Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is one of the most admired Shiva temples in South India. Located at Vaikom Taluk in Kottayam district of Kerala, the Shiva Lingam installed in this temple is supposed to be dating back to ‘Treta Yuga’. Earlier known as Vyaghrapadapuram, the name of place has been converted into Vaikom. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva. The temple makes an influential trio with Ettumanoor Siva Temple, Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple. It is said that visiting all the three temples in a day makes the wishes come true. The priests at the temple come from Kadathanadu in Vadakara Taluk of Kozhikode District and other works are done by Moosad of the East and West families. At the south side of the temple yard, the idol of Panachikkal Bhagavathi is kept to worship. The Sarppa Sanidhya, the God of Snakes, is also worshipped within the temple. Travancore Devaswom Board takes care of the appointments of rest of the employees of Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple.
As per the popular legend associated with the establishment of Vaikom Temple, Kharasura offers prayers to Lord Shiva at Chidambaram. Impressed by his devotion, Lord Shiva presents three holy Shiva Lingams to Kharasura. Assuring him to be present in these Lingams, Shiva suggests Kharasur to worship them to get Moksha (salvation). He moves towards south from Himalayas holding two of the Lingams in each hand and the third one in mouth. He feels tired and stops at Vaikom. Keeping the Shiva lingam on the ground, he rests for a while. After resting, he realizes that it has been affixed at that place. Therefore, he installs the other two Lingams too, one each at Ettumanoor and Kaduthuruthy.
A heavenly voice says ‘I should remain here to offer Moksha to devotees, who require it’. He understands that it is Shiva’s Maya. After getting Moksha, he hands over the supervision of holy Lingams to Maharshi Vyaghrapada and tells him to protect and worship them.
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple is one of the biggest temples of Kerala, spread over eight acres of land. The place is flattened with river sand confined by campus walls with four Gopurams on all the four sides. It also features a golden flag staff and Balikalulpura, where Stambha Ganesh has been established at its north-east corner. Namaskara Mandapa is also an important part of the temple, in the east of which, a huge Nandi made with stone is kept. The circular Sreekovil has been covered with copper sheets and two chambers. The walls and pillars of the temples are very strong. Vaikkath Asthami is the important celebration of the Vaikom Temple. Sandhya Vela is the main custom of this shrine, which is done before the flag is hoisted.
Location : Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, Vaikom, Kottayam, Kerala, India.
Gods : Lord Shiva, Ganapathy.
Landmark : Nearest Airport : The nearest airport for visiting the temple is Nedumbassery Airport in Cochin, which is 58 km away from Vaikom. Nearest Railway Station : Vaikom railway station is the nearest railway station to the temple. Various important trains pass through this station. Nearest Bus Station : Vaikom is located 33 km south of Ernakulam and 40 km north of Kottayam. The temple is connected to the nearby cities, towns and districts through the efficient networks of buses.
Two major Ashtami festivals are held annually in the Vaikom Siva temple, Vaikam Ashtami Festival & Arattu Festival.
One is celebrated in the month of Kumbhom (February - March) and the other in Vrischikam (November - December).
However, Ashtami festival during the dark lunar fortnight of the Malayalam month Vrischikam, known as Vaikkath Asthami, is the most popular one. The celebrations last for 12 days, with Ashtami falling on the last day. On the Ashtami night, Thidampu, a symbolic idol of the Lord Siva is taken out in procession and kept in the Anakkottil (elephant shed).
The deities from nearby temples are also taken in procession to the Anakkottil. After this, a ceremony called Kanikkiduka (offering of presents) is performed which is unique to this temple. Classical music and dance performances including Kathakali performances on the eighth and ninth days are the major attractions.
The festival concludes with an Arattu (holy bath) at Udayanapuram which is the abode of Lord Subramanya.
A special offering called Mukkudi Neivedyam is made to the lord in connection with the Vaikom Temple annual festival. Mukkudi is prepared using some herbs which are combined and made into a powder using a secret formula.
It is considered as a great medicine and is prepared in the Thidappally (kitchen inside the temple where holy offerings are prepared) in a new earthen pot and mixed with fresh butter milk. Mukkudi Neivedyam is offered after the Arattu.