It is a sense of antiquity that surrounds the Yagneswara temple where history and mythology blend. A canopy of memories beneath the huge peepal tree. River Nila that runs cuddling the land of Velliyankallu. As you lend your ears, the river whispers to you the story.
The story has its roots in the central legend of Kerala, Parayi petta panthirikulam (The twelve castes born out of a Pariah woman). The first child of Vararuchi and Panchami was born on the banks of Nila. Vemancheri Brahmin family who resided nearby adopted the charming baby boy and named him Brahmadathan. The boy was extraordinary right from childhood.
Once, he went to Nila with his mother. While his mother was bathing, the little boy made an idol of Shiva on a plate with the sand from the river. When they were about to return his mother tried to take back the plate but it remained unmoved. This idol was later consecrated in Thrithala Shiva temple, one of the prominent temples of Kerala.
The boy then went to Kanchipuram to learn and meditate on Veda. It was the time of reinstating the Vedic culture in Kerala and the boy pioneered the movement. As a part of it, he organised a series of Yagas on the banks of the Nila. Seven out of thirty two Brahmin villages supported the cause. Thaliparambu, Aalathoor, Karikkadu, Panniyoor, Sukapuram, Peruvanam, and Iringalakkuda were those villages.
The Yagneswara temple
Yagneswaram is the place that staged the Somayagas of Agnihotri. It is located in the place near Thrithala velliyankal in the Palakkadu Edappal route. The Sivalinga and and idol of Vishnu which arose from the ritual fire, were consecrated here. Siva and Vishnu are the prime deities here while, Ganapathi, Dakshinamurthy, Nagaraja, and Mookkuthala Bhagawathi are the sub deities. Water from the Bharathapuzha is used for poojas in the temple. And the soil of the place is also considered holy and is used for rituals.
To the south of the temple there stands a gigantic peepal tree which was planted for the Yaga. It still stands there with all its might. It was said that the tree was as big as it could hide an elephant standing behind it. Though the years past has taken its toll on its size, but the charm still exists. The branches and roots of the peepal tree are inevitable for Somayagas.
Little Banyan (unniyaal)
There is another story that while Mahavishnu appeared in the Yaga, Lord Indra was also present there in disguise as little boy on top of a Banyan tree nearby. People asked the boy to get down but he denied. And as the Yaga got over the boy disappeared from the tree. There still stands a Banyan tree not far from the Yagneswara temple, where Lord Indra appeared. This tree looks young always and hence it is called by the name 'unniyal' or the 'little Banyan.'
People say that, the food during the Yaga was prepared on a small hill there and so it came to be called as Arikkunnu (rice hill) and it seems the rice water was drained through a channel which in turn became a river named Kanjithodu.
The Vemancheri Mana where Brahmadatha was brought up is different from other Brahmin houses. The house has the same dimension as that of the Yagasaala. Brahmadatha has fixed a gilded spike in a room in the west end. At its place now, there stands a stone lamp which is always lit. In the middle of the Mana, a coccinea is planted inside a masonry which is regarded as goddess. The house made of laterite stones is still maintained in its antiquity. The family has shifted to a nearby building so that the holiness of the house do not diminish. The prayers and rituals in the house continues even today without fail.
The story of Velliyankallu
Once there was a torrential flow in the river Kaveri which swept off the dam. As people panicked over the situation which was turning uncontrollable, a lady had a vision. She is went to the Chola king and said that the issue can be fixed if Mezhathol Agnihotri of Kerala could visit the place.
The king's men went in search of him and he came over. He understood that the calamity is a suggestive of the narrow hearted people and their cruelties. He jumped into the river and remained inside till three days and nights.
Finally, on the third day he came out of the river with three spikes in his hand made of gold, silver, and copper. By the time the river was calm. He fixed the golden spikes in his house, the silver one in the Bharathapuzha and the third one in the Kodikkunnathu Bhagawathi temple, few kilometres away from there. The spike which was fixed in the Bharathapuzha became the Velliyankallu.