Onattukara, the "Parayeduppu" period is the festival season.
It all begins when the deity ("Devi") of Chettikulangara temple is taken out in procession
for Parayeduppu on the Makayriam star of the Malayalam month Makaram(January-
February). The festivals continue to the end of Medam(April-May). The main part of
Parayeduppu is the Jeevatha constructed in the model of the temple structure itself. This
box-like carriage for the deity rests on two teakwood poles about two meters long, and is
in the form of a palanquin . The front resembles "Thidambu" behind which is a kind of
pettakam (small chest ) built as per Thachusaasthra calculations. Up front is a woollen
cloth embroidered with shining, colourful pictures and gold trinkets. Behind that is kept
the deity's holy dress, starched and pleated, and decorated with small mirror pieces. More
than 100 families form the entourage of Parayeduppu Bhagavathy’s - five month long
visit to the homes of people who lives in her Karas
The rhythms used during Jeevatha Ezunnallathu (procession) are quite noteworthy.
Starting with very slow beats, it builds up a crescendo and ends in fast beats. The
ensemble consists of Veekkan chenda, Uruttu chenda (both drums), Elathaalam
(cymbals), Kombu and Kuzhal (both, wind instruments).
Although Jeevatha Ezunnallathu and Parayeduppu are centuries old customs, the
"Chuvadu Vechu Kali" (a peculiar dance with unique steps) is relatively recent.
Kumbha Bharani
The major festival at Chettikulangara is Kumbha Bharani Festival. This is in the month
of march or April. The date is determined according to the Malayalam Calendar
KollaVarsham. In that this day comes in the month of Kumbha and the day which has the
star Bharani and hence the name Kumbha Bharani. The highlight of the festival is
[Kuthiyottam] and [Kettukazha].
The preparation for Kumbha Bharani starts 7 days before the actual day and incidentally
that day will be the Shivarathi. People who had pledged for Kuthiyottam will start
training their children for the offering on that day. All these 7 days these people will host
public get-togethers and arrange food for them. The children will be taught a special
dance steps called Kuthiyoota chuvadukal etc.Meanwhile the people from 13 karas of
chettikulangara will arrange for the construction of [Kettukazhcha] to the temple.
The Kuthiyottam processions starts early morning on that day and will last until
afternoon. Those who had offered Kuthiyottam to Devi will bring their children to the
temple as a procession and will offer the children before Devi as sacrifice. The boys will
be playing the Kuthiyootam dance before the Devi. During the evening hours it will be
turn of the Kettukazhcha. People from each area will pull the Kettukazhcha from the
construction sites (usually in their respective karas itself) to the temple to preset them
before the Devi and after having darshan the parties take up their respective position in
the paddy fields lying east of the temple
During the night, the image of Devi will be carried in procession to the Kettukazhcha
stationed in the paddy fields. On the next day these structures will be taken back. A big
bazaar is also held at Chetikulangara as part of this festival.
Ethirelpu Ulasvam
This is the annual temple festival. On the tenth day following the Kumbha Bharani the
annual festival is celebrated in the temple for 13 days. Each day of the festival is
organized by residents of each Kara numbering 13. special rituals are held in the temple
premises. Every afternoon, cultural processions start form each Kara to the temple
premises, with the accompaniment of drums, ornamented umbrellas, kuthiyottam songs,
display of events from the Mahabharatha and the Ramayana, classical art forms, folk art
form, different type of music, decorated structures and caparisoned elephants.
During the rituals at the temple Thottampattu is sung. Thottampattu is a devotional song
sung by a certain section of the community residing in the far off Trivandrum. This song
is sung in the temple only during the Etheralpu festival.
Performance of classical arts and other temple arts are conducted in the evening in the
temple premises
Aswathy Ulasvam
The unique rituals during the Aswathy festival clearly convey the firm bondage and
human pathos at the time of separation between the people and their beloved Bhagavathy.
Held in the Aswathy day in the month of Meenom (March-April), this festival is
attracting a large number of visitors. This festival is imagined as a send off to the deity on
her journey to visit her mother at Kodungallur. In the evening, 100 odd decorated
[Kettukazhcha] and different effigies are brought to the temple mainly made by the
children. Though the size of these Kettukazhcha are comparatively smaller than the ones
made for Bharani festival, the number of Kettukazhcha provide a visual impact even
challenging the aesthetic effect of Bharani. During the day, Bhagavathy visits the four
karas surrounding the temple for Parayeduppu and official Anpolis are given by Kara
leaders at Kuthirachevudu, the place where Kuthiras are made. After that she visits and
blesses the offerings displayed at the temple premises.
By dawn, she decides to leave, and seeks their permission to leave for Kodungallur. The
people of the first four karas make Polavilakku ( a large structure drawn on wheels
decorated with tender banana stem and lighted with numerous traditional lamps) during
her farewell procession. They offer her a grand farewell procession with Aappindi [a
unique slow paced dance carrying a pyramid shape box on head). Aappindi will be
embellished with crackers, pookkula ( cluster of coconut flowers - inflorescence ), and
will be covered with tender banana stems and Thalapppoli (traditional sacred lamps
carried by ladies).
People from Kaitha North and Kaitha South participate in the function with
Thiruvantham. It is said that Thiruvantham, a palanquin type structure with fireballs and
carried by four people, is the light of Darika , which incenses the Bhagavathy. She scares
them away. After the procession, she again visits the Upaprathishtas and asks the people
and other gods to let her visit her mother at Kodungallur.
By dawn, she proceeds with lightning sped towards west. Normally, within the 100
meters, the Poojaris carrying the Jeevatha will fall down unconsciously, and the Jeevatha
will be taken back to the temple.
The temple will remain closed for the day, and will be opened only the day after. The
Aswathy festival concludes the five month long festivities at this temple.
Kettukazhcha is an offering of the people of Chettikulangara to their beloved deity
known for her spontaneous blessings on true devotees as a mark of gratitude, devotion,
unflinching faith, and for showering prosperity and protection to their lives. Kettukazhcha
displays deftly sculpted and decorated forms of six temple cars known as ‘Kuthiras’, five
Therus’ (Chariots ) and icons of Bhima and Hanuman . All the temple cars, chariots and
the icons are all incredibly gigantic in size and are many times larger than any other
similar Kuthiras and Therus built during the festivities at other temples in the Central
Travancore region. On the move, these out of the world sky scrapping colourful
decorations are electrifying, and will create an unforgettable artistic impression in union,
especially during the night in the back drop of illuminated lights. Chettikulangara
Kettukazhcha heralds the architectural and aesthetic acumen of the ancient people of
Chettikulangara, who could convert an improbable out of the world concept to an
enormous artistic reality, achieved by collective hardships and will power.
Lineage according to historians
Historians attribute the concept of ‘Kettukazhchas’ - similar to the architecture of the
‘Buddha tradition in square, rectangular and pyramid shapes, to the remnants of the
Buddha culture which was widely prevalent in the Central Travancore region a few
centuries ago.
Many historians cite that the famous Chettikulangara Kettukazhcha in the present form is
not more than 180 to 200 years old, and was started during the early part of the 19th
According to a popular legend, a group of village chieftains and their workers went for
civil works to construct the Kollam–Chavara Thodu (canal), about 50 km away from
Chettikulangara, in accordance to the decision from the then ruler of the region. But they
could not return to their native place due to the unforeseen inordinate delay in completion
of the canal. They pleaded with the authorities, but their request was turned down. During
the period, they got an opportunity to visit the temple festivities at Kollam
Mulankagakam temple, and were attracted by the Kettukazhcha there. They vowed to
their local deity Chettikulangara Bhagavathy, that they would construct Kettukazhchas
for her every year, if they were allowed to leave for Chettkulangara immediately. To their
surprise, they were allowed to return to Chettikulangara the very next day, and as
promised, they made huge Kettukazhchas and took them to their Bhagavathy’s premises.
Kuthiras have a height of about 70 to 75 feets, and are a union of four parts– Adikkoottu,
Kathirakal, Edakkodaram, Prabhada and Melkkoodaram, one above the other
Adikkottu the basic structure also known as Vandikkoottu, form the basic foundation
which consists of four big wooden wheels interconnected with four other beams above it.
Kuthiras have Thandu, two long huge wooden poles helpful to control the direction while
on the move. Thandu and the basic structure are interconnected and have reinforced
wooden bearings similar to the modern shock absorbers.
Kathirukal with about 35 feet height, consists of four long poles interconnected with
Arecanut poles known as ‘Alaku’ and reinforced with coir and Panavalli knots. These are
again strengthened with ‘Kuthukathrika’ or criss cross formation of Alakus. Kathirakal is
again bifurcated to two parts–the lower portion consisting of four to five extended layers
of Thattu and Charippu (slanting pyramid shaped boxes, made of interconnected Alakus
and coir formation, then decorated with white cloth known as Vella, colourful glittering
clothes and embellishments called ‘Thookku’.
Prabhada consists of exquisite wooden carved sculptors narrating stories from the
Puranas, elephant caparisons called Nettipattoms, Thalekkettu and Aalavattom displayed
in the backdrop of colourful clothes and sculptors. Many of the Prabhadas have stories
like Gajendramoksham, Vasthrapaharanam,Krishnavatharm.
Edakkoodaram almost half the size of Kathirakal with four to five Charippu made as in
the lower portion, comes above the Kathirakal. It also has glittering different clothes and
Vella, interlaced with colourful Thookku embellishments.
Melkkoodaramthe top structure is exactly having a pyramid shape, and pivotal to it is an
extended long sculpted wooden pole in white colour known as ‘Nambu’. All the separate
units are pulled up and placed one above the other with the help of wooden pulleys, giant
coir ropes called Vadams with a length of over 100 fts.and with huge iron structures,
drawn by hundreds of people.
Theru does not have the Prabhadas and Edakkoodarams. Their illithattu and charippu
are larger than that of the Kuthiras and diminishes in size upwards. Therus are also
relatively smaller in comparison to the Kuthiras height
Bhima and Hanuman The wooden icons of Bhima made by Mattom North and
Hanuman brought by Mattom south are probably the largest of its kind in the world, and
are sure to be the largest in Kerala. Bhima’s icon is postured as the Pandava en route to
kill Baka on Pothu Vandi (vehicle drawn by buffalos) with food for the Rakshasa King.
Mattom south kara also brings the icon of Panjali along with Hanuman
Preparations for constructing the Kettukazhchas start from Shivarathri, about six to ten
days prior to Kumbhabharani. On the evening of Kumbhabharani, the Kettukazhchas are
dragged to the temple by hundreds of people, and are paraded at the paddy field in front
of the temple. After Bhagavathi’s Ezhunnellippu to bless the Kettukazhchas and people,
the Kettukazhchas are taken back to the respective Karas by next morning. The
dismantled parts of Kettukazhchas are kept at the ‘Kuthirappura’ of each Karas.
Kuthiyottam is performed as an important offering to the deity. Some people believe that
this is the modified form of Nara Bali in which men were killed and their blood was
allowed to fall on the Goddess. This is a ritual dance practiced and perfected through
several centuries. It used to be done only in houses in the 13 Karas of the Chettikulangara
Temple but after a recent Deva Prashnam it was allowed to conduct Kuthiyottam in the
houses outside of the 13 Karas . The houses are decorated, and the portrait of the deity is
installed in temporary structures. Kuthiyottam starts a week before Bharani day. It is a
type of folk dance performed by youths with the accompaniment of folk music and other
musical instruments. Young boys between 8 to 14 years are taught this ritual dance in the
house amidst a big social gathering before the portrait of the deity. Feasts are also
provided for all the people.
Early in the morning on Bharani, after the feast and other rituals, the boys whose bodies
are coiled with silver wires, one end of which is tied around his neck and an arecanut
fixed on the tip of a knife held high over his head are taken in procession to the temple
with the accompaniment of beating of drums, music, ornamental umbrellas, and other
classical folk art forms, and richly caparisoned elephants.
All through the way to the temple tender coconut water will be continually poured on his
body. After the circumambulation the boys stands at a position facing the Sreekovil
(Sanctum Sanctorum) and begins to dance. This ceremony ends with dragging the coil
pierced to the skin whereby a few drop of blood comes out.

Attukkal Bhagawathy temple, Trivandrum

Attukkal BHagawathy Kshethram, Trivandrum
(From the web site of the temple : www.attukal.org/)
Mythological Background
The story goes that the Goddess
Bhagavathy revealed herself to a
fervent devotee of a notable
family viz. Mulluveettil family. It is said that one evening a young girl appeared before the head of
the family while he was performing his oblations in the Killi river and requested him to help her
cross the river. Impressed by her charismatic demeanor, the- old man bent before her with awe
and reverence and not only helped her cross the river but took her to his house nearby. Strangely
enough, while the household members were amidst preparations for intending a warm welcome
to the young girl, she vanished. That very night the Goddess Bhagavathy appeared as an icon
before the old man in his dream and demanded that he should establish an abode for her in the
nearby sacred ground of shrubs and herbs (kavu), at a consecrated spot marked by three lines.
The next morning the old man went to the spot revealed to him in the dream and to his great
surprise he did find three marks indented on the ground. He lost no time in erecting a temple on
this consecrated spot to house the Goddess. Many years later, the building was renovated by the
local devotees. They also installed a beautiful and majestic icon of the Deity with four arms,
bearing weapons of destruction in each, like spear, sword, skull, shield etc. The consecration
ceremony of this Exalted Being was performed by no less a person than the high priest of the
Badarinath Temple.
The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, one of the ancient temples of South India, is popularly
described as Sabarimala of the Women, as women form the major portion of devotees. The
Goddess in the temple of Attukal is worshipped as the Supreme Mother, creator of all living
beings and the mighty preserver as well as destroyer of them all. The pilgrims from all over the
country, who visit Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple and worship the Lord, do not consider their
visits complete without the visit to the shrine of the supreme Mother Attukalamma. Vishnumaya
took the incarnation of Bhagavathy to annihilate the evil and protect the good in the world in the
present Era namely Kaliyuga.
According to mythology, Attukal Bhagavathy is supposed to be the divinised form of Kannaki, the
famous heroine of Chilapathikaram, written by Elenkovadikal, the Tamil Poet. The story goes that
after the destruction of ancient city of Madurai, Kannaki left the city and reached Kerala via
Kanyakumari and on the way to Kodungalloor took a sojourn at Attukal. Kannaki is supposed to
be the incarnation of Parvathy, the consort of Paramasiva. The all powerful and benign Attukal
Bhagavathy reigns eternally supreme at Attukal and nurses devotees as a mother does her
children. Thousands of devotees from far and near flock to the Temple to bend before the
Goddess with awe and reverence to prostrate and redress their affliction and agony.
The Pongala Mahotsavam is the most important festival of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. The
offering of Pongala is a special temple practice prevalent in the southern part of Kerala and some
parts of Tamilnadu. It is a ten-day programme commencing on the Karthika star of the Malayalam
month of Makaram-Kumbham (February-March) and closing with the sacrificial offering known as
Kuruthitharpanam at night. On the ninth day of the festival the world famous Attukal Pongala
Mahotsavam takes place. The entire area of about 5 kilometre radius around temple with
premises of houses of people of all caste, creed and religion, open fields, roads, commercial
institutions, premises of Government offices etc. emerges as a consecrated ground for observing
Pongala rituals for lakhs of women devotees assembling from different parts of Kerala and
outside. The ceremony is exclusively confined to women folk and the enormous crowd, which
gathers in Thiruvananthapuram on this auspicious day is reminiscent of the Kumbhamela Festival
of North India.
The other festivals in this temple are:
1. Mandala Vratham - Festival in connection with the annual Utsavam of Sabarimala
2. Vinayaka Chathurthi - Pooja to the Lord Ganapathy
3. Pooja Vaypu - Identical to Dussera festival (Saraswathy Pooja and
4. Sivarathri - Siva Pooja
5. Karthika - Karthika Deepa
6. Ayilya Pooja - Milk, flowers etc. offered to serpent God and special rites
7. Aiswarya Pooia - On all full moon (Pournami) days
8. Nirayum Puthariyum (Ramayana Parayanam) - During the month of Karkadakam
9. Akhandanama Japam - 4th Sunday of every month
Incarnation of Goddess
India has ever been the holy land of gods and goddesses. Since ages past, men and women
kings and emperors, saints and sages here were worshipping the Lord not only as the omnipotent
and absolute 'one' but also as the 'one' whose manifestations are varied and manifold and who
possesses different names, forms and divine attributes. Thus Almighty the Eternal God was
worshipped in different forms such as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, and their consorts; representing
specific divine attributes of the Lord. Ancient puranas have described that Siva and Sakthi were
simultaneously worshipped from the period of Aryans and Dravidians. Vishnumaya took the
incarnation of Bhagavathy to annihilate evil and protect the good in this world. She grants every
wish of Her devotees and resides in their hearts in multifarious forms.
Story of Kannaki
According to mythology, Attukal Bhagavathy is supposed to be the divinised form of "Kannaki",
the famous heroine of Chilappatikaram, the sangham work of Tamil Literature written by
ilamkovadikal. After the destruction of the ancient city of Madurai, Kannaki left that city and
reached Kerala via Kanyakumari and on her way to Kodungalloor took a sojourn at Attukal. The
hymns of the "Thottampattu ) sung during the annual temple festival, are based on the story of
Kannaki. Moreover, architectural depictions of Goddess Kannaki seen on the Gopuram temple
substantiate this mythology. Small wonder then. that, Sri. Vidyadhiraja Chattambi Swamy, the
well known saint of Kerala, found this temple premises ideal for his meditations. And there are so
many stories which prove the greatness of the Goddess and which attract thousands of devotees
to the temple.
Aesthetics of Architecture
Anyone visiting the Attukal temple is first struck by the beauty and charm of the temple
architecture. The temple structure is a harmonious conglomeration of both Kerala and Tamil
styles of architecture. The beautifully carved figures of Mahishasuramarddini, Goddess Kali,
Rajarajeswari, Sree Parvathy with Lord Paramasiva and various other depictions of the Goddess
in and around the temple are undoubtedly the work of a gifted artist. Equally well presented
around the corridors surrounding the temple, are the depiction of various other Gods and the epic
stories of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu viz., the "Desavathara". On either side of the
elegant front gopura - are the icons based on the story of Goddess Kannaki. On the southern
Gopura, the puranic story of "Dakshayaga" is depicted in sculptures. The decorated gate at the
entrance of the temple is by itself an excellent example of architectural beauty.
There are two idols of the Goddess in the sanctum sanctorum. The original idol is preserved in all
its pristine beauty covered in ornamental gold embedded with installed stones.
The second idol of the Goddess is installed besides the original one. Within the temple corridors
are also installed carvings and sculptures of Lord Ganesan, the serpent God and Lord Shiva. At
the centre of the Sanctum within the Sreekovil, at a consecrated spot is installed the idol of the
Goddess Attukal Bhagavathy emanating light and lustre to all.