Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple near Kochi in Kerala is very popular with devotees. The temple is dedicated to Maa Bhagavati, a form of Mahalakshmi, who resides here with Maha Vishnu. The Goddess is also known as Chottanikkara Devi. The temple is known to cure mental illnesses. Countless devotees have been cured here and troubled people continue to visit this temple hoping to get cured. The Goddess is also known as Rajarajeswari, Mahalakshmi, Durga, and Amman. There are a number of stories connected with this temple that testify to its antiquity.
Adi Shankaracharya prays to the Goddess
Adi Shankaracharya was a renowned spiritual leader and founder of the four Sharda Peeths in India (Rameshwaram, Dwarka, Badrinath, and Jagannath Puri). He realized there was no Mahalakshmi temple in Kerala at that time. He journeyed to the Mahalakshmi temple in the Kodachadri Hills in Karnataka. There he prayed and meditated in earnest for the Goddess to appear before him. Pleased with Adi Shankaracharya’s worship Mahalakshmi Devi appeared in Her glorious form and asked what he wanted. Adi Shankaracharya replied all he wanted was that the Goddess comes with him to Kerala and reside in a temple established for Her. Adi Shankaracharya said countless devotees would benefit and be blessed by Her presence. Mahalakshmi Devi agreed to follow Adi Shankaracharya on the condition that he should not look back to check. If he did, Mahalakshmi Devi would turn into a Murti and stop at that spot. Adi Shankaracharya agreed and started walking back to Kerala. He could hear the sounds of Mahalakshmi Devi’s anklets jingle as She walked behind him. At one point the sounds stopped and Adi Shankaracharya looked back. As per the condition the Goddess stopped right there and turned into a Murti, That place is where the famed Mookambika temple in Udupi stands. Adi Shankaracharya begged forgiveness and pleaded with the Goddess. Mahalakshmi Devi agreed to come only up to Chottanikkara and that is where the temple now stands.
Three Forms of the Goddess
The Goddess appears in three different forms and is worshipped at three different times in the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy temple.
It is believed that The Goddess appears as Mahasaraswati in the early hours of the morning and returns to Mookambika temple before the doors open there. She is worshipped as Mahasaraswati, dressed in a white sari in the morning.
At noon the Goddess is worshipped as Mahalakshmi, dressed in a bright red sari with beautiful ornaments.
In the evenings the Goddess is worshipped as Mahakali, dressed in a blue sari. Mahakali is said to be born of Lord Shiva’s third eye and is known as the slayer of demons.
Guruthi and Valiya Guruthi Puja
At night, after the Athazha pooja, the temple pujaris go to the Kizhukkavu temple to do Valiya Guruthi Puja ( Great Sacrifice). People also perform the Guruthi pooja to relieve themselves from stressful burdens and anxieties and pray for peace and prosperity in life.
The Valiya Guruthi Puja is done at night. The ceremony involves chanting of divine verses and the offering of twelve pots of Guruthi ( a mixture of lime and turmeric that turns red) to the Goddess. After that, the mentally disturbed persons are brought in to be cured. All this is accompanied by the sounds of drums and chanting of prayers and mantras.
The Splendorous Architecture of Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple
The now-vanished skills, craftsmanship, and art of temple building were prevalent in the days gone by. There was, in those days a particular community of almost divine artisans known as Vishwakarma Sthahapatis who specialized in woodwork and building exquisite wooden temples. Chottanikkara Devi Temple is one example of their graceful and superlative workmanship. The temple is made of wood and seems to have been made by the Divine Architect and builder – Shri Vishwakarma. The sculptures and carvings in the temple beside the main structure
reveal the skill of the Sthapatis and show that the seemingly impossible is made possible.
Besides the main temple, there is another temple known as Kizhukkavu Temple at a slightly lower level. There is a small pond between the two temples. In this temple, a Murti of Maa Bhadrakali is enshrined.
Temple Festivals and Shops
Adjacent to the temple is some shops where one can buy all sorts of artifacts, souvenirs, and framed photos of Chottanikkara Devi. There is a unique shop not usually found in other temples in India. It is a shop authorized by the temple that sells saris worn by the deities and other items used for prayers and worship like lamps etc.
Kerala Bhagavathi Amman Temple celebrates a number of festivals each year. Being a Devi Temple, Navratri is an important celebration. Besides special pujas the temple organizes musical concerts, dance performances, and cultural events during these nine days, Makam Thozhal is one of the more important festivals celebrated in the temple. The Goddess is bathed in the adjacent sacred pond and brought back accompanied by Sashtha in a procession of seven elephants and special pujas and archanas are done. Devotees believe darshan on this day is particularly beneficial. Other festivals are celebrated in the months of Vrishchika, Kumbam, and Kartik. Tuesdays and Fridays are considered especially auspicious days and there is a surge of devotees on these days.
Click here for Chottanikkara Amma Photos.
Chottanikkara Temple Puja Timings
|04:00||Opening of Nada and Nirmalaya Darshan|
|05:00 AM and 11:00 AM||Dhara of Lord Shiva|
|07:30||Guruthi Nivedyam at Kizhukkavu Temple|
|12 Noon||Ucha puja|
|19:00||Guruthi Nivedyam at Kizhukkavu Temple|
|20:45||Vallya Guruthi at Kizhukkavu Temple|
Where to stay
There are a few hotels and guest houses in Chottanikkara. You could also choose to stay in Kochi or Ernakulam. For more details and booking, rooms click on the link below –
How to reach Chottanikkara
Ernakulam Railway Station is about 15 km from the temple.
Kochi Airport is about 36 km from the temple.
Distances from Chottanikkara
- Kochi – 16 km
- Ernakulam – 15 km
- Alleppey – 61 km
- Thiruvananthapuram – 199 km
- Madurai – 258 km