|Proper name||Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple|
|Primary deity||Chottanikkara Devi (Saraswati, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga)|
The Chottanikkara (corruption of Jyotiannakkara) Temple (Malayalam: ചോറ്റാനിക്കര ക്ഷേത്രം) is a famous temple of the Hindu mother goddess Bhagawati. The temple is located near Ernakulam in the southern Indian state of Kerala and is one of the most popular temples in the state and in terms of temple architecture, this temple stands out to be an ultimate testmonial for the ancient vishwakarma sthapathis (wooden sculpture) in sculpting this temple along with Sabarimala. Bhagawati is one of the most popular deities in the area, Chottanikkara Devi is worshipped at the temple, in three different forms: as Saraswati in the morning, draped in white; as Lakshmi at noon, draped in crimson; and as Durga in the evening, decked in blue. Lord Shiva is also worshiped at the temple. People suffering from mental illnesses commonly visit the temple, as Bhagawati is thought to cure her devotees. One should not miss the 'Guruthi Pooja' in the 'Keezhkkaavu' temple at Chottanikkara. This is a ritual done at late evening to invoke the goddess. Earlier 'Guruthi Pooja' was done only on Fridays. But nowadays, it is performed every day.
'Chottanikara Makam thozhal' is the famous religious festival temple.
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The area in which the temple is situated was once a dense forest that was believed to be infested by yakshis and rakshsas. A tribesman named Kannappan used to live in this forest. He was a devout worshipper of Kali, and would ritually sacrifice a cow to her every Friday( the day of the Goddess). One day, he found a beautiful black calf near the forest. he kidnapped her and took her to his altar. Just before he sacrificed the calf, his daughter, Manimanga, stepped in and pleaded for him to stop. The man loved his daughter and thus let her keep the calf as a pet. Unfortunately, Manimanga died some days later. However, when the tribes man looked for the calf, he found two divine stones in its place : one was Lakshmi and the other was Vishnu.
After many years, the stones were forgotten. One day, a woodcutter came to the forest to cut some trees. Since his axe was blunt, he sharpened it on a nearby stone. Wonder of wonders, the stone started bleeding. After devaprasnam, it was concluded that the stones were divine.
The idol at Keezhkavu didn't come until after the temple was built. One night, a Brahmin was walking along a moonlit trail. Suddenly, he saw a beautiful woman, standing all alone. He offered to escort her home, and she agreed. However, when the Brahmin went to the Goddess's priest, he was told that it was really a yakshi. thus, with the yakshi after him, the Brahmin ran to the temple. Just as he reached the sanctum, the yakshi transformed and rounded up on him. However, the goddess jumped out of the sanctum sanctorum as Kali and killed her. She then went to wash her self in the pond, where the Kali idol was found hundreds of years later by Vilvamangalam of Guruvayoor.
Most of the legends associated with the temple are of tribal origin, where Mahakali is believed to protect masses during hard times. As per one of them, the famous saint Vilvamangalam installed the idol of Bhadrakali, which he unearthed from the temple tank. There are no recorded documentation on these legends.
The ritualistic bath of "Devi" in ceremonial pond in the morning at the sacred pond at Onakkoor far on the northern side of the Temple. After this "Devi" accompanied by Lord Sastha on the back of the eleven caparisoned elephants march towards the "Pooraparambhu" the traditional vantage point where they remain till 11 a.m.
After the mid-day the door of Sanctum Sanctorum closes. Only to re-open at 2 p.m for the "Makam Darsanam" at that time Devi who appears in her sacred full-fledged splendour and glory decked in her sacred gold ornaments, precious jewellery and innumerable garlands. This is exactly the form of vision which Villwamangalam Swamiyar was believed to have had when he faced westward after the "Prathishta" (installation) of Kizhukkavu Bhagavathy, Chottanikkara Devi appears at this moment clad in glittering clothes brilliant ornaments and fine jewellery with her four arms bearing varam, Abhayam, Shank and Chakram (Offering gift and refuge) to her ardent devotees. It is fervently believed that Darsanam at this moment will result in the fulfillment of all prayers and cherished desires. It is fervently believed that those who gain Darsanam at this crucial Mithuna Lagna, will be blessed with the fulfillment of their long standing desire and prayers.
The presiding deity is known by various names like Rajarajeswari, Bhadrakali, Saraswathi, Durga and Amman. Rajarajeswari is worshipped as Saraswathi in the morning, Lakshmi in the afternoon and Durga in the evening. The temple is known for curing mental illness and diseases due to evil spirits. The patients are brought to the priest, who engages with them in some conversation. He nails a part of the hair of the patient in the temple tree, indicating that evil spirit is captured in the tree and the patients are cured off their illness. Neem leaves, lime and chillies are taken home from the temple, which are believed to ward off evil spirits.
- Chingam - Thiruvonam is celebrated in the temple with Thiruvonam feast (annadanam) to all Pilgrims
- Kanni - Navarathri aghosham is a famous festival, which attracts large number of devotees. On Vijayadasami day of the Navarathri utsavam, Vidyarambham is conducted.
- Vrishchikam - The Vrishchicka Mandala mahotsavam (festival) is celebrated during the entire period of mandalam season. Daily annadanam, stage programmes, Naama japam etc. are conducted. During this month, Thrikkarthika festival comes. It is the birthday of the Goddess and the festival runs for three days, Kaarthika, Rohini and Makayiram. On these days, there is ezhunnellippu, Kazhcha siveli, stage programme, deepaalankaaram, Kaarthika vilakku, fireworks etc. There is also lakshaarchana and Vedamura abishekam for 15 days starting from January 1. On the makaravilakku day there is lakshadeepam (lighting of one lakh lamps) and fire works.
- Kumbam - The annual festival of the temple comes in Kumbham. It begins with Kodiyettu (Flag hoisting ceremony) on Rohini day, lasts for 7 days and ends on Uthram star. There is Pooram ezhunnellippu with 7 Elephants in the morning and at night. The ulsavam ends with Uthram Aarattu and Valiya Guruthi (Atham Guruthy).
- Medam - On the Vishu day, there will be Vishukani, Vishusadya and ezhunellippu on 3 elephants.
- Karkitakam - Ramayana masam (Ramayana Month) is celebrated during this period. Daily puranam reading (Ramayanam, Bhagavatham, etc.,) daily annadanam, devotional speeches and discourse etc., is conducted - there is also illam Nira, when fresh paddy of the year is offered to God.
- Tuesday and Friday are important dates for Bhagavathy temples. You can see heavy rush on these days.
Distance to Chottanikkara Temple
- Cochin Air Port – 38 km
- Ernakulam South Railway Station – 15 km
- Ernakulam North Railway Station – 17 km
- Ernakulam K.S.R.T.C. Bus Stand – 16 km
- Kaloor Private Bus Stand – 17 km
- Thripoonithura Railway station – 7 km
Air: International Air Port is at Nedumbassery, near Aluva, about 22 km away from Ernakulam, Kochi.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Chottanikkara Road (KFE) which is close to the temple. But only a few trains stop at this station. The nearest station (main) is at Tripunithura railway station about 6.4 km; another nearby one is Ernakulam about 17 km away from Chottanikkara. The two railway stations in Kochi are Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town.
Road: KSRTC Central Bus station is near the Ernakulam Junction railway station. There are plenty of private buses available for travel from Ernakulam to other cities.
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