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Connect to Spirituality Amid Wilderness at Mangala Devi Temple

  • The Mangala Devi Kannagi Temple is a 1000 years old, ruined granite stone temple standing upright at an altitude of 1337 metres above sea level. The temple was built in reverence to Mangala Devi, also known as Kannaki and beholds a significant historical significance. The temple is located in the forest of Periyar Tiger Reserve and is among the top tourist attractions in Thekkady. Since its inception, the deity of Kannaki has been a symbol of moral power, which is present in every ordinary woman. The legend behind the temple says that Kannaki burnt the entire town of Madurai with a curse after learning that her husband was punished and killed because of wrong allegations of theft in the royal court. Kannaki went to the forests of Periyar after burning down Madurai.

    The tale of Kannaki has been immortalised by the famous poet-prince Ilanko Adikal in his Tamil epic Silapathikaram, one of the five epics in Tamil literature.


    The Architecture of Mangala Devi Temple

    The construction of the temple bears a resemblance to that of Pandyan architecture. There is no concrete record of the time of construction of the temple. However, it is believed that it was initiated by Chera Ruler Chenkuttuvan. Locals also believe that Gajabahuka Gamani, the Lankan King and other prominent personalities of the time attended the ceremony of the idol installation.

    At present, the temple is in a ramshackle state but the steps leading to the temple and the boundary walls are still upstanding to manifest the glory of the bygone era. A visit to the location of the temple tickles the tourists’ minds with a question mark about how the huge stones and granites had been brought to such an altitude in those days. The archaic temple complex of Mangala Devi constitutes of four stone structures that encompass the deities of other Gods such as Lord Shiva, Lord Ganapathy and Karuppa Swamy. Also, there are several structures carved on the stone walls of the temple complex.

    Another striking fact is that there is a secret underground pathway that the locals believe is a passage that connects to either Meenakshi Temple or the palace of the Pandya King.


    Festival at Mangala Devi Temple

    Unlike the other temples of Kerala, Mangala Devi Temple is not open to tourists and devotees around the year. The common public can only enter the temple on the full moon night during the occasion of Chithra Pournami celebrated between April and May. The deity of Mangala Devi is brought from Kambam during the temple festival due to the ruined state of the temple. The idol is made up of Panchaloha (5 metals).

    The main deity of Goddess Kannaki is adorned with silk and flowers and prayers and oblations are offered during the daytime. Women cook and offer pongala to the deity on the occasion and seek blessings.


    Since the temple is located in the forest area of Periyar National Park you need to get prior permission from the forest officials to visit the place. The 12km long way to the temple is covered by a jeep and en route through the dense foliage and grasslands, you can also catch views of Nilgiri Tahr and other species of fauna and flora.