Vaikom Mahadeva temple alongwith 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.
Origin of the three temples
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. He realized that it was Shiva’s maya and when called unto, the heavens spoke thus, “I shall remain here giving Moksha to whom so ever take refuge in Me”. Khara having attained Moksha entrusted the holy Lingas to the custody of Maharshi Vyaghrapada who had followed him invisibly and asked the sage to protect and worship them.
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 Ettumannoor and the one by neck at Kaduthuruthy. The fact that the distance from Vaikom to Kadathuruthy and from there to Ettumanoor is more or less the same, gives credence to this legend. So the Darsana of all these three Lingas on a same day is considered as good as the Siva Darsana at Kailas – the Abode of Lord Shiva.
Vaikom Mahadeva temple
The ancient Sanskrit texts, Bhargava Purana & Sanalkumara Samhita mention this place as Vaiyaghra geham and Vaiyaghra puram. As per legends Vyaghrapada Maharshi got Siva darsana here, so it was fittingly called Vyaghrapadapuram. Later, when Tamil spread, the word Vaiyaghra got transformed as Vaikom.
The temple faces the East. The Sreekovil is round in shape roofed with copper sheets and with two chambers. The Mukha Mandapa - the first chamber is built in shaped stone and single piece woods. The Garbha Griha(Sanctum Santorium) – the second chamber is built completely in stone including the roof in a square shape. There is a Peedhom or platform of about three foot high in the middle of it. On this Peedhom the most Holy, the most famous and the most Noble Siva Linga of SHREE VAIKKATHAPPAN is consecrated. It is of about six feet high made of chaste black stone. The Linga is adorned with Chandrakala (crescent), three eyes, nose and four hands with Saiva abharanams(ornaments) in the form of ‘anky’ in pure gold. (Siva Abharanams are Parasu, Mruga, Varada and Abhaya mudras). Inside the Holy of Holies Oil and ghee lamps are only lighted together with camphor.
The three Bhavas or forms of Vyaghralayesha
It is believed that the ‘Vyaghralayesha’ Siva gives His Blessings to the Devotees in three Bhavas or forms in the morning, noon, and evening in this Holy Temple
In the morning till Pantheeradi Pooja He assumes the form of Sri. Dhakshinamoorthy – the Guru of gurus venerated by all of the Gods, Maharshis, Asuras, Yakshas, Kinnaras, and all living creatures and all worlds. He grants wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
In the noon time upto the Madhyahna Pooja He assumes the Bhava of Kiratha Moorthi who gave Pashupathastra to His noblest devotee Arjuna. Then He grants success in all endeavours and removes all obstacles – ‘Sarvakarya Jayam’ and ‘Sarva Vighnopa Santhi’, to the Bhakthas
In the evening Lord Siva or the Vaikkathappan assumes the Bhava of ‘Shakti Panchakshari’- the benign Lord of Kailas – Jagath Pitha with His consort Jagath Matha Parvathi, sons Ganapathi and Karthikeya all seated in a very happy and gracious mood. Then He grants even all worldy pleasures and all what devotees ask Him.
The most important prasada of VAIKKATHAPPAN is Bhasma –Vibhoothi or Ashes
Today Vaikom is one of the most revered Shiva shrines in South India. Though Vaikkath Asthami is the the better known festival at the temple, it celebrates many other festivals, some of them unique to the temple
Ettumanur Siva Temple
Different from the benign ‘bhava’ of Lord Shiva at Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, Lord Shiva has a fierce face at Ettumanur temple. Though fierce the Lord is easily pleasing towards devotees and splendidly showers benediction. Location wise Ettumanur is at 11 km to the southeast of Kottayam town.
The temple 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. like other temples in Kerala, 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. The murals on the western entrance to the temple are awe inspiring especially that of the painting of the dance of Shiva. There are also shrines to Saasta, Ganapati and Dakshinamurthy in the temple
Festivals: The 10 day long festival in the malayala month of Kumbham 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
Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple
The temple is situated mid-way between Vaikom and Ettumanoor. Kaduthuruthy is a small town, the northern and western parts of which are spread over by Vembanattu backwaters. During the tenth century this place was under the administration of Pandya Kings. However, it was divided into Vadakkumkoor and Thekkumkoor. Kaduthuruthy became the headquarters of Vadakkumkoor dynasty. The rulers were the supporters of Zamorins. When Marthanda Varma conquered Vadakkumkoor, he showed respect to the rulers by giving them pensions. Gradually this dynasty was declined and removed from the pages of Kerala history.
As it has been mentioned earlier, when describing the history of the Vaikom temple, Kharasura had got three idols of which the one he took in his mouth, had been placed at Kaduthuruthy, marking the origin of a temple on the top of a small hill. Now this temple comes under the Travancore Devaswom Board.
The Sivalinga of the temple faces to the east. It is the smallest of the three Sivalingas, only 3” tall. The mandapam in front of the shrine has got an array of wood carvings. The story of ‘Karthaveerarjuneeyam' has been carved and displayed here with architectural elegance. About 300 years ago most part of the temple was consumed by fire, but the mandapam, with its splendid carvings, was remained unhurt. While the fire was spreading out, the chief priest clasped the idol at his breast and cried aloud, but the flames of fire had put an end to his life. An idol of this chief priest had been erected at the northern part of the shrine in order to commemorate the event. At the southern side there stands an idol of Sree Ganapathy. Besides, Dharma Sastha, Goddess Durga had also been placed at the temple.
One Vadakkumkoor Rajah used to worship the three deities at Kaduthuruthy, Vaikom and Ettumanoor on the same day but because of his old age he could not continue it. Instead, he made arrangements at Kaduthuruthy temple for the placement of the other two deities also. As a result, Ettumanoorappan was placed at the southern gate and Vaikathappan at the north. So it is believed that the devotees will get the triple benefit by worshipping the deity at the Kaduthuruthy temple
A ceremonial 10 day festival is conducted at the temple every year.