A group of men crossing Methala region in Perumbavoor spotted a woman who was juggling stones with a certain abandon. The woman’s beauty stunned the travelers, they could not resist a closer look. But the woman hid behind the very stones she was playing with.
The solitary woman made one stone her seat and the next her roof. Thus born the famed cave temple of Kallil near Perumbavoor.
The boulder on the roof is 75 feet long, 45 feet broad and 25 feet high. The boulder was supposedly mysteriously suspended in the air. The roof does not touch other boulders in many places even though a temple built on the cave structure does away with the impression.
Believed to be from the third century BC, the temple is a relic of Kerala’s rich Jain tradition. The stone sculptures of Parshvanatha, the 23rd Theerthankara, and Vardhamana Mahaveera, the 24th Theerthankara, are present in the temple. Padmavati Devi is also present.
Padmavati Devi is worshiped as the Kallil Bhagavathi. Nowadays, Durga, Mahadeva and Mahavishnu are also worshiped in the temple. The figure carved to the huge boulder that acts as a roof of the temple is worshiped as Brahma.
The cave temple is one of the havens that housed the waves of Jain monks which swept over south India. The temple was transformed into a Hindu temple by the 9th century.
Several myths try to stake ownership of the temple. The goddess of the temple is supposed to be the sister of the goddesses in the nearby Iringole temple and the Villarvathi.
Time to celebrate
The Kallil temple festival falls on the Karthika of the Malayalam month of Vrishchikam, either in November or December. The idol is placed atop a female elephant, not a tusker as in the other temples of Kerala.
According to legend, the goddess had turned a hapless tusker, who was forced to shoulder the idol, into stone. The elephant-shaped stone near the temple is a spooky reminder of the story.
The temple is 4 km off Odakkali between Perumbavoor and Kothamangalam. Travelers to Munnar can easily take a small detour to visit the temple.
Jain temples in Kerala
Ananthnath Swami Temple - Kalpetta
Jainimedu Jain Temple - Palakkad
Kattil Madam Temple - Pattambi
Dharmanath Jain Temple - Mattancherry
Jain temple - Alappuzha
Shri Vasupujya Swami Jain Temple - Ernakulam
Places of worships nearby
Adi Shankara Temple, Kaladi
Juma Masjid Mudickal
(The original article was written in Malayalam)