Monday, April 08, 2024

Aryankavu Saastha Temple: Ancient temple located in the sacred forests of the Western Ghats

Aryankavu Saastha Temple surrounded by lush greenery

It is one of the five major temples dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in Kerala. It is set amidst lush greenery and beautiful mountains of the Western Ghats. The pristine Achankovil river flows right in front of the temple. I am talking about the Aryankavu Saastha temple that is located in the village of Aryankavu on the Shenkottai – Kollam highway.

Lord Parasurama set up five temples committed to goddess Kali on the beach front area and five Saastha temples on the mountain slopes for the well being of Kerala. Aryankavu Saastha temple is one of those temples. The name of the place comes from a mix of words Aryan (lord Ayyappa) and Kavu (holy forest). The Aryankavu Saastha temple, that is built about 35 feet below the road level, portrays Lord Ayyappa as a boy sitting on an elephant with his right leg hanging and his left leg tucked under him in an sitting position. This youthful Ayyappa sits in the middle of Devi (on the left) and Shiva (on the right) in the sanctum sanctorum. As in Sabarimala, the temple too has 18 steps to reach the shrine.

The temple is built in traditional architectural style of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu and it preserves several murals of deities. Devotees visit this temple to seek relief from Shani dosha and unmarried individuals pray to the lord to get married. They also seek redemption from diseases, poverty, snake bites, accidents and natural calamities. The Aryankavu Saastha temple is considered very important for the Saurasthtrian people.

According to legend, Swamy Ayyappan married Shri Pushkaladevi of the Saurashtra community in Aryankavu. The Thiru kalyanam festival is celebrated every Dhanu month (December 15 to January 15) to commemorate this divine wedding.

Devotees at the river behind the Aryankavu Saastha Temple, Kerala

Key Festivals celebrated here: Mandala kalam, Pandiyan Mudippu, Thiru Kalyanam, Kumbhabhishekam and Nirmalya Schochanam (every month).

Temple Timings: 5 AM to 12:30 PM and 5 PM to 8 PM

Nearest Railway Station and Bus Stop: Aryankavu

Nearest Airport: Thiruvanathapuram (about 88 kms away)

Other 4 major Saastha temples of Kerala are at: Achankoil, Kulathupuzha, Sabarimala and Kanthamala

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