Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple is a famous Hindu temple located in Mannarasala village in the state of Kerala, India. It is dedicated to the serpent god Nagaraja, who is believed to be the presiding deity of the temple. The temple is renowned for its unique worship of serpents and is one of the most prominent serpent worship centers in Kerala.
The history of Mannarasala Temple dates back several centuries. Legend has it that the temple was established by a Brahmin family who were devotees of Nagaraja. It is believed that a young Brahmin couple, Vasudeva and Sreedevi, were blessed with a child after fervently praying to Nagaraja. In gratitude, they built a small shrine and installed an idol of Nagaraja. Over time, the shrine grew into the present-day temple complex.
The temple is nestled in a serene setting amidst dense forests and covers a vast area. The complex consists of several structures, including the main sanctum sanctorum, open-air halls, serpent groves, and ponds. The temple is known for its sacred grove, which is home to thousands of resident and migratory snakes. It is believed that the serpents are the embodiments of Nagaraja and are worshipped as divine beings.
The annual festival of Mannarasala Temple, called Mannarasala Ayilyam, is a major attraction. It takes place in the Malayalam month of Thulam (October/November) and draws devotees from far and wide. During the festival, special rituals and offerings are conducted, and the temple premises come alive with vibrant decorations and cultural programs.
The temple is also famous for a unique ritual called ‘Uruli Kamazhthal.’ Devotees offer special prayers by placing a bell metal vessel (uruli) in a pit filled with turmeric paste. The hissing sound made by the serpent deities upon entering the uruli is considered highly auspicious.
Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple is not only a significant pilgrimage site but also a center of research and conservation of snake species. It has played a vital role in creating awareness about the importance of conserving snakes and their habitats.
Visitors to the temple are required to follow certain customs and traditions. It is customary for men to remove their shirts before entering the temple premises, and women are expected to wear traditional attire. Photography and videography are generally restricted within the temple complex.
Overall, Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple holds immense religious and cultural significance, attracting devotees and tourists alike who seek the blessings of Nagaraja and admire the unique traditions associated with serpent worship.
Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple near Haripad in Alappuzha is dedicated to Serpant Gods, Nagaraja, Nagayakshi and Sarpayakshi. The worship and Pooja of this temple is very different from that of other temples in Kerala. Daily poojas are offered for Sarpayakshi. There is an Ilanji tree in front of its shrine with several pits for serpents.
The entrance to the temple, surrounded by about 16 acres of thick green forest, is lined with rows of stone images of serpents reportedly 30,000 of them. On the eastern side of the temple ‘Pulluvans’ (a community) sing ‘Pulluvan Pattu’ (serpent songs) with ardent faith. On the south west of the shrine is the ‘Thevaram chamber’ where the great mother worships Nagaraja.
The festivals of this temple include the Mahashivarathri and the Ayilyam day that falls during the Malayalam months Thulam, Kanni and Kumbham. The Ayilyam during the Kanni month is the birth of Nagaraja and the Ayilyam in Kumbham is the birth of Anantha.
The Ayilyam that falls in Thulam is celebrated well even though it has not much specialty. Every year on the day next to Shivarathri, ‘Nurum Palum’ is offered in the cellar. The offerings made here are those things that will make the serpents happy.
An ancient secluded snake temple in a forest glade, a Brahmin priestess as its chief and over 30,000 figurines and images adorning the lanes and the trees along the way—Mannarasala Ayilyam is not just another temple festival.
No wonder thousands of devotees flock the Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple every year to be a part of the ceremonial procession with serpent idols being taken to illam (the Brahmin’s ancestral home) and offerings being made to the snakes. One of a kind, the festival is dedicated to the snake lord and the presiding deity of the temple, Nagaraja.
When : November 1
Where : Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple, Harippad, Alleppey, Kerala
Why Should You Go : To see thousands of snake images at the temple and indulge in the cultural ethos of the place.
Please Note : Since it is a religious affair, dress accordingly and observe the sanctity.