This ancient and auspicious temple is located in the Vaikom town of Kottayam district in Kerala. The chief deity of the temple is Lord Shiva. There are also Goddess Parvaty and Lord Ganesha as the sub deities. One of the striking features of the Vaikom Maha Shiva temple is the huge flag post.

Temples of Kerala - Vaikom Maha Shiva temple
Vaikom Maha Shiva temple

Lord Shiva at the Vaikom temple is lovingly called Vaikkathappan. He is known as one who gives food in abundance. In olden days, there was a sumptuous breakfast provided at the temple every morning. Vaikom temple is also famous for it's festival known as Vaikom Ashtami It is held during the months of November - December according to the Malayalam calendar.

 Vadakkupurath Pattu - Vaikom Maha Shiva Temple  Kerala
 Vadakkupurath Pattu - Vaikom Temple Kerala
Vaikom_Vadakkupurathu_Pattu_3 By User:Sivavkm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Another interesting festival celebrated in the Vaikom temple is the "Vadakkupurath Pattu". A huge image of Goddess Durga is made using the color powders.This technique of powder drawing is known as Kalamezhuth in Malayalam.

Vaikom_Vadakkupurathu_Pattu_517 By User:Sivavkm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The legend behind the foundation of the Vaikom Maha Shiva temple goes like this. Once upon a time there was an Asura named "Khara". He did a penance and pleased Lord Shiva. Shiva gave him three Shiva Lingas (symbolic idol of Shiva) and asked him to build three temples and consecrate the idols in them. One of the idol was placed in today's Vaikom and the great Shiva temple was developed there. The "Shiva Linga" is at least 6 feet tall.

Another interesting legend about the temple is about the origin of the "Panachikkal Bhagavati" - a form of Goddess Durga. After the consecration of the temple, there was a severe problem of a Yakshi (demon - female form) attacking the devotees. It was actually a Gandarva maiden who turned into a demon after being cursed by a sage. Eventually she got the out of the curse as one of the subordinates of Lord Ganesha cut her into three parts. The temple  Panachikkal Bhagavati is located in Vaikom temple is where the head had fallen.

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