I happened to be in Kerala recently and had a wonderful opportunity to visit some ancient temples there.
Vaikom Mahadeva Kshetram ( temple) dedicated to Lord Siva , is very famous and one of the oldest temples in Kerala. It is in Kottayam district. This temple is fairly big one and attracts pilgrims from all over the state and neighbouring ones too. There are 2 more famous temples situated at equi distance from Vaikom and it is considered auspicious if one can visit all the 3 temples in one day before Uccha pooja (Noon worship). The other two temples are Ettumanoor and Kadathuruthy, again in Kottayam district. These temples are also very big and one can enjoy the simple arichitecture, typical of Kerala.
Vaikom temple shot to fame during the period of Vaikom Satya Graha ( a movement to allow all sections of Hindus inside the temple) was intitiated here. This temple attracts foreign tourists also but non- Hindus are not allowed into the inner most walls of the temple and near the sanctum.
The Lord here is known as Vaikkathappan and the festival, Vaikathashtami is very famous here. He is also referred to as the Annadana Prabhu meaning provider of feast or food and many pilgrims are fed here everyday. The devotees rich and poor sit side by side and partake in the feast and it is believed that it is provided by the God himself and it has curative powers for stomach ailments.
The temple premises are always kept spic and span and everybody makes it a point to maintain the sanctity of the temple. It is believed that the demon Khara, brother of Surpanakka (of Ramayana) got 3 Sivalingams from Kailash in Treta Yuga, one was installed here and the remaining ones were consecrated at Ettumanoor and Kadathuruthy.
How to reach: Vaikom is 45 Kms from Kochi and is connected by rail and road. The nearest airport is Nedumbassery is another 40 Kms. from Ernakulam. Excellent accomodation luxury, executive and budget class are available at Kochi.