The Achankovil Aar is a river in Kerala, India, formed towards the southern tip of the peninsula from the streams of the Rishimala River, Pasukidamettu River, and the Ramakkalteri River. This river enriches the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala state. It joins with the Pamba River at Veeyapuram, in the Alappuzha district of Kerala in South India. Achankovil is also the name of the forest area, which is the catchment area for this river, and of a small town situated in the Achenkovil forest area. The Achankovil village is not easily accessible; however, it can be reached through forest routes.
Townships on the banks of River Achankovil
The River Achankovil nurtures numerous townships on its fertile banks. Among them is Pathanamthitta Town, which is the capital of the Pathanamthitta district. It derives its name from its association with the river; Pathanamthitta, from the Malayalam words Pathanam and thitta, means "houses by the riverside".
Other townships/ places include:
Achankovil Sastha Temple
Achankovil Shastha Temple, or the Dharmasastha Temple, is one among the five important temples dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in Kerala. Lord Ayyappa leads the Grihastha Ashrama life here – he is depicted as a family man or leads married life here. He is depicted along with his two wives – Purna and Pushkala. It is believed that the idol here was installed by Parashurama.
The Achankovil Sastha Temple is famous for curing poisonous snake bites. The left hand of the idol of Ayyappa at Achankovil Shastha Temple always holds ‘Chandan’ (sandalwood paste) and Thirtha (holy water). The Chandan and Thirtha are considered to have medicinal properties to cure snake bites. The temple complex also contains other deities associated with the Ayyappa legend. The festivals and rituals held here have strong Tamil roots.
During the Sabarimala pilgrimage, devotees also visit this temple to offer their prayers. It is believed that the idol of this temple was consecrated by Sage Parasurama. On both sides of the idol, Poorna and Pushkala, the consorts of Lord Sastha are also installed.The most important festival here is celebrated from the first to tenth day of Malayalam month Dhanu (December – January)
The river is unique in that along its route is a large number of ancient temples, indicating that the richness of the river basin has been identified by humans since ancient times and they preferred to settle down there so that they could grow their crops on the fertile lands. Edappon, a place famous for its flora and fauna, near Pandalam is on the banks of the Achankovil river.
The very old Shiva temple - Kandiyoor Mahadeva temple at Mavelikkara is situated on the banks of the river. The 2200 years old temple is fully built by blackrocks. The world famous Chettikulangara temple is near to this temple.
It is also popular as a natural picnic spot among the locals. The forest route to the town presents lot of biodiversity including wild animals and birds such as elephants, forest fowls, boars, deer, etc.
Thazhoor Bhagavathy Kshetram Temple on the banks of River Achankovil - View from Thazhoor bridge
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