Thrikkavu Sri Durga Bhagavathy Temple, the abode of Durga Devi is an ancient temple situated in ponani in malappuram district in Kerala. Goddess Durga is the main deity of this centuries old temple. Even though authentic details are not available about the age of the temple, it is considered as one of the 108 Durga temples consecrated by Lord Parasurama in Kerala. It is believed that the name Thrikkavu originated from " Thrikkani Kaadu”.
The Devi is here in her Chathurbhaahu (four arms) form with Chakra (disc), Sankha (conch), Varada (in a boon-conferring pose) and katibadha (arm rest in the hip). Thrikkavu Bhagavathy is believed to be “Sarvabeeshtapradhayini” (one who grants all wishes) and numerous bhakthas have stories legion to tell of her supreme benevolence. The Bhagavathy is worshipped in two different forms Durga and Saraswati. Apart from the main deity, the temple complex consists of Krishna temple and Upa-Devatha temples for Mahaganapathi, Sasthavu, Sidhi Vinayakan, Hanuman and Brahma Rakshass. There is Moola Ganapathy Temple near the pond (Kshetrakulam) along with Naga Raja, Naga Yakshi and Naga pratishtas.
The legend regarding the origin of the Temple goes to the period of Lord Parasurama’s incarnation. After reclaiming the land of Kerala, throwing his “Sruvam” in the ocean, Lord Parasurama consecrated one hundred and eight Durga Temples along the cost land and the same number of Siva Temples along the high land for the security of the people, fauna and flora of Kerala. It is believed that Sri Durga Temple of Thrikkavu is one among them. The Sthothra about Durgalayas recited by the present old generation seem to have omitted thrikkavu. It might be perhaps of the same reason that has affected so many sthothras that were passed through ears from generation to generation. As the thrikkavu Durga Kshetra has the same structure and mode of worship has the other Durgalayas no one can disown the legend believed by the devotees of Thrikkavu Durga Bhagavathy.
It is the presence of the Temple that gave the place around it the name Thrikkavu. The word means the “grove of Sree” ( Thiru or Thri is the Dravidian form of the Aryan word “Sree”) Sree is the short form of Sree Devi – Sree Bhagavathy i.e. Durga.
It is history how the management of Hindu Temples fell into the hands of rulers of the different part of Kerala. Thus the Zamorins of Kozhikode became the Uralans (owners) of Thrikkavu Temple. It must be admitted that the Zamorins had ardent faith in the powers of Sree Durga in Thrikkavu. Most of the Zamorins spent a good time in their official capacity in Ponnani. Ponnani was their second capital. Most of their orders begin with the words “Ponnani Vayka” (Residing in Ponnani). They had two palaces in Ponnani – one near Thrikkavu Temple and the other in Vairanellur to the east of the temple. The remnants now available of these Palaces are only two tanks, Chandana Kulam near the temple and Vairanikulam in the east near NH17. The Zamorins showed great interest in the affairs of the temple. This must be called the “Golden Age” in the history of the temple. There were lands and a number of vessels in the possession of the temple. Vessels required for Mamankam at Thirunavaya were transported from this temple. (Vide - Samuthiri Charithrathile Kanapurangal by Dr. N.M. Namboodiri) annual festival was conducted in the temple with great pomp and glory (vide - the same book page). Now the annual festival is being conducted for ten days during Navarathri.
Thrikkavu temple is more than a temple. It is a temple complex. There is another full fledged temple in the same compound, to the north of Sri Durga Temple. This is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is believed that this was a Sri Rama Temple built by a Brahmin devotee who had trade relation with Bombay market. He depended on the sea route for this journeys as roads and rails were uncommon in those days. Once while he was returning form Bombay, his vessel was caught in a sudden tempest. He prayed to his pet Lord Sree Rama to save him and those in the vessel. His prayer contained a promise. He would build a temple for Sree Rama when he reaches safe in Ponnani. The Lord heard his prayer; the sea became calm. The merchant kept his promise. He built a temple with the main deity facing west to the sea and a small for his beloved Bhaktha Sree Hanuman facing east. There are proofs to believe that this was a full fledged temple. The basement of the chuttambalam (outer structure) remains safe even now and there is a Ganapathy Kovil attached to this temple.
The present idol of Sree Durga is the one re-installed in 1980. The old one was broken. It is believed that the damage was caused by the soldiers of Tipu Sulthan of Mysore during his patayottam (war campaign) in Malabar.
There is a big tank popularly called ‘Chira’ in front of the temple. As in the case of every event there is story behind this tank also. The onslaught of severe drought and famine, one summer, made the life of in Ponnani thoroughly miserable. They had no food, not even clean water. A deputation of some gentlemen from Ponnani approached the Zamorin at Kozhikode and informed him of the situation. The Zamorin said, “Let the people dig a big tank in front of the temple. Those who participate in this campaign will be given free meals in the form of Kanji (Gruel) and Puzhukku (Curry). The rice necessary for this will be supplied by the Zamorin free from Kozhikode. The people of Ponnani enthusiastically took part in the work. After two moths a big pond was dug. But there was some muddy water in the middle of the pond. Some people were engaged in pouring out this water using some country made pots. It was then Pakanar, a great man of divinity belonging to the ‘Parayi Petta Panthirukulam’ (Twelve great persons born of a Parayi - scheduled cast woman.) suddenly appeared there. He told the people engaged in the work that that was not the way to make the pond clean. The workers were even otherwise irritated. They wanted Pakanar to demonstrate the way how it could be done. Pakanar stepped down to the pond took a handful of water and threw it upwards. The water disappeared. Suddenly from all the sides of the pond water began to flow into the tank. The workers ran out. Now, the tank was full with crystal clear water. It is said that since then the tank has never gone dry. There is a Ganapathy Kovil in the south west corner of the tank, with a huge banyan tree in front.
The idol of Sree Durga faces eastward. The deity is supposed to be Varadurga who blesses all the devotees. Decorated with sandal paste, ornaments and garlands the deity is a charm to see. Standing before the Goddess you feel that your mind is filled with calm and serenity. You have a reverberating sound from deep within. You are elevated to ecstasies. The whole Sanctum Sanctorum reflects in your mind. You realize the innermost meaning of the profound statement ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am Brahma).
To the south of the Sreekovil in the chuttambalam there is the shrine of Ganapathy. Outside the chuttambalam in the southwest corner there is a temple for Lord Ayyappa and in the northwest corner, one for Brahma Rakshas.