Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple is situated about 15 km east of Pampa in Kerala. The holy river Pamba flows through the northern part of Nilakkal. During Sabarimala pilgrimage, lots of devotees visit this temple. It is believed that Lord Ayyappa on his way to the forest to eradicate the demon got the blessings from his father Haran from Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple.
Pilgrims on their way to Sannidhanam seek the blessings from Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple. The deity here is believed to be in two moods fierce Ugramoorthy and auspicious Mangala Pradayakan. It is also believed that Lord Siva showered blessings to his son lord Ayyappa to fight against all evil spirit and save the people. There is also a Devi temple (Palliyarakkavu Devi Kshetram) near to Shiva temple. Lord Parameshwaran, Lord Kannimoola Ganapathi and Nandi are the three Prathishtana here.
History and Legend of Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple
- There were attempts to construct a church in front of the Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple at Nilakkal (on the way to the temple). It was regarded as Poonkavanam (Garden) of Ayyappa. As is commonly followed by church planters, a Cross was found near the Nilakkal temple on March 24, 1983.
- Media carried news of the discovery of the church claiming it was planted by none other than Jesus Christs’ disciple St Thomas. Christian pilgrims started flowing to the spot. Soon, the road to the temple was named St Thomas Road and the Christians started calling the Nilakkal hill as St Thomas Mount.
- On May 19, within a month of the discovery, the Kerala government approved a grant of 1 hectare of land to build Church in Nilakkal. This was fiercely opposed by organizations and thousands of believers took to protests. And the planters had to shift the cross to a new location.
Significance of the Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple
- Famous Hindu pilgrim centre Sabarimala is located 23 kilometres North-East to Nilakkal and also it is a Sabarimala Idathavalam. Hence the pilgrims on their way to Sabarimala seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
- During Sabarimala season, large vehicles drop pilgrims at Pamba and parks at Nilakkal in order to avoid the rush at Pamba. The parking ground’s at Nilakkal could accommodate more than 4000 vehicles.
- St. Thomas ecumenical church here is believed to be the first ecumenical church in the world. Thus the Christian community in Kerala consider Nilakkal as a holy place. It is believed that an apostle of Jesus visited the place and established a cross here back in A.D 54.
Festivals celebrated at the Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple
Sivaratri: Puranas contain many stories and legends describing the origin of this festival. During the samudra manthan, a pot of poison emerged from the ocean. This terrified the Gods and demons as the poison was capable of destroying the entire world and they ran to Shiva for help. To protect the world from its evil effects, Shiva drank the deadly poison but held it in his throat instead of swallowing it. This made his throat turn blue, and he was given the name Neelakantha. Shivaratri is the celebration of this event by which Shiva saved the world. Shivaratri is one of the holiest nights of the year. It is the night dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva.
Not eating too much, eating light and doing more meditation on this day helps in fulfilment of desires. Shivratri day is celebrated with Rudrabhishekam, singing of the ancient Vedic mantras. It is accompanied by a ceremony of washing the Shiva Linga with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc.
Navratri: During Navratri, people from villages and cities gather to perform puja on small shrines representing different aspects of Goddess. A different form of the goddess is worshipped each day. Following the nine days of rituals and worship, the 10th day is celebrated as Dussehra. It is also known as Vijaya Dashami. It is celebrated to mark the victory of mythical King Lord Rama over the King of Sri Lanka, Ravana. People undergo rigorous fasts during this season that lasts for the nine days of Navratri.
The festival culminates on Mahanavami. On this day, Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped. Apart from the Navratri in September – October, there are three other Navratri in a year. The most important among the three is the Chaitra Navratri or the Navratri in March-April. This is also known as Vasant Navratri or Ram Navratri. Many devotees visit the temple to seek the blessings of the Lord.
Vinayak Chaturthi: Ganesha Chaturthi is also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’. It is the day when all Hindus celebrate the birthday of Lord Ganesh. Sweets especially laddoos and sugary modaks, which are a favourite of the Ganesha are distributed. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is observed on the fourth day of Bhadrapad Shukla Paksha, of the Hindu lunar month of Magh. It is believed that Lord Ganesha was born on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Magh. And establishing an association between Ganesh and Chaturthi (four). A ritual known as Pranapratishhtha, that involves chanting of mantras by the priest, is a common sight during the occasion.
Poojas and Rituals at Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple
There are 3 Poojas performed every day. Special poojas are performed on weekly days on Sunday, Monday and Friday. The following poojas are performed.
Usha pooja: The first worship of the day is Usha pooja or pooja at dawn. The time of Usha pooja is thirty minutes after the sunrise.
Ucha pooja: There is Ucha Pooja that is noon pooja. The Abhishekas named Panchagavya, Navakam and any special Abhishekas that is Holy Baths are ordinarily performed during the Ucha Pooja. Special Abhishekams and Poojas are performed on certain days
Athazha pooja: This is the last pooja conducted in a temple on a day. This is done between one and two hours after sunset. Deeparadhana is done after the Athazha pooja. Deeparadhana is the worship with lamp with lamps, performed at dawn and dusk.
How to reach Nilakkal Mahadeva Temple?
By Air: Cochin international airport is 136 km and Thiruvananthapuram international airport 156 km from the temple. There is also a heliport at Perunad, near Nilakkal, which operates at times of Sabarimala pilgrimage.
By Road: Mannarakulanji – Chalakayam route (SH 67) is the main highway passing through Nilakkal and also the Adoor. Vandiperiyar highway passes through Plappally which is 8 km west to Nilakkal. During Sabarimala pilgrimage, state-owned K.S.R.T.C buses provide chain services from Pamba to Nilakkal at fair charges for the devotees. Private busses only operate through nearby places like Angamoozhy and Thulappally. Transportation is comparatively less in this region.
By Rail: The nearest railway stations are Chengannur which is about 68 km and Thiruvalla which is 73 km.
Where to stay
There are many hotels and guest rooms available that offers contemporary rooms and suites. They offer brilliant overall design, facilities and dining options. They are the centre point for a number of tourist destinations.
- Hotel Mannil Regency Contact: Kaipattoor Pathanamthitta Road, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- Hotel Hills Park Contact: T K p.o, 689653, Kumbazha N Rd, Kumbazha, Mylapra, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- Kizhakkedathu Tourist Home Contact: Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- Hotel Hey-Day Contact: Thiruvalla-Kumbazha Hwy, Valamchuzhy, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- Hotel Evergreen Continental Contact: Kaipattoor Pathanamthitta Road, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- Hotel Amala Contact: Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
Where to eat
One of Kerala’s popular attractions is its delicious Kerala cuisine. Various locally available vegetables such as tapioca, cassava and yam form part of the cuisine of Kerala. Seasonal fruit such as papaya, jackfruit, mangoes and lime are eaten at different times of the year. Bananas and coconut are available year-round and are a staple of the Kerala diet. The refreshing juice of the tender coconut is a delightful drink, which you can enjoy on Kerala Tours with Kerala Backwater. There are many restaurants nearby that offer some amazing food for the tourists.
Pathanamthitta is an important pilgrim hub and thus is always flanked by devotees and nature lovers. For its tourists, the town offers several restaurants and eating joints all across the town. You will also find some nice Christian restaurant which serves alcohol and Syrian Christian food. Other than that, South Indian cuisine is the predominant cuisine of the town.
- Parayil Restaurant Contact: Door No: 788, Near R.T Office, College Road, Azhoor, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- J Mart Contact: Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- Aananda Bavan Vegetarian Restaurant Contact: Thiruvalla-Kumbazha Hwy, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- Khyber Pass Bake & Grill Contact: Kaipattoor Pathanamthitta Road, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- Green Chillies Hotel and Family Restaurant Contact: Omalloor, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689647
- Hotel Evergreen Continental Contact: Kaipattoor Pathanamthitta Road, Pathanamthitta, Kerala 689645
- Kream Korner Restaurant Contact: Opp.Karikkineth, JJ complex, K P Road, Adoor, Pathanamthitta
- Teena Restaurant Contact: Mazhuvangad jn., M C Road, Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta
Thazhoor Bhagavathi Temple: The temple is devoted to Sri Bhadra Devi (santham).This temple is the incarnation of Sri Parvathi who is the chief deity. Thazhoor Bhagavathy Kshetram is a 300-year-old Hindu temple. It is located on the banks of the Achankovil river in Vazhamuttom. The temple is also famous for the folk arts and the Kettukaazhcha procession with Kaala. Three glorious hundika towers are lately built around the periphery of the temple. Bharani is considered as the birth star of the Thazhoor bhagavathi. The Bharani star came in Makaram, Kumbham, Meenam and Medam are celebrated in a grand manner. The temple is having very huge and glorious surroundings with scenic beauty. It is having a large and glorious Aanakottil. It has a boundary wall and towered entree with full of handicraft and sculptures both in stone and wood.
Kodumthara Subramaniyam Temple: Kodumthara Sri Subrahmanya Swamy Temple is located near Pathanamthitta. The annual pooyam ritual organized in at the Murugan Temple attracts hundreds of devotees. The shrine is dedicated to Subramanya or Muruga. Carrying Kavadi is the main ritual on the day. People carry various types of Kavadi to the temple in a procession. Traditional temple music is part of the procession. Unlike numerous Kerala temples, this one is well-known for its traditional architecture with well-defined conical-shaped roofing over the Srikovil. On the Pooyam day, people also pierce their body with a small lance or vel. This is done for getting desires fulfilled.
Bhagavathikunnu Devi Temple: One of the important and famous Goddess Abode in Thiruvitamkoor is the Bhagawati Kunnu Devi Temple. It is said that the Devi Vilippurathamma stood as the protector for the passersby and the bullock carts that cross the dangerous route. Some of the main attractions of the temple are a stone statue of Lord Krishna, the sanctum sanctorum, obeisance courtyard, sub gods and goddesses. The sub gods are Ganapati, Yakshi, Rakhshas Valyacchan, Naga Rajavu and mala nada. The first flag hoisting ceremony was conducted on 24th February 1999 with much fanfare through the 10-day festivities. Padayani festival was also first celebrated then and continues to be celebrated every year on the day of Maheeram Star in the Malayalam month of Kumbham.
Anikkattilamma Temple: Mallappally Anikkattilamma Shiva Parvati temple is situated in Anicadu village. Agnimahakalan and Agniyekshi are symbolized in these idols. The temple is believed to date back to 1600 years during the early days of Edappally dynasty. It is situated by the bank of river Manimala. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Shakti. The ever flowering Kanikonna located in the courtyard of the temple. It gives flower offerings to the Lords every day in all seasons throughout the year. Mallappally Anikkattilamma Shiva Parvati temple celebrates its yearly festival (Utsavam) for eight days during the month of Kumbham. It concludes on the day of Pooram star which is believed to be Devi’s birthday. Other deities such as Lord Bhadra, Lord Nagaraja, Goddess Yekshiamma and Rekshas are also worshipped here.