A well-known Lord Shiva temple in Central Kerala; more popular by the Parvati or Bhagavati Shrine of the temple. The temple is on the banks of river Pampa.
Many legends on the origin. Most popular one is related to Dakshayaga. When she got insulted during the yagna of Daksha, Goddess Sati self-immolated on the sacrificial fire. Knowing this, Lord Shiva did furious Nritya (dance) with the dead body of Sati. The force of that dance was furious; the earth began to get shaken. So Lord Vishnu crushed the body of Sati into many pieces which fell on different parts of the earth. Belief is that Goddess yoni (or vagina) fell at Chengannur.
The peculiarity of the temple is that the Goddess Parvati goes through her menstrual cycle, the shrine of the Goddess remains closed during that period. The Nadathurappu (opening of the temple door) festival thereafter is attended by many.
Another interesting legend tells us that at the divine marriage of Lord Shiva with Parvati, a huge number of invitees gathered at Mount Kailas (the abode of Lord Shiva). The earth began to nose dive towards south due to the weight of Kailas. To prevent this, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma asked the Sage Agasthya to go to Shonadri, on the banks of river Pampa in South India, to balance the weight with his spiritual power.
Initially Agasthya was hesitated, as he too wants to participate in the divine marriage. Lord Shiva consoled him that after the marriage, he along with Parvati shall come to Shonadri to meet him. Accordingly, after marriage Lord Shiva and Parvati came to meet sage Agastya at Shonadri. Devi could not return to Kailas as she went into her menstrual period at Shonadri.
The Shonadri (Red hill in English), where Agastya meditated, is the present day Chengannur. Chenkunnu (Shonadri) in Malayalam means red hill and the ‘urru’ means place. So the place became Chengannur.
The famous Tamil Epic Chilapatikaram also refers this temple as one of the abode of Kannaki.
The main deity is Lord Shiva facing east and the shrine of Devi is on the west side of the same sanctum sanctorum. The original linga of Shiva is covered by a Ardhanarishwar (Shiva – Shakti) image.
The huge circular sanctum sanctorum is a specimen of Kerala Hindu temple architecture. The famous Koothambalam or the dance hall of this temple is built by Perumthachan the celebrated Sthapati of Kerala. The hall is said to have no shadows even when lit in night.
Chengannur is about 40 kilometers from Kottayam. Chengannur is the nearest rail-head.