History of the Temple

The warrior sage of India, ‘Lord Parasurama’ installed one of the 108 ‘Siva Lingas’ as protective deities of his reinstated land on the north bank of Chalakudy river near by an aborigines’ mother goddess centre of worship. Later the centre became a seat (Thali) of the advisory board of the ancient united Kerala ruled by the King named ‘Keralaputhra’. Chalakudy river being the main business route from the hills to the ‘Musirus’(now Kodungallur) port, this area by then named ‘Iraneeswaram’(Iranivattom) became a main business and administrative centre. Then the local chieftains constructed another temple close to the main shrine and installed the idols of Lord Siva, Sree Parvathy and Bala Muruga on a single pedestal as a rarity in the worship culture of Kerala. Thus the temple and the vast village flourished for centuries. Then fate diverted the river through another channel and the mighty dynasty split into small rural Kingdoms (‘Swaroopams’). As the ages passed on, the importance of the temple diminished and the administrating families fought among themselves and left the area. The elaborate structures and the deities were left to the mercy of nature. The invaluable ‘panchaloha’ idol of Sree Parvathy was taken away. Then came the barbaric attack of the neighbouring kingdom and destroyed most of the structures. The remaining skeletal temple came under government rule through Cochin Devaswom Board. The month long annual festival and all its ceremonial rituals survived only in old generations’ memory. The new generation who tried to find out the back drops of the temple luckily came over a 6 century old Palm leaf scripture (Thaliyola). From this they got an idea of the old rituals pronouncing the intimate and loving relation between the mother deity ‘Sree Parvathy’ and the locals as mother, sister and friend all in one. They decided under astrological guidance to reinstall the three idols in ‘Vadakkedathu’ sanctum and reinstate the old glory as full to their capacity. The annual festival is restarted, précised to 8 days function with all the rituals such as ‘Athira neerattu’, ‘Thiruvathirakkali’ and routine festival functions. Now this deity of ‘Sree Parvathy’ who is imitated by many temples is considered the foremost centre of solace for those who suffer delayed marriage, disrupted married life, lack of offspring and many other grievances. Here ‘Lord Siva’ who is in a very happy mood blessing ‘Rathi devi’ with the re-embodiment of her punished consort ‘Kamadeva’, is happily blessing every body who is praying him in the presence of his ‘Ardhangini’ and beloved son.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE TWO VATTELUTHU INSCRIPTIONS IN THE IRANIKULAM TEMPLE PUBLISHED BY THE RAMAVARMA RESEARCH INSTITUTE (VOL. IX PART II)

The Iranikulam Temple is situated on the Southern border of the Mukundapuram Taluk, adjoining the backwaters. The temple was destroyed during the Mysore Invasions in 1789 AD and has only been partly repaired. The two beautiful bronze DVARAPALAS dept in the State Museum is said, originally belonged to the Siva Shrine of the temple. The deity installed is UMAMAHASWARA. Bronze images of Siva Parvati and Subramanian are seated on a granite pedestal. It is fortunate that these bronzes have escaped destruction, particularly because bronze images of Siva, it is pointed out are very rarely found.

Iranikulam is one of the 64 GRAMAMS into which Kerala is traditionally believed to have been originally divided, and the temple was probably the Gramakshethra.

The two inscriptions published below, are neatly incised on two dressed granite slabs about 30” x 16” and 45” x 18” respectively. They have created a lot of local interest, and many speculations have been made as to their probable contents. They are deciphered and published now for the first time. Both of them are undated, nor do they contain any reference to any ruler or to any important historical incident. On the other hand they relate to lands, dedicated to the temple, and to the management thereof.

The script of the first inscription belongs to the 9th century. The letter – po – is characteristic. This inscription records a land settlement and the instance of Cuvakara Narayanan of Nenmani Mangalam. Kantan Tayan, belonging to the same family figures as a witness in the Avathiputhur inscription of Kotai Iravi, already published in this series.

In the second inscription of the first two lines consist of a verse, written into the Grantha Script. The inscription records that the properties belonging to the Cerakesvaram temple and the two temple of Iranikulam, also called Girijagraharam and Tiruvallaval, also called Sri Vallabhattam Gramams were amalgamated and put under the joint responsibility of the respective authorities. The script is probably a century later than that of the first inscription.

Thaliyola (Palm Leaf Manuscript)

A Five and a half century old palm leaf manuscript was obtained recently from an old wooden box at ‘Chembari Madhom’ now known as ‘Vadakke Pushpakam’, which is the residence of the traditional ‘Brahmani pattu performers. They are also considered as the escorting servants of ‘Sree Parvathy’. This manuscript was written exactly on Sunday the third of Malayalam month Mithunam in the year 639. (ie in 1464 AD). This explains all the customs, rituals, rites and the properties of the temple at that time. According to this the temple had vast agricultural land spread from the western coast to the Eastern Ghats. From all these lands spices, cereals, coconuts and money were brought to the temple to fulfill the expenses. A 28 day long festival was performed in the month of Vrischikam and Dhanu (ie December-January). During this festival, every day Goddess Sree Parvathy was taken in procession to the near by villages one by one. The holy menstrual bath (Thriputharattu) was performed every month after getting the signal from the idol. Towards the end of monsoon regular feasts were served by different individuals. The ‘Abhishekoms’ were performed in golden pots whose mouth was studded with jewels. There were plenty of gold and silver utensils and lamps. Goddess Sere Parathion had a gem studded crown. The idol was of panchaloha of which a major portion was gold. There were three golden flag masts in front of Vadakkedathu temple and one in front of Thekkedathu temple. There were two Dwarapalakas (royal guards) at Thekkedathu temple made of panchaloha in sitting pose and each weighing 1000 Kgs’. The thekkedathu temple was full fledged with chuttambalam, Valiyambalam, Thidappally (kitchen) and two Mandapams. The royal council used to assemble with the regal team sitting on the southern mandapam (Bhandarathara) and the local chieftains sitting on the northern mandapam. At that time the temple and its premises were in its full glory with the power and properties. This can be taken as a proof for the present day legends.