Mangaladevi Temple, Thekkady

Mangaladevi Temple, Thekkady

Deep inside the dense forest of wild animals, where tigers and wild elephants are wandering, there is an alluring structure, Mangaladevi Temple. It is one of the oldest temple in Kerala, situates Kerala-Tamilnadu border. It believes that Chera Chenkuttuvan, the Chera King who built this temple 1000 years ago after he knew about the story of Kannaki. Both states claim for the ownership of this temple, but an agreement which allows both Kerala and Tamilnadu to run the temple. Mangaladevi Temple which lies 15 kilometers away from Kumily or Thekkady. Mangaladevi Temple which lies at an altitude of 1337 m above sea level. The temple is in the line of Pandyan and Kerala traditional architecture. It is made of huge stones with rectangular shape placed in order without any binding materials to put together. It is still a wonder that how lifted these heavy stones to the mountain top of the deep inside of forest. Due to negligence for a long time, the temple has suffered severe damage. Even the temple is in ruins, thousands of devotees from Kerala and Tamilnadu rush to Mangaladevi Temple on Chithra Pournami Day in April/May. The temple is open only once in a year on Chithra Pournamy Day. Priests from Tamilnadu and Kerala conduct rituals of the temple. Visitors to the temple require prior permission from forest department.

Why Mangaladevi Temple so important

Mangaladevi temple in Thekkady is a site of Kannaki’s resurrection after setting fire Madurai city in vengeance on Pandya King of Madurai for mistakenly killing of her husband Kovalan. Kannaki (Kannagi) is a legendary female character in Silappathikaram, one of the oldest epic ot Tamil Sangam literature by Ilanko Adikal. Kannaki is a virtuous woman of eternal love and an embodiment of chastity. Kannaki was married to Kovalan, a rich merchant in Kaveripoompattinam, a rich coastal city of those days which was also the seat of Early Chola kings. Kannaki and Kovalan lived an amorous and peaceful life in Kaveripoompattinam after their union. But, after years, the story redirected, Kovalan fell in love with Madhavi, a concubine of royal court. She was a dancer in the court of Early Chola King Karikala. Kovalan abandoned and forgot Kannaki and spent all his wealth for Madhavi. Madhavi gave birth to Manimekhalai. After long years, Kovalan realised the love of Kannaki and approached her. Kannaki forgave and accepted Kovalan. Kovalan was deprived of any wealth due to his opulent life with Madhavi, and Kannaki offered him her sole asset of rubi packed anklet to sell in Madurai market to recover his lost wealth through trading. But, unfortunately Kovalan was victimised by a treachery of a wicked goldsmith in the court who had stolen the pearl packed anklet of the queen which was similar to that of Kannaki. Upon reaching the market, goldsmith misinformed the King and Queen that anklet brought by Kovalan is queen’s stolen anklet. Queen’s anklet’s appearance was that of similar with Kannaki’s anklet and the only difference was that queen had a pearl packed anklet while Kannaki had a anklet with rubi. King instantly ordered to behead Kovalan.

Upon hearing the death of her husband, Kannaki enraged with anger and fury. She decided to prove the truth of anklet and rushed to the court of Madurai King Nedumchezhiyan and Queen Kopperundevi. After the realisation of the truth, King and Queen died of broken heart. Kannaki tore out her breast and threw to the ground and cursed that the Madurai city will be burned to ashes. Her curse worked out and Madurai caught fire. A major part of the city was damaged. Goddess Meenakshi, the protector of Madurai requested to withdraw her curse on Madurai. Finally Kannaki retreated to Kumily where Mangaladevi temple is situated.

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