>> Temples in Kerala - Kottayam

 Adidyapuram Suryadeva Temple

Adityapuram is located near Iravimangalam. The deity is Suryan (sun). Like in other temples here too sub-deities occupy prominent position. Sastha, Durga and Yakshi are the sub-deities.
Sun worshipping temples in Kerala and India are very few. In some temples sun god has endeared as sub-deity. This Suryadeva (sun god) temple is believed to have been raised by Manangat Mana, a Brahmin family. The main ritual is Abhishekam (bathing). In the first stage the Abhishekam is performed by oil and Abhishekam by water followed. It is a surprise that after pouring of water for Abhishekam there will be no trace of oil on the idol.
The west facing Sun god is in meditation state. Years after, an idol of Devi, facing east, is also installed in the same sanctum sanctorum. This temple was glorified much after the installation of Devi, the devotees testify.
Rekthachandanam (medicinal sandalwood) is the main Prasadam (homaged and blessed ritualism stuff to the devotees).
Sundays are considered auspicious here. Last Sunday of Vrischikam (October/November) and Medam (May/June) (glory of the Sun is at peak during these months) are considered more auspicious and special ceremonies and rituals performed.


 Thiruvalla Temple

Thiruvalla is near Kottayam. The deity Vishnu here is also known as Vallabha or Kolappiraan. The carvings of Dakshinamoorthy and Shiva (Yogiswara) are noticed in the temple walls. There are a Namaskaramandapam, an Agramandapam, a Gopuramandapam and a Mukthamandapam in front of the sanctum sanctorum. Only prominent temples have such Mandapams. The god Viswesera is also accommodated in a sub shrine.
Thew image of Vallabha bears a conch, a discus and a lotus. Through the west door of the sanctum sanctorum a Sudarsana Chakram is noticeable. Sacred ash called Vibhooti in Malayalam is given as Prasadam (god’s divine food) at the Sudarsana Chakram outlet, whereas sandalwood paste is given at Vallbha shrine as Prasadom.
The flagstaff crowning an image of Garuda (eagle) is of 50 ft height made of black granite.
The devotees who wish to have accomplished their wishes or got accomplished used to sponsor Kathakali as an offering to the deity.
The one day festival conducted in the month of Medam (April/May) has a speciality. The icons of the nearby three temples – Kavil, Padappad and Alamthuruthu – brought here with great gaiety. They are returned with new clothes. These images are entered through the northern door of the shrine and it is only for this purpose this door is opened.

 Thirukkodithanam Temple

Thirukkodithanam is near Changanasseri. The deity is Vishnu who is also known as Amrita Narayanan. This shrine is one of the five connected with Mahabharatam. The other four are Yuddhishtira of Chengannur, Bheema of Tiruppuliyur, Arjuna of Aranmula and Nagula of Tiruvamundur. This temple is believed to have been built by Sahadeva of the Pandavas. The walls of the sanctum sanctorum portray the images of various moods and acts of various gods. Narasimha and Dakshinamurthy have got the privilege of getting sub shrines.
The wood carvings and murals are of centuries old and inscriptions from 10th century (Bhaskara Ravi Varman rein period) are noticed.
The surrounding wall of the temple is gigantic like a fort. The joints of the stone are so close to close, making it rather difficult to identify the joints. Such workmanship cannot be noticed anywhere else. There is an elephantine pond covering an area of more than 2 acres outside the temple. Such a big pond is extant only here. A pillar with a granite human figure hanging from the top is there on the bank of the pond as near to the temple gate. The hanging human figure wears a crown and sacred thread in addition to a conch in the hand.
A festival called Deepa Mahotsavam (festival of light) is celebrated in Vrischikam (November/December). For Deepa (light) a bonfire is created in a specific manner. Dried plantain leaves get piled like pyre to which lighted torches are tossed in. At this time musics from percussion instruments flow. It is said the Deepa Mahotsavam is held to commemorate the self-immolation of Madri, the mother of Sahadeva. The festival is attended by large number of people.


 Chengannur Temple

Chengannur is near Kottayam. The deity is Vishnu. The temple is also known as Chengannur Mahadeva temple. There is an interesting story behind this shrine. Yuddhistira (Dharmaputra) worshipped Vishnu, praying pardon for his battlefield act. In the battle field, in an attempt to deceive Drona and make him defenseless he uttered some misleading words which enabled Arjuna to finish him.


 Aranmula Temple

Aranmula is near Chengannur. The deity is Vishnu who is commonly known as Parthasarathy in this part of Kerala. It is from this temple the sacred jewels of Ayyappan are taken in procession during Dhanu (December/January) in pilgrimage season for him to wear on Makara Vilakku (the utmost important pilgrimage day in Sabarimala). Aranmula temple is linked with Mahabharata and is famous for boat race.
The temple’s outer wall adorns four towers over its entrances. The eastern tower has 18 steps. 57 steps down from the northern tower lands one straight to Pampa river.
The temple was built by Arjuna and the image for installation was brought in a raft made of six pieces of bamboo. The name of place Aranmula was derived from this bamboo raft (Are denotes to six and mula denotes to bamboo}.
On 9th day of Kurukshetra battle Kauravas were having upperhand under the leadership of Bheema. Noticing this, Krishna persuaded Arjuna to annihilate the foe. Arjuna hesitated to do so. The raged Krishna jumped from the chariot with his discus. Sensing danger, Bheema surrendered when Arjuna pleaded with Krishna not to kill Bheema. Krishna’s action would have resulted against his vow not to take up arms in this battle. d, The image of Krishna in this temple resembles Vishnu. During Onam there is a boat race in Pampa river on the bank of which the temple stands. The boat race in which several snake boats participate is very famous and well attended. In the boat race 39 karas (villages) participate, each village having each snake boat. The snake boat is of over 100 ft length. Each will have a dozen motivators, over 100 rowers and over 20 singers. A sumptuous feast is arranged in the temple after the race.
Yet another festival called Kandavanadahanam (burning of Kanda forest) is also celebrated in the month of Dhanu (December/January). This is done as symbolic to the Kandavana forest fire described in the Mahabharata. For this a replica of forest with dried plants, leaves, twigs etcd is created in front of the temple and ablazed.
One more festival is celebrated in the month of Meenam (March/April). The image of deity mounted on a Garuda (eagle) is taken to the Pampa river bank in colourful procession for aarattu (divine dip). An image of the nearby Punnamthode temple’s deity, Bhagawathi is also brought to the bank of the river for this aarattu festival.


 Kumaranalloor Sri Bhagavathy Temple

This shrine is located at Kumaranallur, just 4-km from Kottayam town. There is an interesting legend. Cheraman Perumal who was reigning the region at that time commenced building a big shrine for Subramanya whose ardent devotee Perumal was. At this point of time Pandya Kings whose family deity is Meenakshi were ruling Madura region of Tamil Nadu. One day the precious ornament worn by the deity Meenakshi found missing. The King thought it was stolen by the priest and ordered him to find it out within 41 days failing which he would be axed. The priest resigned to his fate as there was no clue or trace of the ornament. On 40th night he heard a voice from nowhere to the effect he should leave the place before dawn. He took it as that of goddess Meenakshy and when he opened the eyes a light was moving forward and he followed the light. The light and the priest ended up in the new temple constructed by Cheraman Perumal. The light was none other than goddess Meenakshy. Thus the temple meant for Subramanya turned as a temple of goddess Devi (Meenakshy). The displeased Perumal transferred the idol of Subramanya to Udayapuram temple, near Vaikom and discontinued the financial assistance to Kumaranalloor temple.
While Perumal and his entourage travelling to Udayapuram in boats fog made them blind. His Minister quickly grasped it is due to the displeasure of Devi and advised Perumal to please Devi immediately. Consequently Perumal vowed to submit all the lands within the vicinity of Kumaranalloor temple to it and poured some water as a vow. To his surprise a beautiful hand appeared and received the poured water and the Perumal and his entourage regained sight. The place where the hand appeared is thereafter known as Trikkai Kandam.
This shrine is credited as one of the five important shrines in India for Durga Aradhana (Devi worship).
The annual festival in Vrischikam (November/December) is celebrated on a big scale and attended by thousands and thousands. Navarathri is also celebrated on a grand scale.
Vijayadasami, Shivarathri, Meenappuram, Vishu, Uthrattathi during Onam, 41 days Mandalvilakku are the other events celebrated here.
The mural paintings and wood carvings of the temple are of top order endearing even to a layman.


 Panachikkadu Saraswaythi Temple

The temple anchored in Panachikkadu is known as Dakshina Mookambika in South India. Panachikkadu is located 11-km away from Kottayam town. Though the temple is known as Saraswathy temple, the main deity is Mahavishnu (Vishnu). The devotees worship Vishnu first before worshipping Saraswathy (Devi) as a custom. Ganapathy, Shiva, Sasthavu and Yakshi are satisfied with the position as sub-deities.
There is no temple structure for Saraswathy. On the southern side of the Vishnu shrine a small pond cut through granite exists. The pond is waterful throughout the year.The idol of Devi, the Saraswathi, is beneath the pond. A creeper in the pond serves as a structure for Devi. The creeper with ample leaves in static growth rate – neither increases nor decreases the size – serves as structure from the time the Devi was worshipped centuries ago. The creeper has never flowered and never fruited – a subject worth of research by botany scientists.
The idol of Yakshi has no structure to cover. It is installed under an Elinji and an Ezhilam Pala trees.. The trusteeship of the shrine is vested with Kuzhipuram Karunad and Kaimukku Namboodiri Illams (families). They are the residents of Panachikkadu. The boys of the Illams used to carry out the rites here. Kuzhipuram Illam once had no boys to carry out the rites. A distressed elder of the family went to seek the blessings of Mookambika Devi at Mookambi in Karnataka to have a son in the family. After spending years in the temple the old man returned dejected. On reaching Panachikad he decided to have a bath in the temple pond. He put his Olakuda (umbrella made of palm-leaf) on the southern side of the temple and went to the pond. After the bath when he tried to lift the umbrella it stood firm on the ground and at the same time he felt an intuition as if Mookambika Devi telling him I am in the umbrella and advising him to install there an idol lying in the nearby forest. The Namboodiri located the idol and installed the same where he had put his umbrella. Later a small pond appeared where the idol was installed and the idol went beneath the pond. The temple till then known as Panachikkadu Vishnu temple came to be known as Panachikkadu Saraswathy (Devi) temple thereafter. This is legend.
Saraswatha Ghrutham is an important Prasadam (deity’s ritualized food) offered to the devotees. Intake of this Prasadam will boost the memory power, it is believed.


 Puthumana Mahaganapathy Devasthanam

It is located at Thururuthy, near Changanassery. The deity is Ganapathy. 21 different idols in 21 Bhavas (moods) are worshipped here. The devotees can see only the idol of Siddhi Vinayaka Bhavaa. Only the priests can see other idols.
The main ritual conducted here is Vigneswari Balai (a sacrificial ritual). This ritual helps nullify mental diseases. People from far and near come to conduct this ritual.
Karuga Moodal (for fulfillment of wishes), Ganapathi Prathal (for removal of obstacles in marriage), Ganapathiyoottu (for prosperity), Ganesh Sadhya (for decimating the doings of enemies) are the other offerings. Ganeshayantra Elas (pendant) delivered from here possesses miraculous powers, the devotees testify.


 Thirunakkara Shiva Temple

Situated in the centre of Kottayam town. :It is built in Kerala style architecture. The ‘koothambalam’ – traditional temple theater – is one of the best in Kerala. The paintings on the wall are commendable.