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Vaikom Mahadevar temple




Kottayam, Kerala



Famous for Vaikathashtami Festival

Best Time to Visit



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Vaikom, situated 40 km away from Kottayam on the eastern side of Vembanad lake, is one of the main pilgrim centres of the south. It is famous for the the ancient Mahadeva temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Vaikkom's Shiva is fondly called Vaikkathappan.

Vaikom also has a historic importance. This is place had made a significance in Indian history with the famous 'Vaikom Sathyagraham' (1924-25), i.e the movement against untouchability in Hindu society. Mahatma Gandhi initiated and participated in this struggle and with his interference, all Hindus irrespective of caste are allowed to enter the temples. In 1936, the Maharaja of Travancore issued a proclamation throwing temples open to all castes. The temple is considered as one of the oldest temples in Kerala where pooja has not been broken since inception.

The temple, situated within the premise of 8 acres of land, was believed to be built by Parasurama - founder of Kerala. According to legend, one day, when he was travelling north by air, he saw the Shiva linga. He descened and embraced the linga which was knee deep in water. He then raised a square platform and on it he installed the linga.

Built in typical Kerala style of temple architecture, it is of quite big size. The entrances are through four gates that are present on four sides. At the eastern entrance, is the Vyaghrapada Sthana. It is believed that saint Vyaghrapada performed a pooja here and got the glimpse of Lord Shiva and Parvati.

The current structure of the temple dates back to the sixteenth century.

The shrine, oval in shape is composed of the sanctum. The sanctum is covered with a copper plated roof crowned with a golden dome. The shrine has wall paintings. The wooden panels and murals in the temple depict Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Vishnu, and numerous other figures. The Shiva Linga here is believed to be from the 'Treta yuga' which is about 5 feet in height.

The namaskara mandapa has a pyramidal roof. A unique attraction for the Shiva Temple is the Kathakali performance that takes place each evening as a ritual offering.

Popularly known as Thekkan Kashi (Southern varanasi), Vaikom Mahadevar temple is famous for its Vaikathashtami festival. Here, two Ashtami festivals are held annually, one is in Kumbham (February-March) and the other is in Vrischikam (November-December) of which the latter is more popular. On this day, a procession with Ashtami vilakku (lamp) started from Sri Subramanya temple and reached Lord Mahadeva temple at night. There is a belief that Lord Vishnu, Goddess Durga and Lord Krishna, participate in the procession and reach the temple to visit Vaikathappan.

The traditions of the temples includes feeding devotees on a mass scale. The Lord is called the 'Giver of Food (Annadana Prabhu)". On special occasions like the birthday of Maharaja of Travancore, grand feasts were served here.

The temple is opened in the morning from 4 to 12 and in the evening from 5 to 8. The deity, Lord Shiva manifests himself as Dakshinamurthy in the 'pantheeradi' puja in the morning. He is worshipped as Kirata Murthy during the 'Ucha puja' at noon and as 'Satchitananda' in the evening. Prathal is the main offering.

There is a school named Kshethrakalapeedhom meant for teaching temple arts.