Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple is a very ancient temple which is located near Harippad in the Alappuzha or Alleppey district of Kerala. The Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple is an internationally renowned temple dedicated to Nagaraja, the serpent god. Its beautiful setting amidst dense green forest grove creates a tranquil and eco-friendly ambiance all around. This divine shrine is under the support of a Brahmin family. And unlike other temples in the country, Mannarasala Temple is headed by a priestess whom the devotees fondly call as Mannarasala Amma. It is said that the deity of this shrine is blessed with the spirit of Lord Shiva and has the form of Lord Vishnu.
The temple is adorned with over thirty thousand paintings and drawings of snakes all along the paths crisscrossing the serene forest area. Mannarasala Temple is often visited by swarms of devotees from far and near to offer prayers to the serpent god, Nagaraja.
The lively and exotic temple festivals of Kerala are too surprising and experiential that offers you a chance to delve into the vivid culture and tradition of the state. Kerala’s rich culture and heritage justifies why it is so-called the “God’s Own Country”.
History of Mannarasala Temple:
The history of Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple is closely associated with Lord Parasurama who is believed to be the creator of Kerala. Legend has it that Parasurama threw his axe into the sea and thus raised the land from the sea, known as Kerala. He then gifted the land to the Brahmins. But the land was not habitable because of the high concentration of salt which led them to leave the place. Parasurama, who was deeply saddened by this, decided to start a penance to please Lord Shiva, who in turn ordered him to worship Nagaraja. Lord Nagaraja, being pleased with Parasurama’s penance, appeared before him to bless him with a desalinated land and also granted his eternal presence in Kerala. Thus, Nagaraja decided to reside at that place and bless its residents as per the wish of Parasurama.
Legend says that a Brahmin couple named Vasudeva and Sreedevi who were childless, resolutely worshipped for a child. An unexpected fire broke out in the forest during that time, around the dwelling place of Nagaraja. The forest was burnt down and the serpents were badly burnt by the flame. The couples, Vasudeva and Sreedevi took care of the wounded serpents, they poured ghee mixed with honey and oil on the wounds and cooled their melted bodies with sandalwood paste and comforted them. The serpents were put back at the foot of the banyan trees and new pits were also constructed for them to reside when they regained their health. The couples conducted elaborate poojas and offered a mixture of ghee, milk, Payasam, rice powder, turmeric powder, coconut juice, bananas, cow’s milk to the Nagaraja as a ritual. This ritual is still observed in the Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple which is known as Nurum Palum.
Nagaraja was very pleased with the offering, love and care of the couple that he appeared before them and said that he would incarnate as their son and stay at Mannarasala permanently in the form of a serpent. True to his words, Sreedevi became pregnant and gave birth to a five-headed serpent child and also a human child. Both the children grew up together. As time went by, Nagaraja asked his younger brother to get married for the perpetual preservation of the holy family and he obeyed him. Nagaraja, who realized that the objectives of his incarnation had been done, informed his mother that he would live at this home forever at the cellar. He then went to the cellar and after suggesting certain rituals and rules for offering worship, he vanished.
Devotees believe that the five-headed Nagaraja still stays in the cellar of the house, meditating for the prosperity of his descendants. Nagaraja gave certain instructions that only mother herself can offer worship to him and men are allowed only on certain days, before leaving for the cellar and he also instructed that after the mother’s time, the senior-most Brahmin lady in the family would have the status of the Mother. This is the main reason why the rituals of the Mannarasala Temple are carried out by a woman.
Festivals Celebrated in this temple
- Mannarsala Ayilyam:
As a serpent shrine, the Ayilyam of Thulam in the Malayalam Calendar which is popularly known as the Mannarasala Ayilyam. This is the major celebration of the Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple. It is celebrated with much religious fervor on the Ayilyam asterism in the Malayalam month of Thulam which roughly corresponds to the months of October and November.
The main attraction of this festival is the grand procession in which all the serpent idols in the sacred grove and the Mannarasala Temple are taken to the Illam (the Brahmin ancestral home) where special prayers and offerings like Nurum Palum (rice flour and milk) are performed. The chief priestess (Mannarasala Amma) will carry the golden idol of the main deity to the Illam.
To know more about Manarsala Ayilyam 2019, (click here…)
- Maha Shivaratri:
The installation of Nagaraja in the Mannarasala Temple is in accordance with the concept of Siva and the poojas are also performed on the Saivite model. Hence, the temple celebrates Maha Shivaratri with great passion and enthusiasm.
- Annual pooja in Nilavara:
On the fifth day after Mahashivratri, the priestess of the temple, Mannarasala Amma, comes to the Illam after the daily pooja in the temple and opens the cellar. Nurum Palum which is the prasadam(sacred food) of the temple is distributed among the members of the family by the priestess. After that, other poojas and rituals are performed in the Appoopan Kavu (Grandfather’s Grove), the abode of “Muthassan”.
The evening ceremony during which the temple is adorned with lights is known as Deeparadhana, but it is done only during Sivaratri. The major events of the day are Sarpabali and Ezhunallathu (procession). All Poojas including the ‘Athazhapuja (evening worship) is performed as well as fasting is compulsory on that day.
Interesting Facts About Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple:
- In the path towards the Temple and among the trees one can find over 30,000 images of snakes in various sizes and shapes.
- Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple is believed to possess Sarpa Dosha Nivarana that is to overcome from snake curse.
- Many barren women visit the temple and offer ‘Uruli Kamazhthal’, the placing of a bell metal vessel upside down in front of the deity to seek blessings of the Nagaraja for children.
- Another interesting custom of this temple is that devotees dedicate small stone idol of serpents to the temple, to show their gratitude towards Lord Nagaraja.
- Turmeric paste is given as Prasada at Mannarasala Temple and this turmeric paste is believed to have great curative powers.
- It is said that the serpents guard the property of the temple and snake bites seldom occur here.
Traditional wears are the most preferable attire while visiting the Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple. Women can wear Saree, Churidar, and Pavada and blouse to this temple. Men are not allowed to wear shirts while entering the Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple.
Best time to Visit:
Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple can be visited throughout the year. But November to February is regarded as the best time to visit Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple. If you want to be a part of the Annual Mannarasala Ayilyam festival, visit the temple on the Ayilyam asterism in the Malayalam month of Thulam that falls between October and November.
Ways To Reach
The nearest airports to Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple are Thiruvananthapuram International Airport and Cochin International Airport which are situated at a distance of 118 Km and 112 Km respectively. On reaching the airport, one can hire a taxi or bus to reach the temple.
The nearest railway station to Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple is Haripad Railway Station which is situated at a distance of 3.4 Km. On reaching the railway station, one can hire a bus or an autorickshaw to reach the temple.
The nearest bus station to Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple is Haripad Bus Station which is situated at a distance of 3.4 Km.
Kerala’s rich culture and heritage justifies why it is so-called the “God’s Own Country”. The traditional vibrant art forms, the food, the music, the ancient techniques of medicine, the people, everything in Kerala is unique on its own. One trip to this God’s own country will change your whole perspective of life.
Kerala Tourism Holiday has an exclusive Kerala Cultural Tour, which brings you an experience of a lifetime.
Plan now and visit the Manarsala Sree Nagaraja Temple in Alleppey on your visit to Kerala. Be it in the sun-dried beaches, or the eternal coves, or the effervescent shores, there is enough to see and experience in Alleppey.