Pandalam Valia Koikkal Dharma Sastha temple
Pandalam is a small town about 13 km from Chengannur town of Kerala. Lord Ayyappa was brought up by the king Raja Sekara who was at that time ruling over Pandalam. King Raja Sekara wanted to crown Lord Ayyappan is the junior king of Pandalam but his queen was reluctant ,She feigned a head ache and the doctor was deputed by a cunning minister said that she needed Tiger to get cured.Lord Ayyappa went to the forest and brought a huge flock of she tigers to the Palace. The queen realized her mistake and requested Lord Ayyappa to accept the post of Yuva Raja. Then Lord Ayyappa told his parents but who he is and requested them to build a temple in Sabari Mala . They agreed but were sad. Then Lord Ayyappa told them that the ornaments that he was wearing would be kept in Pandalam palace and every year before the Sughting of Makara Jyothi , the king or his representative should bring them to Sabari Mala for him to wear. He also told that the next day he would give a Private Darsan to the king of Pandalam,.
After the departure of Lord Ayyappa to Sabari mala, the pandalam royal family built a private hall of worship for the members of the Pandalam Royal family . This temple located in the big palace (.. Valia Koyikkal) of Pandalam was later opened to the public also. This small prayer hall in the compound of the palace faces east and has only two rooms.One of them is where Lord Dharma Sastha is consecrated and the other is the place for devotees to sit..There are no decorations to this very ancient prayer room , except a few paintings on its walls..There is no idol of Ayyappa in this temple but a Salagrama stone representing Lord Ayyappa.,Whenever any member of the Pandalam royal family dies, since Lord Ayyappan belongs to the family, the temple is closed for sixteen daya and there is no worship here in this prayer room at that time. Since it is only a prayer room of the palace there are no festivals associated with this temple . On the last day of Mandala period,(!1th day of Dhanu month) there are some special worship practices in this temple. Durind Mandala Pooja The Ayyappa is taken out on a elephant to a Banyan tree called Manikandanal.. There is a small temple of Lord Ayyappa below that banyan tree ,At that time a cewlebration called” Nayattu vili(hunter’s call)” is celebrated in that temple ..Hunter songs , people miming the animal sounds etc are a part of this small festival.Another important day in the temple is the twenty eighth day of the month of Dhanu when the huge group of People go as a profession from this temple to Sabari mala carrying Lord yypaan’s ornaments . The king(eldest member of the royal family of Pandalam gives his sword to his representative and tells him, “Safely go and see our son and return.” Lord Ayyappa’s birthday is on Uthram star of Kumbham month . That day the Salagrama is decorated .. On the Vishu day , the Ornament box is brought out of the temple for the devotees to see. The temple would be a sea of devotees during the Mandala kalam of Ayyappa.