The Vaikom Mahadevar temple is one of the most celebrated Shiva temples in South India, located at Vaikom, 33 km south of Ernakulam and 40 km north of Kottayam, on the railroad between Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. The deity, Lord Shiva manifests himself as
Dakshinamurthy in the 'pantheeradi' puja in the morning. He is worshipped as Kirata Murthy during the 'Ucha puja' at noon and as 'Satchitananda' in the evening.
Legend has it that Khara, (demon), of Ramayana worshipped Shiva at Chidambaram and obtained three shivlings from him. He journeyed holding one shivling in each hand and one in his mouth. He rested at Vaikom, and set the shivling on the ground, which got rooted there. Later Khara installed the other two shivlings at Ettumanur and
Kaduthuruthy. He entrusted the shivling at Vaikom to the care of Vyagrapadar, from which the name Vaikom originated. Legend also has it that Parashuram, the incarnation of Vishnu built this temple and set up the worship protocol here.
The elliptical sanctum is covered with a copper plated roof crowned with a golden kalasam (dome). The height of the wall of the sanctum is just about a third of that of the roof. The building is of the 11th century, and the wooden panels and the murals date back to the 15th and 18th centuries. The Mukhamandapam in front of the sanctum houses the 129909nandi, vehicle of Lord Shiva. The wall of the inner 149087prakaram is lined with columns of lamps on a wooden framework. The flagstaff rises to a height of 317 ft. The Uttupura or the dining hall is on the northern side of the sanctum. There is a shrine to Pananchikkal Bhagawati in the outer prakaram.
The annual festival is celebrated in the month of
Vrischikam (Nov - Dec), and the twelfth day of the festival is Vaikathashtami.
Mukkudi Nivedyam, an offering made to the lord in connection with the festival is renowned. Some herbs combined and made into a powder using a secret formula, is offered to the Lord of Vaikom by Vellodu Illathu Moos. The Mukkudi is considered a great medicine and is prepared in the
Thidappally in a new earthen pot and mixed with fresh butter milk. This is offered during the afternoon puja, after the famous Aarattu.