Ernakulam Shiva Temple, also known as Ernakulathappan Temple is one of the major temples of Kerala. Located in heart of Ernakulam, in the port city of Kochi, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Believed to be the presiding deity as the protector of the city, as per local Hindu faiths and tradition.
The history of the Ernakulam temple is associated with the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The temple finds mention in the Sangam Literature and is believed as one of the major temples under Chera Dynasty. Another notable story dates back to the 16th century. During the time when Fort Kochi was under siege by the Dutch, the Kochi rulers moved their capital to Ernakulam and made a beautiful Palace which overlooks the pond of this temple. Later, the temple was declared as the protector of Ernakulam.
The main deity of the Ernakulam temple is Lord Shiva. The Gourisankara form of the Lord is housed in the main sanctum sanctorum. The lingam in the main sanctum is called by the name 'Swayambhoo'. The northern side of the main sanctum, is the small shrine of 'Kirthamoorthy'. It is believed to shelter the real Lingam worshipped by Arjuna. The southern side of the temple has a small shrine of Lord Ganesha. Located behind the main sanctum is an idol of Goddess Parvati. The temple also offers the pilgrims the blessings of Lord Ayappa and Nagaraja.
The Ernakulum Shiva Temple is the centre of festivities and celebrations in Ernakulam 'Uthsavom' is celebrated in the months of December-January.
The festival begins with Kodiyettam, hoisting of the temple flag. Pakalpooram is a procession arranged on the seventh day, where the deity is taken for a yatra on dressed up elephants. On the last day of the festival, a solemn ceremony is held in the evening. The temple flag is brought down and the deity is taken for the holy bath (Arattu) to the tank of temple.
The festival is followed with various cultural programs. Temple arts like Paatakam, Thayambaka, Ottamthullal, Classical dances, Kathakali, Classical music concerts, Bhajans etc. make the occasion all the more wonderful.