Chotanikara Bhagavathy temple is one of the famous Devi temples of central kerala situated around 30 km from Ernakulam city .
Its just around 10 km drive from where my house .
A temple with several legends and a very popular one too .
During Sabarimala season as this forms part of pilgrim circuit it is very crowded .
Bhagavathi or Devi is supposed to be in three forms here one in resplendent white dress as a fount of learning and creatitvity blessing devotees with intelligence the Godess Saraswathi in the mornings .
As crimson adorned Mahalakshmi the Godess of wealth at noon ,and
blue attired Sree Durga the Godess of power in the evening .
The temple is an example of ancient temple architecture of Vishwakarma .
It was once admidst dense forests when it was built with several tales to its origin .
One talks of a tribal devoted to the Godess who used to sacrifice an young calf as his offering every day but he loses his beloved daughter as a punishment for the sin of seperating calves from thier mother cows and regrets his actions ,while searching for his daughters corpse in the forest he comes across two divine stones one is Vishnu and other Devi .
Kanappan the tribal prays to the stones every day to forgive his sins .later after his death for years they lie in the forest forgotten till a grasscutter attempts to sharpen his knives they bleed so later a temple is built there which is Chitanikara temple .
Another story talks of Adi Sankara who in his travels pleads to mother Godess in Chamundi hills to come to kerala as there was no temple to the Godess there .
The supreme mother tells she would follow him but he should not be tempted to look back to see if she is following him .
Adi sankara agrees walks all way from Mooghambika in kodajadri hills listening to silver anklet of Godess tinkling .
At one time not hearing sound he sneaks a look back and Godess says since he broke promise she would stay there in Moogambika .
Adi sankara pleads with her to reconsider her decision ,impressed by his sincere devotion the mother tells him that she would be in kerala at dawn in white and would return back to mookambika by noon
Thats why chotanikara temple opens at early dawn a bit earlier than mookambika .
The temple on a small hillock has a gradual descent into a kali or fierce form of Godess Durga in the Keezkaavu which was supposed to have been built later when swami vilvamangalam found the idol in the temple pond .
The keezkaavu is associated with cure of mental illnesses and many devotees who believe in this stay here for days to pray as penance .
The trees inside have strands of thier hair nailed on them as a belief that thier sickness is nailed to tree .
Faith and belief may have strong placebo effects these are medically proven too .
One of the most famous days here is the magam thozhal when the Godess is given a ritualistic bath in temple pond later taken in seven caprisoned elephants into poora parambhu with Sastha as escort where she stays till 11 am .
At 2 pm she is dressed in her best with jewelery ,arms ,sanghu puspham ,and gives a befitting visual spectactle blessing those able to see her form into eternal bliss .