The Chottanikara Bhagavathy Amman temple in Ernakulam is one of the most famous Bhagavathy temples in all of Kerala. This temple is governed by the Cochin Devaswom board. The presiding deity in the temple is Godess Rajeshwari also known as Ammenarayana, Lakshminarayana, Devinarayana and Badrenarayana. This is because the idol of Lord Narayana is placed on the same dais as that of the Bhagavathy.
A legend that is associated with the Chottanikkara temple is that of Sri Sankaracharya who advocated the Advaitha philosophy. Sri Sankaracharya wished to bring Goddess Saraswathi to Kerala so as to begin a penance. The goddess agreed on the condition that she would follow Sankaracharya but the saint was never to turn back to see if she followed him. The goddess also warned him that she would stop at the spot and would not continue further. Sankaracharya and goddess Saraswathi began their journey and traveled for many days with the goddess’s anklets acting as a signal for Sankaracharya. On one particular morning the sound of the anklets stopped and the shocked Sankaracharya turned back. The Moogambika temple in Kollur thus came into being. However, seeing the distress in Sankaracharya, goddess Saraswati promised to grant her darshan in Chottanikara during the early morning hours.
In this temple, the goddess is worshiped in three ways. Bhagavathy decked in pure white is worshiped as Saraswathy in the morning, attired in red as Lakshmi in the afternoon and in resplendent blue as Durga in the evening. The original idol of the goddess in the sanctum sanctorum is a swayamboo or a self born idol also known as the “Rudraksha Sila”. This grand vision can only be seen during the Nirmalya darsan in the wee hours of morning.
It is interesting to note that the Devi blesses her devotees with left hand instead of the right. This symbolises the destruction of our sins.
Legend has it that a local tribesman named Kannapan, an ardent devotee of Kali, used to sacrifice a cow everyday to appease Kali. One day, his daughter forbids him to sacrifice a cow, and Kannapan out of love for his daughter obliged to do so. However, his daughter died the very next day. When the tribesman went looking for the calf, they found two stones in place of the calf. Many years later, these neglected stones were found by a woodcutter who tried to sharpen his axe on a stone. On doing so, he found the stone bleeding. On further investigation, it was concluded that the stones were divine and a temple was built in its place.
In addition to Devi Rajeshwari, other deities include Sastha, Ganapati, Siva, and the Nagas.
According to faith and beliefs it is noted that The Kizhakuve temple must be visited after the Chottanikkara temple. The chief priest of the Chottanikkara temple conducts “ValiyaGuruthy” also known as the great sacrifice. This pooja is considered auspicious to viewed by women and it also cures women from mental illness.
An ancient Pala tree hammered with nails is found in the temple premises where the haunted souls hammer iron nails with their forehead.
The festivals in Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Amman temple include Makom Thozhal, Chingam , Kanni, Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Vrishchikam, Kumbam , Medam, Karkitakam, and Navarathri aghosham. Among these, the most popular is the Makom Thozal in the month of Kumbham, where the Devi in her full glory is believed to have given vision to Swami Vilwamangalam Swamiyar. Each year the goddess is believed to provide her darshan to ardent devotees.
Unmarried women who seek marriage, married women who seek happiness and long life for their husbands, and childless women who pray here with utmost devotion will receive what they yearn for with the blessings of Devi. Vedivazhipadu, flower offerings and offering of red silk cloth are the offerings done in the temple.
The temple is open from four in the morning until twelve noon and from four in the evening until nine in the night. On Fridays, the temple is open from three thirty in the morning until twelve noon.