Pandalam Ayyappa Temple is situated in between Thottakkonam and Mulampuzha villages of Pandalam. Pandalam in Kerala is chosen and blessed place where Lord Ayyappa is the presiding deity. The temple is unique with its natural procession route around the Sanctorum. Ayyappa is believed to be the one god who protects his devotees from miseries and suffering in Kali Yuga. Ayyappa is also known as Dharmasasta, Manikandan, Bhutanathan, Pandala Raja, and Pamba Vaasan. Ayyappa was born with composite energy of Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu, when Lord Vishnu was taken over mohini form.The main intention behind Ayyappa’s birth was to demolish Mahishi who was one of the asura demon.
History and Legend of Pandalam Ayyappa Temple
- Sabarimala was once under the regime of the Pandalam dynasty.The Pandalam kingdom was established around 79 ME (903 AD) by the Pandalam royal family who are the descendents of the Pandya kings of Madurai.
- The family kept on the move for over a century, finally reaching Pandalam in 79 ME. This was chosen to be the permanent home for the royal family. The then ruler of Venad (later Travancore) helped to establish the kingdom at Pandalam.
- The King of Pandalam helped Marthanda Varma to conquer the Kayamkulam province. In return for this help, Marthanda Varma did not attempt to attack and conquer Pandalam.
- The Kingdom of Pandalam extended to over 1,000 square miles. Pandalam dynasty helped other religious followers to build a mosque at Kadakkad and a church at Kudassanad. It is also believed that those who settled down in Pandalam had sympathies toward the Buddhist beliefs.
- 48 major temples were added to Travancore. The idol was erected in 1910. Pandalam Ayyappa Temple conflagrated in 1971 and underwent a major revamp.Pandalam had extended up to Thodupuzha in Idukki district once. Before the formation of the Pathanamthitta district Pandalam was in Mavelikkara taluk of Alappuzha district.
- Leela who was the daughter of Galavamuni, under curse of her husband Dathan, was reborn as Mahishi. She was an “asura’ female with a buffalo’s face. Upon having killed by Lord Ayyappa, the curse was revoked and the beautiful woman rose out of the corpse. She thanked the Lord and prayed to be with him as his wife.
- However, the Lord told her that he is a ‘brahmachari’ and so her desire would not be fulfilled. However, he allowed her to remain in Sabarimala, which is a little distant from his abode.
Significance of Pandalam Ayyappa Temple
- It is believed that Lord Ayyappa himself instructed the Pandalam king to build a mosque for Vavur at Erumuli. The Vavur deity is believed to be as old as the original deity of Ayyappa himself. Records show that the shrine was renovated sometime in 1905. Here, the poojas are conducted by a Muslim priest. There is no distinguishable idol, but a carved stone slab that represents the deity.
- It is believed that the deity protects the devotees from the evil spirits of the forests. According to legend, Kadutha was a great warrior who helped the Pandalam king defeat the armies of Udayanan and other enemies.
Pandalam Ayyappa Temple Timings
Pandalam Ayyappa Temple opens at 4:00 AM in the morning to 11:00 PM in the evening. But during special events and festivals the timing for the temple can be exceeded in order to accommodate more number of devotees.
Rules to follow at Pandalam Ayyappa Temple
Women between the ages of 10 and 50 years are not supposed to visit the shrine. The devotees are required to break a coconut at the appointed place before entry to the steps. Consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian food, Smoking etc are punishable offences.
Festivals celebrated at Pandalam Ayyappa Temple
Makara Vilakku: Makara Vilakkui is the most anticipated festival at the Ayyappa Temple. It takes place at the time when the Dakshinayana Punyakalam ends and Uttarayan or Uttarayana Punyakalam starts. Makaravilakku is the Jyothi that appears at Ponnambalameddu three times on Makar Sankranti day after evening puja. Parashurama first lit the Makaravilakku after installing the murti of Ayyappa. The jewellery to adorn the idol during the celebrations is brought from Pandalam Palace in a ceremonial procession that starts from Valiya Koyikkal Sastha Temple at Pandalam. The poojas and rituals associated with Makara Vilakku are performed on the Manimandapam (sacred platform). Makara Jyothi is the star that appears on the sky during the Puja. Makaravilakku is the Jyothi that appears at Ponnambalameddu three times on Makar Sankranti day after evening pooja.
Onam: Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm. The festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. Large number of devotees gather in the temple to seek the blessings of Lord Ayyappa. Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar. This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar. It is also known as Pookalam. The best part of the festival is the food served on banana leaves. The festivities of the Onam last for ten days in which old and young participate with equal enthusiasm.
Vishu: Vishu Festival heralds the beginning of Malayalees New Year and is celebrated in a big way in the state of Kerala. This corresponds to the month of April-May according to Gregorian calendar. The occasion holds a lot of significance for Hindus as Vishu marks the Astronomical New Year Day. Most important ritual of the day is called ‘Kani Kanal’.
In Kani Kanal there is a prescribed list of items, which a person must see first thing on a Vishu morning to bring good luck. This include a cadjan leaf book, gold ornaments, fresh white cloth, a measure of rice or paddy etc. A huge rush of devotees can be seen in the temple. special prayers are organised to mark the day. People stay overnight in the courtyards of these temples a night before Vishu so that they see Kani, first thing on Vishu in the temple. Devotees close their eyes and set their eyes on Kani and deity so that when the doors to the deity opens at 2:30 am, the first thing they see is Kani.
Poojas and Rituals at Pandalam Ayyappa Temple
- Vrischikam and part of Dhanu months are considered to be the holy 41 days of Mandalakalam. Special poojas are conducted in the temple especially for Lord Ayyapan. Ayyappan Vilakku is conducted on the first Saturday of Vrischikam. The poojas are conducted in traditional style without compromise on any of its aspects.
- Pandalam Ayyappa Temple is opened in the morning and the Lord is awakened from his sleep with the melodious notes. The Lord is adorned with flowers of the previous day. This is known as Nirmalya Darshanam. It is believed that after the night pooja, when the doors are closed, the devas (Gods) come and worship the deity. A darshan of the Lord who has just been worshipped by the Devas themselves is considered highly auspicious. Lamps are lit and chiming bells along with spontaneous cries of the devotees.
- The rite of bathing the deity with oil takes place after removing the adornments of the previous day. After this abhishekam is performed with water. After this the Prabatha pooja is performed every day.
- ‘Pantheeradi Pooja’ refers to the time when the shadow of a person with normal height becomes 12 feet long. This is the second main pooja done for the chief deity.
- Lighting a lamp is a vital part in Hindu pujas , auspicious occasions and social events.It denotes dispelling away the darkness. Deeparadhana is one of the very important pooja that is conducted. The night worship is Athazha pooja and the offering made at that time is athazhanaivedyam.
- The last pooja offered to lord ayyappa is the Athazhapooja.After cleaning the temple the sanctum sanctum is set to put the lord Ayyappa to sleep. All the devotees and sub priests get together in front of the sanctum and sing Harivarasanam.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By Air: Thiruvananthapuram is the nearest airport which is at a distance of about 101 km and Kochi airport is 127 km from Pandalam. One can hire a taxi or board a bus from the airport.
By Train: Chengannur is the nearest railway station that is about 14 km from the temple. Trains are available to all the major indian cities from the railway station.
By Bus: You can reach Pandalam by bus through MC Road. KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) is conducting the services, if you are coming from either Thiruvananthapuram or Kochi airports. Private buses ply to various destinations around Pandalam.The minimum time a bus takes to reach Pandalam from Ernakulam is 3h 18m. The cheapest way to reach Pandalam from Ernakulam takes you 5h 16m, which is to take Malabar Express from Ernakulam to Chengannur then take State Transport Bus from Chengannur to Pandalam.
Where to stay
There are many options available to stay near the Pandalam Mahadeva Temple. There are many well good hotels near by.
- Shines Tourist Hotel Contact: Main Central Rd, Pandalam, Kerala
- Estilo Meadows Contact: Pandalam, Kerala 689501
- NSS Working Women’s Hostel Contact: Chiramudi, Pandalam, Kerala 689501
- Hotel Chaithram Contact: Ambalakadvu, Thumpamon – Pariyaram Rd, Thumpamon, Kerala
Where to eat
Kerala food is served on a banana leaf. One has to take food with right hand. Almost every dish prepared in Kerala has coconut and spices to flavour the local cuisine giving it a sharp pungency that is heightened with the use of tamarind, while coconut gives it its richness. There are many restaurants at Pandalam that offer some amazing food.
- S N Restaurant Contact: S.N Restaurant, Pandalam, Main Central Rd, Pandalam, Kerala 689501
- Vazhiyoram KTDC Restaurant Contact: National Highway 220, Pandalam, Kerala 689503
- Relax Inn A/C Restaurant Contact: Chengannur, Kerala 689121
- Nalukettu Contact: Opposite Manikandan Aalthara, Poozhikad Muttar Road, Pandalam, Kerala 689501
Pandalam Mahadeva Temple: Pandalam Mahadeva temple is positioned on the banks of river Achankovil in Pandalam in the state of Kerala. It is believed that Lord Parasurama has installed the idol in the sanctum. Pandalam Mahadeva Temple is one of the oldest temples out of the 108 Shiva temples consecrated by the great ‘Sanayasin Khara Muni’. Yearly Kettukazhcha festival is one of the attractions for tourists. The temple is unique with its natural procession route around the Sanctorum.
Pandalam Valiya Koyikkal Dharmasastha Temple: The temple has the great importance for the inhabitants of monkeys. The presiding deity of the temple is Shri Dharma Sastha. Ayyappan is an avatar or incarnation of Sastha. There are references to Sastha in many of the puranas. The presiding deity of the temple is Sree Dharma Sastha, accompanied by his consort ‘Prabha’ and son ‘Sathyaka’. The history of the temple was based on the period of the Ramayana. It is believed that after the victory over Ravana, Sri Rama came along with his wife Sita , brother Lakshmana and whole vanara (monkey) sena has visited Sasthamcotta to pay their reverence to Sri Dharma Sastha.
Padanilam Temple: Nooranad Padanilam Temple is located in Alappuzha district and is around 18 km from Kayamkulam. The word Padanilam means “land of war” . It is located on the banks of river Achankovil. The Padanilam temple is one of the important centres of worship in Kerala.The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Parabrahma. Shivaratri is the main festival in the temple. Thousands come to the temple on that day to see the kavadiyattam for Lord Subrahmanyan in the morning. Padanilam Temple and its surroundings witnessed many historical wars. Once there was a war between the south and the north. During the war, soldiers from both sides died in large numbers. They were buried in the chira near the temple.
Oripurathu Bhagavathi Temple: Orippurathu Bhagavathy Kshetram Mandir or temple is devoted to its main holy deity goddess Devi. This ancient temple is frequented by thousands of devotees of Goddess every year. The temple has a history of more than one thousands years. It is said that the temple was constructed during the 17th century. The annual festival of the temple had been started during the 18th of century. However, the supreme deity of the temple is goddess Bhagavathy yet some other important god and goddess are also worshiped here such as Lord Ayyappan, Yakshi, Lord Krishna, Nagarajavu and Madasamy. The sacred temple is not only famous for its religious significance but also for its amazing architecture that shows the unique architecture of Indian style. In the main sanctum sanctorum, devotees can see two sacred idols which are made of important Krishna Sila.