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Onattukara (also known as Odanadu, Onadu, Kayankulam and Kallikoilon) was a feudal state in late medieval Kerala. Onattukara later became the part of Travancore (after King Marttanda Varma's northern expedition) and was composed of the present day Taluks of Mavelikara, Karthikapally, Chenganur in Alappuzha district and Karunagapally in Kollam district. Kayankulam was the capital of the Odanadu, which held an equal position with Venad before the formation of Travancore. Onattukara was controlled by several Nair lords among them ruler of Kayamkulam was the most prominent.
The name Onattukara is even today officially used for one of the many revenue villages included in Mavelikara Taluk.
Eruva Sreekrishna swamy temple located 2 km north kayamkulam town is one of the important place in Onattukara. The capital of Onattukara kingdom was at Kandiyoor-Mattom in Mavelikkara. Later the capital was shifted to Krishnapuram near Kayamkulam. After this shift the commercial capital of Onattukara became Kayamkulam. The cultural capital of Onattukara was Mavelikkara.
Following the annexation of Quilon by Travancore, Kayankulam organized a confederacy to liberate Quilon and restore its ruler. The Northern Alliance of Kayankulam, Purkkad, Vadakkumkur, and Cochin succeeded in retaking Quilon and restoring its ruler. But when the ruler of Quilon died in 1734, Kayankulam claimed the territory by virtue of adoption and immediately took possession of it. Travancore still claimed Quilon for himself and a new war broke out in 1739. The Queen of Ilayidatt, restored by the Dutch, attacked Travancore from the east, while Kayankulam moved in from the north and the Dutch landed in the south. Travancore made quick work of the untrained levies of Ilayidatt and, turning south, inflicted a crushing defeat on the Dutch in the Battle of Colachel. After failing to hold the fort of Kilimanur in 1742, the forces of Kayankulam were chased back to the walls of his capital. The defeated ruler signed a separate peace and became a tributary of Travancore and ceded Travancore more than half of his territories. But Kayamkulam was easily persuaded by the Dutch to take up the leadership of a new confederation which included Thekkumkur and Purakkad. In this fourth war between both states (1746), Kayankulam was again defeated and its territories finally annexed to Travancore.
The goddess Chettikulangara Amma is considered as the mother goddess of Onattukara. This temple was consecrated by Padmapadacharyar (a leading disciple of Adi Shankara) on the Uthrittathi day of Makara month in AD 823.
Many followers of the theory of Kerala’s genesis by Parasurama firmly believe that he had established 108 Durga temples, 108 Siva temples, numerous Sasthatemples, besides 108 Kalaris (place to learn traditional martial arts in front of the deity), Sakthi Kendras etc. Besides he had established five Ambalayas. Jagadambika of Chettikulangara, the Goddess of Oodanadu, is among the five Ambalayams. Though enough historical evidences and authentic study materials are not available to support, it is believed that this temple dates back to more than 1200 years. According to one version, this temple was consecrated by Padmapadacharyar (a leading disciple of Adi Shankara) on the Uthrittathi day of Makara month in AD 823. There is a firm argument that the goddess here was a family deity, and later emerged as the village and regional deity. Local historians oppose the argument that the temple is not as ancient as the nearby Kandiyoor Mahadeva temple or Mavelikara Krishna Swamy temple as it had not been mentioned in Unnuneeli Sandesam written in the 14th century. According to late Kandiyoor Mahadeva Shasthri, Samudra Bandhan – a leading courtier of Ravi Varman, an ancient King of Venad had visited this temple and wrote poems on Bhagavathi.Similarly Aadithya Kulasekharan, the King of Venad (1374 to 1389) also had visited the Chettkulangara temple, argues them.
The Bharani festival celebrated in the month of Kumbham is quite an event to the people of this locality and neighbouring places. This festival celebrated with pomp and gaiety is now been widely known as the Kumbha mela of South. Lakhs of people from different parts of Kerala and abroad visit Chettikulangara to participate in this mega event. The Chettikulangara Bharani is the mahakumbhamela of Onattukara. Onattukara includes Mavelikkara, Kayamkulam and Haripad.
The highlight of the festival is Kuthiyottam and Kettukazha. Kuthiyottam is performed as an important offering to the deity. This is a ritual dance practised and perfected through several centuries. It can be witnessed in several houses of Chettikulangara and in neighbouring areas. The houses are decorated, and the portrait of the deity is installed in temporary structures. Kuthiyottam starts a week before Bharani day. It is a type of folk dance performed by youths with the accompaniment of folk music and other musical instruments.
Eruva SreeKrishnaswamy Temple
Major Eruva Sreekrishna Swamy temple is 2 km north of Kayamkulam town. It was built by Kayamkulam Rajas (king). Lord Krishna is the Aradhana Moorthy (worship) of kayamkulam rajas. Makaram Fesrtival one of the largest festivals in middle travencore. This festival is celebrated in 10 days (ulsavam). The seventh and eighth days festivals are very important. 7-ulsavam celebrated in temple's west region (padinjare kara) and 8-ulsavam celebrated in temple's east region(kizhakke kara). Eruva Sreekrishna's Arattukulam is one of biggest ponds in middle kerala.
The ancient temple at the place Evoor is in the Onattukara region. This temple had originated in the presence of Bhagavan Sri Krishna himself.
This temple is one of the most important 26 Maha-Vishnu shrines in the world. It is linked to ‘Khandava-dahanam’ (burning of Khandava forest), described in ‘Mahabharata’. The remains of burnt trees being widely found here, confirm this. Further evidence are, nearby Mannarassala and ‘Pandavarkavu’ temples.
The great Kanva Maharshi (one of the top 7 Rishis), had been living in this part of Onattukara. ‘Kannamangalam’ (Kanva-mangalam) is nearby. His ‘Ashramam’ (hermitage) later became a temple. Evoor Krishnaswamy’s yearly ‘Arattu’ (ceremonial bath) is held in this temple’s tank.
Origin of Evoor Temple (Onattukara's Guruvayoor)
Agni-deva (Fire God) had been suffering from a severe stomach ailment. As a remedy, Lord Brahma advised him to consume the herb-rich Khandava forest. Unfortunately, Takshaka the serpent-king and a close friend of Lord Indra, was residing there. Whenever Agni tried to consume the forest, Lord Indra’s thundershowers dutifully extinguished the fire. Once, Sri Krishna and Arjuna were visiting this place. Appearing in the form of a Brahmana, Agni-deva sought their help and they agreed.
Then Kanva Maharshi arrived there to save his ‘Archa Murthy’ (a four armed image of Maha-Vishnu). Bhagavan Krishna granted a boon that the ‘Murthy’ will not be harmed by fire.
Soon, Agni started consuming Khandava forest. Lord Indra used thundershowers promptly but on Sri Krishna’s advice, Arjuna constructed a “Sharakoodam” (shelter of arrows) to complete ‘Khandava dahanam’.
Thus Agni’s ailment was cured. The thankful Agni-deva sought permission to install that “Murthy” in a new temple there to facilitate worship.
As instructed by Sri Krishna, Arjuna fired an arrow to determine the location. A new temple was soon consecrated where the arrow had landed. (Evoor is the shortened form of 'Eytha ooru', meaning the place from where the arrows were showered to make the 'sharakoodam').
Bhagavan Krishna Himself infused His divine power into the ‘Moorthy’. And Arjuna performed its first pooja.
A ‘Moorthy’ of ‘Bhoothanathaswamy’ (‘Kiratha Moorthy’ form of Lord Siva) together with ‘Yakshi Amma’ (Devi Parvathy) were consecrated as the Sub -Deities. The ancient trees roofing them are the survivors of Khandava-forest.
For More details Visit : www.evoortemple.com
Fire and re-construction
About 125 years back, this temple was destroyed in a fire. When the ‘Sree Kovil’ (sanctum sanctorum) was caught fire, so many people tried to remove the Deity, but failed. At last, an old Brahmana-devotee of the adjacent house, after taking a dip in the temple tank, entered the raging flames and brought out the Deity, safely.
Sri Moolam Thirunal, then king of Travancore, was in ‘’Kasi’’ at that time. Appearing as a Brahmana-boy in his dream, Sri Krishna asked the king to re-construct the Evoor temple. Immediately, the king returned home and constructed a huge temple complex. It contained royal facilities such as security trenches atop the roof all around and underground drainage network to discharge the ‘abhishka water’ from ‘Srikovil’ to adjacent temple tank.
The renowned ‘Tharananalloor Tantri‘ (whose ancestor had been brought to Kerala by Sri Parashurama) was appointed as the traditional ‘Tantri’. Immense wealth (including lands and other assets) was arranged to ensure self-reliance. Also, extensive neighbourhood facilities and all necessary infrastructure were put in place for the temple.
Prayoga Chakra Prathishta
Evoor Bhagavan’s Deity is the unique Prayoga Chakra Prathishta. Live ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ in rear right hand; Panchjanya Sankha in rear left hand; Butter in frontal right hand; and the frontal left hand is held on the hip as a mani-bandham.
Bhagavan is in a combative mood ready to release ‘Sudarshana Chakra’. He is the 72 year old Sri Krishna at His peak glory and power.
Vedic experts have confirmed the extremely rare divine presence of “Sri Chakra” on this deity. Consequently, “Raktha-pushpanjali” is a special offering here which is unavailable in Vishnu temples elsewhere.
Evoor temple is popularly known as the “Guruvayoor of Onattukara”.
How to reach Evoor
Evoor temple is situated near the Cheppad Railway station between Kayamkulam and Harippad. The railway line is called the "Theera Desa" (coastal route which is not the main railway route). It is more easy to reach there by bus. Cheppad is about 7 km north of Kayamkulam bus stand. From Harippad Bus stand Evoor is about 5 km south. You can get down at Cheppad Junction and go by an auto-rickshaw to Evoor temple. Alternatively, one can get down at the bus stop (south of Cheppad and north of Ramapuram Devi temple) on NH-47 and walk up to the temple which is about 1 km east of NH-47.
Names of towns and villages in the Onattukara region carry the “palli” suffix, which was common usage in Pali, the language of Theravada Buddhism. Karunagapalli, Karthikapalli, Pallickal, Pallippuram, Puthupalli are examples of such historical and present names of places in the Onattukara region. The ancient Buddha statue placed today in Mavelikara town, at Buddha Junction in front of the Krishnaswamy temple, was excavated more by accident in the early 1900s from a paddy field near the Kandiyoor temple. It is possible that a lot more of the vanished Buddhist civilisation of Onnattukara still lies buried in history, yet to be unearthed. The Portuguese had a factory in Odanadu in the 16th century, but Odanad was the earliest ally of the Dutch in Malabar.