Mananthavady Bypass Rd, Valliyoorkavu, Mananthavady, Kerala 670645, India
14 th century temple dedicated to goddess Durga, a favourite among the local tribes
Location of Valliyoorkavu
More about Valliyoorkavu
Valliyoorkavu Bhagavathy Temple, the 14th century temple dedicated to goddess Durga is located at the high hills of Valliyoorkavu, 3 KM’s from Mananthavady town in Wayanad district of Kerala. It is believed that the idol of the goddess is self-manifested. The temple is a prominent place of worship, especially for tribal communities. In here, the goddess manifests in three forms, ‘Vana Durga’ (forest goddess), ‘Jala Durga’(Water goddess) and ‘Bhadrakaali’ (Auspicious form of goddess Kali who protects the good).
The legend regarding temple's construction
According to legends, Vadakkola Nambiar the priest of Kodungallur temple once traveled through Wayanad and was resting near Kabini river. When he woke up after sleeping, the anklet and the sword of the Kodungallur goddess which he carried in his journey was missing. After searching for it around, a Paniya tribe member showed him the sword and the anklet hanging on top of a vine on a sacred fig tree. As the priest and the men prayed, the sword and the anklets fell down and a divine voice was heard saying ‘I present here is three forms. As Vana Durga, Jala Durga and Bhadrakaali. This encounter was informed to the Kottayam Raja who was camping in Wayanad and he ordered to built a temple here.
In and around the temple and its sacred groves
The temple has a Sreekovil (Sanctum sanctorum), Nadapanthal (Pathway), Thottampaatt kottil (a hut for the Kerala art form called Thottampatt), Balikkal (Sacrificial Stone), Sub-shrines, Thidappally (the place were offerings to the deity is prepared) and Pathayapura (Storage place). There are two sacred groves as well in here called Mele Kaavu (Upper sacred grove) and Keezhe Kaavu (Lower sacred grove). The groves are 100 meters away from one other.
Three poojas (worships) are held daily. Usha pooja (morning worship) at 8:30AM, Ucha pooja (noon worship) at 12PM, and Athazha pooja (evening pooja) at 8.30PM. The regular offerings of the temple are Pushpanjali, Raktha pushpanjali, Muttarukkal, Ney vilakku and Ney paayasam.
Aarattu- the annual temple festival
The major event in the temple is the annual festival called ‘Aarattu’ which is held in every March and lasts for 14 days. The festival is very important to the tribal people of Wayanad. The ritual art form called ‘Kalamezhuthu’ is performed during all nights of the festival. The last day of the festival will have a feast and variety of folk art forms will also be performed. However, in the recent years the performances started to have more modern taste and include an orchestra, dances, trade fairs etc..
Slave trade during the festival in olden days
In olden times, slaves were exchanged by masters during this festival. It was one of the major events of the festival. Most of these slaves belonged to different tribes in Wayanad and neighbouring areas. As times have changed this is no longer part of the festival.
Today, the festival is the chief annual event of the diverse tribal population. It is now also celebrated by the locals in Wayanad irrespective of caste or religion. For tribal communities who primarily work in farms , the festival marks the end of the previous one year contract of labor and the beginning of a new one. While they were bound to one master in the past, today the tribes have a choice and can negotiate with potential employers.
Major events during the festival
The arrival of holy sword of the goddess from the nearby Palliyara Bhagavathy Temple in Pandikadavu marks the beginning of the festival. Unlike other temples, ‘Kodiyettu’, the hoisting of the flag is performed only on the seventh day of the festival.
One of the important rituals during the festival is ‘Oppana varavu’, a procession from the Cheramkode Bhagavathy temple at Kallody to the Valliyoorkavu Bhagavathy temple. The procession comes with tender coconuts for ‘Abishekam’(Ablution) marks the ‘Arattu’(bathing the deity) of the goddess.
How to get to Valliyoorkavu Bhagavathy Temple
Valliyoorkavu Bhagavathi Temple is 24 KM away from Kalpetta, 31 KM away from Sulthan Bathery and 3 KM away from Mananthavady. It is 72 km away from Kozhikode where the nearest major railway station is located.