The Bhargava Purana and the Sanalkumara Samhita mention this place, calling it a Vaiyaghra geham and Vaiyaghra puram. Legend has it that Vyaghrapada Maharshi got the darshan of Lord Shiva here. When Tamil spread, the word Vaiyaghra got transformed as Vaikom. Vaikom is one of the most revered Shiva shrines in South India. The Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is dedicated to Shiva.
About the Temple
One of the bigger temples in Kerala, the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple has a courtyard of eight acres of land. The premises levelled with river sand are protected by compound walls with four Gopuras or towers on all the four sides. The temple faces the East. Near the eastern Gopuram, there is a protected platform where a pipal tree, a mango tree and a jackfruit tree grow. This is in the place where he got a Shiva-Shakthi Darsana and Athmasashathkar or fulfilment, and this place is known as Vyaghrapada Sthana. The golden flag staff is the pride of the temple.
The Sreekovil or Main inner yard
The Sreekovil is round in shape and has a copper roof. It also has two chambers. The Mukha Mandapa - is built in shaped stone and single piece wood. The walls and pillars are very strong. The Garbha Griha(Sanctum Santorium) – the second chamber is built completely in stone including the roof in a square shape. There is a Peedhom or platform of about three foot high in the middle of it. On this Peedhom the most Holy, the most famous and the most Noble Siva Linga of Shree Vaikkathappan is consecrated. Oil and ghee lamps are only lighted together with camphor. This gives a Heavenly appearance to it. The hundreds of thousands of devotees attain fulfilment at the sight of this Holiest Linga reciting all kinds of Sivasthuthis. The bhava or forms and peace of this place cannot be described but only to be experienced. The outer walls of Sreekovil are decorated nicely with paintings of puranic stories and wooden sculptures.
Six steps and their meaning
It is a very curious and peculiar fact that we are unable to obtain the Darsana of the Supreme Saiva Chaitanya from this Sreekovil without passing through six steps either from the Gopura or the Nada. It may be reminding us the Shad (six) vikaras (emotions) such as Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Madha and Mathsarya or the thantrik chakras as per the thanthrik Kalpana. They are the Mooladhara Chakram, Swadhishtana Chakram, Manipuraka Chakram, Anahatha Chakram, Visudhi Chakram and Jnana Chakram.
In the Agni cone (south-east corner) outside the Sreekovil is the Vighneswara Prathishta on a Peedhom of stone, Maha Ganapathy in the South and Sakthy Ganapathy in the north are consecrated. The idols are in pancha loha.
Mathrusila, Vilwa tree and the Ashtadikpalakas
The Mathrusila where the Belistones of the seven divine Mathas are kept is to the south of Sreekovil. In the eastern part of the Mathrusala is the Thidapally where the Nivedya is prepared. The buildings of the temple courts are built surrounding the Sreekovil. In the vayu kone of the Sreekovil we would witness a centuries old Vilwa tree with two barks, still in a flourishing condition; it is a wonderful sight. The Ashtadikpalakas or Lords of the eight directions etc. are consecrated in the yard of the Sreekovil. Varuna - the Lord of water finds a special place in the west.
In the temple court of north we could see a very holy place called the ‘Manya Sthana’ where Vaikkathappan was seen eating Prathal dressed like a Brahmin, by Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar. A lighted Bhadradeepa is kept in this place and the beginning of Prathal or Annadana is still done from here. The Brahmins were fed here at the north side of the temple court from ancient times.
Towards the east Manya Sthana is the big kitchen where Prathal items are cooked. Lord Vaikkathappan has been seen doing work at this kitchen. The ash from the fireplace is used as the main prasada of the temple. The Brahmin Bhojan is now discontinued after the social and political changes. But the ‘Prathal’ is still in force as a great offering to the ‘Lord of Food distribution’ – ‘Annadana Prabhu’.
The closed door
The Vaikom Temple was in the ownership of one hundred and eight families in olden days. The owners were divided into two groups and one group joined the ruler’s side. Their disputes and quarrels increased day by day. One day a section of the divided group came to the temple at noon. The chief among them a certain Njallal Namboothiri was prepared to stop the pooja in the noon. At that time the Nivedya was used to be placed in the western side of the Namaskara Mandapa. There was an entrance in the western courtyard. The Njallal Namboothiri after keeping his apron (Randam Mundu) above the western door came near the Nivedyas and spat the remains of his betel chewing on the Nivedya. So the pooja was disrupted. On return, while he was taking his apron from the door top it is stated that a highly poisonous snake bit him to death. He crawled himself outside the west and died. The Western door of the temple courtyard automatically closed itself then and a voice was heard from inside the Sreekovil thus “This door should not be opened any more”. The door remains closed to this day to show the wrath of the Great Lord against the disruption of His poojas.
To the south side of the temple yard we could witness a Shakteya Sanidhya called Panachikkal Bhagavathi. The origin of it is described in legends as follows: The great sage Agasthya with many Maharshis was returning after worshipping Vaikkathappan on a Pradosha day. A Gandharva Kanyaka named Neelakundala was travelling with her parivar then. Being very proud she laughed at the Maharshis and even the Maheswara. The angry Agasthya cursed her, “Be a Rakshasi”. When she repented and asked for Shapa Moksha (redemption) the Maharshi said “After 86 years you will get Shapa Moksha (redemption) here in Vyaghrapadapuram”.
About The Deity
Vaikom’s Shiva is fondly called Vaikkathappan. The Shiva Linga here is believed to be from the ‘Treta yuga’ and considered as one of the oldest temples in Kerala where pooja has not been broken since inception. Legend has it that ‘Vyaghralayesha’ Shiva gives His Blessings to the Devotees in three Bhavas or forms in the morning, noon, and evening in this Holy Temple.
Legend and Stories
Kharasura on receiving the Shaiva Vidya Upadesh from Malyavan went to Chidambaram, and did severe penance and Tapasya for the attainment of Moksha. Pleased with his penance Lord Siva granted all the boons he asked, and presented him with three great Siva Lingas drawn out of Him. Assuring that He will ever be present in them, Lord Siva disappeared, asking Khara to worship the Lingas to attain Moksha. When Khara was returning south from Himalayas with the three Lingas, one in his right hand, one in left hand and other by the neck, he felt tired and rested awhile. After rest when he tried to pick up the lingas, they wouldn’t budge. He realized that it was Shiva’s maya and when called unto, the heavens spoke thus, “I shall remain here giving Moksha to whom so ever take refuge in Me”. Khara having attained Moksha entrusted the holy Lingas to the custody of Maharshi Vyaghrapada who had followed him invisibly and asked the sage to protect and worship them.
Belief is that the Siva Linga placed by Khara Asura by his right hand is being worshipped at Vaikom, the one in left hand at Ettumannoor and the one by neck at Kaduthuruthy even to this day.
The Linga carried by Khara with his neck is believed to be at Kadathuruthy and the one by his left hand is at Ettumanoor. The fact that the distance from Vaikom to Kadathuruthy and from there to Ettumanoor is more or less the same, gives credence to this legend. So the Darsana of all these three Lingas on a same day is considered as good as the Siva Darsana at Kailas – the Abode of the Lord.
On a Vritchika - Krishna paksha – Ashtami dahy (According to Malayalam Era), the Lord of Lords and God of Gods - Siva the Paremeswara appeared to the Maharshi with his consort Parvati - the Jagat Janani. The Lord proclaimed, “This place shall be known as Vyaghrapadapurma”, and disappeared. The world famous Vaikkathashtami and all connected holy festivals are observed here even to this day on the same Vrichika – Krishna - Ashtami.
Vyaghrapada Maharshi continued the Pooja in most esteem and devotion for some time and went on pilgrimage.Months and years passed. Sri Parasurama – the Chiramjeevi was going by the sky one day. Seeing good omens alighted here and saw a Holy Siva Linga emerged in water emitting heavenly rays. He could understand that it was the Siva Linga placed by Khara.
Sri Parasurama thought himself that, the holiest and noblest Siva Chaitanya could be a great refuge for the devoted who wish to attain Moksha. He consecrated the auspicious Linga here with His earnest Prayers and recitation of Siva Manthras.
The most benign Lord Siva at once appeared with his consort Parvati Devi before Parasurama. He was so pleased that the Linga was consecrated with the Manthras by Parasurama – the incarnation of Vishnu, his greatest devotee. The kind Lord Siva said to Parasurama, “From now onwards I shall stay here as Shaiva-Vaishnava Chaithanya granting all blisses and Moksha to all devotees”.
Full of joy and gratitude Parasurama performed Siva Linga pooja there for some days. Then he himself built a temple here and entrusted a noble Brahmin of Taruna village whom he taught Pooja Manthras. The Brahmin had learned all the 28 Sivagama and wore rudraksha and bhasma. Parasurama donated the whole temple with Linga to Brahmins and disappeared. It is the belief that the temple and all rites and customs are planned and fixed by Parasurama himself.
Ganga Prapatha Theertha
Once when Parasurama came to worship Vyaghralayesha, he discovered that the people and animals were suffering for lack of water. He invoked the Lord and told the sorrows. Asked what boon he wanted, Parasurama asked “Kindly make and grant a Theertha for the devotees who come in Kaliyuga with a lot of sins, to drink, bathe and tharpan (a cleansing ceremony to wash off the sins and appease the Gods and ancestors)”. The belief is that the Theertha has the Ganges from Shiva’s matted hair and was blessed by Devas, Kinnaras and Gandharvas. This is the pond we see in the northern side of the temple compound. It is duly called ‘Ganga Prapatha Theertha’ or Valiyachira.
Once Maharshi Nidagha from Panchal desa came to Vyaghrapada Maharshi while he was meditating Lord Shiva. He begged the Maharshi to accept him as a disciple. Vyaghrapada Maharshi taught Nidagha Shaiva Manthra Vidya and Upasana Yoga and blessed him saying that all success and Mukti could be achieved by Siva Bhajan. Nidagha was doing Sivopasana with much devotion. On an Ashtami day Vyaghrapada Maharshi and Nidagha Maharshi were worshipping Sthambha Ganesh and Siva. Pleased with their devoted strotras the Lord of Kailas appeared in North-East corner and performed Anand Thandava. At that time from His matted hair a few drops of water fell down. Siva blessed and called it ‘Sivananda Theertha’ and disappeared. Vyaghrapada Maharshi and Nidagha Maharshi took water from that and sprinkled on their bodies and drank. This Theertha in the North-eastern corner is now transformed to a well and its water is being used only for poojas in the temple.
Shankara and Mukunda, two learned young Brahmins from Kanya Kumari well versed in Shastras reached Vaikom on their way to Kashi. While enjoying the bhajan and meals of Vaikkathappan Mukunda left to Kashi without Shankara. The thought of being unable to take bath in Ganga and loneliness made Shankara very much heartbroken and soon he fell with severe fever. One day he was in deep sleep after a sincere prayer to Lord Siva – Vyaghralayesha. Then in a dream the Lord asked him to take bath in the eastern pond and assured the fulfillment of his desires. As per the Maheswara’s order, Shankara rose in early morning and took bath in the pond reciting Manthras. Shankara’s joy knew no bounds to note that he was really in the Ganga Theertha when he rose from the pond’s water.
He praised the Lord Siva even forgetting himself. At the same moment Vyaghrapada Maharshi arrived there and assured him that his friend will return after eighteen months and he may return with his friend to attain Siva Sayoojyam by adoring Stanumalaya, the Suchindra Nath. The same Theertha in the east is known as Aarthi Hara Theertha or Aarthi Vinasana Theertha. It is believed that your bath and Turpan here is as good as what is done in the Holy Ganga.
The Vaikom temple is famous for the Vaikom Ashtami (Vaikathashtami), one of its main festivals, which is held in November–December. The exact date of the festival is determined by the Malayalam calendar. Vaikathashtami is celebrated on the day of Krishna Ashtami. The legend behind this festival is that years ago a saint man named Vyaghrapada prayed to Shiva for years after many years God siva and his wife Parvathy Devi appeared in front of him. It is believed that god Siva appeared in front of him in the day of Krishna Ashtami. So as a memory of this Vaikathashtami is celebrated. It is the festival extending for 12 days. 12th day is Vaikathashtami.
Daily Ritual Timings
|5 am||Usha pooja|
|6 am||Ethirthu pooja|
|6:30 am||Usha sheeveli|
|8 am||Pantheeradi pooja|
|11 am||Ucha pooja|
|11:30am||Ucha sheeveli & closing.|
|7:30 pm||Athazha pooja|
|8 pm||Athazha sheeveli & closing.|
The most important Prasaad of Vaikom Temple is its Bhasm which is taken out from its kitchen fire place. It is believed that Shiv (Vaikkathappan) himself works there in the form of a Braahman. It is holy remedy for fear, poison, wounds and even hysteria. Innumerable devotees have testified this.
Nearby Places to Visit
1. Chottanikkara Bhagavathi Temple
2. Udayanapuram Subrahmanya Temple
3. Ettumanur Siva Temple
4. Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple
The nearest airport is Kochi International Airport. Thripunithura, Vaikom Road are the nearest railway stations. Eranakulam is the nearest city and also Kottayam.
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple,
Mahadevar Temple P.O, Vaikom, Kottayam,
Kerala, India, Pin Code – 686141.
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- To get rid of illness
- To get spiritual satisfaction
Kailaasarana Shiva Chandramouli Phaneendra Maathaa Mukutee Zalaalee Kaarunya Sindhu Bhava Dukha Haaree Thujaveena Shambho Maja Kona Taaree
Meaning -Oh Lord Shiva who is seated on Mount Kailash, where the moon decorates his forehead and the king of serpents crown his head, who is merciful and removes delusion, You alone can protect me. I surrender to thee.
Aum Trayambakam Yajaamahey Sugandhim Pusti Vardhanam Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaath Mrutyor Muksheeya Maamritaat
Meaning -We worship the fragrant Lord Shiva, who has 3 eyes and who cultivates all beings. May He free me from death, for immortality, as even a cucumber is separated from its bond with the vine.
4:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.6 p.m. to 8 p.m.Uchi kala pooja, Deeparadhana also take place with that of the morning pooja and night time aarti.