Most famous abode of Godess Durga in Kerala. An ancient centre of worship; believed to be consecrated by Lord Parasuram-the creator of the land of Kerala.
Legend is that a demon called Daruka troubled Devaloka frequently. The Devas prayed to Lord Shiva to find a solution. Lord Shiva created a Goddess named Kali, out of his sweat, with a mission to kill Daruka. This Goddess, Kali, is enshrined at this temple.
Another legend connects this temple with the story of Kannaki-the heroine of famous Tamil poem Chilapatikaram. The story goes like this.
The Pandya King of Madurai accused Kovilan – Kannaki’s husband, of stealing the ornaments of the queen. Kovilan pleaded innocence. But the king ordered to hang him. On the death of her husband, Kannaki-a staunch devotee of Goddess Kali became vengeful. She burnt the entire city of Madurai with her spiritual power. After cooling off herself she came to Kodungallur, and immersed herself with the already existing Goddess Kali idol of this temple.
The temple, although popular by its Bhagavathi shrine, is dedicated to Lord Shiva; just like almost all other Goddess Durga temples.
The popular Hindu temple is noted for its unique rituals and traditions. There is a folk or primitive rural touch on some of the rituals observed in this temple. In this sense, the temple shares many similarities with the Samayapuram Temple near Tiruchirapalli in Tamilanadu.
The Bharani utsav in the Malayalam month of Meenam (March-April) is the most important one. The festival is unique in many ways. It is noted for its participation of women and so called Avarnas (believed to be of low-caste people during the days of Caste system)
It should, however be noted that, the temple is open for about 27 days to lower-caste people much before the famous temple entry proclamation came into operation. The ‘Kavu theendal’ ritual of Bharani Utsav signifies the permission given to ‘Avarnas’ to enter the temple premises. During this festival hysteric devotees perform furious dance; they also worship Devi in abusive language (!!). This ritual is known as ‘’Bharanippattu’’ which can be vaguely translated as ‘’Bharani Song”.
The idol of Devi is made of wood from a jack-fruit tree. It is believed, by the side of this idol, there is a secret chamber which nobody dared to open till the date. Legend says the chamber contains, among other things, a Sriyantra (a tantric symbol) installed by Sri Sankaracharya, which is believed to be the secret behind the popularity of the temple.
The temple is also noted for its fame to cure contagious diseases (just like Samayapuram temple) like Chickenpox, Small-pox etc… There is a special shrine to Devei (called Vasurimala) for this purpose.
Besides, the vast temple complex has many shrines to various Gods and Goddesses. Of these, the Saptamata shrine, depicting seven forms of Goddess Durga, is rare, so also is the shrines to Sankaracharya and Kannaki, near the main sanctum sanctorum.
The temple is in the heart of Kodungalloor town. It is about 35 kilometers from Ernakulam.