Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is located in the Kottayam district of Kerala. This famous temple worships Lord Shiva. This guide explains the significance of Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, timings, poojas, history, dress code and the best time to visit Vaikom.
History and Legend of Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
The Vaikom Mahadeva Temple has various stories revolving around its construction.
- Vaikom has other names. As per Bhargava Purana and Sanalkumara Samhita, the place is Vaiyaghra geham and Vaiyaghra puram.
- As per myth, saint Vyaghrapada saw Lord Shiva here. On Vritchika, which is the Krishna paksha, Lord Shiva along with Goddess Parvati came to saint Vyaghrapada. Hence people started calling this place as Vyaghrapadapuram. Later, when the Tamil language became popular here, people started calling it as Vaikom.
- Another myth states, Lord Shiva gave three Shiva Lingam to Kharasura. He gave him these lingams to attain myoksha. Kharasura was carrying one Shiva Lingam on his right hand, one in the left hand and one was hung from his neck. When the demon was returning from the Himalayas to south he felt tired. Hence, he kept the Lingams on the ground and sat to rest. When he got up he could not lift the Lingams. A voice from the sky said that the Lingams will stay there and help people to attain myoksha. Thus, after attaining myoksha, Kharasura gave the responsibility of the Lingams to saint Vyaghrapada and left the place. The Lingam which was in the demon’s right hand is at Vaikom. The Lingam which was in the left hand is at Ettumannoor and the one which was hung in the neck is at Kaduthuruthy. Locals believe if you can visit all the three temples on a single day it is equal to visiting Lord Shiva in Kailash.
- Also, saint Parasurama worshipped this Shiva Lingam. After worshipping this Shiva Lingam for several years, saint Vyaghrapada went on a pilgrimage. Saint Parasurama was passing by this place one day when he saw a Siva Lingam in water with holy rays. He understood this as the Shiva Lingam placed by Kharasura. Hence he worshipped this Shiva Lingam to attain myoksha.
- Also, saint Parasurama built the Vaikom Temple here. All the customs at this temple are plans of Parasurama.
- This is the oldest temple of Kerala where people worship Lord Shiva regularly. In all these years the Pooja took place daily with no break. Locals believe that the Shiva Lingam is from the Treta Yuga.
- People believe Lord Shiva is present in three forms at the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple. Once in the morning, once in the noon and once in the evening. In the morning He is in Sri Dhakshinamoorthy form. He grants knowledge, wisdom and understanding to the devotees in this form. At noon he is in the form of Kiratha Moorthy. In this image, he gave Pashupathastra to Arjuna. Arjuna was the warrior hero of Mahabharata. Also, in this form Lord Shiva removes all dangers and grants success in all work. At evening, He is in the form of Shakti Panchakshari. In this form, he is with his family, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Karthikeya. Hence, in this form Lord Shiva blesses devotees all worldly pleasures.
- Pilgrims get holy ash as prasadam at the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple. People call this as Vaikkathappan. As per myth, this ash can cure people of hysteria, poison and wounds.
- There is a pond in the north of the temple. As per myth, once saint Parasurama came to worship here. He saw people suffering and asked Lord Shiva to help them. He requested him to create a Theertha so that people can bath in its water to wash away sins. As per belief, this is the pond which Lord Shiva created from the Ganges from his hair.
- There is a well at the northeastern part of the temple. This well also has a myth. Once saint Nidagha came to Vyaghrapada, requesting him to make him his disciple. Saint Vyaghrapada taught Nidagha hymns of Lord Shiva. Once they were worshipping Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha on Ashtami day. Lord Shiva was happy with the hymns and he came to perform Anand Thandava at the northeast part of the shrine. While dancing a few drops of water fell from his hair. Lord Shiva gave a name to this as Sivananda Theertha.
- There is also a pond at the eastern side of the temple. As per a myth, once two Brahmins from Kanyakumari, Shankara and Mukunda came to Vaikom while they were travelling to Kashi. While Shankara was busy having food at the shrine and listening to the Bhajans, Mukunda left him to travel to Kashi. After a few days, Shankara felt lonely and was sad as he could not take a bath in River Ganges. Hence he fell in severe fever. He prayed to Lord Shiva and as a result, Lord Shiva came to him in sleep. The Lord asked him to take a bath in the eastern pond to fulfil his wish. Shankara took bath in the pond the next morning and he felt as if he was bathing in the Ganges. Hence this pond is as good as the River Ganges. People call this pond as Arathihara Theertha.
Significance of Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
The temple is important in the history of Kerala with its wonderful architecture and rich history.
- The Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is one of the three powerful Shiva temples of Kerala. The other two temples which fall in this list are Ettumanoor Siva Temple and Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple.
- Locals believe that worshipping at these three shrines before Ucha Pooja, Lord Shiva grants all wishes.
- Also, both Shaivaites and Vaishnavaites worship at this temple.
- The temple is over 8 acres of land. The temple has four walls while the premises is levelled by river sand.
- There is a golden flagstaff at the temple. Near the Balikalulpura there is a stone image. This is Lord Ganesha’s statue. The Balikalulpura refers to the sacrificial stone. The inner roof of the Namaskara Mandapa shows stories from Ramayana. There is a single rock-cut statue of Nandi. Nandi is the vehicle of Lord Shiva.
- The Sreekovil is the main room of the temple. This room is covered with copper sheets. Also, there is a front chamber in this room. This is the Mukha Mandapa. This chamber is built with stone and wood. There is also a second chamber. This chamber is built with stone and is square in shape. The Shiva Lingam is kept here.
- The Shiva Lingam is six feet in height. It is of black stone. The Lingam wears chandrakala. It is crescent. The Lingam also has three eyes, nose and four hands. Gold ornaments decorate Lord Shiva.
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple Timings
- Vaikom Mahadeva Temple opens early in the morning. It is the Saraswati Yama time. It is generally 4 am.
- After worshipping Lord Shiva at noon, the temple remains closed till 5 pm.
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple Food Timings
Everyday food is served after the afternoon worship. It is known as Nivedya.
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple Dress Code
As per the Vaikom Mahadeva temple dress code, men should wear dhoti and no shirt (only Angavastram). Women devotees should wear a sari, churidar, pavadai chattai or salwar kameez. Devotees will not be allowed to enter the Vaikom Mahadeva temple wearing informal attire like jeans, shorts or T-shirts.
Festivals celebrated at Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
- Vaikkath Asthami: This is the most popular festival at the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple. This festival takes place in either November or December.
- Shivaratri: This is also a popular festival at the temple.
Poojas and Rituals at Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
This temple has some unique customs which takes place in no other temple.
- The day starts at the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple with bathing Lord Shiva.
- There are three worships that take place in the morning, namely, Usha Pooja, Ethirthu Pooja and Panthiradi Pooja.
- Ucha Pooja takes place in the afternoon. Abhishekas with names Panchagavyam and Navakam take place during the afternoon worship.
- Athazha Pooja takes place at evening.
- Offerings to Lord Shiva are made through poojas. People call these worships as Dravya Kalasa and Margazhi Kalasa poojas.
- Special worships take place on Monday and also on occasions of Thiruvathira, Pradosha, Krishna Paksha Ashtami and Pournami. On these special days and on Sankarama the deity goes on Rushabha Vahana for the evening worship.
- Also, hymns from the holy books, Vedas, are recited while worshipping Lord Shiva.
- You have to take six steps to reach the sanctum of Lord Shiva. These six steps depict the six emotions, namely, Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Madha and Mathsarya.
- Prathal is a unique offering made to Lord Shiva. The cooking takes place in the big kitchen.
- The Ghattium recitation is another special custom of Vaikom Mahadeva Temple. In this custom, a Brahmin carries a silver rod fixed to a Rushabha. He then stands with this light in front of Lord Shiva and recites slokas.
How to Reach: Road, Rail and Air
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is easily accessible from all parts of Kerala.
By Air: The closest airport is Cochin International Airport. It is about 76 km from the Kottayam district.
By Rail: The Vaikom Road Railway Station is the nearest rail line. The Kottayam is also not far. It is only 25 km from the temple.
By Road: The Vaikom Mahadeva temple is only 33 km from Ernakulam. Also, Kottayam is only 40 km from the temple. There are regular bus services from Kottayam, Ernakulam, Kozhikode, and Thiruvananthapuram to Vaikom. The Vaikom bus stand is on the Ettumanoor – Ernakulam Highway.
Where to stay
Shri Kailas Tourist Home, Kalakkal Tourist Home, Shree Vaikathappan Tourist Home, Motel Araam, Devaswom Guest House, Kottaram, Sree Narayana Tourist Home and Whitegate Residency are hotels very near to the temple. These hotels also offer all basic amenities and food.
Where to eat
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is very popular in Kerala. Hence there are many eat-outs near this shrine. Hotel Anandabhavan, Indian Coffee House, Hotel SNV Sadanam, Hotel Hari Hara Vilasam, Whitegate Residency and Valiyakavala are famous for food. These hotels are both economical and hygienic.
There are some important temples near the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple.
- Chottanikkara Bhagavathi Temple: This shrine worships Goddess Rajarajeswari. The temple is near Ernakulam City. Moreover, the temple observes a special custom for maidens. They offer silk and pendent to get married.
- Udayanapuram Subrahmanya Temple: This temple worships Lord Subramanya. People believe worship at Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is incomplete without worshipping at this shrine. Moreover, a procession from Vaikom Mahadeva Temple to the Udayanapuram Subrahmanya Temple takes place on Vaikathu Ashtami festival. Also, the temple is famous for its intricate carvings and mural paintings.
- Ettumanur Shiva Temple: This shrine is at Ettumanur. It worships Lord Shiva. Many people visit this temple to fulfil their wishes. Also, the temple is popular for its fine sculptures. There are two statues of Nandi, one in copper and the other in stone.
- Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple: This temple also has one of the Shiva Lingams that Lord Shiva gave to Kharasura. The temple celebrates a 10 days’ festival.
Hence the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is a must-visit to know more about the Hindu religion. The temple is divine and as per belief, can fulfil wishes. Last but not least; enjoy some time boating over the clean waters of Vaikom Lake.