Chottanikkara – Sri Bhagavathi Amman temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Bhagavathi Amman temple

Period of origin

Before 2000 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Bhagavathi Amman

Sthala Theertham: pond at Onakkoor

Sthala Virksham: paala tree

Sthalapuranam:

In days of yore, Chottanikarai region was a dark dense forest.  One Kannappan was the head of the Adivasis here very cruel in nature.  He used to steal cows, slaughter and eat the meat with his friends.  This wicked and cruel Kannappan had a daughter.  When he tried to kill a cow one day, it escaped and fled into the forest.  When returned home furious due to disappointment, he saw the cow with his daughter.  When he raised his sickle to kill, the daughter refused to part with it saying that it belonged to her and that he had no right over the cow.  As he loved his daughter, he gave in to her and stopped killing cows then.  Though reformed, his sin followed him.  His daughter died.  He lived frustrated.  The cow saved by his daughter appeared in his dream and told him that She was Ambica and that She would in the form of an idol in a place and Lord Maha Vishnu would be by Her side.  Next day he saw the cow in the shed.  He made it a Kavu – place God exists in the midst of cows.
After the death of Kannappan, the Adivasis migrated to another place.  The place became a forest again with bushes.  While a woman was cutting the grass, her sickle slipped and fell on the idol which began to bleed.  Shocked, the woman informed the matter to a popular man in the place Edattu Peria Namboodri.  He came to the place, studied the incidents present and past and understood that the idol was of Mother Bhagavathi, lighted a lamp and performed pujas.  People understood the power of the idol and began to worship Her daily.  That Devi is but Mother Chottanikara Bhagavathi gracing Her devotees now.

There is also another story about Mother Chottanikara Bhavathi Amman.  Acharya Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya who established the Advaitha philosophy with the blessings of Mother Maha Saraswathi, wished to bring Mother Chamundeeswari to Kerala and began a penance to realize his mission.  When Mother Vani appeared before the Acharya, he begged Her to come to Kerala.  Mother Vani conceded to his request but on a condition. That Acharya Sankara should proceed to his destination and that Mother Vani would follow him.  But he should never turn back.  If he did so, Vani also would stop at the spot and would not come with him further. Acharya accepted the condition and began to walk.  Mother Vani followed him making melodious sound of Her anklets.  They walked days and nights.  One fine morning, the sound of anklets stopped.  Shocked Acharya simply turned back.  The spot was Kollur.  Mother Ambica smiled at the Acharya and asked how he could forget the condition.  Acharya Sankara said that as the sound of the anklet stopped, he was upset and turned back and begged Her pardon. Mother smilingly said, “Sankara, This is also the Kerala Bhoomi.  I have come to  the land of your wish.”  Yet, Sankara begged Her to come to Vendha Nadu near Alappuzha and that his penance should not go waste.  Granting his wish in a different way, Devi said that she would grant Her darshan from 3.00 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. (Brahmma Muhurtham time) at Chottanikara and consoled Sankara. He reached Chottanikara.  His joy knew no bounds at the darshan of Mother who merged in a jyoti in the temple.  As Mother Vani merged in Jyothi, the place came to be praised Jyothiana Karai now standing changed as Chottanikara.  She graces the devotees as Mother Maha Saraswathi (Vani) till 7.00 a.m. each day in the temple.

The idol of Mother Bhagavathi is said to have been made with Rudrakshas.  After the Nirmalya Darshan, Devi is dressed with Gold Angi and jewels.  As Lord Maha Vishnu is on the right side of Devi, people praise Her saying Amme Narayana, Devi Narayana, Lakshmi Narayana, Badri Narayana and other names.  Masi Magam is a very important festival.  When doors open after the Uchikala Puja-Midday Puja, Mother Bhagavathi appears gracefully with gold ornaments – Sarvalankara Vibushini.  This darshan is considered very lucky to the devotees present on the occasion.  Married women seeing this darshan will have long happy married life, those awaiting marriage shall have a suitable match and a good child seeking this boon.  The darshan offers total peace to those suffering from various mental agony and a relief and total cure to the mentally ill.  There is a jack tree in the temple.  Those seeking relief from mental agony use to fix nails on the stem of the tree.

The mandap in the east is the main entrance to the temple with a tall Deepasthamaba – Light Post.  The Prasad counter is at northwest side in the prakara with Kakkacheri Smarga Sannidhi nearby.  The devotee can have the darshan of Kodimaram-flag post and the Kalasa above the sanctum sanctorum from this point.  There are many lamps fixed around the temple lighted on the festival days.  Devotees can also light the lamps paying a fee.  The exit entrance after darshan of Mother Bhagavathi is on the southern side.  Next is a mandap where Theertha and sandal Prasad are given to the devotees.  The spacious Navarathri Mandap comes next.

There is a big garden is on the south side of the prakara.  There is a Maha Mandap nearby from where the devotee can easily have the darshan of Amman and the flag post.  Those beginning the education of children perform pujas in the Saraswathi mandap.  The sthala Vruksha-sacred tree and shrines of Yakshi, Jeshta Bhagavathi and Nagar are in the centre of the prakara.  In the shrine next to these, Lord Shiva graces devotees facing east.  Keel Kavu Bhagavathi Amman is praised as the Sister of Chottanikarai Bhagavathi Amman.  Those praying to Chottanikar Bhavathi Amman should pray to this Amman also according to faith and practice.  A big and vast tank is opposite the Keelkavu Bhagavathi with a Nagar shrine on the left.  There is a mandap here for firing crackers.  There are shrines for Lord Dharma Sastha, Lord Ganapathi and Sri Anjaneya on the right of this mandap.  South of these shrines is the elephant shed.

Though there are entrances in the north and south side of the temple, majority of the devotees use only the western entrance only.  The history of the temple and the puja details are written at the entrance of the temple.  There is also a vast Pandal-tent for the convenience of the devotees to relax.  The office of the temple administration and stall selling puja materials are on the north of this mandap.  There is also a safety room.  There are paintings showing the upper look of the temple.  Performing Pushpanjali with 12,000 flowers and offering Red Silk vastra is one of the prayer commitments followed in the temple.  Animal sacrifice was followed in earlier days but now totally stopped and replaced by blood offer in accordance with Saivite philosophy.

Mother Bhagavathi graces the devotees in Her white robe as Maha Saraswathi in the morning, in red robe as Mahalakshmi in midday and in blue as Maha Durga Matha in the evening in this famous temple in Chottanikara. Traditionally, Gods and Goddesses in the temples appear with their left hand showing the feet and blessing the devotees by the right hand – Abhayahastha. In the Chottanikara temple, Mother Bhagavathi as the destroyer of sins, appears with Her right hand showing the feet and bless by Her left hand.

The annual festival here is celebrated in the month of Kumbha or Aquarius (Feb – Mar). Maasi Makam, coinciding with the full moon, during this festival attracts vast crowds. Legend has it that the deity appeared in front of Vilvamangalam Swamigal a saint associated with this shrine and   with Guruvayur. Vilvamangalam Swamy is said to have discovered Bhadrakali enshrined in Keezhkaavu.

Route:

Chottanikara is 20 km far from Ernakulam. Bus facility is available.

Temple Timings:

The temple is open from 4.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. and from 4.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. On Fridays, the temple is open from 3.30 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. in the first half.

Temple Telephone Number:

+91 484 – 2711 032

Temple Address:

Sri Bhagavathi Amman Temple,

Chottanikara – 682 312,

Ernakulam district,

Kerala

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