Ettumanoor is a major town and Municipality in the Kottayam District of Kerala. The ancient Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple dedicated to lord Shiva here has brought glory and fame to the place. Myths have it that the Pandavas and the sage Vyasa had worshipped at this temple.

The name of the place had its origin from the word ‘manoor’, which means the home of deer. It is believed that an Asura called Khara got three Shivalingas from Lord Shiva himself. He brought them to Kerala, holding one by his teeth and one each in his left and right hand. While the Lingam held by his teeth was consecrated in Kaduthuruthi, the one held in his right hand was consecrated in Vaikom and the one held in his left hand was consecrated in Ettumanoor. After consecrating all these three temples in the same day, Khara is believed to have become a deer and was doing service to the Gods. It is believed that the God in Ettumanoor took the deer in his hand and held it there, Because of that, this place was called Udhruthaina Puram, which translated to Malayalam became Ettumanoor (The place where the deer was lifted).

The major worship in this temple is lighting of lamps. An ever glowing, very big lamp can be seen as soon as one enters the temple. The devotees pour oil on to this lamp. Though the uthsava idol of Shiva is an eight handed figure and is in a ‘roudra bhava’ (appearing in a very angry posture) the devotees only see him as a merciful form. There are also temples for Dakshinamurthy (very rare in Kerala), Ganapathi and Sastha in this temple. There is an engraving in the temple which indicates that it was constructed about 400 years ago.

It is believed that the great philosopher, Sankaracharya wrote the ‘Soundaraya Lahari’ while staying in this temple.


Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple hosts the arattu festival celebrated on a grand scale on the Thiruvathira day in February–March every year.

The annual festival – Ezhara Ponnana – at the Ettumanoor Sree Mahadeva Temple in Kottayam is a popular and historic one. The Ezhara Ponnana procession is a major ritual. The story of Ezhara Ponnana is linked to the king’s rule. Ezhara means seven-and-a-half and Ponnana means golden elephant. Made of wood and covered in gold, each of the seven elephants is two feet high and the eighth one is of one foot only. Hence they are together called seven-and-a-half elephants. This statue was donated to the temple by a Travancore Maharaja.

Witnessed on the eighth and tenth day of the festival at Ettumanoor is the Ezhara Ponnana procession, which is grand sight to behold.

The temple, one of the wealthiest Devaswoms in Kerala, has many valuable possessions. The Thulabharam is one of the important rituals of this temple. People make offerings to God for favours received. On balance, the child or man for whom offerings were promised to God is weighed against offerings ranging from gold to fruits.

The Thiruvadira festival and Shivarathri are also celebrated in this temple. The eighteen part worship for Shivarathri is famous. People refer the God in this temple as “Ettumanoor-appan”.


A unique feature of this temple is the eternal flame lamp called Valiyavilakku (big lamp) that can be seen at the entrance to sanctum. It has a little story behind it. When the Ettumanoor Siva Temple was rebuilt in 1540 CE, one evening an unknown devotee brought a big oil lamp to the temple. Somebody had doubts about how such a large Iamp could be lit as it would need lots of oil. The devotee replied that even if there was no oil in the lamp, it would remain alight. He disappeared after placing the lamp in its present position in the area called Balickalpura (a sacrificial platform where food offerings are placed). It is believed that when this lamp was fixed, there was a streak of lightning that lit the lamp for the first time. This lamp has always been burning since then.

A main offering by devotees here is sesame oil. The soot that accumulates on the under surface of the shade over the lamp is believed to cure many eye diseases.

Many devotees testify that any incurable disease will be cured and any desire will be fulfilled by performing a pilgrimage to this temple. They take a vow to offer thulabharam, the weight in rice or any other product to Aghoramurthi Siva. They also eat a few red rice grains taken from the belly of the giant bronze bull that is believed to cure any stomach diseases.



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