Chengannur Mahadeva Temple is one of the oldest temples in Kerala. Chengannur Mahadeva Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are two main Shrines in this temple. Lord Shiva facing East and Devi facing West. The main shrine is a conical copper plated one. Devi’s main Idol is made with an alloy of five metals.
Chengannur Mahadeva Temple is a ‘Maha Kshetram’ (temple having great importance) from olden days itself. The other sub-investitures of the temple are Ganapathi, Shasta (Lord Ayyappan), Chandikeswaran, Neelagrivan, Ganga, and Naagar. There is also a shrine of Sree Krishna nearby. Chengannur Mahadeva Temple is also referred to as Chengannur Bhagavati Temple, as the temple is one of the 108 Shakti Peethas dedicated to Goddess Parvathi.
Chengannur is also known as the Gateway to Sabarimala Temple. The temple was built according to the architectural design developed by Perumthachan. Chengannur Mahadeva Temple complex sprawls over an area of six acres, with a circular sanctum. The Shivalingam is said to have emerged on its own (Swayambu) and bears a gold planted image of Ardhanaareeswara. There are also shrines dedicated to other deities as well.
History and Legend of Chengannur Mahadeva Temple
- Lord Vishnu, Brahma, Saints, Devas, Gandharvas, Yakshas and all other heavenly ones went to Himalaya in order to attend the auspicious marriage of Shiva & Parvati. The Trimurthis requested sage Agastya to go and sit on shronadri, to prevent the Earth from sinking to the northern side due to the weight of all the invitees who came for the ceremony. Though Sage Agasthya conceded the request he expressed his concern about losing the chance of viewing the marriage.
- After the marriage, Lord Shiva and Devi went to meet Agasthya muni at shronadri. There Devi became ‘rithu’ (menstruate) and she could not go back. Devi remained there till the period of menstruation was over. The place where sage Agastya meditated, is known as shronadri in Sanskrit and in Malayalam, it is Chenkunnu (Red hill). Later it is called as Chen Kunnu Urru (Ooru refers to a place) and hence the place is known as Chengannur.
- According to another legend Lord Vishnu severed the body of Sati (Goddess Parvati) into pieces which scattered over different places. These places are called Shakti Peethas. Accordingly, it is believed that the reproductive organ of Goddess Sati’s body fell at the place where the temple is located. The Kamakhya Temple in Assam is also related to the same legend.
- There is an interesting story related to a custom of oath at the western entrance of the temple. There was a Brahmin family who were great devotees of Chengannur Devi and who were very famous. Once an Alwar came to Chengannur to challenge the Muringoor family at a time when a boy of twelve years. He was the only male in the Muringoor family.
- He prayed to the Goddess and moved by the prayer the goddess appeared to the boy in a dream. Goddess instructed the boy to make use of the brass pipe in the ‘Araa’ which had a snake in it and which will be under the control of the boy. The next day the boy challenged his opponent to release the snake with his magical powers.
- The Alwar’s efforts failed and the snake, in turn, tried to bite the intruder. On the pleading of the Alwar, the boy controlled the snake with his prayers and sealed it into the pipe. He then made a hole in the wall of the Western Gopuram and put the snake into it. He informed the people around that if anybody utters a lie by putting his hand inside the hole will be bitten by the snake.
- This is the place where Yuddhishtra offered prayers to Vishnu, seeking pardon for his actions on the battlefield. He uttered the words `Ashwattaama hatahkunjaraha` in an attempt to deceive Drona and lead him into a defenceless state and his life was brought to an end by Arjuna.
- Kannaki was the incarnation of Devi Sati. After killing the king of Madurai Pandya raja she went to Chengannur at the top of a hill. While Devi was meditating her husband Kovalan appeared before her and they together went to Heaven. The people who were living in the valley and constructed a temple there with the financial assistance of their king Cheran Senkuttuvan.
Significance of Chengannur Mahadeva Temple
- The most important and unique feature of the temple is the Thriputharattu which is marked as a symbol of fertility. It is believed that the temple is also associated with the great epic Mahabharata. Chengannur has been derived from the word ‘Tiruchenkunroor.’
- Balithara is an altar is used for making ritualistic offering to demi-gods and the festive deities. The central shrine called Sreekovil houses the image of the presiding deity. It is on an elevated platform with a single door reached through a flight of five steps.
- Either side of the doors have images of guardian deities called Dwarapalakas. The roof of the temple and some of the pillars have lavish wood and stucco carvings depicting various stories of ancient epics, Ramayana and Mahabharatha.
Chengannur Mahadeva Temple Timings
Chengannur Mahadeva Temple opens daily at 3:50 AM. Worship timings are from 04:30 AM to 11:30 AM in the morning and from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the evening. The temple timings are subjected to change during festivals and special events.
Festivals celebrated at Chengannur Mahadeva Temple
Varshikotsavam: The annual temple festival is observed for 28 days starting from Thiruvathira Nakshatram in Dhanu Masam to Thiruvathira Nakshatra in Makaram month. Special pujas are held on all days. The shrine is traditionally decorated with plantain, coconut leaves, flowers, leaves, traditional lamps and lights. Traditional performing arts, music and dance are staged during the period. The utsava murti of the deity is taken out of the shrine for ritual bathing on the final day. Hundreds of people arrive on the day to witness various rituals and festivities.
Thripputhu: Thripputhu is one of the main festivals celebrated in the temple. The festival is associated with the menstruation ceremony and is observed periodically in the temple. During this time the temple is kept closed for three days and worships will be offered to another image of the goddess in a different spot of the temple. On the fourth day, the idol of the Devi is taken to a nearby river on the fourth day and Arattu (holy bath) is conducted. This ceremony is called Thripputhu. Later the Devi rides an elephant and is taken back to the temple. During the festival, the idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are taken in procession around the temple three times. Then the Lord enters the shrine through the eastern side and the goddess enters through the western side.
Thulasamkrama Neyyattu: This is the Ghee Abhishekam festival of the Chengannur Temple. This ceremony is conducted on every 1st day of Thulam (mid-October to mid-November). On this day 36 paras of ghee is showered on the ‘Shivalingam’. ‘Paras’ is a measurement in Malayalam.
Shivaratri: Maha Shivaratri is the night of the worship of Lord Shiva. It occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. It falls on a moonless February night when Hindus offer special prayer to the lord of destruction. Shivaratri is considered especially auspicious for women. Married women pray for the well being of their husbands and sons, while unmarried women pray for an ideal husband like Shiva. Devotees visit the temple in large numbers during Shivaratri.
Poojas and Rituals at Chengannur Mahadeva Temple
At 3:50 AM the first pooja that is conducted is the Ravile Palli Unarthal. It is nothing but the awakening of the presiding deity. It is followed by the Nadathurakkal which means the opening of the sanctum sanctorum to enable the devotees to venerate the holy portrait of the deity and to seek their blessings.
Shiva Abhishekam is usually performed to a Lingam representing his manifestation as a creator of good (by destroying evil). The first worship of the day is Usha pooja or pooja at dawn. Though generally, the time of Usha pooja is thirty minutes after the sunrise.
Panthiradi Pooja is done only in major temples. This is done 2 hours after sunrise. It denotes the time of pooja based on human shadow measuring 12 feet in the morning. Here abhisheka is done with the pure water taken in nine pots after detailed pooja.
Deeparadhana is the worship with lamp with lamps, performed at dawn and dusk. Pyramidal lamps with seven tiers, lamps with five wicks and plain lamps with a single wick are lightened and waved several times in front of the Lord, from head to foot. Similar waving is then done with lighted camphor.It is considered to be an auspicious act to pray during deeparadhana time. This is the last pooja conducted in a temple on a day. This is done between one and two hours after sunset.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By Air: Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery is the nearest airport to reach Chengannur. Trivandrum International Airport is about 119 km
By Road: Chengannur is situated between Thiruvalla and Pandalam in Main Central Road. Chengannur Bus Stand is a major KSTRC bus station in Alappuzha District. It is one kilometre from Chengannur Mahadeva Temple. Regular bus services are available from Aranmula, Thiruvalla (10 km), Pandalam, Pathanamthitta, and Trivandrum.
By Train: The nearby railway stations are Chengannur, which is about 2 km, Thiruvalla about 10 km and Changanassery about 18 km. Some of the major trains passing through the station include Kerala Express, Hyderabad Express, Kanyakumari Express, Chennai Mail, Amritha Express, and Malabar Express.
Where to stay
There are many hotels nearby which offer deluxe rooms. They are equipped with modern amenities to make the guests stay comfortable and enjoyable.
- Spice Haven Annexe Contact: Vandanmedu Junction. Kumily Thekkady, Kerala
- Hotel Santhi Palace Contact: M.C.Road, Railway Junction, Chengannur, Kerala
- Hotel Raj International Contact: MC Road, Opp, KSRTC Bus Station, Main Central Rd, Chengannur, Kerala
- Hotel Navaratna Contact: Main Central Road, Near Railway Station, Chengannur
- Hotel Wyte Portico Contact: High School Jn, Karuvatta, Pathanamthitta, Adoor, Kerala 691523
- Hotel Breeze Land Contact: By-pass Junction, Vazhappally, MC Road, Changanacherry, Kottayam, Kerala 686103
Where to eat
There are many restaurants that offer some great food. One should really visit Oven Fresh Family Restaurant, Bafia Bakers, Food Palace Restaurant, Crupe Cafe, Joyces baker to taste some mouth-watering and tasty food.
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