|Civic agency||Kottarakara Panchayat|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Kottarakkara (IAST: Koṭṭārakkara), Mal. കൊട്ടാരക്കര, is a village, with almost all urban facilities, located in Kollam District (formerly known as Quilon), in Kerala state, India. It is 72 km to the north of the Thiruvananthapuram, the State Capital,on the Main Central Road and 80 km to the south of Kottayam. The village lies 27 km to the east of Kollam, the District headquarters and 18 km to the west of Punalur on National Highway 208/220. It is also the headquarters of Kottarakkara Block and Talukcomprising six panchayaths.
Many people believe that for many centuries the city served as a place of residence for kings, hence the name "Kottarakara", which means "the land of palaces". (Kottaram means palace and Kara means land).
The belief that the word ‘Kottarakkara’ (കൊട്ടാരക്കര ) originated because of the presence of a palace or palaces may appear to be logical prima facie but the palace was constructed only in the 14th century, C.E, when Ilayidathu/Kunninmel dynasty settled there. The place did have a name even before that. Didn’t it? "Chera Udaya Marthandavarma, who ruled Venad during AD 1383-1444, is supposed to have built the palace. But, according to the famous historian Sooranad Kunjanpillai, the Kunninmel dynasty has been mentioned in the Mathilakam Books in the year 1345 itself" (http://mottu.blogspot.com/2009/11/kottarakara-thampuranu-pranamam.html). The ‘Mathilakam scrolls’ from Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Trivandrum may throw some light on this issue.
In 2001, Doordarshan, Trivandrum aired a documentary in which it was stated that a 14th century, C.E archive refers to the place as ‘Kottakaarakkara’( കൊട്ടകാരക്കര). This is the closest we can come for etymological analysis. A study of the word will reveal that, though the letter ‘kaa’ (കാ) is ‘kharam’ (ഖരം), i.e, strongly pronounced Vyanjanam (വ്യഞ്ജനം, Eng. Consonant) in Malayalam script, while pronouncing you will find it light, as it gets ‘smoothened’ (മൃദു ശബ്ദം). The result is gradual disappearance of the letter in spoken and written language. The word might have been shortened (ലോപിച്ചത്) over a period of time and by 15th-16th century C.E, 'Kottarakkara'(കൊട്ടാരക്കര) displaced the original word completely, mainly because of the tendency to use the colloquial form in script also. Many old archives suffer from this defect. The problem does not end here. Kottakaarakkara means land of Kottakaara. What exactly is the meaning of the word Kottakaara (കൊട്ടകാര ). Is it a tree, shrub, a plant? Or did it derive from any word related to a set of inhabitants or instituion or topography? Only historians and linguistic experts can explain. A study of archives and input from Doordarshan, Trivandrum can be of great help.
The "Elayidath Swaroopam", a branch of the Travancore Royal family, settled here in 13th or 14th century, C.E. As referred to earlier, there were also Kunnimmel rulers.
The last queen of the dynasty was defeated by King Marthanda Varma (a distant cousin of hers), in the 18th century and she fled to Cochin to seekt asylum with her allies, the Dutch. They pensioned her with 2 rupees and 5 annas. Later, during Tipu Sultan's invasion of Malabar, a Royal family from North Malabar was settled in Kottarakara by Dharma Raja. This family line became extinct in the mid 19th century.
The region is primarily agrarian, although it has recently acquired many urban characteristics. In the past, commercial activities were centered around two junctions - the Pulamon Junction and the Market Junction. The entire stretch between the two Junctions and the surrounding areas have now developed into active commercial hubs. The 'town' has grown in population as well. The Kottarakara Taluk has a population of 5.77 lakhs as per the 2001 census.
There are many educational institutions, including St.Gregorius College affiliated to the Kerala University and the "Engineering College", which is run by the IHRD (a Central Government organisation) and is affiliated with the Cochin University of Science and Technology and Divine Public School, Puthoor,(Senior Secondary School) affiliated to the CBSE, Delhi. http://www.divinepublicschool.com The Kollam - Chennai railway passes through Kottarakara and there is a railway station.The railway line is being converted into broad gauge under a new project Unigauge.
Kottarakara, like most areas in India, is in the jurisdiction of several different levels of government, such as the three tiers of Panchayat raj (Village, Block and District) and, of course, the state and central governments. The Kottarakara Block consists of Kottarakara Village Panchayat and five other Panchayats. Revenue and land administration have the village as the basic unit. The Kottarakara Taluk consists of 27 villages. The Taluk is part of the Kollam Revenue Sub-Division, which is conterminous with the Kollam District.
The State Institute of Rural Development, which trains the senior officers of the Rural Development Department, is in Kottarakara. One of the three Extension Training Centres in the State is also here. The ETC conducts training programmes for Village Extension Officers. There are also training programmes for self-employment in agriculture. Other important government institutions include the Irrigation Chief Engineer's (Kallada) Office, Electricity Superintending Engineer's Office, Transport Corporation's District Office, the District Treasury, the District Education Office, the Taluk office, Taluk supply office, Block Development Office and the Taluk hospital.
The temple, believed to very old dating back to 10th-11th century, C.E, is officially called Mahadeva Temple, as its presiding deity is Shiva, facing East. The The temple is believed to have been founded by Parashuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The area is called Kizhakkinkara (eastern suburb).
Minor deities include Shiva's consort Parvathi facing West.
On the south of the sanctum sanctorum is the famous shrine of Ganapathy. It is believed that the Ganapathy idol was sculpted by Perumthachan, the legendary carpenter appearing Kerala's folklore, from the root of a jack tree (പ്ലാവ് or പിലാവ് ). The favourite offering for Ganapathy is Unniappom. The temple festival is the largest in Kottarakara. Though the place became famous for Ganapathy, people worship Shiva and Parvathy with equal devotion.
Other minor deities are Subrahmanyan, Ayyappan, Nagaraja and Nagayakshi.
Major festivals: Annual fest (April), Vinayak Chathurthi, Vishu.
Kottarakkara Chandrasekharan:This temple elephant was to Travancore what Guruvayoor Kesavan was to central and northern Kerala. The pachyderm was of immense size with huge tusks and was said to be a treat to watch when bedecked for temple festivals. His presence was a must for festivals of temples of Travancore. He also won the admiration of the royals of Travancore, especially, King Swathy Thirunaal.
Captured as a calf from a trap pit on the border of Travancore and Cochin in the Sahya hills circa 1758 C.E, he was in the custody of king of Cochin. The tiny elephant was ‘sneaked’ out to Travancore by the bureaucrats of King Karthika Thirunaal and christened Chandrashekharan after the main deity of Kizhakkinkara (Ganapathy) temple. He was gifted to the same temple in 1773, C.E, as per a decision taken earlier. There are a number of interesting stories about the elephant.
Chandrashekharan is credited with the killing of a rogue wild tusker that had killed a number of people and was a threat to people around Aryankaavu. The tusks of the rogue elephant were carried to the King of Travancore by the local administrator travelling atop Chandrashekharan. A small boy who had stoned Chandrashekharan was paid back in the same ‘stone’ when Chandrashekharan found the assailant after about 40 years in Trivandrum while taking part in a temple procession near Shankhumukham. People believe that the elephant was keeping the stone the boy had thrown in its mouth, removing it only while eating and drinking. The elephant threw the stone immediately on identifying his old ‘enemy’, now a middle aged man, in the crowd. The stone injured his leg seriously. The unusually heavy stone was broken before King Swathi Thirunaal in the presence of the victim who was a daily wage earner from Kallada. Out came a gem and a dumbstruck but pleased king ordered the victim be treated at state’s expense and also sanctioned a monthly pension of Rupees 25 to the man. The stone was cut and polished and fixed on one of the golden necklaces of the king. He used to wear the ornament on certain special occasions.
Exaggerations apart, Chandrashekharan’s majestic looks, brilliance and amiability made him part of folklore. Having lived nearly 100 years, he breathed his last in 1852, C.E.
Royals belonging to Ilayidthu Swaroopam were said to be devotees of Shiva. The family patronized the Shiva temple at Padinjattinkara (western suburb), not far from the Ganapathy temple. Its importance can be gauged from the fact that it found a place in the ancient list of the 108 Shiva temples of Kerala.
Kottarakkara Goshala: The temple had a cowshed (goshala, ഗോശാല) built probably 250-300 years ago by a Brahmin called Parambil Namboothiri (full name not available) from Malabar. When the Brahmin was born, astrologers forecast he would die of snake bite at a young age. He set for Kottarakara Shiva temple for prayers to ward of the disaster and his prayers were answered when the cobra that appeared to bite him on the 40th day of his stay was killed by a kite. The kite dropped the dead snake in the temple compound, near the southern boundary wall. The Brahmin thanked the lord by constructing a cowshed in stone (black granite) at the place where the dead snake was dropped by the kite. It was said that even the roof of the cowshed was made of rock. Towards the end of 19th century,C.E, it fell into a state of disrepair. Kottarathil Shankunni (1855-1935), author of Aithihyamala, mentions of a dignitary visiting the temple to see it in 1917. Strangely, he does not specify whether this was in Kizhakkinkara temple or Padinjattinkara temple. But elders recount that there was some stone structure on the southern side of the Padinjattinkara temple and that it was demolished for constructing a building. This kind of neglect and lack of respect for heritage structures has been rife in Kerala since time immemorial.
Other great temples in the vicinity include the Bhagavathy temples at Pattazhy, Poovattoor and Mannadi and the Mahadeva Temple at Vettikavala, Vadakkathil Sree Bhuvaneshwari Devi Kshethram(Policodu) and the Major Thrimurthi Temple at Thevalappuram, Puthoor.
There are also many churches in the area which is major center for the Malankara Orthodox Church. The most important churches are Kizhakketheruvu Orthodox Valiyapalli, Kottapuram Orthodox church and Marthoma Valiyapalli. The most prominent Christian families from this place are Aviyottu and Kaithacodu Chittathu.
Kottarakkara also has a large number of Muslims with the main mosque at the Market Junction.