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Last Updated Tuesday January 17 2017 11:44 PM IST

This is the only time of the year when you can worship at Akkare Kottiyoor

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This is the only time of the year when you can worship at Akkare Kottiyoor The Akkare Kottiyoor temple before the festival begins. Photo: Onmanorama

Kottiyoor is tucked away in the tranquil depths of the Western Ghats foothills. The green hills just beyond the town is part of the Kottiyoor Wild Life Sanctuary which shares borders with Wayanad and Aralam Wild Life Sanctuaries. The Bavali (Vavali) flows through the town; it is on either side of this river that the two famous temples dedicated to Lord Siva stand.

This is the only time of the year when you can worship at Akkare Kottiyoor The Ikkare Kottiyoor or the Vadakkeshwaram temple on a crowded day. Photo: Onmanorama

The temple closer to town is the Vadakkeshwaram Temple; the locals prefer to call it Ikkare Kottiyoor; Ikkare in Malayalam means this side. It is open most of the year and is a traditional structure. And yes, there is a temple on the far side of the Bavali too. It is called Akkare Kottiyoor, or the Kizhakkeshwaram temple and it is unique in many ways. The Vyshakha utsavam or the festival in the month of May/June is the only time when this temple remains open.

This is the only time of the year when you can worship at Akkare Kottiyoor The Akkarae Kottiyoor temple during the festive season. Photo: Onmanorama

The Akkare Kottiyoor temple is just a platform of stones. The Shiva ling here is supposed to be 'swayambhu.'And is deserted for most of the year. But in the 30 odd days, it is open, it becomes a stage of activity.

The temple is very sacred; myths say that this is where the famous 'Dakshayaga' (“Daksha's Sacrifice”) took place, where the God established Himself without human agency (“Swayambhu”) - a place sacred because legends declare that the mother goddess and the holy trinity gathered here. A place of violence –here Goddess Sati immolated herself when her father, Prajapati Daksha, did not give her husband due respect. And where Daksha was beheaded; where Lord Shiva's vanguard consisting of Veerabhadra and Bhadrakali wrecked havoc. And also a place of reconciliation and resurrection, where Shiva, appeased by other gods agreed to revive Daksha back; albeit outfitted with a goat's head.

This is the only time of the year when you can worship at Akkare Kottiyoor Muthappan Varavu, or the arrival of the Muthappan. Photo: Onmanorama

This is the story that is re-enacted at Akkare Kottiyoor during the festival. So hoary that it traces back to the beginnings of the Hindu Universe. So important that it links with the entire cultural history of the region. The land where the temple is situated belongs to the folk deity Muthappan, whose representative officially grants permission for the site to be occupied. He belongs to a non- Brahmin caste and it is he who performs the first 'abhisheka' – ablution to the deity. The rituals are then handed over to a Brahmin priest and the Nair family who has the right to the temple. The festivities begin with the traditional sword being brought from the Muthirerikavu in Wayanad. This, according to the legend is the same sword which was used by Veerabhadra to behead Daksha.

This is the only time of the year when you can worship at Akkare Kottiyoor A vendor selling 'Odappoo' to a devotee. Photo: Onmanorama

Trivia: The Odappoo, which is sold near the temple is not really a flower, but bamboo shoots beaten up.

Getting there

There are frequent buses to Kottiyoor from Thalassery and Kannur. The nearest railway station is Thalassery which is about 60kms away. The nearest airport is Karipur International airport, which is 160 kms away.

When 20 May to June 16

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