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Achankoil Sastha Temple – Ayyappa Temple at Achankovil

Achankoil Sastha Temple, or the Dharmasastha Temple, is one among the five important temples dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in Kerala. Lord Ayyappa leads the Grihastha Ashrama life here – he is depicted as a family man or leads married life here. He is depicted along with his two wives – Purna and Pushkala. It is believed that the idol here was installed by Lord Parashurama.

The Sastha Murti (Vigraham) in the shrine is unique as he holds sword and shield. He also wears colorful clothes.  

The Achankovil Sastha Temple is famous for curing poisonous snake bites. The left hand of the idol of Ayyappa at Achankovil Sastha Temple always holds ‘Chandan’ (sandalwood paste) and Thirtha (holy water). The Chandan and Thirtha are considered to have medicinal properties to cure snake bites.

The temple complex also contains other deities associated with the Ayyappa legend. The festivals and rituals held here have strong Tamil roots.

The subsidiary deities worshipped in the temple are Karuppaswamy, Karuppai Amma, Chepparamundan, Cheppanimadan, Kalamadan, Madanthevan (all these are Parivara Devatas associated with Sastha). Other important deities in the shrine include Durga, Malikapurathamma, Bhagavathi, Nagarajavu, Nagayakshi, Ganpati, Murugan, Kochitta Narayanan, Arugula and Shingi Bhoothathan. 

The most important festival here is celebrated from the first to tenth day of Malayalam month Dhanu (December – January). Mandala Pooja and Revati Puja in Makaram month are other important festivals. Therottam is the important festival during Mandala Pooja. 

The unique chariot pulling held during Mandala Puja festival is known as Manikanda Muthu Swami Ezhunnallathu. The Ratholsavam is held two days before Mandala Puja. 

Pushpabhishekam on Revati nakshatra in Makaram month is another important event here. It is believed that this temple uses the largest number of flowers for Pushpabhishekam in South India. 

There are bus services from Punalur and Sengottai to reach the temple. Also there are private services from Konni, Aryankavu etc.

Two other important nearby Ayyappa Temples are the Aryankavu Sastha Temple and Kulathupuzha Ayyappa Temple.