The Mahadeva Temple by the western bank of the holy river Pamba at Chengannur in Alappuzha district is famous all over the world owing to the unique ritual here of celebrating the menstruation festival of the associate deity- goddess Parvati (Bhagavathi). In a place where menstruating women are banished from temples for seven days, such a ritual has an added significance. Thousands throng the temple during this festival known as 'Thripputhu Aaraatt' and seek the blessings from the goddess. It is believed that if you pray in earnest during this festival, all your desires will be fulfilled. During the festivities, 'Haridra Pushpanjali', a kind of floral offering over 12 days, believed to be the favourite of the Goddess is made by the devotees to propitiate her.
In this temple, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati take the form of the half male-half female ‘Ardhanaareeswara’. There are various legends associated with the construction and commissioning of this temple. Some legends say that the temple is one of the 108 shrines commissioned by Parasurama. Some other legend has it that the temple was conceived and constructed by ‘Perumthachan’ at the command of his overlords. The temple was once destroyed by fire and later, the Travancore Royals rebuilt it enlisting the services of the expert masons and carpenters from Thanjavur. The three-tier façade is in traditional Kerala architectural style. The sanctum of the ancient temple, which survived the fire is now a part of the new structure.
The festival begins at the start of the menstrual cycle of the Goddess. The sanctum is closed thereafter for three days. On the fourth day, the deity is carried ceremoniously to the river for ablution. After the ritual, the deity is carried on the back of a female elephant. At this point the idol of Lord Shiva is also brought in a procession with the accompaniment of the devotees and the articles associated with the ritual.
Another famous ritual here is the 28 day-long festival starting on the ‘Thiruvathira’ day of the month of ‘Dhanu’ and ending on the same day in the month of ‘Makram’. During this time, the sanctum is opened for the devotees between 3:30am till 11:30am. It is opened again between 3pm and 8pm.
There are 6 famous temples including the Sree Vallabha Temple at Thiruvalla in the vicinity of the Chengannur Mahadeva Temple. The famous Aranmula Parthasarathi temple dedicated to Lord Krishna too is not very far from here. Sabarimala is within 50km range from Chengannur. Kuttanad which has found itself in the world tourism maps is not too far away either.
Aranmula also houses the ‘Vijnaana Kalavedi’, which gives training in martial arts and various forms of classical dance and music. The Syrian Church nearby has a 33.5 feet tall monolithic Cross and statuettes and carvings in stone and wood.
A visit to Chengannur Mahadeva temple can be quite exciting from a tourism point of view with so many varieties of attractions in close proximity.
The temple is about a kilometre and half from the Chengannur Railway Station while the Bus Stand is just half a kilometre away.