Kachankurichi Shiva Temple
This is a temple situated in Kollengode, a small town near Palakkad town of Kerala. Though this is considered as a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, more focus is given to Lord Vishnu’s temple within the temple complex.
Vishnu‘s idol in this temple is made of Jack tree wood, is about 6 feet tall and faces east. He is reclining on Anantha (the giant serpent on whose coils Maha Vishnu rests) He holds in his four hands the Conch, wheel, mace as also the lotus flower. On both his sides are His consorts, Bhoodevi and Sridevi. Since it is difficult to see his consorts directly, mirrors are placed on either sides so that the devotee can see all the three idols together. Despite the clear imagery of Vishnu and His consorts, the deity here is worshipped as Rama.
It is believed that these idols were consecrated by Sage Kasyapa. This temple has been named after this sage as “Kasaypam kurichi”, which over time become Kachankurichi. Very near the temple are two sacred rivers Ikshu and Gayathri. There is also a mountain near by called the Govinda Mountain. People believe that there is a cave in the mountain called Sitharakundam. In this cave it is believed that Lord Rama and Sita stayed for some time. There is a stone there by the side of a stream nearby, which is yellow in color. People believe that Sita used to crush and apply turmeric from this stone. Since this temple was also known as Venkata desam, the God here is also referred to as Venkatesan. Since the idol is made of wood, there is no regular Abishekam. The idol is anointed with oil once in a year. In these parts people who are not regular in their bathing habits are teasingly referred to as Kachankurichi Perumal.
It seems Sage Kasyapa did an Aswamedha sacrifice here along with Sages Athri, Agasthya and Markandeya. The Yaga kunda(the pit where the sacrifice was done) is the present day Temple tank. It is called as Yagna theertham. The waters are considered as very sacred and supposed to remove all sins. The steps abutting this temple tank goes very deep. Very near the main (north side) temple tank, there is another small tank, which is referred to as “Kuthira Kulam. (Horse tank)”. It is believed that the sages tied the horse for the Aswamedha sacrifice at this spot. In the southern side also there is a tank. It is said that a king was inflicted with leprosy due to his insulting Lord Shiva. According to the advice of Sage Agasthya, he got cured of this disease, by performing Abishekams to Lord Shiva using this water.
It is also told that during the invasion of Tippu sultan he wanted to plunder this temple. However, once he was informed about the immense power of this lord, he gave up the idea and instead gave many landed properties to this temple.
It is interesting to note that, wherever a Yaga is performed in Kerala, the soma Latha, the Karungali wood and the deer’s skin which are to be used in the Yaga are brought first to this temple, kept before Perumal (Lord Vishnu) statue and pooja performed. Then only it becomes fit to be used in the Yaga.
The arattu festival takes place in this temple in the month of Medam. The festival starts in the Hastha Nakshathram and the festival continues till the Thiruonam star.
Thaipoosam also is a gala festival at this temple. On that day, devotees go to the Govinda Mountain, bring water from a stream there. (It seems there are marks of the Conch and Vishnu Pada in the stream) and this water is used for Abhisheka of Lord Vishnu's moorthy.
During all Thiruonam days, Paal payasam is offered to the God.
The temple opens at 5 Am and remains opened till 11 Am. In between several types of worship including Seeveli and Pandheeradi Pooja are performed. It again opens at 5 Pm and remains open till 8Pm.