Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple is located in Kollam district of Kerala. Kottarakkara Ganapathy is often referred to as ‘Vigneshwaran’ which means the one who removes all obstacles. The outlook of Sri Ganesha is described as yellow-skinned, short with a big round belly, elephant-headed with one trunk, four arms, large ears and bright shining eyes. Apart from the presiding deity, Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi, Lord Murugan, Lord Ayyappa, and Lord Nagaraja are also worshipped here.
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. It is a famous pilgrim centre for the Hindus as the seat of the famous Ganapathy Temple.
History and Legend of Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple
- The place that we now call Mahaganapathy temple is actually Kizhakkekara Shiva temple. The main deity is none other than Lord Shiva himself. Shiva is facing eastward. In fact, Ganesha is only a minor deity here. But Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple today is famous as a Ganesha temple rather than a Shiva temple.
- This legend is associated with Perumthachan. The royal sculptors Perumthachan (Master Carpenter) had a son. He mastered and excelled in carpentry and architecture like his father.
- His son soon excelled his own perfection. The fame of Perumthachan soon 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 sought 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.
- Perumthachan changed his plans and later, having secured the permission of the tantri of Manikandeswaram Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple installed the idol there. The melsanthi (head priest) was preparing nivedyam (offerings for the Lord) there.
- 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 the father (Shiva), the son (Ganapathy) will become more famous. The kitchen where Unniappams are prepared is situated in front of the Ganapathy shrine.
- Another story associated with this temple is that Kottarakkara Thampuran’s daughter was getting married. He requested Zamorin of Kozhikode to send a dance troupe from Malabar to perform in his daughter’s wedding. But the Zamorin sarcastically denied sending the troupe saying that people of South Kerala cannot appreciate fine art like Krishnanattam. This insulted the Kottarakkara Thampuran and he prayed to Lord Ganapathy at Kizhakkekara for a way out.
- Sri Mahaganapathy appeared in the dream of the Thampuran and gave him the idea to create a new art form. It was Saraswathi Kadaksham and the Thampuran wrote the Ramanattam. He designed the costumes and in record time performed the Arangetram during the marriage of his daughter. This was a fitting reply to the arrogance of the Zamorin of Kozhikode.
Significance of Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple
- Kottarakkara Sree Maha Ganapathy Temple is beautiful and magnificent. A number of rituals is being done here by the priests. Different schedules are followed to worship and to perform the rituals devoted to the presiding deity of the temple.
- Kottarakkara was the capital of the famous ‘Ilayidathu swaroopam’. As the name explains, there existed about seven palaces and the place was called ‘The land of palaces’ – “Kottarakkara”. ‘Kottarakkara Kovilakam’ was the younger ‘thavazhy’ of the ‘Venad’ dynasty.
- So this was known as the Ilayidathu (younger) swaroopam, and also as Kunninmel. The land spreads from Kottarakkara, Pathanapuram and Nedumangad to Shencottah in the east.
Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple Timings and Poojas
- Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple remains open from 4:00 AM to 11:30 AM in the morning and 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the evening. Palliyunathal is performed followed by Nadathurakkal at 4:30 AM. It is the opening of the sanctum sanctorum to enable the devotees to venerate the holy portrait of the deity.
- Then there is Nirmalyam at 4:40 AM which is intended for seeking the permission of Dwasthhas and the deity for entering the sanctum. Then the doors are opened and the lights are lit. Divine worship of the idol at this stage is known as Nirmalya Darshana.
- There are different important rituals that are performed in the morning. It includes Abhishekam that is conducted at 4:50 AM which is followed by Ashtadravya Ganapathyhoman. Abhishekam is conducted by priests, by pouring libations on the deity being worshipped, amidst the chanting of mantras.
- 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, there are variations in the timings on various temples. It is performed at 6:00 AM. Ethrtiheu pooja is conducted at the moment when the rays of the sun are in front of the deity or garbha dwara and it is conducted at 7:00 AM.
- Pantheeradi pooja is elaborate in nature and done only in major temples. This is done 2 hours after sunrise and it is performed at 9:00 AM. Navaka Pooja is done only in major temples especially in Siva temples. Here it is performed at 10:00 AM.
- After the Ucha Pooja that is performed at 10:30 AM the temple closes in the morning at around 11:30 AM.
- Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple opens again at 5:00 PM and there is an evening pooja that is Deeparadhana that is performed by the priest at 6:30 PM. Deeparadhana is the worship 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. Athazha pooja vis the last pooja conducted in a temple on a day. This is done between one and two hours after sunset. It is performed at 7:45 PM and the temple finally closes at 8:00 PM.
Dhara, Chathussatham for Mahadev, Archana for Goddess Parvathy, Lemon garland for Subramanya, Unniyappam for Ganapathy and 41 days Mandalam Chirappu is also very important. Unni Appam is the offering that is specially prepared to offer to the deity of Kottarakkara Sree Maha Ganapathy Temple.
Festivals celebrated at Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple
- Vinayaka Chaturthi: Vinayaka Chaturthi is one of the important Hindu festivals. This day is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesh. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on Shukla Chaturthi of the Hindu month of Bhadra (generally falls between August and September). This particular day is marked with great Mahaganapathy Homam, using 1008 coconuts. Mahaganapathi is believed to remove obstacles not only in the material world but also in one’s spiritual progress. The Mahaganapathi Homam is performed by people desiring progress in various material pursuits as well as those seeking liberation and spiritual awakening.
- Navaratri: Navratri is traditionally celebrated at the beginning of autumn every year when everything in nature starts undergoing a transformation. These nine nights are said to be precious as there are subtle energies in the creation that are enriched at this time of the year. Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme goddess. On the first three days, the Mother is invoked as a powerful force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days, the Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth. The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the mother as the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. Thousands throng to the temple to perform the Vidyarambham.
- Vishu: Vishu is the first day of the Hindu calendar and is the beginning of Meda Rashi, the first zodiac sign. It usually falls in the second week of April according to the English calendar. It marks the beginning of new hopes and aspirations and is celebrated widely all across the state. People start with early morning prayers at dawn on this auspicious day by visiting the temple.
- Sivarathri: Sivaratri, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is celebrated on the moonless night of the month of Phalguna. the night time is considered sacred and suitable for the worship of the feminine aspect of’ the deity and the day time for that of’ the masculine. The people who observe this Sivaratri- Vratha take only a single meal during the day previous to the Vratha day. The observance of the Vratha is believed to secure for the devotee immunity from the effects of sin.
How to reach Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple?
By Road: Buses and Taxis can be boarded from Kottarakkara, Kollam, Trivandrum and Kottayam that takes the passengers directly to the Kottarakkara Sree Maha Ganapathy Temple.
By Rail: The Nearest Railway station is Kottarakkara station. Board a train passing through Kottarakkara, Kollam and Trivandrum railway stations to reach the temple. Kollam station is at a distance of 28 Km and Trivandrum at a distance of 70 Km.
By Air: The Nearest Airport is Trivandrum Airport that is 70 Km from the temple. Kochi Airport is at a distance of 191 Km.
Where to stay near Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple?
There are many hotels as well as guest rooms near the hotel. The rooms are well equipped with all the basic amenities.
- Ambalakkara Regency Hotel Contact: Pulamon Junction, Kottarakkara
- Harisree Residency Contact: Kottiyam Kundara Road, Perumpuzha, Kottamkara
- Hotel Indraprastha Pattazhy Contact: Market Junction, Pattazhy P.O., Kollam
- Hotel Midhuna International Contact: Enathu, Kottarakara – Adoor Road
- Park Residency Contact: Paracode, Kayamkulam Pathanapuram Highway
- Hotel Vrindhavanam Inn Contact: Near KSRTC Bus Station, Punalur
Where to eat
Kottarakkara Unniyappam (small appam) is as famous as Ambalapuzha Palpayasam. If you start eating one, you feel like having more. Cooked in special taste the unniyappam comes with sprinkled sugar on it. The grace of Lord Ganapathi makes unniyappam as double sweet to the believers. It is said that unniyappam was the first offering given to the Ganapati temple which was installed by Peruthachan. Besides, there are many restaurants nearby that offer amazing food of Kerala cuisine.
Mannady Temple: Mannadi is a small village situated in Kollam (district of Kerala). It is believed that the Kali Ma of this temple is very powerful and if worshipped with devotion all the wishes will come true. The Kerala Institute of Folklore and Folk Arts functions here. Madanthampuran and Yakshiamma were positioned as Safe Guard to Devi. The ancestors who had brought Devi to the temple were worshipped in the Nomenclatures of Manthramoorthy and Yogeeshwaran after their Death. Poojas were not been performed systematically. Hence, the youth adopted the management of the temple from the Pallithanam Family. They appointed a Priest and thus Poojas performed regularly.
Pattazhy Devi Temple: Pattazhi is a small village in the eastern part of Kollam District in Kerala. It is located just 10 kilometres away from Kottarackara and just 9 kilometres from Pathanapuram. The temple is an ancient temple and the legend. The land of Pattazhy consists of two panchayat areas and was given as a gift to Goddess Pattazhy Devi by the King of Travancore. Pattazhy has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for growing the longest bamboo. The temple has been taken care of by nine families once. Then a man called “kambithan” came there. He was very powerful and had many divine powers too. He took care of the administration of the temple. There is a Shiva Temple which seems to be older than this Devi temple which is located near to this temple.
Pallickal Devi Temple: Pallickal Devi Temple is one of the famous temples in Kollam District. This is one of the sub-temples of Mannadi temple. Pallikkal Maha Devi temple has a rich history of more than a thousand years. Pallikkalamma is a mother goddess with sathvika bhavam. There are a number of incidents to illustrate her kindness.