Navratri is a festival complete with celebrations and prayers at the various temples dedicated to the different forms of the goddess. These nine days are the period when people visit shrines of the goddess in prayers for knowledge and prosperity; and one such shrine dedicated to the goddess of learning and knowledge is the Panachikkadu Saraswathi Temple, which is popularly called Dakshina Mookambika.
Kollur Mookambika Temple in Karnataka, witnesses a large number of devotees, especially Malayalees, during Navratri. The Kollur Temple attracts devotees especially for the ritual of Vidyarambham during Navratri and witnesses a large crowd for the same. For those are unable to make it to the abode of Kollur Mookambika, visit the Panachikkadu Temple which is also known as Dakshina Mookambika.
The Main Deity Is Not Saraswathi Devi !
Although the temple gets it name and fame after the presence of Saraswathi, she is not the presiding deity here, but Maha Vishnu is. Hence, those who to come here, offer their prayers first to Lord Vishnu and only then head towards the shrine of goddess Saraswathi, which is located a few metres south of Maha Vishnu's shrine.
One can notice the shrine of the goddess is actually a rectangular pond like structure which has been carved out of a granite hillock. The shrine does not have a traditional sanctum sanctorum and other grand structures of a typical temple, but dwells in a pond which is surrounded by green creeper plants which further adds to the beauty of place.
The original idol of the goddess remains covered by the creepers; close by another idol is the place for the poojas and prayers to be conducted. Two things one would notice here are the creepers and the spring. The leaves of the creepers which cover the idol are considered to be holy and the water which flows from the spring touches the feet of the goddess and never dries up even in the peak summer season.
As per the Aithihyamala written by Kottarathil Sankunni, the temple has a history of more than 1000 years. The Nambudiri of Kizhapuram Illam had no male heirs of his own to carry out his last rites, he was about 60 years old and lost all hopes of having a son and set off to Varanasi to take a dip in the Ganges. En route he stopped at the shrine of Kollur Mookambika and stayed there for a few days and offered his prayers to the goddess.
The peacefulness of the place attracted him which made him stay back here for a year in prayer. On completing a year at the shrine, the aged Nambudiri is said to have dreamed of a gorgeous woman who appeared before him and informed him it was impossible for him to have a son of his own in this life and asked him to return back home and adopt a child from the Karunattu family.
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The Goddess Who Stayed In An Umbrella
Disheartened, he accepts his fate and returns back to his homeland. On reaching Panachikkadu, he decided to take a dip in the temple pond for which he put his umbrella, made of palm leaves, on the southern side of the shrine and went. After his bath, he tried to pick up his umbrella and continue further, but he couldn't move the umbrella.
Puzzled, the Nambudiri stands, when a man comes to his aid and explains to him that Mookambika Devi has made his humble umbrella her abode and he should transfer the energy into an idol before moving the umbrella.
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He also tells the Nambudiri that there is a suitable idol lying hidden in the nearby forest. But he would have to oblige its protector, a Yakshi. Before taking the idol, the Nambudiri did as per the instructions given and installed the idol.
The Temple Which Has Vidyarambham Everyday
Unlike other temples, which conduct the ritual of Vidyarambham only on the day of Vijayadashmi, there are a few temples which conduct the ritual everyday except on Durgashtami and Mahanavami.
On this day, a large number of people arrive at this shrine to introduce their children into the world of education. A grand international cultural festival which comprises of classical dance and music performances is held in the temple during the Navratri festival. Vijayadashmi falls on 30th of September this year and Mahanavami on 29th of September 2017.
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How To Reach
By Air: The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport located in Nedumbassery, which is about 70 km from here. The airport is well connected to all the major airports across the country and to quite a number of places abroad as well.
By Train: The nearest major railway station is Kottayam Junction which is located around 11 km from here. The station is well connected to all major stations within the state of Kerala and to a number of them outside the state as well.
By Road: One of the best ways to reach the shrine is by road since the place is well connected by road transport. One can find regular bus services operating to the cities of Kottayam, Alleppey, Cochin, etc. from here and for the outstation ones from Kottayam.