The only Garuda Temple in the entire country of India is situated in Malappuram district of the state Kerala. The temple popularly called the Vellamassery Garudan Kavu temple is situated near the town Tirur, close to the Mahavishnu shrine where the deity graces in Koorma avathara form. This Garuda temple is quite ancient and is about 1800 years old. Worshipping the deity here aids in the quick recovery from illnesses, especially from serpent poisons. All Sundays of the year are regarded auspicious here, other than the 41 days of Mandalakalam during the period from November 16 to December 28.
About The Temple
The temple complex was initially small but was later expanded substantially. The sannidhis of Sankara Narayana and Lord Shiv which faces the direction east were built later. On the left of Lord Garuda, deities such as Veettekkaran and Kartha Veeryarjunan are found. Deities like Vishnu and Sankara Narayanan have separate Namaskara Mandapa. The shrine of Lord Vishnu has a balippura to its south. The shrines of Sri Sastha, Devi Bhagavathy, Lord Ganapthy and Devi Bhadra Kali are found in the western direction. The shrine has a gopuram at the west and a deepasthambham within. A large temple pond is situated south of this temple. Daily pooja for the deities are performed here.
About The Deity
The principal deity of this temple is Lord Vishnu who graces here in the form of Koorma avathara. Garuda, Lord Karthveerarjunan, Goddess Bhagavathy, Lord Sankaranarayana, Lord Ganapathy, Lord Ayyappa are the other deities present in this temple.
Legend and Stories
Several mythological stories are associated with this temple.
According to a legend, long ago lived a sage who undertook a hard penance worshipping Lord Vishnu in order to obtain the secret of keeping the population from disease and pain. The pleased Lord decided reveal the secret, when Garudan is said to have flown near the site and sat on the banks of the pond called the ‘theertha’. Thus place where Lord Vishnu gave ‘darshan’ to the sage became haloed ground and the temple was later constructed over it.
It is widely believed that Jagadguru Shri Sankaracharya, also known as Sri Padapadacharya, had also undertaken severe penance at this temple, which further added its spiritual worth.
One other legend reveals the origin of the Garuda idol installed in this Temple. There once lived a man called Perum Thatcham, who was a highly skilled master craftsman. He was a well renowned mason of this region whose dexterity was known far and wide. He made several vigrahas of deities that were installed in many temples across Kerala. This gifted craftsman is said to have crafted the amazing idol of the flying Garuda.
The Garuda idol was so realistic that the Malappuram ruler himself was very impressed with this work and mentioned that it looked like it could fly away. Perum Thatchan replied that if the bird was touched by a purely chaste woman the ‘idol’ would definitely come alive and fly. The Raja was initially offended by the craftsman’s comment but later challenged him that if proven wrong, he would be sentenced to death. The mason in turn asked the Raja on what he would give if his claims become true. The Raja promised to build a temple in honor of the idol. On hearing this, Perum Thatchan called his wife and asked her to touch the Garuda idol. The moment she touched it the Garuda flew away. The Raja sent his soldiers to chase it. The garuda landed on the back of one of the white turtles living on a pond. The Raja thus built a temple for the Garuda as promised, in the place where the present temple is situated. The place later got to be called ‘Vellamassery’ which means the place of the white turtle.
Another fascinating fact about this temple is that, the present Garudan Kavu temple faces west while the rest of the shrines within this temple complex faces the east. The temple has special projections in front of the sanctums of Lord Vishnu and Sankara Narayana called the ‘namaskara mandapams’. The temple complex also houses the shrines of Bhagavathy Devi, Lord Sahstha, Bhadrakali and Lord Ganapathi, which are located on the western side. A deepastambam and a Gopuram are also found in this direction.
The Mandala period falling between mid November to mid December, is considered the most significant period of worship in this temple. The 12th and 13th day of the Malayalam month ‘Dhanu’ is regarded auspicious.
Prasad and Offering
This temple is one of the unique Hindu temples and has a special distinction of being the only Garuda temple in India. The rituals and offerings of this temple are just as unique as the temple itself.
The temple doesn’t impose restrictions on the devotees visiting the temple, unlike many other temples of this region and is open to everyone. Thereby the temple signifies that it doesn’t discriminate people based on any criteria like caste, creed, color, gender, etc, just like the Garuda that flies high above in the skies over everyone without any discrimination.
In order to obtain immunity from snake bite, the devotees offer snakes for the Garuda. This is because the snakes are known to be the natural food for the Garuda (eagle). This ritual involves the throwing of hundreds of snakes kept on earthenware pots from the Gopuram by the devotees. The snakes are unhurt and alive when they land.
Since this snake offering ritual is in practice for several centuries now, it is obvious that this region should have been thickly infested with snakes, while hardly any snakes are visible here.
There has not been a single instance of snake bite, despite the presence of many snakes in the region, not even when being carried by devotees during this ritual. Thus, this stands as a proof to the divine power of this temple and its deity.
The temple offers a unique variety of ‘prasadam’ called the ‘payasam’ or sweet rice porridge which is yellow in colour, due to the presence of turmeric in it. A similarly distinctive offering is the oil known as the Garuda Panchakshari. This oil is known to cure skin problems and internally poisoned conditions.
The offerings made to Garuda are mostly in the form of fruits, seeds and other things that are usually consumed by the birds. Even snakes are believed to pray Garuda here for blessing them with a long life. People suffering from ‘Naga Dosha’ visit this temple to get relief from its adverse effects. Very often, people going on a pilgrimage to the renowned Sabrimala temple, tend to stop at this temple, as it also enshrines Lord Vishnu in his ‘Koorma’ or tortoise ‘avatar’ or incarnation.
This is the only temple in Kerala dedicated to Garuda. The temple is famous for getting relief from Sarpa-dosham (evil effects of serpents)
How To Reach Garudan Kavu Temple, Malapuram
The Kozhikode and Kannur airports are the nearest located airports to reach this temple.
The temple at Vellamarsery is connected by several trains to places such as Kozhikode and Tirur.
The Garudan Kavu temple is easily accessible by road as it is located at a distance of just two kilometers from Tirur. Both government and private buses are available to Vellamaserry, where the temple is situated.
Koormamoorthy Garudan Kavu Temple,
Mangattiri Pookaitha Pullooni Road,
Kerala, Pincode - 676102.
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- Relief from diseases
- Purchase of vehicles
- Gain Knowledge
Vasudeva Sutham Devam Kamsa Chanoora Mardhanam Devaki Paramanandham Krishnam Vande Jagathgurum
Meaning -I bow to you O Krishna, the ultimate guru, Devaki and Vasudeva's son, and the destroyer of Kamsa and Chanur.
Adharam Madhuram Vadanam Madhuram Nayanam Madhuram Hasitam Madhuram Hridayam Madhuram Gamanam Madhuram Mathuraa Dhipate Rakhilam Madhuram
Meaning -Meaning - Sweet are Your lips, sweet is Your face, sweet are Your eyes, sweet is Your smile, sweet is Your heart, sweet is Your gait, O Lord of Mathura, everything about You is sweet.
Alokya Mathur Mukha Madarena Sthanyam Pibantham Saraseeruhaksham Sachinmayam Devam Anantha Roopam Balam Mukundam Manasa Smarami
Meaning -I think of this Balamukundan as the one who looks lovingly at his mother's face while taking milk from her, who has eyes similar to the red lotus, who is the embodiment of truth and intelligence and other forms.
Achutham Keyshavam Rama Narayanam Krishna Damodaram Vasudevam Harim Shridharam Madhavam Gopika Vallabham Janaki Nayakam Ramachandram Bhajey
Meaning -Oh Lord who cannot be perished, who also has names like Keshava, Rama, Damodara, Narayana, Sridhara, Madhava, Krishna, Ramachandra the beloved of Janaki, let me say your name regularly.
The temple is open from 06.00 AM to 09.00 AM and from 06.00 PM to 7.30 PM.