Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple, Kerala
We embark on our series of the best known Indian temples with a magnificent temple from God’s Own Country – the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple in the land known as Parasurama Kshetra – Kerala. Thousands throng the temple each year; it is one of the most visited Hindu shrines in South India and is dedicated to the Goddess Bhagavathy who is worshipped as Saraswati in the morning, Lakshmi during the day, and Durga in the evening. The Goddess here is also depicted with the conch and discus – traditional instruments that Lord Vishnu is believed to wield. The Goddess here is the embodiment of all three forms of Shakti (Feminine Divine) and even as you approach the Chottanikkara Temple from Eranakulam, the chant of “Amme Narayana, Devi Narayana, Lakshmi Narayana, Bhadre Narayana” is likely to resound from all directions.
The Chottanikkara Bhagavathy temple is located about 20 kilometers from Eranakulam-Kochi, one of the main cities of Kerala.
Nearest Airport: Kochi International Airport – 38 km
Nearest Railway Stations:
• Eranakulam South Railway Station – 18 km
• Eranakulam North Railway Station – 20 km
Nearest State Bus Stations:
Eranakulam KSRTC Central Bus Station – 20 km
Kaloor Private Bus Stand – 22 km
The Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple is believed to be about 1500 years old. Legend has it that the temple was built in the midst of a dense jungle by a forest-dweller called Kannappan. Kannappan was a doting father who loved his young daughter. He sacrificed a beast to the Goddess Bhagavathy each day and one occasion could not find any animals to slaughter. He asked his daughter for her pet calf but the daughter preferred to give up her own life for the goddess. The calf spoke to Kannappan and revealed that it was the Goddess in animal form. A transformed Kannappan started to worship her at the place where the sacrifices were made by him. The shrine fell into disuse and was eventually discovered by a grass cutter.
Mookambika, the patron goddess of a temple in Kollur (Udipi District, Karnataka) is also believed to be present in the temple when it opens for its morning prayers. The red laterite idol of the Goddess Bhagavathy is believed to be ‘svayambhu’ or self-revealed. It is irregular in shape but the priests are highly adept at decorating it with brilliant jewels and coloured sarees. Many leaders of the Hindu faith such as Adi Shankara have worshipped the Goddess here. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, is said to have promised Adi Shankara to be present here each morning and bless the devotees. Vilwamangalam Swamiyar, another saint is said to have discovered the statue of Bhadra Kali – the goddess of the lower temple (Keezhu Kavu) in the nearby pond.
The Cochin Devaswam Board is responsible for the administration of the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple. It is one of the biggest shrines in the region. The temple complex houses the main shrine of Bhagavathy amman (goddess) and Lord Vishnu apart from other minor shrines of Dharma Sastha, Shiva, Brahma, Ganesh, Subramanya (Karthik), Anjaneya (Hanuman), and the Nagas (serpent gods). The complex also contains the Keezhu Kaavu or lower temple of Goddess Bhadrakali opposite a large pond (also called tank). Devotees visit both the main temple and the Keezu Kaavu for their prayers to be complete. The temple has facilities for the devotees to rest and shops where you can buy pooja essentials.
The Chottanikkara Bhagavathy amman (goddess) and the Keezhu Kaavu Bhadrakali amman are worshipped as the healing goddesses. A steady worship of the deities in this temple is believed to cure even life-threatening diseases. The lower temple Bhadakali is the patron goddess of exorcists of the Hindu faith. A 41-day worship of the Goddess is believed to cure the worst of mental maladies and supernatural possessions by evil spirits. The temple premises houses an ancient ‘pala’ tree (Alstonia scholaris). Those cured of possession by demons, and malevolent spirits drive a nail into the tree or into the fence that surrounds this tree. In earlier times, devotees are believed to have driven these nails using their foreheads instead of a hammer. The presence of thousands of such nails in and around the tree stands testimony to the miraculous cures that the goddess bestows and to the incredible faith that has been drawing thousands to the temple each year.
Opening of the Nada or the main sanctum ————– 4 am
Lord Shiva’s Dhaara——————————————— 5 am
Ethruthu pooja—————————————————–5.30 am
Morning Seeveli —————————————————–6 am
Guruthi pooja at Keezhu kaavu Temple———————7.30 am
Pantheeradi Pooja————————————————- 7.45 am
Lord Shiva’s Dhaara————————————————11 am
Uchapooja or noon pooja ————————————— 12 noon
Noon Seeveli ——————————————————–12.10 pm
Evening Nada Opening—————————————— 4.00 pm
Deeparadhana/lighting of lamps —————————— 6.30 pm
Athazhapooja ——————————————————-7.30 pm
Evening Seeveli ——————————————————-8 pm
Evening Guruthi at Keezhu kaavu Temple —————— 8.45pm
The main deeparadhana of the temple is also telecast directly on the temple website at 6.30 pm everyday.
Men will be required to remove their shirts before entering the temple. Women will be required to wear either sarees or salwar suit in order to gain entrance.
When at the temple, do look out for the vedi vazhipadu – the worship by bursting of crackers.
Important festivals celebrated at the temple
Onam – end August
Navarathri – October
Vishu – mid-April
Main temple festival (Makom Thozal) – February-March
Makom Thozal is held over a period of 7 days. This is a grand affair when the goddess is dressed her best, elephant processions and elaborate poojas are organised. A number of weddings are held at the temple during this time.