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Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple – The Abode Of Ayyappa

Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple

Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple is located on the banks of the Achankovil river. It is one among the 108 Sasthalayas. It is located in the Kollam district in Kerala, India. A pilgrimage to South India will not be complete without a trip to Achankovil Sree  Dharmasastha Temple.

Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple is situated near the banks of the Achankovil river, in the Kollam district in Kerala. This temple is one of the most prominent Sasthalayas in India. Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple is also one among the famous Pancha Sastha temples. Additionally, the other four Sastha temples are Kulathupuzha, Aryankavu, Sabarimala and Kanthamala.

History of  Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple

A panoramic view of Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha temple
A panoramic view of the temple

Sastha is a Hindu deity who identifies with many deities such as Aiyanar and Ayyappa. Thus, the main deity in Achankovil Sri Dharmasastha Temple in Achankovil Kerala is Lord Ayyappa. The installation of the Sastha idol is believed to have happened many centuries before the Christian Era began. Lord Parashurama himself installed the idols in the temple. According to the legend, Lord Ayyappa appeared in front of Lord Parashurama. As a result, this temple was created.

Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple

The temple houses the idol of Lord Ayyappa with his consorts Poorna and Pushkala. It also has a number of other deities such as Malikapuratamma, Durga, Nagaraja, Nagayakshi, Ganesha and Muruga. The other deities also include Karuppaswami, Karuppayi Amma, Shingali bhootathan and Arukola. There is a kavu (a sacred natural space) located behind the temple. The kavu houses the idol of the Naga (serpent) deity. The Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple also has eighteen steps, similar to Sabarimala. Unlike the other Sastha temples, women above 10 years of age can enter the temple. They can also climb the 18 sacred steps leading to the deity.

The Deity

The main deity in the temple is Lord Ayyappa. He resides in the temple in the form of grihastha (householder). Legend has it that the idol is made of Rudraksha beads. Hence, the name of the idol is Rudraksha Sila. The idol faces the east. The temple also depicts Lord Ayyappa with his two consorts Poorna and Pushkala. The temple is also famous for curing snake bites. Thus, the other name of the deity is Mahavaidya, which means “Great Physician”. The right palm of idol has Chandanam (sandalwood) and Theertam (sacred water), known for its medicinal properties.

Festivals Celebrated in the Temple

The Thiruvutsavam (annual festival) and Mandala pooja are the main festivals of Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha temple. The celebrations take place in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December – January). The festival goes on for 10 days. Another major attraction is the Thiruvabharanam (sacred ornaments) procession. The procession passes through the towns of Punalur, Aryankavu, Shenkottai and Thenkasi. The Pushpabhisheka takes place on the eighth day of Makaram. The Revathi festival is celebrated in a grand manner. It occurs during the months of January and February. Karuppaswamy is a close friend of Lord Ayyappa. An offering of karuppanootu is made in order to appease him. On the 9th day of the festival, one can witness the Therottam (chariot festival), Karuppanthullal and Chapparam procession. These rituals are also similar to the ones held in Tamilnadu.

Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha temple entrance
Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha temple entrance

The Route To Achankovil Dharmasashta Temple

You can reach Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple by road and railway. The nearest railway station is the Mavelikkara railway station. It is about 29 km away via the Pandalam – Kaipattoor road. The nearest airport is the Trivandrum International Airport, which is about 102 km away.

Nearby Tourist Spots To Visit Near Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple

  1. Kumbhavurutty Waterfalls: The Kumbhavurutty waterfalls is 7 km away from Achankovil. It is located near Aryankavu Panchayath in the Kollam District. It falls near the Tamilnadu border. Tourists can also go trekking in the forest after visiting the waterfalls.
  2. Thangassery Lighthouse: This lighthouse is located in Thangassery, a beach area in Kollam city. It is one among the two lighthouses in the Kollam Metropolitan Area. It is one of the most visited lighthouses in Kerala.
  3. Munroe Island: It is an inland island located in the Kollam district of Kerala. The island got its name in honour of the Resident Colonel John Munroe of Travancore.
  4. Palaruvi Falls: It is located in the Kollam district of Kerala. It is the 32nd largest falls in India. Palaruvi means a stream of milk. This waterfall is located in the Aryankavu village.
  5. Jatayu Earth Centre: Also known as Jatayu Nature Park or Jatayu rock, it is a tourist spot located in Chadayamangalam in the Kollam district. It spreads over 65 acres of land. Additionally, there is a huge sculpture of Jatayu in the centre of the park.