It is believed, that when Parasurama threw his axe in an arc across the seas and created Kerala, he also cleaved the great Western Ghats with the same axe, dividing and sweeping them from left to right into two ranges – ‘Thenmala’ and ‘Vademala’. Geographically known as the Palakkad Gap, this place in the ancient legends has been referred to as ‘Vidharanabhoomi’ (the land that was split asunder).
Long, long ago, attracted by the serenity and breath-taking beauty of the hills and forests of these high ranges, Sage Kashyapa chose to meditate here, at the hill of Govindamala. Kashyapa was an ardent devotee of Vishnu, and as a result of his penance, the Lord is said to have appeared before him. Kashyapa’s desire was that Narayana would remain with him always, in the calm and idyllic surroundings of this land. Legend has it that the Lord chose to do so. The deity of Mahavishnu is said to have been consecrated by Sage Kashyapa himself.
Through association with Kashyapa this temple become known as ‘Kachamkurissi’ – as derived from ‘Kashyapan-Kurissi’ – ‘the Hill of Kashyapa’. At the steep and precipitous hillock of Govindamala, where Kashyapa did penance, a mountain spring magically bubbles up with force and vigour when pilgrims chant ‘Govinda! Govinda!’
It was to this place of worship that Dharma Varman, a prince, from what is now central Kerala, came in search of a cure for a debilitating ailment. It is said that the dying Dharma Varman after undergoing many days of ritual penance at this temple, returned to his kingdom, completely cured. In the legends of this region, Dharma Varman’s story has both the easy rhythm of a ballad, and the complex richness of tapestry. Woven in its warp is the intense and burning faith of a prince whose life could so easily have ended in tragedy. Entwined in its weft, is the compassionate and welcoming hand of Maha Vishnu Perumal of Thiru-Kachamkurissi.
This then, is the true miracle of Thiru-Kachamkurissi – a regenerative power that those who come in faith profess to feel on submitting to this all-forgiving deity, the turbulence of their minds. More often than not, they have returned, renewed and revived, their burning sorrows inexplicably assuaged by some strange balm, cool and comforting as a moonbeam.
About the Kachankurichi Temple
This is a temple situated in Kollengode, a small town near Palakkad town of Kerala. Though this is considered as a temple of Lord Shiva, more importance is given to Lord Vishnu’s temple within the temple complex.
The Vishnu deity is made of Jackfruit tree wood and is about 6 feet tall and faces the east. He is sitting on Anantha (Snake) and holds in his hand Conch, wheel, and mace and lotus flower. On both his side are his consorts, Bhoodevi and Sridevi. Since it is difficult to see his consorts, mirrors are kept on both sides so that the devotee can see all the three statues together. But in spite of this the God is worshipped as Rama.
It is believed that these idols were consecrated by Sage Kasyapa. This temple has been named after this sage as “Kasaypam kurichi”, which over decades has become Kachankurichi. Very near the temple are two sacred rivers Ikshu and Gayathri. There is also a mountain near by called the Govinda Mountain. People believe there is a cave in the mountain called Sitharakundam. In this cave it is believed that Lord Rama and Sita stayed for some time. There is a stone there by the side of a stream nearby, which is yellow. People believe that Sita used to apply turmeric from this stone.. Since this temple was also known as Venkata desam and the God here is also referred to as Venkatesan. Since the idol is made of wood, there is no regular Abishekam. The idol is anointed with oil once in a year. In these parts people who are not regular in their bathing habits are teasingly referred as Kachankurichi Perumal.
It seems Sage Kasyapa did an Aswamedha sacrifice here along with Sages Athri, Agasthya and Markandeya. The Yaga kunda (the pit where the sacrifice is done) is the present day Temple tank. It is called as Yagna theertham. The waters are considered as very sacred and supposed to remove all sins. The steps to this temple tank goes very deep. Very near the main (north side) temple tank, there is another small tank, which is referred to as “Kuthira Kulam. (Horse tank)”. It is believed that the sages tied the horse of Aswamedha sacrifice at this spot. In the southern side also there is a tank. It seems a king got leprosy due to his insulting Lord Shiva. According to the advice of Sage Agasthya, he got cured of this disease, by performing Abishekams to Lord Shiva using this water.
It seems during the invasion of Tippu sultan he wanted to plunder this temple. But once he was told about the immense power of this lord, instead he gave many properties to this temple.
It is interesting to note that , wherever a Yaga is performed in Kerala, The soma Latha, the Karungali wood and the deer’s skin which are to be used in the Yaga are brought first to this temple, kept before Perumal (Lord Vishnu) statue and pooja performed. Then only it becomes fit to be used in the Yaga.
Inside this temple there are temples for Ayyappa, Lord Shiva and Lord Naga Subrahamanya. Outside the temple is a Naga Prathishta. The arattu festival takes place in this temple in the month of Medam. The festival starts in the Hastha Nakshathram and the festival goes up to the Thiruonam star. All amavasya days are important to this temple, especially The Deepavali amavasya.
Thaipoosam also is a gala festival at this temple. On that day, devotees go to the Govinda Mountain, bring water from a stream there. (It seems there are marks of Conch and Vishnu Pada in the stream) and use the water to do Abhisheka to Lord Vishnu. During all Thiruonam days, Paal payasam is offered to the God.
The temple opens at 5 Am and remains opened till 11 Am. In between several types of worship including Seeveli and Pandheeradi Pooja are performed. It again opens at 5 pm and remains open till 8 pm.