Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple Haripad Kerala

India is a country where nature is worshipped, in the form of plants, animals, rivers, creatures like serpents, etc. One of the sacred and powerful, well-known places of serpent worship is the "Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple in Kerala". It is also known as "The Abode of Serpent Gods". Mannarasala Temple is a very ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Nagaraja (King of Snake Gods) nestled in a 16-acre dense lush green forest, like most other snake temples and stands as the prime pilgrimage centre for the devotees of serpent gods along with his beloved consorts, Sarpa Yakshi and Naga Yakshi. It is believed that Lord Nagaraja, the installed deity is endowed with the form of Hari (Lord Vishnu) and the spirit of Lord Shiva.
 
The Abode of Serpent Gods Mannarasala Temple Kerala
 
The Abode of Serpent Gods Mannarasala Temple Kerala
 
It is located about 32 kms to the south-east of the bus station in NH-47 at Haripad, in Alappuzha District, 14km from Kayamkulam, 115 km from Cochin International Airport and 125 km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport of Kerala. This unique temple has two sanctum sanctorums and the rituals associated with the temple are different. The temple has over 30,000 images of snakes in various shapes and sizes along the path and among the trees. There is one more ancient , Subrahmanya Swamy Temple in Haripad,located on the way to the Mannarassala temple, testimonial to the glory of Kerala temple architecture. 
 
Entrance of Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple Kerala
 
Entrance of Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple Kerala
 
History of this Temple:
 
The origin of this place is associated with Lord Parashurama who is said to be the creator of Kerala. The history and story on the evolution of Mannarasala cannot be deemed, as it is one of the foremost places of worship of the Snake Gods. 
 
Origin Of Kerala: Once when Lord Parashurama wanted to atone from the sin of killing the Kshatriyas (the warrior class), he approached the holy rishis who advised him to gift a land of his own to the Brahmins (Priests). Then Lord Parasurama-the grandson of Bhrigu, asked Varuna Dev-the lord of the seas to give him some land. He meditated at Gokarna and threw his axe into the sea which was given to him by Lord Shiva, the axe landed from Gokarna to Kanya Kumari, thus the raised land from the sea came to be known as Kerala, which he gifted to the Brahmins as his own land.
 
Lord Parashurama with His Axe
 
Lord Parashurama with His Axe
 
But as the land originated from sea was not habitable due to its salinity and vegetation was sparse, Lord Parashurama went deeply in pain and undertook a penance to please Lord Shiva who told him that the salinity can be removed only by the flaming poison of the serpents. Again Lord Parashurama along with his disciples set out into a deserted jungle and started doing penance in order to please the Snake God (Lord Nagaraja) who was inaccessible beyond anybody's understanding. Upon travelling, He found a suitable place close to the seashore and constructed a Thirthasthala and began doing his penance.
 
Appearance of Lord Nagaraja: Pleased by the penance of Parashurama (Sage), Lord Nagaraja appeared infront of Him to fulfill his desire. 
 
The history of Mannarasala is well mentioned in the 'Mandara Salodyam', a Sanskrit poem written by Mannarasala M.G.Narayanan Namboodiri where He has well described the scene of Nagaraja’s appearance:
 
"The unspeakable splendor of millions of moons! 
The bright magnificence of emeralds stuck to the hoods! 
Golden jewels made attractive by miraculous embroidery! 
Lotus feet worshipped by crowds of Gods! 
Brilliant beauty of form, full of youthfulness!"
 
He worshiped the feet of Nagaraja and offered him the prayers to realize his objective. Soon Lord Nagaraja granted his request and the ferocious serpents arrived at the spot and began to spread the flaming Kalakda poison, percolated the land of Kerala and desalinated it, making it habitable and green with numerous waterfalls. After this, Lord Parashurama requested Lord Nagaraja to stay and bless the land forever.
 
Legends Associated with Mannarasala Temple:
 
Installation of Lord Nagaraja Idol: Lord Parashurama conducted all the installation ceremonies of Lord Nagaraja at an auspicious moment, as per the Vedic rites as He chose to stay in the place where Mandara trees grew in abundance and the place came to known as "Mandarasala". By the passage of time it again came to be known as "Mannarasala". The presiding deity (Lord Nagaraja) here represents "Anantha" who is "Lord Vishnu" himself and "Vasuki" who is worshipped as "Lord Shiva" in spirit. Parashurama appointed learned Brahmins who were Tantric experts for performing the proper rituals, of installation of the Naga Deities - Sarpa Yakshi, Naga Yakshi and Naga Chamundi along with other sub-deities and also nominated Kshatriyas, peasants and the Ashtavaidyas who were supreme amongst the physicians and just brought Kerala in to greenery and prosperity. He also gave instructions to be followed to preserve the sanctity of this place and left.
 
A View of Temple top Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple
 
A View of Temple top Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple
 
Birth of Nagaraja to Childless Couple: Many generations passed by and a Brahmin couple called Vasudeva and Sreedevi fell into the grief of being childless. They both started to worship Nagaraja to bring an end to their sorrow. At the same time, an unexpected fire broke out in the jungle around the dwelling place of Nagaraja and brunt down the jungle. The serpents, tortured by the flames, were forced to hide in their pits with great difficulty. The couple took care of these serpents who had their hoods charred, half-burnt bodies and fainting from time to time. They gently fanned them with fans made of sweet-scented grass and poured ghee mixed with honey and oil on their wounds and cooled their burnt bodies with sandalwood paste and comforted them.
 
Different Types of Snake God Idols in the Temple Premises
 
Different Types of Snake God Idols in the Temple Premises
 
The couple nursed these serpents back to health, and put them back at the foot of the banyan trees and also constructed new pits for them to reside under the shade of deodar trees and in Chitrakoodams (galleries). The couple offered the serpents elaborate poojas, performed Abhishekam (ablution) with Panchagavya (a mixture of five items from the cow - milk, curd, butter, urine and dung) and also offered payasam, rice powder, turmeric powder, coconut juice, bananas, and cow's milk to Nagaraja. They made a special Naivedyam called Nurum Palum made of cow's milk, ghee (clarified butter), payasam made with molasses, rice and turmeric powder, coconut water, Kadali fruit (banana) all mixed together to represent the elixir of life. They also offered the serpent deities appam (acorn-shaped sweet doughnuts), aval (beaten rice), tender coconut and other things associated with religious rituals. This offering is seen as an important offering in the temple till date. 
 
They also chanted Vedic mantras, and did circumambulation to bring back the serpents to full health. Nagaraja, who was greatly pleased by the rituals, made an appearance to the couple and He said, "I shall assume the form of a serpent and stay here (in Mannarasala) permanently, as long as the sun and the moon are there, showering prosperity on your family and granting protection to all the devotees who come here…". The boon came true and the Brahmin lady became pregnant and gave birth to two children-a five-hooded serpent child as well as a human child.
 
Raising of Nagaraja and His Brother: Both the brothers grew up together, all the ceremonies and Vedic education were imparted to both equally. As the time passed Nagaraja instructed the younger brother to marry to propagate the family. When Nagaraja realised that the objectives of his incarnation was near, He informed His mother that he would live at this home and suggested certain rituals and rules for offering worship and went into the Nilavara (cellar) of the house and vanished. It is believed that even today the five-hooded Nagaraja stays in the cellar in meditation for the prosperity of his dependents (family members). Thus the five-hooded Nagaraja’s incarnation was successful and he decided to live here permanently in their Illam (family house). The members of the household always refer to him with great respect and devotion as Muthassan and Appoppan (Grandfather). The jungle close by in the premises of the temple is known as Appoppan Kavu ( Grandfather's Grove).
 
Mannarasala Amma: This is one of the rarest temples where the puja patterns are headed by a Brahmin lady, also the beliefs and rituals associated with the temple are different from most of the other temples. Legends say that when Muthassan left for the cellar, he had given certain instructions to his mother, that 'Mother herself must offer me worship and only on certain special days men are allowed to worship Him'. It was decided that after the Mother's time, the senior most Brahmin lady in the family would have the status of the Mother. Devotees who come to the temple make sure they have a darshan of Amma, who is to be seated at her residence and bless every individual whole-heartedly. He also said that those who worship Him with devotion will have children, will be cured of diseases, will have long life, health and wealth. The men of the family will have the title of 'Vasukisridevi''. He reminded that the rituals and customs suggested by Parasurama are inviolable. 
 
Significance of this Temple:
  • In this temple, the presiding deity is worshipped with all the rites by a presiding Brahmin priestess. 
  • Women seeking fertility come here to worship and upon the birth of their child return to perform thanksgiving ceremonies and conduct special poojas, by bringing snake images as their offerings. 
  • It is best known for over 30,000 Images Of Snakes present along the paths and among the trees.
  • A special turmeric paste which is available at the temple is credited with curative powers and heels the deadly diseases like leprosy.

Snake Idols inbetween the Trees Mannarasala Temple Kerala

Snake Idols inbetween the Trees Mannarasala Temple Kerala

Main Offerings at the temple to get ones wish fulfilled:
 
***A pot filled with gold or a gold pot filled with other things-For wealth and prosperity.
***Silk grains, divine ornaments-For education, prosperity and famme.
***Salt-For recovering health.
***Turmeric-For protection from poison.
***Pepper, mustard, green peas etc-For curing diseases.
***Serpent cave made of gold etc., images of serpents' eggs, tree, earth etc.,-For protection from damage.
***Melted butter (ghee)-For long life.
***Milk, ripe kadalai fruit, nilavarapayasam-For getting whatever one wishes.
***A vessel named Uruli made of brass, bronze etc.-For performing 'Nurum Palum' For having child.
 
Celebration of Festivals:
 
The Ayilyam Day in Tulam, Kanni and Kumbham months in the Malayalam calendar and the Mahasivarathri are celebrated here with great pomp.
Ayilyam in Kanni- is the birthday of Nagaraja and that in
Ayilam in Kumbham- is the birthday of Anantha, the Muthassan of Nilavara (cellar)
 
Decorated Nagaraja Idol on Ayilyam Pooja

Decorated Nagaraja Idol on Ayilyam Pooja

Ayilyam Pooja performed by Valia Amma

Ayilyam Pooja performed by Valia Amma

Darshan of Valia Amma:
 
Valia Amma is the heart and soul of Mannarasala. The resplendent brightness of Valia Amma who has turned into a symbol of Naga deities through fasting and other austerities has not dimmed in the least by now as a result of the performance of rituals and poojas. Pilgrims cannot leave Mannarasala without seeing that fascinating divine glow with their own eyes and feeling contended. The sight of faithful devotees, who come here to seek the blessings of Nagaraja, waiting for long to see the flicker of the eyes of the great mother, so serene and compassionate and filled with blessings, continues even today. That holy lamp sheds brilliant light on the temple and the environment, and endows it with heavenly glory. It has been the presence of and the contact with, the Mother, who has assumed a divine form and reached the heights of spirituality, that has been the sole source of prosperity for the members of the family as for the devotees.
 
Former Valia Amma:
 
The former Valia Amma, who attained Samadhi on 24th October 1993, had a long and expert experience in Nagapooja, and was a great hermitess; a brahmacharini. When she attained Samadhi at the age of 91, she had completed many decades as Valia Amma. She, Savitri Antharjanam, was born on Anizham Star in the Month of Tulam 1079, and her wedding was on 18th of Chingam 1092. She assumed the position of Valia Amma on 28th Tulam 1093 and started Nagaraja pooja on 23rd Makaram 1094. Her Satabhishekam (Celebrations for completing 80 years of age) was celebrated with great pomp and splendor on 4th November 1986). When she attained Samadhi, numerous leaders and prominent personalities from different walks of life had flowed to Mannarasala to pay homage to that great spiritual hermitess, who had blessed the devotees and spread the divine radiance for many decades as Valia Amma.
 
Former and Present Mannarasala Amma
 
Former and Present Mannarasala Amma
 
Present Valia Amma:
 
Valia Amma of today is Uma Devi Antharjanam, and she was consecrated as the Valia Amma on 24th October 1993, when she was 64 years old. She is also the wife of the late Shri. M.G.Narayanan Namboothiri.
 
Best Time To Visit:
 
The Temple The temple can be visited anytime during the year, the temple witnesses a huge crowd on Shivarathri and other special occasions that are celebrated in the temple.
 
Temple Timings:
 
The Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple remains open from 5:00 AM to 12:00 PM (morning) and 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (evening).
 
Contact Details:
 
Address:
Mannarasala sree Nagaraja Temple
Mannarasala Dewaswom
Mannarasala P.O, Haripad, Kerala, India
 
Phone No: +91 479 2160300, 2413214
 
E-mail Id: info@mannarasala.org
Website: http://mannarasala.org/
 
How to Reach: As this temple is located near the highway almost equidistant between the cities of Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi (approx.113 kms and 103 kms respectively), it is easy to reach Haripad via bus and train. 
 
By Road: There are various road transports like cabs, buses and auto rickshaws available near the Haripad bus station at affordable fare to reach this Mannarasala temple. The temple is situated around 3 km from Haripad KSRTC bus stand.
 
By Train: The railway lines are also well connected with the city with almost all the major parts of the country. The nearest railway station to the temple are situated at Haripad around 3 km, at Mavelikkara around 10 km and at Kayamkulam around 11 km. 
 
By Air: The nearest airports to the temple are situated at a distance of 115 km from Cochin International Airport and 125 km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, well connected with major parts of the country and other countries.
 
Image Courtesy: www.nativeplanet.com, http://mannarasala.org, http://www.panoramio.com, https://in.images.search.yahoo.com, www.india-travel.com, http://www.dtpcalappuzha.com, jsomayaji.blogdpot.com

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