Located at the distance of 17 km from Ernakulam district of Kerala, Chottanikkara Temple is one of the most famed Hindu shrines of the state. The Devi (Goddess) of the temple is well-known for healing powers related to mental illness and disorders. The avatar of Goddess Bhagwathi- Sri Rajarajeswari is the main idol of the temple. Named after Jyotiannakkara, the deity of this temple is worshipped as Goddess Saraswathi and in the afternoon she is draped in crimson and worshipped as Goddess Lakshmi. In the evening hours, she is then draped in blue color and worshipped as Goddess Durga, in the Kizhukkavu shrine which is placed in the eastern side of the temple premises.
Other deities like Lord Shiva, Ganapathi, Sri Dharma Sastha, and Upa-Devas are also worshipped in Chottanikkara Temple. It is believed that worshipping here cure all the spiritual illness of her devotees. Next to the temple, visitors can encounter a tree covered with long nails which are beat in by devotees using their foreheads only. It is believed that doing so can disable the spirit of evil residing in the patient's body and causing mental illness.
There is a great history associated with the foundation of the Chottanikkara Temple. It is believed that the land where the temple is made was a dense forest which was populated by tribals. The forest was abode to a cruel dacoit named as Kannappan. During that period the area was under his rule. One day, he brought a cow for butchering but he was unable to commit the intention of bringing it, as the cow runaway incredibly from his home and escaped into the forest. Surprisingly, he found out that his daughter was playing with the same cow which he brought for consumption.
Later when his daughter came to know about the fact, she requested him to not butcher the cow. After few days when his daughter passed away, he saw Goddess Bhagwathi in his dream saying him that she came in the form of cow to his home. Next day, he again saw Devi and Lord Vishnu in his dream, in a cowshed. After seeing those dreams, Kanappan constructed a shrine and worshipped the two deities which he dreamt. Later on, the shed was under reconstruction and repair. Thereafter, it was recovered and sanctified. In this way, the temple reconstructed again and named as Chottanikkara Temple.
Features of Chottanikkara Temple
Sprawled over an area of 6 acres in Ernakulam, Chottanikkara Temple features a three tired 'Gopuram' on the eastern side of the temple building, making one mesmerized with its antique architecture. When you step into the temple, you will amaze by seeing the 'Anakottil', which literally means shed for elephants. Moving further towards 'Kuttambalam' you'll come across a high gold covered flagstaff which looks very astonishing at noon whilst sunrays are shone from its surface. Looking at the roofs of the temple, which are fully covered with antique copper plates, is tremendous.
One who visits here should not miss the Guruthi Pooja which is performed late every evening to elicit the goddess. The annual festival Chottanikkara Makam Thozhal is the most awaited annual festival of the temple which is celebrated with great pomp and grandeur.