Attukal Bhagavathy Temple: History, Festivals, and Spiritual Significance

The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is a renowned religious site in Kerala, dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali, located in the Trivandrum. The temple is devoted to its main deity worshipped in three distinct forms: Maha Saraswathi (Goddess of Knowledge), Maha Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth), and Kali/Durga/Parvathy (Goddess of Power). Attukal Amma, revered as the supreme preserver and destroyer, is often associated with Kannaki, the heroine of Ilanko Adikal's 'Silapathikaram'.

Globally recognized Attukal Pongala festival is celebrated at this temple. It attracts over three million women annually and has even earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for this vast gathering.

History of the Temple

The temple's history is intertwined with Kannaki’s tale from the Tamil epic Silapathikaram by Ilanko Adikal. Kannaki was married to Kovalan, a wealthy merchant's son. However, Kovalan fell for a dancer named Madhavi and spent all his wealth on her. Eventually penniless, Madhavi abandoned him. Realizing his mistake, Kovalan returned to Kannaki, who forgave him and gave him her gold anklets to sell in Madurai and rebuild his fortunes.

Kovalan approached the King of Madurai to sell the anklets, but was accused of stealing an identical anklet belonging to the Queen & was executed without trial. In her grief, Kannaki proved Kovalan’s innocence by breaking open her remaining anklet showing it contained rubies instead of pearls like the Queen’s. Angered by the King's rash decision, Kannaki cursed Madurai causing it to burn down.

Later on her way to Kodungallur, she reached Attukal near the Killi river disguised as a young girl & sought help from an elderly member of the Mulluveetil family to cross it. Impressed by her divine aura, he invited her home where she vanished. She appeared in his dream that night instructing him to build a temple for her—thus establishing Attukal Bhagavathy Temple.

Specialty of the Temple

Often called "Sabarimala of Women," Attukal Bhagavathy Temple stands out for its architectural excellence blending Kerala & Tamil Nadu styles. The intricate carvings depict various deities like Mahishasuramardini & Sree Parvathy with Lord Shiva along with mythological stories on its walls.

It houses ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu known as Dasavatara. The southern gopura displays Dakshayaga & either side tells tales from Kannaki’s story.

Inside are two idols: one adorned with golden ornaments and precious stones & another placed behind it.

Temple Timings

4:30 AM - 12:30 PM

5:00 PM - 8:30 PMFestivals at the Temple

Attukal Pongala: Celebrated over ten days during Malayalam months Makaram-Kumbham.

Maha Shivaratri: Observed with grandeur in honor of Lord Shiva.

Vinayaka Chaturthi: Features special prayers to Lord Ganesha along with Kootu Ganapati Homam.

Kuthiyottam: Performed by boys under 12 symbolizing Goddess Mahishasuramardhini's wounded soldiers.

Thalappoli: Conducted by girls under 12 dressed traditionally holding Thalam plates filled with offerings like paddy, flowers & a lit lamp.

Other notable festivals include Mandala Vratham & Pooja Vayppu.

Dress Code

While no specific dress code exists for visiting Attukal Bhagavathy Temple wearing clean conservative attire is preferable—traditional garments such as sarees or salwar kameez are recommended for women.

Best Time To Visit

From February - March during Pongala Festival is optimal; summer (March-May) tends hot humid drawing fewer crowds while monsoon season (June-Sept) covers landscapes lush green beauty!

How To Reach

By Air: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (7 km away).

By Rail: Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station (2 km away).

By Bus: Thampanoor Bus Station (2 km away).

On arriving at these points hiring taxis buses or autorickshaws will help reach this sacred shrine easily!


What is the history behind Attukal Bhagavathy Temple?

Attukal Bhagavathy Temple's history traces back to the legendary tale of Kannaki from the Tamil epic Silapathikaram. Kannaki, revered as Attukal Amma, cursed Madurai and later appeared near the Killi river, prompting the establishment of the temple by the Mulluveetil family.

What makes Attukal Pongala festival significant?

Attukal Pongala is a globally recognized festival where over three million women gather annually, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. It spans over ten days during the Malayalam months of Makaram-Kumbham.

What are the special features of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple?

Known as the "Sabarimala of Women," the temple blends Kerala and Tamil Nadu architectural styles. It houses intricate carvings depicting various deities, including Dasavatara of Lord Vishnu and mythological stories from Kannaki's life.

Which festivals are celebrated at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple?

The temple celebrates major festivals like Maha Shivaratri, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Kuthiyottam, Thalappoli, Mandala Vratham, and Pooja Vayppu, each marked with unique rituals and fervor.

What is the best time to visit Attukal Bhagavathy Temple?

The ideal time to visit is during the Pongala festival in February-March, witnessing vibrant celebrations. The summer months (March-May) are less crowded, while the monsoon season (June-September) offers lush green surroundings.