The Ettumaanur Mahadevar temple is one
of the most celebrated Shiva temples in Kerala, and is on the Ernakulam Tiruvanandapuram railroad south of Kottayam.
Legend has it that Khara
(of the Khara Dhooshana demon duo) of Ramayana worshipped Shiva at Chidambaram and
obtained from him three Shivalingams and journeyed holding one
shivalingam on each hand and one in his mouth. He sojourned at Vaikom,
and set the shivalingam on the ground and to his dismay realized that it had gotten rooted
to the ground. Kharan therefore installed the other two shivalingams at Ettumanur
and Kaduthuruthy. It is believed that visiting these triad of
temples in a single day is of great significance.
Legend also has it that Khara
installed an image of Krishna in the north western corner of this temple.
There are several other legends
associated with this shrine. Legend has it that Shiva created a deer and
set it to play in an island; when Parasurama reclaimed land from the sea,
this island is said to have become part of what is Kerala now. The isle of the deer is
referred to as Harinadweepa. The malayalam word for deer is Maan, and
hence this place came to be known as Maanoor.
Legend has it that
this is a very ancient shrine and that it was in wilderness thanks to a curse of
Lomaharsha rishi, a disciple of Vyasa, and that worshipped was restored here by Vilwamangala
swamy who is associated with several other temples in Kerala. Inscriptions testify to
renovations that were carried out in the 16th century CE here.
The temple: The
west facing temple here has a circular sanctum covered with a conical copper plated roof
crowned with a kalsam. The mukhamandapam in front of the temple bears two images of Nandi,
one of stone and another of metal. Although there is no shrine to Parvati,
the rear of the sanctum is revered as Parvati's shrine.
A rectangular circumambulatory passage
surrounds the sanctum. The sanctum bears wood carvings of superior workmanship portraying
legends from the Ramayana and the Bhagavata puranam.
Also of great workmanship are the murals
on the western entrance to the temple; mention must be made of the painting of the dance
There are also shrines to Saasta,
Ganapati and Dakshinamurthy in the temple.
A golden staff, visible from a
distance is in front of th e shrine.
At the entrance to the temple is a
large metal lamp; visitors make offerings of oil and the soot that collects from the
burning of the oil is believed to have medicinal value.
10 day long festival in the malayala month of Kumbham concluding on the Ardra
asterism is the temple's annual festival.
On the eigth day of the festival, the
processional image of the deity is taken to a specially decorated site in the north east
corner of the temple, when thousands throng to visit the shrine.
On this day, a unique treasure of the
temple (offered by the Maharaja of Travancore) - the seven and a half elephants (ezhara
pon aana) representing the eight dik paalakas or the guardians of the cardinal directions
are displayed. Seven of these golden elephants are two feet in height while the eighth is
a foot high.