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Kerala has Temples Dedicated to Mahabharata’s most loved Villains: Shakuni and Duryodhana

Not only heroes, villains are also worshiped in India.

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Shakuni and Duryodhana in Mahabharata. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • In Mahabharata, Shakuni was uncle to the Kauravas and regarded as the reason behind the battle of Kurukshetra
  • The Shakuni  temple is also known as Mayamkottu Malancharuvu Malanada Temple in Kerala
  • It is widely believed that through the “Sankalpam” the devotees actually worship Duryodhana

Kerala boasts of harbouring one of its kind temples – the Shakuni Temple and the Duryodhana Temple. Religious shrines dedicated to the two characters of Epic Mahabharata- Shakuni and Duryodhana of Mahabharata stand in Pavithreswaram and Poruvazhy of the Kollam district of Kerala.

The Shakuni  temple, in all its glory, is known as Mayamkottu Malancharuvu Malanada Temple. Shakuni was the most infamous character of the epic text Mahabharata. An uncle to the Kauravas, he is often regarded as the real reason or at least one of the real reasons responsible for the outbreak of the battle of Kurukshetra.  However, when we come across the tragic fate of Shakuni’s childhood and family, we cannot help but somehow pity him.

Shakuni Temple in Pavitreshwar.
Shakuni Temple in Pavitreshwar. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Folklore has it, that whilst the battle of Kurukshetra was going on, Shakuni travelled with his nephews and finally reached this place in Kerala, then of course, Kerala or even India was yet to exist as it exists now. There, the Kauravas set about the task of choosing their weapons and armour. From that, it got its name “Pakutheswaram”. It is said that after the bloody coup of Kurukshetra came to a standstill, Shakuni went back to this place to attain moksha. There, with the aid of spiritual Gods and Goddesses, he became an enlightened spirit having gotten rid of all kinds of corruption of soul.

An actor as Shakuni in a TV show, Mahabharata.
An actor as Shakuni in a TV show, Mahabharata.

This temple worships a throne, which was supposedly the place where Shakuni used to sit. It is remarkable to see how these people have, in full light of their optimism, chosen to pay homage to the better part of a villain’s soul. Every year, a Malakkuda Maholsavam festival is celebrated in the temple, in the month of Makaram  of the Malayalam calendar.

On the other hand, the actual name of Duryodhana was Suyodhana and it is because of the corruption of character and increasing immorality, that he came to be known as “Duryodhana” in mythology. His greed and wrongdoing led to the outbreak of war and death of a huge number of people in the vicinity of his kingdom.

In spite of that, some believe that he wasn’t really the evil man that he is always portrayed as. Therefore, some people worship him in the temple located at Poruvazhy. There is no idol as such, thus, the people have resorted to submitting themselves to their desired deity via a spiritual process called “Sankalpam”. It is widely believed that through this “Sankalpam” the devotees actually worship Duryodhana.

Temple dedicated to Duryodhana in Poruvazhi.
Temple dedicated to Duryodhana in Poruvazhy. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The rituals that are performed whilst paying homage to him are macabre and absurd. It is devoid of orthodox prejudices. Certain items like coconuts, arracks, sheep, silk and so on so forth are generally offered. The annual festival of the temple is also Malakudda festival.

India and its people never cease to surprise. Who would have thought that there can be something so pure in the villains of our epics that would urge people to worship them? It does not end at Shakuni and Duryodhana temples. India also has temples dedicated to Angaraj Karna and demoness Hidimba. Incredible India, indeed!

-The article is prepared by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    This is interesting! I was not aware that such temple exists. Good piece of information

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is indeed impressive. You never know there might be a temple of Kans mama too!

  • devika todi

    for all we know, we have glorified the heroes in the epics as gods and the flawed characters as villains. indeed, this happens only in India!

  • Aparna Gupta

    This is interesting! I was not aware that such temple exists. Good piece of information

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is indeed impressive. You never know there might be a temple of Kans mama too!

  • devika todi

    for all we know, we have glorified the heroes in the epics as gods and the flawed characters as villains. indeed, this happens only in India!

Next Story

Facts That Will Amaze You About Kerala’s Jatayu National Park

The Jatayun National Park is designed by Rajiv Anchal and is about 38 km away from Kollam and 46 km away from Thiruvananthapuram.

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Jatayu is believed to be a symbol of valour and chivalry. Wikimedia Commons
Jatayu is believed to be a symbol of valour and chivalry. Wikimedia Commons
  • On 5th December 2017, The Jatayu Nature Park became partially operational by the inauguration of Adventure Rock Hill
  • The giant concrete sculpture of Jatayu is built on a mighty rock named Jatayupara
  • This rock theme park will be a treat to the eyes as well as the sense of adventure for the tourists

Jatayu Nature Park is a tourism centre at Chadayamangalam in Kollam district of Kerala. It holds the distinction of having the world’s largest bird sculpture and is one of the best Kerala tourist places. On 5th December 2017, The park became partially operational by the inauguration of Adventure Rock Hill. The structure is designed by Rajiv Anchal and is about 38 km away from Kollam and 46 km away from Thiruvananthapuram.

The giant concrete sculpture of Jatayu is built on a mighty rock named Jatayupara (Jatayu is the name of the bird and para means rock in Malayalam). As per Hindu mythology, when Ravana was abducting Sita Mata to Lanka, Jatayu intervened to rescue Sita Mata. During the clash, Jatayu fought valiantly with Ravana but in the end, Ravana got the better of Jatayu. While searching for Sita Mata, Rama and Lakshmana chanced upon the stricken and dying Jatayu, who informs them about the abduction by Ravana. Thus Jatayu Earth’s Center is conceptualized with environmental protection and ecological equilibrium.

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It is said that Jatayu fell on the rocks in Chadayamangalam after his wings were chopped off by Ravana.

The giant concrete sculpture of Jatayu is built on a mighty rock named Jatayupara. Wikimedia Commons
The giant concrete sculpture of Jatayu is built on a mighty rock named Jatayupara. Wikimedia Commons

The mastermind behind this structure is a renowned film director, art director and sculptor Mr.Rajiv Anchal. He along with his team took about ten years to meticulously design and completes this monumental project. The project is the first joint effort by the Tourism Department of Kerala and Mr Rajiv Anchal to create a unique tourist destination which offers almost all aspects of Kerala tourism. The land on which Jatayu Nature Park is been constructed is leased by Guruchandrika Builders and Property Pvt. Ltd. from the government for 30 years to build and operate.

This rock theme park will be a treat to the eyes as well as the sense of adventure for the tourists. Jatayu Nature Park is designed on a BOT (build-operate-transfer) model.

Dazzling Location

Jatayu Earth’s Center tourism is spread over 65 acres of the multi-terrain landscape at Jatayupara near Kollam district of Kerala. The structure is 1000 feet above sea level and has diverse geographic features ranging from hills, valleys, rugged rocks, caves to cultivable lands. The destination is right at the centre of south Kerala and is easily accessible. The nearest international airport, Trivandrum, is only 50 km away from the location.

Sustainable Tourism

Jatayu Earth’s Center is an apt example of sustainable and eco-friendly tourism in India. The hills, valleys, caves and vegetation spread across 65 acres remain almost unaffected even though a tourist destination. It is believed that the Jatayu sculpture stands as a guardian to the hills and rocks by protects them from everything. Hence, the name is quite suitable for this project.

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One of the tasks to build the structure was the uninterrupted availability of water source because due to multi-terrain location, it was really tough to find enough resource for water. But after a thorough search, a check dam was constructed between two rock valleys with a capacity of twenty lakhs litres for water conservation. Thus, the water issue was instantly solved by storing the rainwater and using it throughout the year. Then the electricity required for the project was domestically harnessed from solar power.

Jatayu Earth’s Center is an apt example of sustainable and eco-friendly tourism in India. Wikimedia Commons
Jatayu Earth’s Center is an apt example of sustainable and eco-friendly tourism in India. Wikimedia Commons

All along the location, a planned agricultural society is formed to promote organic farming. Hence, visitors will be able to buy fresh products from these farms.

Paradigm of courage

Jatayu is believed to be a symbol of valour and chivalry. Risking his life, Jatayu tried his best to save Sita Mata from her Ravana. Hence, the Jatayu sculpture stands as a towering tribute to women’s safety and honour. Jatayu depicts the period when humans, animals and birds cared for each other as fellow beings and lived in peace on this Earth.

Rajiv Anchal concludes that the structure symbolism has great relevance in today’s social scenario since the crime rate against women is on a high. Each visitor at Jatayu National Park is expected to understand and follow the inner essence of this inspiring creation.

As per Hindu mythology, when Ravana was abducting Sita Mata to Lanka, Jatayu intervened to rescue Sita Mata. Wikimedia Commons
As per Hindu mythology, when Ravana was abducting Sita Mata to Lanka, Jatayu intervened to rescue Sita Mata. Wikimedia Commons

Take a look at some of the listed facts of Jatayu National Park.

  1. The tourist park sprawls over 65 acres of land and is home to a giant sculpture of Jatayu. The herculean dimensions of the great mythical bird Jatayu goes 200 feet long, 150 feet broad, 70 feet in height and has 15,000 square feet.
  2. The sculpture is constructed at the same spot where Jatayu is said to take his last breath. Locals believe that the mythical bird fell on the rock after being struck down by Ravana.
  1. The bird sculpture will also house a 6D theatre and an audio-visual based digital museum inside it. It is done so that people will get a glimpse of Ramayana. Visitors would also be able to cherish the bird’s eye view experience from 1,000 feet above the sea level, from inside the sculpture.
  2. The sculpture has been designed and developed by a Malayalam film director, Rajiv Anchal. He is a renowned filmmaker and sculptor. Apparently, he is also the Chairman and Managing Director of Guruchandrika Builders and Property Private Limited.

In an interview with ‘The Indian Express’, he said, “It took us seven years to build the sculpture. It is basically a concrete structure that has been given a stone finish. Building it has been a major struggle as the terrain was hard and we had to carry all the materials to the top.”

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  1. The Jatayu Nature Park will also have an adventure zone and about 20 games centre. The adventure field in the park will include activities like paintball, laser tag, archery, rifle shooting, rock climbing, and bouldering. The place will also house ayurvedic cave resorts.