Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ethumanur Mahadeva Temple

Ethumanur Mahadeva Temple


This temple is situated in Ethumanur(12km north of Kottayam   and 61  km from Cochin)  , a small town near Vaikom.    The name  it seems means the  town where   the deer was lifted . It is considered as one of the oldest temple  of Kerala  . One belief is that the ‘Maniman Tirtham’ mentioned in the ancient Vedic texts Vamana Purana and the Padma Purana is Ettumanur

There are  many stories about   the temple

The great saint Khara Prakasha worshiped God Siva in Ettumanur to alleviate his sins. He wanted to install a Sivalinga for the benefit of his people. Lord Shiva appeared and presented his own icon to the saint who installed the Sivalinga in the sanctum facing the unusual direction of west. This two-foot-high Sivalinga is the main deity in the temple today. Another story relates an occasion when Khara Maharshi disguised himself as a deer and persuaded Siva to carry him around. This gives Ettumanur its name as in Malayalam it translates to ‘the place where the deer was carried’. In Malayalam ‘Ettu’ means eight, ‘Mana’ means house and ‘Oor’ in Tamil means village. This area was under the control of Brahmins who lived in eight separate houses and so it was called Ettumanoor.

It is believed that anAsura called Khara got three Shivalingas from Lord Shiva himself. He brought them to Kerala, holding one by his teeth and one each in his left and right hand. While the
Lingam held by his teeth was consecrated in Kaduthurthi(Kadichu iruthi) , the one held in his right hand was consecrated in Vaikom and the one held in his left hand was consecrated in Ethumanur. After consecrating all these three temples in the same day, Khara is believed to have become a deer and was doing service to the Gods. It is believed that the God in Ethumanur took the deer in his hand and held it there, Because of that this place was called Udhruthaina Puram, which translated in to Malayalam became Ethumanur (The
place where the deer was lifted).

Devotees believe that sage Vyasa  and Pandavas have   come and worshipped at this temple and that Adhi Sankara  composed   his great work , Saundarya  Lahari is here  .It is also believed   the Pandyan king   called Chanda Bhaskara   got rid of evil spirits which have entered him   and he built the present temple.

Chempakassery King Devanarayan of the mid-17th century  the temple to offer prayers to cure his chronic stomach problems. He gifted a huge, 500-lb bronze Nandi (bull vehicle of Shiva) filled with chennullu (red rice paddy) in gratitude for the Lord's grace. It is believed by many that eating a few blessed rice grains taken from the belly of the giant bronze bull will give immediate relief for any stomach diseases

The Ezharapponnana (7 ½ elephants made of gold) are an important part of the Ettumanoor Siva Temple. The images of seven large elephants and a baby elephant in solid gold along with a Pazhukka Kula( bunch of arecanuts) made of gold were gifted by the Mahaharaja Karthika Thirunal in ME 964 (MalayaIam Era). These beautiful and heavy Golden Elephant figurines are unique to Ettumanoor Temple. These figurines are brought out for public exhibition on the 8th and 10th day of the Annual Festival (Utsavam) celebrated in February/March every year. Each of the seven elephants weighs about 210 lbs and the small one, half of it and each figurine is carried by four people. During the Mahotsavam (Annual festival) these animals being carried in the natural and brilliant light of Theevaties (Big Oil Torches) is an unforgettable experience

The major worship in this temple is lighting of lamp(valiya vilakku)  using gingelly oil.   The soot that accumulates on the under surface of the shade over the lamp is believed to cure many eye diseases Valiya vilakku   is an ever glowing, very big lamp is
kept as soon as you enter the temple. The devotees pour oil in to this lamp. Recently a
vessel is also kept near by so that, if the lamp is full, devotees can pour the oil they
brought in to this vessel. There is a story behind this. It seems a brass mason once made a
huge lamp and brought it to this temple. He pleaded with the management of the temple
to buy the lamp from him. They simply laughed at him. They told him that the temple
need not buy a lamp paying money. That brass mason pleaded with the God for buying
the lamp and saluted him. Then suddenly a big storm started around the temple. The
temple management realized the God was angry at their behaviour and bought the lamp
and installed it there. From that time the lamp has been constantly burning in front of the

The uthsava idol of Shiva is an eight handed figure which appears very angry. But the
devotees only see mercy in that form.

The temple is very artistic and has a copper roof. Several wooden sculptures can be
found around the temple. There are also statues of two bulls in this temple. There are also
temples for Dakshinamrthy and Nataraja  (very rare in Kerala), Ganapathi and Sastha in this temple.
There is an engraving in the temple which indicates that it was constructed about 400
years back. There is alo a separate temple for Anthimahakalan who is lOrd Shiva  in a hunter form.,There is also a temple for Lord Krishna. 
The Arattu  festival in this temple is celebrated in the month of Kumbham (February-March),
which lasts for ten days. On the eighth day of the festival, the processional image of the deity is taken to a specially decorated site in the north east corner of the temple, where thousands throng to visit the shrine. Then a unique procession happens where the golden elephant figures are carried out. You should hear the oohs and the aahs when these elephants are brought out in a procession. These seven two foot tall figures and a one foot tall baby elephant figures are called Ezhara Ponnana (seven-and-a-half golden elephants) and represent the gods of the eight directions, Ashtadigpalakas. The statues were an offering to the deity by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, an ancient ruler of the Travancore kingdom.

The Thiruvadira festival and Shivarathri are also celebrated inthis temple. The eighteen part worship for Shivarathri is famous.

 People refer the God inthis temple as “Ethumanur Appan”. A procession of Ezhara Ponnana or seven and a half gold elephants is the highlight of the annual festival of Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple.

All Year Round
Operating Hours:
Mon-Sun : 04:00 AM - 11:30 AM, 05:00 PM - 08:00 PM

You can see   a video   about the temple

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