Attukal Bhagavathy Temple and Pongala Mahotsav 2011

Attukal Bhagavathy temple is one of the famous temples in South India. The temple is located about 2.5km away from East Fort of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), the capital city of Kerala State. Annual festival of temple is called Attukal Pongala Mahotsav. Every year in the month of February-March, Attukal Pongala Mahotsav is going on here for ten days. On the 9th day festival, world famous Pongala takes place. In this famous function we too took apart in it. So it was a great experience and joyful moment to us.

First up all let us talk about the temple. Story of the temple is related to the world famous Tamil Literature ‘Chilapathikaram’ written by poet Ilankovadikal. Chilapathikaram’s heroin Kannaki is the goddess of this temple. After put fire to Madurai (now in Tamilnadu), she ran to Kodungalloor (now in Thrissur district of Kerala). On the way of Kodungalloor, she took rest in the place of Attukal. She took form of a little girl and asked to an old man to cross the river Killiyar, who is sitting in the banks of the river. Seeing a young girl alone, he took her to home, but she disappeared. At night, she appeared in his sleep and asked him to build a temple for her. Because of that here the people raised the temple for Kannaki.

(Attukal Bhagavathy Photo Credits: Website of Attukal Temple)

"Sarva Mangala Mangalie Sive Sarvardha Sadhike
Saraneye Thrambike Gowri Narayani Nomo sthuthe"

The temple is located near by the field and the atmosphere is marvelous, because if you go there sure. We would like to stay there some more minutes in the environment. The temple is well furnished. And the temple is based on both Kerala and Tamil style architecture. The gopuram of the temple says the real story of Kannaki with the same rate of Chilapathikaram. The sculptures are made by the great sculptor Raja Raman of Madurai. Really we must appreciate his talent. We excited by seeing them. We can read the chilapathikaram from that. The main deity is Attukal Bhagavathy. Other gods are Lord Siva, Lord Ganapathy and Nagaraja (Serpent god) temple. In the side of temple there is a mini stage to conduct the cultural programs. Out side of the temple we can find a pond with lot of fishes. One of the social reformers of Kerala Sri Vidhayadhiraja Chattambi Swami’s memorial building is seen by this temple. The temple is managed by Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust. Auditoriums, hospital and educational institutions are also undergoing by them.

(Attukal Temple)

(Attukal Temple)

(Attukal Temple)

(Attukal Temple)

(Attukal Temple)

(Attukal Temple)

(Sculptures, Attukal Temple)

(Sculptures, Attukal Temple)

(Bhagavath Geetha Painting, Attukal Temple)

(Thulabharam, Attukal Temple)

(Attukal Temple at festival time)

(Attukal Temple at festival time)

This year on 11th of February 2011, festival started grandly with the flag hoisting. Here the festival is going on here for 10 days. All these 10 days the cultural programs are happening on the main stage and mini stage of the temple. Whole ‘Chilapathikaram’ story has been sung through ‘Thottam Pattu’ in these ten days. Around 5km of the temple has been announced as the festival area by the local authorities. So the decorating and light arrangement and other necessary facilities are done by the local clubs, residential associations and other

Athapookkalam, Apsara Club, Killippalam

(Light show, Apsara Club, Killippalam)

(Light show near by Killippalam)

(Light show near by Killippalam)

(Light show near by Killippalam)

(Light show near by Killippalam)

(Light show near by Killippalam)

(Jai Hanuman, a light and sound show from East Fort)

(Enthiran, a light and sound show from East Fort)

(Trivandrum Floweriest Association, Chalai)

(Sargam club, Valiyasalai)

(A view from Kuriyathi)

The 9th day of this festival is celebrating as Pongala. Millions of people participating in it, especially women. So it is called as ‘Sabarimala of Women’. Thus these many people are taking part in it; this Pongala received ‘Guinness World Record’. This year approximate 3 million (30 lakhs) of women are participated. According to the Trust, year by year the number of people is increasing. So this day is announced as the local holiday for trivandrum district by government.

(Guinness Certificate, Photo credits: Website of Attukal Temple)

On Pongala day, approximately 5 km around the temple is filled with women, who came from various parts of Kerala and Tamilnadu. Every roads and courtyard of houses became Pongala sites. Necessary arrangements are done in houses on that day. Pongala is prepared on mud pots with the help of temporary hearth made of bricks. Dried coconut leaves are used to light up hearths. Ingredients of Pongala are cooked rice, jaggery, ghee, coconut, nuts and etc. Other dishes like ‘Therali’ (a sweet cake prepared from rice flour, jaggery, etc.), ‘Mandaputtu’ (a sweet dish prepared from rice flour, jaggery, green gram, etc), ‘Vellapongala’ (prepared from rice), Boiled Green Gram are also prepared along with Pongala.

(Bricks for temporary hearth)

(Different types for mud pots used for Pongala)

(A temporary hearth)

(Hearth with mud pot)

(Women waiting for light up hearths, a view from Nandavanam Street, Valiyasalai)

Around 10.45am, the temple priest lights the hearth in the temple. Then it passed from one woman to the other and spread entire Pongala sites. About 5km around the temple is filled with smoke from the hearths. Women start preparing Pongala and other dishes.

(Hearth Lighting)



(Boiled Green Gram)


About 2.30pm on that day, the priests from the temple sprinkling holy water to prepared items. This concludes the Pongala Ceremony.

(Some photos from the temple)

How to reach :

Nearest Railway Station: Trivandrum Central
Nearest Airport : Trivandrum International Airport

Festival Season: February-March every year