Closely connected to the festival of Onam and the associated fables, Onattukara has many historical and mythological legacies few know of. Legends has it that even Maveli (Mahabali) feasted here, thereby giving its capital the name Mavelikkara. Onattukara, at the heart of Mavelikkara is also known for a number of famous temples.
From about the 12th century, Onattukara has been a native state. Mavelikkara, its capital was also renowned as the agricultural capital bountiful enough to feed the entire Malayalam land. Malayalis remember Mavelikkara and Onattukara whenever they think of Onam.
Curiously, near the Lord Krishna temple at Mavelikkara, there is a Buddha statue, a rarity in Kerala. Located at the place now called the Buddha Junction, this statue suggests a long-lost Buddhist cult here. It is said that Maveli himself was a Buddhist. Presently, the region around has many famous Hindu temples.
Kandiyoor Mahadeva temple
It is said that this is the first Shiva temple in Kerala. Lord Shiva is in the form of 'Kiraata' (woodsman) here. It is believed that this was previously a Buddhist monastery. This temple is a part of Kerala's cultural history. It is one of the 108 major Shiva temples in the world.
The Devadasis (women dedicated to the temple) of Mavelikkara once held the rights over this temple. References in some old literary works like 'Unnuneeli Charitham', 'Unniyadi Charitham' etc. written in Manipravalam (a mix of Sanskrit and Malayalam) suggest this. Architecturally, this temple is quite unlike other temples of Kerala. The temple has 12 subordinate deities including Vishnu and Ganapati.
Chettikulangara Devi temple
Dedicated to the mother goddess Bhagavathi, Chettikulangara Devi temple is one of the richest temples after Sabarimala. This temple is renowned for the 'Bharani' festival which finds mention in our literature. During the 'Bharani' festival, thousands cutting across religions and castes throng at this temple. This 1200 year old temple is said to have been commissioned by Padmapada Acharya, a disciple of Adi Sankara. The goddess Bhagavathi is worshipped here in three forms. The deity is believed to be in the form of goddess Saraswathi in the morning and in the form of goddess Mahalakshmi at noon while in the evening, the deity takes the form of Durga. Chettikulangara Devi temple conducts some rare rituals like chariot race etc.
Padanilam Parabrahma temple
This temple, famous for the rituals like 'Padanilam Padayani' and Shivarathri, follows the traditions typical of Onattukara. The 'Nandikesha Kettu' festival (a festival associated with the bull cult) is also important. Props of in the form of bulls up to 50 feet in height are the attractions during these festivities. Sixteen regions around Padanilam partake in the 'Shivarathri' festivals with their 'Padayani' props and take out procession around the temple.
Among many other festivals, Onattukara and Mavelikkara celebrate Onam festival 28 days after the Onam day.
Being so closely associated with the legend of Onam, these places are worth a visit during the festival season.