Monday, February 15, 2010

Vittobha temple- Mattancherry,Kochi

The Vittobha temple in Mattancherry, Kochi is famous for its unique form of worship offered to the deity in the form of singing Bhajans. I stayed bang opposite to this temple during my early child hood and grew up right under the gaze of Lord Vittobha and the deity here holds a special place in my mind. Vittobha is none other than Krishna, is called thus by the people of Maharashtra as the one who is standing on eet or veet meaning brick. See my earlier post on Lord Vittobha of Pandarpur. The deity in Kochi is similar to the one that is in Pandarpur. Here also he is standing with his hands on his hips as if waiting for his bhakta (devotee). There is no separate shrine for his consort Rukumai as she resides on his chest in the form of a pendant . A recent addition is a small shrine dedicated to Goddess Annapoorna which is behind the Vittobha temple.

When I was a little girl, I have spent most of my time in this temple as the road separating my house and the temple was only about 15 feet wide. It was as if moving from one room to the other. The temple is at present run very well by a young and energetic group who frequent the temple regularly to see the daily upkeep and needs of the temple. The temple was recently renovated and it looks grand with its simplicity intact. The temple becomes a buzz of activity every evening as young and old come together and chant devotional songs called as Abhangs in praise of God. Abhangs are beautiful invocations to the Lord created by the saints like Sant Tukaram, Namdev, Gnandev etc. This bhajans are usually sung in groups and it is nice to watch, listen and sway to the rhythm of the same. This temple provides a platform for any body who desires to worship the God with the bhajans. An excellent example of camaraderie is visible here among the devotees who throng the temple to worship him in the evenings.

The idol here was brought here by the late Sri Ambu Baliga during one of his visits to Pandarpur and he installed it in Kochi. When the temple was opened for all the Hindus which was frequented only by chaste brahmins, it caused resentment and the temple remained neglected for about 7-8 years. After wards again the temple was opened up and worship resumed again, and it has become a huge movement today as this temple attracts thousands of devotees during the Sapthaham festival which takes place during the month of July. Sapthaham festival starts in the month of Aashada on Siddha Panchami day.

On the first day of the Saptham a huge lamp is lit in front of the deity and it glows for about 7 days and the temple remains open round the clock. Devotees keep singing the Bhajans with accompaniment of cymbals, harmonium and Tabla, with out stopping the cymbals even for a second. The devotees while singing do get totally absorbed in it that they sing and dance around the lamp. The devotees take turn and see that the sapthaham is conducted smoothly. On the seventh day a procession (shoba yatra) of devotees singing bhajans, carrying fruits and flowers march up to the Venkatachalapathy temple near by and returns to the Vittobha temple. I remember there used to be a devotee who used to do sayana pradikshinam (prostrating and rolling continuously on the ground) all the way to the other temple.

A temporary mandap is raised in front of the temple during the sapthaham and food is provided to all the devotees on the day saptham ends. Many stalwarts from the Hindustani music and Bhajan singers from different parts of India offer their worship here during the saptham season. They enthrall the devotees with their singing and this small temple gets thronged for the same. This Bhakti cult i.e singing and worshipping God has become a large crowd puller now. The temple is built in a simple style with attention being given to accommodate as many devotees as possible inside.

This temple has completed 100 years (1909) and a sahashra kalasha abhishekam was conducted as part of the centenary celebrations.

How to reach
The nearest railway station is Ernakulam south Junction which is 10 Kms from Mattancherry.
Nearest airport is Nedumbassery.
Private buses ply from Ernakulam to Mattancherry
Budget and luxury hotels are available in Ernakulam town itself

For a treat of Abhang listen to this Lata Mangeshkar's Melodious invocation


Urmi said...

Mattancherry temple is very nice and I have been there 3-4 times. I have seen almost all the places in and around Ernakulam. While reading your lovely post I felt as if I have reached there. Wonderful description.

chitra said...

Babli ,
I am happy you liked the post on Kochi,That was an enjoyable trip isn't it?

The Cute Corner House said...

I am so happy today to read this post Chitramma.

When we were in Mumbai, Pandharpur was on our must visit list. But unfortunately could not make it. Maybe one day along with Ashtavinayak, this would also materialise.

Sushma Mallya said...

beautiful temples,Nice reading abt them...i have never been to kochi till now,but still get to know lots through ur i just love reading abt different places ,just so beautiful...

Anuradha Shankar said...

Good one, Chitra.. I wasnt even aware of such a temple... i have been to Pandharpur, though!

Rajlakshmi said...

thats such interesting information... would help a lot of people who are planing to visit :D

chitra said...

@ Cute Corner House
I would say this is the Pandarpur of South. Those who cannot travel all the way to Pandarpur, He waits in Kochi for his devotees. Good is it not?
Sushma Mallya,
@ I just wanted to share with all of you my experiences.Like you are sharing your wonderful recipes. Nice you are enjoying it.

During your next Kerala visit just spend 1/2 day in Mattancherry and Fortkochi. you will be able to cover lot of places.

Thanks Rajalakshmi and welcome to my blog. Nice to know you liked it.

Samvedna said...

I feel so envious of you..stayed near the temple..thats my desire now to live like that in my retirement..

chitra said...

Living near a temple and darting in and out of the temple is a different experience. Never understood all that when I was a young girl.I realise now how much that has influenced me. May God help you to fulfill your wish.

Mridula said...

So yo grew up with a temple across the road! No wonder you write about them.

chitra said...

yes, that is the truth. I and my siblings were always in the temple.

itsyvitsy said...

I got absorbed into this description of yours. I loved the picture and I wonder how did you get so close. The pic is absolutely wonderful and deity, no doubt, looks graceful.

I do understand the people getting involved into the bhajans and music. When the soul is one with the Lord, the mind simply shuts itself off of the world outside. It is just the devotee and the Lord, and it is a sheer bliss.


chitra said...

You too are a Vittala. Do you know it is Vittobha's name?
In this temple we can go very near the deity but only the priest can enter the sanctum. My house is still there, only thing is my cousin is there now.Like you said when we are singing bhajans and we get totally absorbed it is pure bliss. Bhajans just got saturated in my blood as I grew up there.Thank you Vittal for the beautiful comment.

Insignia said...

Nice information. Was never aware of this temple. Will jopt it down for my trip :-)

chitra said...

Thank you Insignia. It would be a nice trip to Kochi if you plan one.

Reflections... said...

OK, this is one monument I have NOT visited! I didn't know about it during my visit to Kochin, otherwise I would have gone there. But thanks for this information. Your description is very lucid.

Bringing the idol of Vithoba here is a reflection of the exchange networks that worked in traditional India between various sects and these deities were regarded as forms of the same god or goddesses.

From the photographs of the temple, something interesting emerges - it's a Maharashtrian cult, but the temple architecture is very much influenced by that of the local Kerala temples - because the temple was built by a Malayali devotee. Indeed, the cult has merged with the local population of this area and the people here regard it as "their own shrine", which shows the strength of Indian culture of ability to accept all cultures and ideas as their own.

Traci said...

Thank you for sharing the music and the legend, as well as the wonderful pictures. As always, you are more than a friend, you are a delightful teacher.

chitra said...

I appreciate your command over language, you really have a way with your words and do good analysis too.

chitra said...

Traci dear,
That was a nice to appreciate a different culture. Thanks for the compliment I too like your friendship a lot.

Saras said...

Your posts are not only very descriptive but also very thorough in details which make one feel as if they are physically there with you. Keep up the good work.I have made note of some places in Kerala which I have missed. Thanks

Sorcerer said...

back in the blogosphere after a break ..and..nice update.thank you

chitra said...

Thank you Saras, for your comment.Hope you have a nice trip to Kochi

chitra said...

nice to see you . I was away for my work. shall visit you.

HaRy!! said...

Hey Chitra madam... romba naal i was missing... so very nice to see this new pilgrimage :) ... nice to know yur china ponu storiess.., and where is my award!! :)


chitra said...

Have you just waken from your slumber . Your award is in the previous post St. Francis Church, . Trust you will enjoy.

SG said...

Very nice narration. Would love to visit this temple. Have you thought about publishing all your posts in a book form. You are one excellent temple historian.

chitra said...

Thanks SG
Nice suggestion SG. But will it ever see the light of the day ?

Chandrika Shubham said...

How lucky u r! :)
The temple photos r nice with very nice discription. :)
Thanks for sharing 'Consort Rukumabai's pendant on the Lord's chest' with us.

chitra said...

Welcome to my blog. happy to know that you enjoyed it.

lostworld said...

Your spirituality & devotion amazes me:-) I think this has to be one of your best posts. Classic, with inclusion of childhood memories and minute details.
I agree with SG. Temple-book will be a huge hit Chitra. Give it a serious thought!!

chitra said...

Was wondering where were you?. After writing I too liked when I read it. It just flowed from the heart. May be it is the Lord's wish.Like you are all telling I will think about the book,thanks a lot for your encouraging words.

ARUNA said...

Wow the goddess is so beautiful, tx for the details chitra. I miss India, there's so much peace in temples, i just miss everything.

anupama said...

Dear Chitra,
Good Morning!
I have never heard about this temple before.Thanks a lot for the detailed information.I miss my daily morning temple visits in Trichur with Nanda;everyday we go to different temples.Mornings are beautiful with the darshan of God/Goddess.Lots of positive energy is filled in.Great work!Keep writing.
Wishing you a wonderful Sunday,
Beautiful photos!

chitra said...

Thanks for your wonderful comment. Nice to know you liked the post. Have a nice holiday.

The early morning trips to temple is altogether a difference experience. When I was in Kerala I used to visit the Bhagavathi temple nearby and with out that visit the day never used to be complete.

FranE said...

I love reading your descriptions and explanations. My understanding of the different temples and ceremonies is growing. When I started reading, I believe I was only aware of Vishnu and Shiva. (Very limited World Religion Class.) Thank you for your beautiful pictures and posts.

chitra said...

Thank you for the comment. Most of the temples are dedicated to Siva, Vishnu and the female Godesses. But there many temples where we find the various incarnations of these Gods and the above post is a reincarnation Vishnu .

Manjunath said...

OMG!!! your blog is unique with only pilgrimagelogue, cool and nice information!

chitra said...

Dear Manjunath,
Welcome to my blog. Thanks for the comments and keep visiting.

Sridharan said...

I like Sundar Te dhyan..Latha is inimitable..!
Nice post Chitra.

chitra said...

thanks Sridharan.