Sasthamcotta Sree Dharmasastha Temple
Sree Dharmasastha Temple is located at Sasthamcotta in Kollam District 11 kms west of Adoor, 10 kms from Karunagappally. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa and the surroundings of the temple are covered by hills and forests. There are many monkeys inhabiting the premises, which are considered holy. It is beleived that Lord Hanuman at the time flying to Lanka in search of Goddess Sita, halted at this place also, and since then this Temple is a home for Monkeys. The monkeys are devotee-friendly, and the thousands of devotees visiting the temple take pleasure in feeding these monkeys with nuts and fruits.
The Dharmasastha (deity) here is said to have the same powers as that of Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala and the place derives the name from the diety, the former name being Kota. The temple was built by a prince of Pandalam Royal family. Folklore has that the idol consecrated at Sasthamcotta temple is none other than the swayambhu idol worshipped by Lord Ram during his trip to Lanka (Sri Lanka) in search of his consort, Sita. What makes this lesser known temple, a must add in your itinerary is its location – situated next to a vast fresh water lake flanked by hills on three sides, the setting is simply divine! The ancient Sastha (Ayyappa, son of Shiva and Mohini [Vishnu in female form], according to legends) temple, which lends its name to the town, is also dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The temple, though at the edge of forests and has hills on its side is also next to a small town that has developed next to it.
The highlight of this temple is the ten-day annual festival. During the festival, the colourful Kettukazhcha ritual procession, along with various folk arts such as Mayilattam, Kaala (bull motif), Kuthira (horse motif), Ammankudam are performed. The festival concludes with the Arattu ceremony, five caparisoned elephants take part in a procession held at midnight. People going to the holy pilgrimage at Sabrimala, do comes here for Worship.
Feeding Monkeys at Sasthamkotta Temple
One of the fascinating features of this temple is the abundance of monkeys that camp around. A few years ago, the monkeys began to face shortage of food and they began to snatch food from visitors to the temple and children going to nearby schools and colleges. The Courts then ordered the Devaswom (Temple) Board to make arrangements to feed the monkeys of the temple adequately. The Board, being short of funds, sought support from well-wishers of the temple but adequate funds were not forthcoming. Mr Gopala B. Pillai, founder and president of Wild Republic, and a native of Sasthamkotta, heard about this dilemma and offered to set up a Trust Fund jointly with the Devaswom Board to ensure perpetual feeding of the monkeys. This was achieved in 1996 and since then the monkeys of the temple have never been in want of food. On local festival days, when people feast at home, the Trust arranges a similar feast for the monkeys of the temple also.
Sasthamcotta Neelakandan is the elephant at Sasthamcotta Temple (Sasthamcotta Manikandan was the first elephant at the temple. Sasthamcotta Manikandan passed away in the year 1999). Neelakandan is the vital part of Sasthamcotta temple. He carries the deity of the Lord Dharmasastha during annual festival processions and ceremonial circumambulations in the temple. Nelakandan is donated by Sri. Ajith Kumar, who is a well known business man in the UAE, as his offering.
- CategoryPilgrimage Places, Temple