Aluva Mahadeva Temple is located on the banks of the Periyar river, which is around 21 km from Ernakulam. The temple is situated about a kilometre away from the NH 47. The Mahadeva temple is located on the sand banks in between Mangalapuzha and Periyar river.
A unique feature of the temple is that there is no sanctum sanctorum present here. The Shiva Lingam is said to be a self-manifested one that as per legends, is said to be installed by Parashurama. It is also said that Lord Rama performed the after-death ceremonies of Jatayu here. The Shiva Lingam rises out of the sand banks of the Periyar river. The place is also known as Aluva Manalpuram, which translates to "the land with sand".
Legends Associated With The Temple
After the installation ceremony of the Lingam by Parashurama, he constructed a temple to protect the idol; however, the structure was washed away by a flood. Lord Shiva is believed to have instructed Parashurama that he does not want a temple structure and no temple structure will exist at the place.
Another legend says that the Bhoothaganas of Lord Shiva worshipped the Lingam every night and they decided to construct a temple. Lord Shiva told them that they must complete the construction of the temple in a single night.
The Bhoothaganas agreed and began the construction. Soon after the foundation was completed, Lord Vishnu came here, disguised as a cock and crowed, which misled the Bhoothaganas. They feared that dawn had approached and left the place, leaving the whole work unfinished.
The Areca Nut Leaf Vessel
One day, Vilwamangalam Swamiyar visited this place and found the presence of Lord Shiva and found the Shiva Lingam installed by Parashurama. Swamiyar began worshipping the Lingam and Mahadeva appeared to him and instructed him to begin poojas here.
Along with the help of Pottayil Iiayathu, Thottathil Nambiar and Idamana Namboothri proper arrangements were made to offer poojas to Shiva and Swamiyar began the pooja.
After the pooja began, they realised that there were no vessels to offer prasadam to the deity, while on the look, Swamiyar plucked out a areca nut leaf and offered the prasadam in it. To commemorate this, till date the prasadam is offered in an areca nut leaf. Later, Swamiyar and others constructed a temple, which got destroyed by a flood in the year 1343 AD.
The Lord Who Refuses A Shrine
An interesting factor here is that during the monsoons, the whole region, including the temple, gets flooded and the Shiva Lingam gets submerged in water and once monsoons are over, the place gets cleared of water.
The nearby Ooranam Namboothris decided to construct a small shrine on the banks of the river, so that poojas are not obstructed during the monsoons season. This structure is known as the Bala Kshetram, which also is unfinished in appearance and has withstood many floods and a mystery still surrounds about how the foundation and the structure withstood the floods and the heavy monsoon rains.
The temple at present is under the control of Travancore Devaswom Board, who constructed a temple few years ago, but during the Devaprasnam, which is an astrological ritual done to know about the likes and dislikes of the presiding deity of a temple, the astrologer revealed that the construct was against the wishes of the Lord.
The Important Festivals That Are Celebrated Here
Like all Shiva temples, Maha Shivratri is an important festival that is celebrated here on a grand scale, with devotees staying awake the whole night doing prayers and paying homages to their ancestors. The next major event here is the Karkidaka Vavu Bali, which is an event where people come in large numbers on the new moon day of the Malayalam month Karkidakam (July-August) to pay respects to the souls of their dear ones.