Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
FestivalsVaikom Ashtami
Governing bodyTravancore Devaswom Board
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple
Location within Kerala
Geographic coordinates9°46′0″N 76°24′0″E / 9.76667°N 76.40000°E / 9.76667; 76.40000Coordinates: 9°46′0″N 76°24′0″E / 9.76667°N 76.40000°E / 9.76667; 76.40000
TypeTraditional Kerala style

The Vaikom Mahadeva Temple is a temple for the Hindu god Shiva in Vaikom, Kerala, India. The temple, along with Ettumanoor Siva Temple, Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple is considered a powerful trisome. The belief is that if a devotee worships at these three temples before 'Ucha pooja', all the wishes are fulfilled.

The Vaikom Mahadeva temple is one of the few temples which is held in reverence by both Shaivaites and the Vaishnavaites. Vaikom's Shiva is fondly called Vaikkathappan. The Shiva Linga here is believed to be from the Treta Yuga and considered one of the oldest temples in Kerala where pooja has not been broken since inception.

A sculpture in the temple
A sculpture in the temple

The temple is one of the major Shiva temples in Kerala counted along with the Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple, Kaduthruthy Mahadeva Temple, Vazhappally Maha Siva Temple, Chengannur Mahadeva Temple, Ernakulam Shiva Temple, Vadakkunathan temple and Thirunakkara Sree Mahadevar Temple.[1]

Pre-Colonial history

Kharasura on receiving the Shaiva Vidya Upadesh from Malyavan went to Chidambaram, and did severe penance and Tapasya for the attainment of Moksha. Pleased with his penance Lord Siva granted all the boons he asked, and presented him with three great Siva Lingas drawn out of Him. Assuring that He will ever be present in them, Lord Siva disappeared, asking Khara to worship the Lingas to attain Moksha. When Khara was returning south from Himalayas with the three Lingas, one in his right hand, one in left hand and other by the neck, he felt tired and rested awhile. After rest when he tried to pick up the lingas, they wouldn't budge. He realized that it was Shiva's maya and when called unto, the heavens spoke thus, "I shall remain here giving Moksha to whom so ever * take refuge in Me". Khara having attained Moksha entrusted the holy Lingas to the custody of Maharshi Vyaghrapada who had followed him invisibly and asked the sage to protect and worship them.

Myths & Beliefs

The holy banyan tree inside the temple
The holy banyan tree inside the temple

On a *Vritchika - Krishna paksha – Ashtami day (According to Malayalam Era), the Lord of Lords and God of Gods - Siva the Paremeswara appeared to the Maharshi with his consort Parvati - the Jagat Janani. The Lord proclaimed, "This place shall be known as Vyaghrapadapurma", and disappeared. The world-famous Vaikkathashtami and all connected holy festivals are observed here even to this day on the same Vrichika – Krishna*- Ashtami.

Pratishta of Kochalumchuvadu Bhagavathy
Pratishta of Kochalumchuvadu Bhagavathy

Vyaghrapada Maharshi continued the Pooja in most esteem and devotion for some time and went on pilgrimage. Months and years passed. Sri Parasurama – the Chiramjeevi was going by the sky one day. Seeing good omens alighted here and saw a Holy Siva Linga emerged in water emitting heavenly rays. He could understand that it was the Siva Linga placed by Khara. Sri Parasurama thought himself that, the holiest and noblest Siva Chaitanya could be a great refuge for the devoted who wish to attain Moksha. He consecrated the auspicious Linga here with His earnest Prayers and recitation of Siva Mantras.

The most benign Lord Siva at once appeared with his consort Parvati Devi before Parasurama. He was so pleased that the Linga was consecrated with the Mantras by Parasurama – an avatar of Vishnu, his greatest devotee.

Full of joy and gratitude Parasurama performed Siva Linga pooja there for some days. Then he himself built a temple here and entrusted a noble Brahmin of Taruna village whom he taught Pooja Mantras. The Brahmin had learned all the 28 Sivagama and wore rudraksha and bhasma. Parasurama donated the whole temple with Linga to Brahmins and disappeared. It is the belief that the temple and all rites and customs are planned and fixed by Parasurama himself.

It is believed that the ‘Vyaghralayesha’ Siva gives His Blessings to the Devotees in three Bhavas or forms in the morning, noon, and evening in this Holy Temple. As Dhakshinamoorthy in the morning time, Kirathamoorthi in the noon time & Shakti Panchakshari in the evening.

The closed door

The Vaikom Temple was in the ownership of one hundred and eight families in olden days. The owners were divided into two groups and one group joined the ruler's side. Their disputes and quarrels increased day by day. One day a section of the divided group came to the temple at noon. The chief among them a certain Njallal Namboothiri was prepared to stop the pooja in the noon. At that time the Nivedya was used to be placed in the western side of the Namaskara Mandapa. There was an entrance in the western courtyard. The Njallal Namboothiri after keeping his apron (Randam Mundu) above the western door came near the Nivedyas and spat the remains of his betel chewing on the Nivedya. So the pooja was disrupted. On return, while he was taking his apron from the door top it is stated that a highly poisonous snake bit him to death. He crawled himself outside the west and died. The Western door of the temple courtyard automatically closed itself then and a voice was heard from inside the Sreekovil thus "This door should not be opened any more". The door remains closed to this day to show the wrath of the Great Lord against the disruption of His poojas


Mural paintings in the Sreekovil of temple
Mural paintings in the Sreekovil of temple

One of the biggest temples in Kerala, the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple has a courtyard of about eight acres of land. The premises levelled with river sand is protected by compound walls with four Gopuras or towers on all the four sides. Even though temples are generally constructed near perfect East-West direction (e.g., Ettumanoor and Kaduthuruthy temples), Vaikom temple shows a tilt of five degrees in the north-south direction.[2] The Sreekovil is apparently round in shape roofed with copper sheets and with two chambers. In fact, this is the only temple in Kerala with an oval shaped Sreekovil, though externally it appears like a circular temple. This oval shape is evident when the width of antharaala is measured. Only Silpis with exceptional skill can execute such marvellous architectural structures. The remnants of the basement of Kooththambalam at the Sree Mahadeva temple, Chengannur also reveal that it was elliptical in shape. It is believed that both these structures were built by Perumthachchan.[3] [4] The Mukha Mandapa - the first chamber is built in shaped stone and single piece woods. The walls and pillars are very strong. The Garbha Griha(Sanctum Santorium) – the second chamber is built completely in stone including the roof in a square shape. It is a very curious and peculiar fact that we are unable to obtain the Darsana of the Supreme Saiva Chaitanya from this Sreekovil without passing through a 'six steps' either from the Gopura or the Nada. It may be reminding us the Shad (six) vikaras (emotions) such as Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Madha and Mathsarya or the thantrik chakras as per the thanthrik Kalpana. This is well depicted in the famous Malayalam kriti, Naranayingane Janichu Bhoomiyil, written about the deity of this temple.

Vaikom Ashtami

Procession of Perumthrikkovilappan in the Vaikom Ashtami
Procession of Perumthrikkovilappan in the Vaikom Ashtami

The Vaikom temple is famous for the Vaikom Ashtami (Vaikathashtami), one of its main festivals, which is held in November–December. The exact date of the festival is determined by the Malayalam calendar.[5]

Vaikathashtami is celebrated on the day of Krishna Ashtami in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam. The legend behind this festival is that years ago a saint man named Vyaghrapada prayed to God siva for years after many years God siva and his wife Parvathy Devi appeared in front of him. It is believed that god Siva appeared in front of him in the day of Krishna Ashtami in the early morning. So as a memory of this Vaikathashtami is celebrated. It is the festival extending for 12 days. 12th day is Vaikathashtami.

One of 108 shiva temples. Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, which is in Kottayam district Kerala
One of 108 shiva temples. Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, which is in Kottayam district Kerala

Picture gallery


  1. ^ "Kerala Siva Temples". Hinduism Today. 31 July 1997. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
  2. ^ "Vaikom". Vaikom. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  3. ^ Jayashanker, S (1997). Temples of Kerala. Directorate of Census Operations, Kerala. p. 54.
  4. ^ "HINDU TEMPLES in KERALA | Wooden Architecture in India, ch. 6". Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  5. ^ "സർവദുഃഖവുമെരിച്ചു കളയും വൈക്കത്തഷ്ടമി ദർശനം". ManoramaOnline. Retrieved 28 November 2018.