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Location : Ernakulam, Kerala
Main Deity : Deity Bhagvathi
Major attraction : Curing mental illness
Visiting Time : 5.30 in the morning to 12.00 in noon and 4.00 in the evening to 8.00 at night
Chottanikkara Temple is located in a hilly area and is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, golden farms and serene ambience. Considered among the most celebrated shrines of Hinduism, the place is visited by a large number of devotees. The temple is dedicated to the deity Bhagvati.
The goddess Bhagvati is known by the name rajrajeshweri. The idol is made up of laterite. The deity is depicted with four arms and is covered with a golden "Kavach". It is shown holding a discus and a conch. The devotees worship their goddess in different forms at different points of time in a day. In the morning , she is worshipped as Saraswati and is dressed in white drapery. At noon, adorned in crimson Costume, it is worshipped as Bhadrakali while in the evening, devotees offer prayers to her as Durga which is bedecked in blue.
The temple is under the authority of Cochin Devaswom Board; it is among the most important temple shrines of the state. The deity at Chottanikkara Temple is called by names like Devinarayna, Bhadrenarayana, and Lakshminarayana. The temple also houses images of other deities like Shiva, Nagas, Ganesha, and Sastha all of which are placed in a separate temple called Kizhukkavu Bhagavathy. The goddess is believed to have amazing powers that are supposed to heal the patients suffering from mental ailments. If you are going out in search of spirituality, then the atmosphere at the temple will give you the same.
Attractions of the temple :
The idol that forms part of the temple is 5 feet high and is laden with garlands, ornaments, and a number of spectacular lights. The image is called by the name "Rudraksha Sila". It is irregular in form; devotees believe that the sculpture is not created by any human being and is born on its own. The worshippers can have a glimpse of the idol only at 4.00 in the morning. The idol does not even rest on ground. The image is shown with its consorts called Pushkala and Purna. The deity Sastha's idol is also covered with gold. A platform which is located in the southern direction of the temple is believed to be the place where the goddess first emerged. It is called Pavazhamallithara. A shrine called Kizhukkavu that houses the image of Bhadrakali is located outside the temple premises. Here a small idol of this deity is placed in the shrine. According to the worshippers, a saint by the name of Vilvamangalam Swamigal found the idol in a tank. This goddess of Chottanikkara Temple is supposed to ward of evil spirits and other psychological illnesses. Near the shrine of Kizhukkavu, a famous Paala tree is present. As you visit the temple, you will come to know that a special practice by the devotees is prevalent here. Those who are known to have been possessed by devilish spirits hammer a nail by their forehead into the trunk of the tree. This hammering is supposed to make the devil immobile.
Valiya Guruthy : It is the pooja ceremony that is practiced at Kizhukkavu daily at 8.45 in the evening. A solution consisting of lime and turmeric is prepared; being blood red in colour this solution is considered sacred by the devotees. As you will notice, this pooja ceremony is said to cure women who are patients of several mental diseases.
Ulsavam : It is the famous Festival which is celebrated in February and March. A week long celebrations commences with a flag-hoisting ceremony. Aarattu and Ezhunnellippu are the special features of this festival. The devotees from several parts of the state gather at the temple premises during this special event and seek blessing of the divine mother for happy marital life.
Other Festivals : Navarathri Aghosham is celebrated on Vijaydashmi; and it is attended by a large gathering of worshippers. Vrishchicka Mandala is celebrated by lighting of myriad of lamps. Major offerings that are made at the temple premises include Bhajnam, Thrikala Pooja, Noorum Palum, Chathussadam, Guruthy Vazipaadu, and Palpayasam.
Legend associated with the temple :
The legend that is linked with Chottanikkara Temple goes like,Kannappan was a dacoit that lived in the dense forests. One day, he brought home a cow for slaughtering. But the cow disappeared in the forest; as he reached home after spending some futile efforts in its search, he found that his daughter was playing with that cow. Considering that cow to be miraculous one, he spared its life. After some time, his daughter passed away; this changed the dacoit completely. In his dream, he saw goddess Bhagvati who revealed that cow that had brought to his home was the goddess herself. Next day, he saw images of the sacred deities in his cowshed. Inspired by this, he built a sacred shrine at the place.
Soon, with the passage of time, the temple fell to the ruins. One day, a woman came to the place and as she was sharpening her knife, blood stared oozing out. Surprised by this, a temple was again erected at the place.