Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple
Aerial View of Temple

Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple is a small but serene Devi temple dedicated to goddess Kali deep in the backwoods of Kannur, the land of the Theyyam & Thira. Believed to have been installed by Lord Parashurama, the temple at Muzhakkunnu, Kannur is one of the most famous Devi temples in Kerala. It was the family deity of the brave king Veera Pazhassi Raja also known as Kottayathu Thampuran. Being surrounded with trees, the Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple almost can be mistaken for a forest temple. It was the place of worship of the local ethnic clans, and later the local kings built a temple there along with their palace just behind the temple. The palace was believed to be destroyed by Britishers after winning the war against Pazhassi Raja.

The temple fell into ruins and was unheard of until recently. The temple gained prominence after a retired police commissioner of Kerala revealed in a TV interview of the three occasions thieves tried to steal the idol from the Sreekovil. All three times, they failed to do the theft due to some strange reasons. Every time the idol was taken, it was returned to the temple by the thieves themselves because of unusual paranormal activities. Today the temple has become famous, and thousands of devotees from various South Indian states are visiting this temple.

It is said that the world-famous dance form of Kerala, Kathakali originated at the Mridanga Saileswari Temple. The king of Kottayam, Thampuran, got influenced by Ramanattam of Kottarakkara Thampuran and wrote Kathakali Padam on it. The history behind the origin of Kathakali is closely connected to Mridanga Saileswari Devi. It is believed the Kottayam King Thampuran was not able to visualise the lady form for enacting the Kathakali dance. It is said, the goddess herself appeared before him at the temple pond in the way which is used in Kathakali even now.

The descendants of Pazhassi Raja passionately worship Mridanga Saileswari over the years. Nowadays, the Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple has gained prominence and is visited by thousands of devotees coming from all parts of the world.

Legend

Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple is the only temple in Kerala dedicated to a musical instrument, Mridangam. As per legends when the divine instrument Mridangam descended from the heavens, Goddess Saileswari rose up from her meditation to catch it. A pit was created on the spot. The pit remains to this day. The goddess of the temple is known as Mizhavil Bhagavathy and is incarnated in the form of anthill shaped like a Mridanga, (Mizhavu). As the falling instrument created echoes in the mountain it is called Mridanga Sailam; the place where the Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple is located in Kannur came to be known as Muzhakkunnu, or the mountain that echoes. There is another version of the legend saying that it is the place where the music of the Mridanga roopini Saraswathi resounds.

History

The Mridanga Saileswari Temple is one of the 108 ancient temples of Kerala believed to have been installed by Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that Lord Parashurama invoked the essence of the Devi in an idol after which he built the Mridanga Saileswari temple. Surrounded by trees, the temple looks like a forest temple.

In Kerala there exist many temples in the name of Porkali goddess which were worshipped by Kalaris, the teaching centres of Kalaripayattu – the martial art form prevalent in Kerala in those days. At first Mridanga Saileswari was worshipped only by the local ethnic clans and later the Kottayam kings built a temple there. They had also developed a palace right behind the temple which was destroyed by the Britishers after Pazhassi Raja lost the war against them.

 A common belief is that Mridanga Saileswari pours her blessings to those who earnestly pray before her and light a lamp wholeheartedly at the temple. Devotees worship Mridanga Saileswari as the demolisher of evil & omnipotent. The Devi is considered, as the one who grants all wishes.

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Physical Structure

Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple
Photo credits: Aswin

The Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple is an excellent example of exquisite temple architecture of Kerala. There is a beautiful temple pond on the other side, which adds to its charm.

A cave temple existed just behind the present temple which was filled up after the brave Pazhassi Raja lost the war against the Britishers. Plans are on the anvil to rebuild the Cave temple.

About the Deity

The Mridanga Saileswari temple main deity is in the form of a Panchaloha idol of the four-armed Durga with two hands pointing upwards each holding a Conch and Discus. The first right hand blesses her devotees while the front left hand is placed on her waist.

Prathishta (Presiding Deity)

The main deity in the temple of Mridanga Saileswari is Goddess Durga, also called the Mizhavil Bhagavathi placed in a secret sanctum which is prohibited to the public. The Goddess Mizhavil Bhagavathi is worshipped as Chandi & Chamunda in the temple. In the temple’s main sanctum, Mizhavil Bhagavathi is in the form of Goddess Saraswathy who acts as the patron of music, arts and all kinds of knowledge. She offers blessings of skill (Siddhi) in the arts. The Devi, as Chamunda also called Porkali, is installed outside the main temple complex.

The deity of Mridanga Saileswari in the main sreekovil – the sanctum sanctorum can also be worshipped as Lakshmi-the goddess of plenty and Kali-the evil destroyer goddess. In whatever form we adore her, the Devi appears in the same shape and blesses the devotees! The power of Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, is said to be predominant here and she is also the goddess of arts, especially music. Devotees consider the worship at the Mridanga Saileswari not to be complete unless they worship the Mizhavil Bhagavati at the secret sanctum.

The deity, goddess Durga is said to be omnipotent & easy to please. The Devi is considered as the demolisher of evils and foes, and is worshipped as one who grants all the wishes of devotees instantly!

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Upadevatha (Sub Deities)

Chamunda also called Porkali, is worshipped outside the main temple complex.

Status of Pazhassi Raja
Photo credits: Raj Menon

The statue of King Pazhassi Raja is also installed at the Mridanga Saileswari temple premises.

Festivals

The temple annually celebrates two major festivals – Navaratri and the Pooram Celebration.

Navarathri

Navaratri is celebrated with much pomp and splendour at the Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple. The celebrations last for nine days and Ashtami, Navami & Vijayadashami, the last three days of Navaratri are dedicated to the worship of Saraswathy, the Goddess of wisdom & learning. Vidyarambham on Vijayadashami day is considered highly auspicious for initiating the children into the world of learning.

Pooram Mahotsavam

Another festival which is celebrated at the Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple is the Pooram Mahotsavam held on the Pooram star in the Malayalam month of Meenam (March – April). The festival is marked by performances of Thayambaka and Poorakkali, traditional and martial art forms performed make the festival celebrations impressive.

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Offerings (timings)

Ghee lamp is the primary offering here. Several poojas are performed at various timings at the Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple throughout the day.

  • The Usha pooja is at 7:00 AM. 
  • The Uchha pooja is at 11:00 AM. 
  • The Atthazha pooja or the evening prayer is at 7:15 PM.
  • Apart from this, Deeparadhana is performed at the time of the sunset.

Darshan timings

The Sree Mridanga Saileswari temple opens from 5:00 AM to 12:30 PM. In the evenings the temple remains open from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Dress code and entry rules

Men: Mundu & Veshti, Pants and boys can wear shorts.

Women: Sarees, Skirt or Salwar suit.

Location

The Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple is located in Muzhakkunnu Panchayat, Kannur Dist., Kerala. Nearest Town is Tellicherry. Kannur is rich in cultural heritage and is renowned as the land of Thira and Theyyam.

Getting there

By Road

Frequent buses are available from Koothuparamba, Iritty and  Mattannur Bus Stand.

Bus routes available:

  • Kannur -> Mattannur -> Iritty -> Kakkayangad -> Muzhakkunnu temple
  • Thalassery -> Mattannur -> Iritty -> Kakkayangad -> Muzhakkunnu temple
  • Kannur -> Mattannur -> Uliyil – > Thillankeri -> Muzhakkunnu temple (40 Km)
  • Thalassery -> Kuthuparamba -> Uruvachal -> Thillankeri -> Muzhakkunnu temple (40 Km)

Nearest Airport

The Kannur Airport is the nearest Airport which lies near the Mridanga Saileswari Temple.  The Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple is located at a 45 minutes’ drive from the new Kannur airport. You can hire taxis to reach the temple from the Airport. The Karipur International Airport, Kozhikode is at a distance of 138 km from the Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple.

Nearest Railway Stations

The Nearest Railway Station is Thalassery (around 45 km). The temple also lies near the Kannur Railway station. You can hire cans from both Railway Stations to reach the Mridanga Saileswari temple.

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Contact details

Muzhakkunnu Mridanga Saileswari Devi Temple

P.O. Muzhakkunnu, Peravoor (via) Kannur (Dt)

Kerala – 670673

Ph: 9400208034, 9400286777, 0490 2406408

Nearby temples

Thodeekalam Shiva Temple

Shiva Temple
Photo credits: Aswini

The Thodeekalam Shiva Temple near Thalassery in Kannur district and lies 15 km from the Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple. One of the most famous Hindu temples in Kerala, the temple is believed to be constructed about 2000 years ago. It is prevalent due to its magnificent mural paintings illustrating various stories of Indian mythology and epics. The presiding deity is Lord Shiva.

An interesting myth associated with the temple is that around 100 years ago, astrologers predicted the son of a Brahmin would die at the age of 16 due to snake bite. The parents started praying for his life at ‘Vaidyanatha Temple’ at Kanhirangad near Taliparamba- Kannur. On his 16th birthday, he dreams that he should take shelter at the Thodeekalam Shiva Temple to save his life. The family moves near the temple, and one day as he went to a pond for washing his hands, a big snake came to bite him. He seeks shelter inside the temple and embraces the idol kept inside. A small snake comes out of the temple and kills the big snake. The boy’s parents buy the lands around and present it to the temple afterwards to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva for protecting their son.

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Kottiyoor Siva Temple

Entrance to temple
Photo credits: Rahul

Kottiyoor Mahadeva Temple, one of the oldest temples of the state, lies about 23.5 km away from the Mridanga Saileswari temple. It is also known as Vadakkeshwaram Temple. It is also called the Ikkare Kottiyoor Temple by the local people as the temple is situated on the western banks of the river Bavali near the Kottiyoor village. There exists another Kottiyoor Temple called Akkare Kottiyoor Temple or Kizhakkeshwaram Temple on the eastern side of the river. A Kottiyoor Temple pilgrimage trip is revered by Keralites as  Kottiyoor, is also known as ‘Varanasi of the South’.

The Shiva linga at the temple is believed to be swayambhu or not human-made. This linga is placed on a heap called ‘Manithara’. Goddess Parvati is worshipped at the ‘Amarakkallu’ another heap close by. Abhishekams are done with milk, ghee and tender coconut water on both the Shiva Linga and the Amarakkallu. Kottiyoor is one of the few temples in India where Lord Shiva and Parvati are worshipped together. The Amarakkallu is believed to be the place where Sati Devi (Goddess Parvati incarnated) committed suicide after her consort Lord Shiva was humiliated by her father. Hence, it is also revered as the place of origin of Shakti Peethas.

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Peralassery Sri Subramanya Temple

Temple Pond
Photo credits: Atmaram

Peralassery Sri Subramanya Temple is 15.9 km from Kannur town and lies 32 km away from Sree Mridanga Saileswari Temple. Sri Subramanya is the main deity. According to the legend, Sri Subramanya took the form of a snake and visited the area. When later, Sri Ram, along with Lakshman and Hanuman, were passing through Peralassery, in search of Sita, Sri Ram sensed the presence of Sri Subramanya and installed an idol to worship him. Ayyappa, Ganapathi, Naga and Bhagavathy are the other deities. Eggs are offered to snake gods at the Peralassery Sri Subramanya temple. Milk, water, and yellow rice are also presented to the serpent gods. Devotees can also perform pooja to get rid of Sarpa Dosha here.

The temple has a massive temple pond which is the famed world over. It resembles a baori – a type of stepwell found in parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi and Karnataka. You have to go down numerous steps to reach the water in the middle.

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Muthappan Temple

Muthapan Temple
Photo credits: Pankaj

A unique worshipping style makes the Parassinikadavu Muthappan temple different from other temples in Kerala! Located on the banks of the Valapattanam river in Kannur, the Muthappan Temple has Sree Muthappan as its principal deity.  The traditional form of worship will not be found in this temple as the primary mode of worship is a classical dance form called Muthappan Theyyam. In this dance form, Thiruvappana and Vellattam, two mythical characters are ritually enacted. They are believed to be manifested into Sree Muthappan.

Many tourists flock to this temple every day to take part in this worship and enjoy this captivating dance where men are adorning colourful masks and costumes depicting the clash between good and evil. The good conquers evil to emerge victoriously. The offerings from devotees is another thing that makes this temple unique. People of all castes, religions, and nationalities come to visit the temple.

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Places to visit in Kannur

St. Angelo’s Fort

 

Panoramic view of fort
Photo credits: Thomas

This piece of history is amongst the most famous historic sites in Kannur. This massive fort is a triangular laterite structure flanked by gigantic bastions. It changed hands from the Dutch to the British, who made it into their primary military strong house in Malabar.

Mopilla Bay and Dharmadam Island are the prime attractions here. The fort offers a wonderful view of Mopilla Bay – a natural harbour from a sea wall projecting from the fort. Dharmadam Island is a small island lying 100 m from the mainland and is a favourite tourist spot. People come to the well-maintained fort & its gardens for relaxing strolls and viewing the beauty of the Arabian Sea.

Cliff Walkway

A beautiful short walkway is ending in a small children’s park at one end. You can get sweeping views of the sea from rocky cliffs, and it’s a great place to sit and watch gorgeous sunsets. The lighthouse nearby offers some stunning views.

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Muzhappilangad Drive-in Beach

Riders parked their bike
Photo credits: Sneha

The only drive-in beach in Kerala! The Muzhappilangad Drive-in Beach located 7km from Thalassery in Kannur is a beautiful 4 km stretch of sand that invites you to soak in the view of the beautiful Malabar Coast driving on the beach. You can taste the snacks made of authentic Malabar cuisine from several shacks on the beach. It is also known as a swimmers’ haven as the black rocks protect the beach from deep currents. You can relax and soak in this clean and well-maintained beach or try your hand in adventure sports like paragliding, parasailing and microlight flights. Water sports like power boating or a simple Catamaran ride can also be tried here.

Arakkal Museum

Name board
Photo credits: Gopan

A true testimony to the magnificent Muslim architecture and design, the Arakkal Museum is dedicated to the only Muslim royal family in Kerala – the Arakkal Ali Rajas! The Durbar Hall of this Arakkalkettu (Arakkal Royal Palace), once the official venue of gathering for the kings and their nobles, it has now been converted into the Arakkal Kettu Museum and is managed by the Arakkal Family Trust. The museum showcases heritage furniture, antiques, art, silver, weapons, and objects portraying their lives.

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Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary

Waterfalls at Aralam
Photo credits: Ashley

If you are a nature lover, the Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary is the place to be! Located on the slopes of the Western Ghats is this beautiful hilly forest terrain.  Katti Betta, the highest peak here is 1145 meters above sea level. Trekking in Aralam Sanctuary can be a delightful experience as many types of butterflies can be spotted here.

Home to a diverse variety of flora and fauna, including elephants, deer, langurs, and squirrels, the sanctuary is the best option for the adventure lover. While going to the sanctuary, you will come across a Central State Farm of the Government of India, the famed production centre for hybrid coconut seeds in the country at Aralam village, Thalassery.

Madayipara

Scenic beauty
Photo credits: Robin

A must visit place for those who wish to explore beautiful destinations. Madayipara is a laterite hillock in Kannur, rich in biodiversity and historical significance which offers awe-inspiring views of the Payangadi town on the banks of Kuppam river. At Madayipara you can find the ruins of a fort called Pazhi Kotta and also the ancient Vadikunda Shiva Temple. Madayipara is also rich in flora and fauna as more than 100 species of Butterflies, Birds and insects along with rare medicinal herbs can be found here.

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