Moolamattam: With the pilgrimage season to Sabarimala in full swing, another temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is basking in its reflected glory.
The Arakkulam Temple is as old as the Sabarimala shrine. Legend has it that the first priest at Sabarimala was a native of Arakkulam, who is said to have walked the distance from Arakkulam to Sabarimala daily through a short cut in the jungle.
The pious man went into a depression as he aged. He was worried that he could not go to the hill shrine daily and worship Lord Ayyappa as he used to. Lord Ayyappa appeared in his dream and allowed his devotee to construct a temple for him at Arakkulam.
The priest, however, forgot all about the dream and set out on his daily commute the next day. He lost his way and reached the spot where the present temple at Arakkulam is located. The King of Pandalam came to know about the events and offered to build a temple at the spot. Arakkulam Panicker was named as the king's representative to look after the work related to the building of the temple.
This legend is recorded in the famed 'Aithihyamala'.
The place was named Arakkulam because it housed an 'Ara', or an armoury where the king stored his weapons.
Arakkulam has a pride of place in the folklore related to the Lord Ayyappa since those days. The temple's festival follows that of the Sabarimala temple. The Arakkulam Temple also organises special rituals and prayers during the Mandala season at Sabarimala. The temple also allows pilgrims to rest en route to the hill shrine.