Chirakkadavu where lord Ayyappa learnt his first lesson in Kalari
Ponkunnam: Devotees have started to flock Chirakkadavu Sri Mahadeva Temple here with the onset of Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season at Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple. The idol is a 'Swayambhu Siva Lingam' and in a fatherly comportment. Hence it is believed that those devotees from Chirakkadavu need not engage in the customary Petta Thullal (ritualistic sacred dance) at Erumeli.
Manikandan took his first step in Kalari here
According to the legend, Panthalam prince Manikandan learned the first lessons in martial arts at Chirakkadavu Kalari. The Velakali performed here is a reminder of this belief. Chirakkadavu was ruled by Chengannur Vanjippuza dynasty during the Travancore reign. An army was formed assembling the youth trained in martial arts from the Kalari where Ayyappa had trained. When the king’s rule ended, Velakali was formed from martial art form. Now, Velakali is performed by children.
The divine chira here
There is a temple pond near the east nada of the temple where devotees use for bathing. The pond was formed in the place where mud was dug up to build this temple. Because of the pond ('Chira' in Malayalam) in the eastern side of the temple the place is called 'Chirakadavu'.
The deity here is believed to be Swayambhu (self-manifested) under the Koovalam tree (Bili tree). The king during his last days took to 'tapas' under the tree and came to be known as Maharshi (Koovamaharshi). He had instructed to build the temple here. But the construction was halted midway due to shortage of water. A yaga was performed under the Maharshi at the pit where mud was dug up and as a result water filled the pond, says history.