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Sasthamkotta Sree Dharma Sastha Temple

Sree Dharmasastha Temple is located at Sasthamcotta in Kollam District 11 kms west of Adoor, 10 kms from Karunagappally. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa and the surroundings of the temple are covered by hills and forests. There are many monkeys inhabiting the premises, which are considered holy. It is beleived that Lord Hanuman at the time flying to Lanka in search of Goddess Sita, halted at this place also, and since then this Temple is a home for Monkeys. The monkeys are devotee-friendly, and the thousands of devotees visiting the temple take pleasure in feeding these monkeys with nuts and fruits. The Dharmasastha (deity) here is said to have the same powers as that of Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala and the place derives the name from the diety, the former name being Kota. The temple was built by a prince of Pandalam Royal family. Folklore has that the idol consecrated at Sasthamcotta temple is none other than the swayambhu idol worshipped by Lord Ram during his trip to Lanka (Sri Lanka) in search of his consort, Sita. What makes this lesser known temple, a must add in your itinerary is its location  situated next to a vast fresh water lake flanked by hills on three sides, the setting is simply divine! The ancient Sastha (Ayyappa, son of Shiva and Mohini [Vishnu in female form], according to legends) temple, which lends its name to the town, is also dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The temple, though at the edge of forests and has hills on its side is also next to a small town that has developed next to it. Feeding Monkeys at Sasthamkotta Temple One of the fascinating features of this temple is the abundance of monkeys that camp around. A few years ago, the monkeys began to face shortage of food and they began to snatch food from visitors to the temple and children going to nearby schools and colleges. The Courts then ordered the Devaswom (Temple) Board to make arrangements to feed the monkeys of the temple adequately. The Board, being short of funds, sought support from well-wishers of the temple but adequate funds were not forthcoming. Mr Gopala B. Pillai, founder and president of Wild Republic, and a native of Sasthamkotta, heard about this dilemma and offered to set up a Trust Fund jointly with the Devaswom Board to ensure perpetual feeding of the monkeys. This was achieved in 1996 and since then the monkeys of the temple have never been in want of food. On local festival days, when people feast at home, the Trust arranges a similar feast for the monkeys of the temple also.

Location : Sasthamcotta Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, Sasthamcotta, Kollam District, Kerala, India, Pincode - 690 521.

Gods : Sastha

Landmark : The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. Sasthamcotta has a small railway station about 4 km from Sasthamcotta town. Sasthamcotta is well connected with the other parts of Kerala by road and rail.

Festivals :

Utsavam (Annual festival)
 
The utsavam lasts for ten days. The flag is hoisted on the first day heralding the utsavam. The utsavam culminates with the ‘araattu’ on ‘Utram’ in the month of Kumbham (February-March). The tenth day hosts the ‘Kettukazhcha’, a procession of various effigies of bullocks, horses, decorated chariots, etc. A number of elephants with their netthipattam (decorative head-dress) also come to the temple to pay reverence to the prime deity, who sits atop a caparisoned elephant at the temple courtyard, escorted with many other decorated elephants.
 
Shiva Prathishta Vaarshikom
 
The holy function of the installation of the idol of Lord Shiva (Shiva Prathishta) in the newly built shrine was conducted on Atham in the Malayalam month of Edavam (May-June). Hence this day is celebrated every year as Shiva Prathishta Vaarshikom.
 
Other Festivals
 
Thiruvonam, Navaratri, Mandala Mahotsav (41 days), Makara Sankrama pooja, Sivaratri, Painkuni Utram, Pathamudayam, Karkidaka Vavu are the other major festival celebrated in this temple.

Offerings :

Ada, Idichupizhinja payasam, Aravana, Kadalipazham, Neeranjanam for Dharma Sastha. Payazam, Jaladhara for Siva. Ottayappam for Ganapathi, Vara nivedyam for Yakshiyamma, Palpayasam for Rekshas. Poovan pazham, ilaneeru for Risheeswaran and Naleekeram udaykkal for Madanswami.
 

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