Kottarakkara Mahadeva Temples
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Kottarakkara was the capital of Elayidathu Swaroopam. Kottarakara means "the land of the palace". Kottaram means Palace and Kara means Land. The last queen of the Elayidathu Swaroopam voluntarily surrendered to King Marthanda Varma of Travancore in the 18th century. Kottarakara is the place where the classical art form of Kathakali was conceived and is a famous pilgrim centre for the Hindus as the seat of the famous Ganapathy Temple.
There are two Shiva temples in Kottarakkara (1 km west of M.C Road in Kottarakkara-Kollam road). They are the Manikandeswaram Mahadeva Temple and Padinjattinkara Mahadeva Temple. The local people consider both of them with equal importance. Both these temples were the Paradevatha Temples of Elayidathu Swaroopam. It is not clear that which temple is mentioned in the Shivalaya Nama Stothra. So both these temples are presented here. Devotees can visit both these temples very easily because they are situated within a span of 50 meters. Both these temples are managed by Travancore Devaswom Board.
Manikandeswaram Mahadeva Temple (Kottarakkara Maha Ganapathy Temple)
Manikandeswaram Mahadeva Temple is now famous as Kottarakkara Maha Ganapathy Temple. This is a Maha Kshetra with golden flag staff. Shiva is the main deity in this temple. However, Lord Ganapathy is very powerful and the temple became famous in His name. Idols of Lord Mahadeva (facing east) and Sree Parvathy (facing west) are in the same Sreekovil. The sreekovil is circular in shape with copper covered conical roof. Ganapathy idol faces south. The eleven day annual festival of Lord Shiva is in Medam (April-May) and it ends with arattu on Thiruvathira day. There is a big pond infront of the temple. Three poojas will be conducted daily. Sastha, Subrahmanya and Naga Devathas are the sub deities.
There is a legend behind the installation of Ganapathy idol in this temple. This legend is associated with Perumthachan. The royal sculpturist Perumthachan (The Master Carpenter) had a son who like him mastered and excelled in carpentry and architecture. His son soon excelled his own perfection. The fame of Perumthachan's son spread far and wide. This is said to have caused a sort of professional jealousy in Perumthachan. According to the Aithihyamala, Perumthachan dropped his chisel on his own son faking it as an accident. After the death of his son Perumthachan started wandering. One day he reached Kottarakkara. The Padinjattinkara temple was under renovation at that time. He saw a big piece of jack tree root inside the Sarppakkavu. It is believed that he sculptured a beautiful Ganapathy idol from the root of the jack tree. Perumthachan had seeked the permission of the tantri (chief priest) of Padinajattinkara temple to install the idol there. The tantri denied permission because there is already one Ganapathy idol. Hence Perumthachan changed his plans and later, having secured the permission of the tantri of Manikandeswaram temple installed the idol there. The melsanthi (head priest) was preparing nivedyam (offerings for the Lord) there. Perumthachan had studied the place and had found it ideal to install the deity there in the southeast direction. He had asked the head priest what the nivedyam for ganapathy will be. The priest suggested unniyappam and Perumthachan readily agreed. It is said that Perumthachan immediately offered half a dozen unniyappams in a plantain leaf before the deity. And still, koottappam is considered the favourite nivedyam of Ganapathy. Perumthachan had then predicted that even though the principal deity is father (Shiva), the son (Ganapathy) will become more famous.
The idol of Ganapathy is three feet heigh and have four hands wearing Pasa, Ankusa, Modakam and Kadalippazham. Unniyappam is the main offering to Lord Ganapathy. The kitchen where Unniappams are prepared is situated infront of the Ganapathy shrine.
Padinjattinkara Mahadeva Temple
Padinjattinkara Mahadeva Temple is located at a distance of 50 meters from Manikanteswaram Mahadeva Temple. This is a Maha kshetra in all aspects. Idols of Lord Mahadeva (facing west) and Sree Parvathy (facing east) are in the same Sreekovil. The copper covered two tier circular Sreekovil is bigger than that of Manikandeswaram temple and has beautiful sculptures on it. There is a Ganapathy prathishta facing south in the Sreekovil. Another Ganapathy prathishta is there in the Nalambalam and it faces east. The Valiyabalikkallu is located outside the Nalambalam. This west facing Mahadeva temple has a copper dwaja. A small gopuram is there in the western entrance. The east facing Shastha shrine is situated in the south west corner of the temple compound. The beautiful Sarppakkavu is close to the Sastha shrine. Women are not permitted to enter in the Sarppakkavu. Navagraha Prathishta is located at the north east corner of the temple compound and the Sree Krishna shrine is located near to it. The temple pond is in the eastern side. Five poojas and three sheevelis will be conducted daily.
Tantri of this temple is a member of Kulakkada Illam. The eight day long annual utsavam ends with arattu on Thiruvathira day in Kumbham (February - March).
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