By Grace of the Lord Ayyappa, we received Darshan of the Lord Ayyappa for the 3rd Consecutive year. We were fortunate to see the Neyyabhisheka Ayyappa in all the three times. It was truly a mission accomplished feeling due to the huge rush and crowd. We also visited different temple on our way to Sabarimala. Here is a brief description of the journey and some of the information that can help if you’re planning to take a trip to Kerala.
Dec 18th (Thursday) – We managed to get the Tatkal ticket on Ernakulam Super-Fast from Bangalore City to Thrissur. I boarded the train from Bangalore city and my other teammates joined from KR Puram (Jaya Krishna, Ram Sagar, Sathish Ranjan & Suresh MS). We had some good homely Chapathis & Iddlies that our family had packed for us. We dispersed quickly for getting the night’s sleep.
Dec 19th (Friday) -4.00 AM in the morning our train reached Thrissur. Sathish had already made arrangement for a taxi for our pickup, and by 4.40 we reached to our first destination Guruvayur (27 Kms from Thrissur to Guruvayur). Here onwards it was Sathish’s direction, arrangements and planning that helped us to cover most of the temple within the short time frame that we had. Sathish arrangement at Guruvayur included a room at Panchajanyam for our refreshment and an unforgettable Darshan of Lord Guruvayurappan. We could manage get a good darshan without getting into to the queues.
7.45 AM we checked out from Panchajanyam and visited Mammiyur Mahadeva temple (2kms). It is been told that to reap the full benefit of worshipping Lord Guruvayurappan, the devotee should also visit Maamiyur and worship Lord Mahadeva. The main deity is Lord Shiva and is in rowdra bhava. Later, an idol of Lord Vishnu was also installed to reduce the anger of Lord Shiva. Here, the Lord is a family man, with Goddess Parvati on his lap, and Lords Ganesha, Subrahmanya and Ayyappa beside. Nagas, Bhadrakali and Brahmarakshass are also installed in the temple.
8.00 AM 1Km from Mammiyur is the Punnathur Kotta Guruvayur Elephant camp. Here the timing is from 9 to 5 and as we had no time to waste we had to skip this.
9: 45 AM: Our next stop was at Triprayar Sri Rama Temple which is 24Kms from Guruvayur on the NH17 (via Chavakkad road). The temple is situated on the bank of river Theevra. It is been told that the idol of Lord Rama was initially worshipped by Lord Krishna at Dwaraka. After the swargarohana of Lord Krishna the idol was immnesed in the sea. Later some fisher men got the idol from the sea near Chettuva region of Kerala and the local ruler Vakkayil Kaimal constructed a temple at Triprayar and installed the idol. The image of Rama (Triprayar Thevar) resembles the Chaturbhuja Vishnu form with four arms, bearing a conch (Panchajanyam), a disc (Sudarsana), a bow (Kodanda) and a garland respectively. Another peculiar thing to be noted is that there is no separate idol for Rama’s best devotee Hanuman, it is believed that his presence is always there at the Namaskara mandapam (in front of the Sreekovil) of the temple. Devotees generally bow before the mandapa imagining the presence of Hanuman there before worshipping Sree Rama.
Another interesting offering at this temple is Meenutte (Food for Fish). By paying 10 Rs you will get a small bowl full of raw rice which can be offered to Fish in the nearby river.
10:30 AM: Our next destination was Kodungalur which is 26 Kms from Triprayar and is on the same NH17 road. Here the idol is of Goddess Bhagavathi famously known as Kurumba Bhagavati Temple (alternatively Kodungallur Bhagavati Temple). There are lot of stories attributed to this temple and can be found in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodungallur_Bhagavathy_Temple.
12.15 PM: We reached Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple which is 45 Kms from Kodungalur on the same NH17 Road. 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. This temple too has lot of divine stories related to itself and is well captured in this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chottanikkara_Temple.
1.20 PM : Our next destination was Vaikkom Shiva temple 22 Kms from Chottanikkara situated in the Ettumanoor – Ernakulam Road. By the time we reached the temple was closed but we managed to get the Prasadam in the form of lunch. Again the perfect timings of Sathish helped us. The Vaikom Mahadeva temple is one of the few temples which is held in reverence by both Shaivaites and the Vaishnavaites. 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. The Vaikom temple, along with Ettumanoor Siva Temple, Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple is considered a powerful trisome. The belief is that if a devotee worships at these three temples before ‘Ucha pooja’, all the wishes are fulfilled. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaikom_Temple. We took some rest here and then left to our next destination
2.45 PM: Kadathuruty is situated on the same Ettumanoor Ernakulam road and is 13 kms from Vaikom. The temple was closed and was to open at 5 in the evening for Darshan. There was a pond nearby where we all took bath and prayed in the temple. . It is believed that the consecration at Vaikom was done at the same time and there is also a replica of the Ettumanoor Shiva Idol in the temple. According to legend, the shivling (symbolic representation of the deity) was installed here by a demon named ‘Khara’. 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. 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 Ettumanoor and the one by neck at Kaduthuruthy even to this day.
4.30 PM: We reached Ettumanoor Shiva temple (17 Kms from Kadathuruty) and here waited for the temple to open and have Darshan. Myths have it that the Pandavas and the sage Vyasa had worshipped at this temple. We had some snacks outside the temple premises and then we left for Kottayam Thirunakkara Temple where we always have our Kettunira Done..
6.00 PM: We reached Thirunakkara Shiva Temple at Kottayam. Here we bid farewell to our taxi.
The total distance covered was 205 Kms and the the taxi fare (Mahindra Verito) for this trip was around 4350. The route is given below.