Kottarakara Mahaganapathi Temple is one of the most well-known temples in South India with a lot of historical importance. The main deity here is Lord Shiva, but Ganapathi is more known, with various legends surrounding him. The original name of temple was Kizhakkekara Shiva Kshetram.
Lord Shiva being the patron deity here, faces the east and Ganapathi is the minor deity. But the temple rose to fame due to Lord Ganapathi rather than Lord Shiva.
How Did Ganapathi Become More Prominent ?
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An interesting legend goes behind how Ganapathi became more prominent here. As per the legend, the Kizhakkekara Temple belonged to two Nambudiri houses namley Akavoor and Ooman pally. The Padinjattinkara Shiva Temple belonged to the royals of the Elayidathu house.
One day, before the breaking of dawn, rituals were being conducted for the consecration of Lord Shiva at the Padinjattinkara Temple. The work was being done by the famed Uliyannor Perumthachan, who began chiseling on a piece of jackfruit tree while listening to the mantras being chanted.
Taking him by surprise, he found that the sculpture was taking the shape of Ganapathi. Which made him ask the chief priest to enshrine Ganapathi after the installation of Lord Shiva. The chief priest is said to have declined this request stating that this is a Shiva temple and Ganapathi cannot be installed here.
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The Desperate Perumthachan
Desperate, Perumthachan walked eastwards and reached the Kizhakkekara Shiva Temple while the priest was preparing unniyappams which is to be offered to the Lord. Perumthachan asked the priest if he can sanctify Ganapathi here, to which the priest agreed.
The temple had Shiva facing the east, Parvathi facing west, in the southwest was Sastha and in the northwest direction was Subrahmanya. Perumthachan, installed Ganapathi in the southeast direction and completed the Shiva family.
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After the installation, Perumthachan asked the priest what is the naivedyam prepared as Unni Ganapathi must be hungry, to which the response was unniyappam. The priest, hence, placed about six to seven unniyappams on a leaf stringed together and Perumthachan whole heartedly offered the first offering of kottappam to Lord Ganapathi.
After the offering was made, Perumthachan fondly declared that even though the father is the main deity, the son will be much more famous. His words proved to be true and kottappam is considered as an important offering to Ganapathi.
The Birth Place Of Kathakali
It is believed that the much-renowned art form of Kathakali took birth here in the 17th century. As per legends, one day the Kottarakkara Thampuran placed a request to the Zamorin of Kozhikode to send a team of Krishnanattam performers for a festival.
The Zamorin is said to have sarcastically declined the request which came across as an insult to the Thampuran. Soon he went to the Ganapathi temple and prayed for a way out, then in his mind arose the plan to create a new art form.
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The Thampuran sat on the banks of the temple's pond looking into the water where he saw different shapes of waves in bright colour combinations. After which he designed the costumes of Kathakali, sitting beneath a banyan tree, near the temple he composed Ramanattam which was a stern reply to the Zamorin's sarcasm and the art form along with the passage of time developed into Kathakali.
Major Festivals Celebrated
Ganesh Chathurthi is one of the most important festivals celebrated here, to mark the day a Mahaganapathy Homam is conducted with 1008 coconuts besides the offerings of unniyappams and modakam to Lord Ganapathi.
Vishu, Shivarathri, Onam, Prathishtadinam or consecration day, Navarathri, mega Thiruvathira, Thypooyam are some of the other major festivals celebrated here.
Morning : 5:00 am to 11:30 am
Evening : 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm
How To Reach
The nearest Railway station is Kollam Junction which is located at a distance of 26 km from here and the nearest major airport is the Trivandrum International Airport which is located at a distance of 70 km.