Less Known Temples of Kerala: Adimai Kavu

Om Sri Sai Ram

Less Known Temples of Kerala

All over Kerala there are hundreds of temples*[1], large and small, dedicated to various aspects of God each with its own mahatmiyam and history. While a few of them are famous and attract millions of devotees through out the year like the Ayyappa temple in Sabari Mala, Sri Padmanabha Swamy koil in Tiruvananthapuram, Sri Krishna temple in Guruvayoor, Lord Siva (Vaikkathu Appan) in Vaikkom, there are many small and less well known, temples. While local populace flock during festivals (Ulsavam) them the smaller temples are not very well known out side Kerala.

Kavus** which are normally Bhagavathy temples, smaller in size dot the country side and are frequented by families residing in the nearby villages. They may be termed as tutelary deities worshipped by members of families who have lived in the surrounding areas. Many from families of those who have left their native villages generations earlier still return to visit their parental Kavu, or Adimai Kavu to pay homage and claim protection of Devi for their families and themselves.

Recently there has been a surge in the number of persons and families who have tried to trace back their roots to their parental villages and Adimai Kavus. Guruswamy Shri SA Padhmanabhan, who was born and brought up in his native village in Kerala, and has been associated with renovation of a number of temples is a store house of knowledge on local customs and ulsavams. He lives in Delhi but spends a greater part of the year in Kerala. This small note on the less known temples of Kerala is based on discussions with Shri Padhmanabhan, and visits to these temples over a number of years.

Routes. All these temples are connected by rail / road. Of course it is very easy to miss your way, given the number of bends and turns on the roads and absence of sign boards. Before embarking on a visit it is advisable to be clear on the routes especially for new comers. A positive factor is the attitude of the local population, who are ever helpful to give directions.

Dress Code: Men are expected to be bare chested when entering the sanctorum. In some temples like in Guruvayoor men will be expected to wear Mundu or Veshti, (dhoti). Lungis, Pajamas, and shorts are NOT permitted.

Timings: Temples in Kerala are very particular in observing Agama rituals. The temples are opened and closed strictly according to timings. They are open from 4:30 AM to 10 /11 AM in the forenoon and again from 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM in the afternoons. During festivals and Mandalam temples are generally open for longer periods. Sanctum Sanctorum is closed for short periods during performance of certain pujas even when the temple is open. These timings can vary from temple to temple. Therefore it would be advisable to keep this aspect in mind when planning a visit.

Aarthi: They are performed at fixed time only. Unlike temples in Tamil Nadu and some other places Aarthi with camphor is not performed on request of devotees. How ever the sanctum sanctorum is generally well lit with lamps and a clear view of the image is possible.

Sanctum Sanctorum i.e. Garbha Griham: The main deity is placed in the Sanctum Sanctorum. Only the priest can enter and perform the pujas. Devotees are not allowed to enter it nor touch the idol. Any puja offering is to be left on or near the top step.


Adimai Kavu: Devi or Bhagavathy has been worshipped in our gramams since their inception and is considered a loving and protecting mother for all her children. Visits to the Kavu and performance of simple acts like acts like lighting a lamp and praying for the welfare of family members was a part of life in the village. The concept of Adimai Kavu is applicable to each and every member of a gramam or cluster of gramams irrespective of caste, profession or social status.

Devi in the Kavu like every mother is intensely caring and concerned for her the welfare of her children always, wherever they may be. All She desires is that Her children remember her even in passing and visit her when they can. Even as every living being is born of one mother only, and there is no substitute, there is only one Adimai Kavu for an individual.

During the last few decades there has been a movement away from the gramam, resulting in breaks in traditional societal customs    due to pressures of city life and lack of guidance by elder members in the family. So there are many families who are not even aware of where their Kavu is situated and what are the rituals or pujas to be performed by members of the family. Many are not aware that even if a family member moves away from the village the allegiance extends to three generations.

Increasing problems in family life and profession, absence of mental peace, repeated calamities, children not getting married, continuous ill health of various family members are considered to be an outcome of not keeping in touch with the Adimai Kavu. Under these circumstances the individual, male or female is advised to visit and pray to the deity personally. If location of the parental Kavu is not known, one may try and find it through elders in the family or in the village. If that is also not possible a good astrologer can be approached who can indicate and specify the ancestral Kavu.

Ascertain the days and time when they are open while planning a visit, since quite a few of them open only twice a week (except during Mandalam or on special days)

Some of the common Vazivadus are

Padi Panam (one rupee and four annas)

Vaall Panam (one rupee and four annas)

Chandu Attal

Vilakku Thelikkal

Netti Pottu, Thali, Pavadai (presented when a son gets married and  visits the Kavu along with his wife)

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For help in identifying / queries regarding Admai Kavu:

Shri SA Padmanabhan Mob 09818437521

(Dilshad garden, New Delhi / Kalpathy, Palghat, Kerala)

Shri GM Krishnan:+98910503665, 09810503665, 911 011 26164320


Shri NG Krishnan: 911 04923 222566

(Ananda Sadanam, Thekkegramam, Chittur, Kerala, PIN 678108)

7 thoughts on “Less Known Temples of Kerala: Adimai Kavu”

  1. T Ananthakrishnan

    i would like to know the location of a bhagavathy temple where the bhagavathys’ legs are burried and shee is visible only from waist upwards with four hands dressed in red/green

  2. T Ananthakrishnan

    i would like to know the location of a bhagavathy temple where the bhagavathys’ legs are burried and shee is visible only from waist upwards with four hands dressed in red/green

  3. Vydianathan Ramanathan

    I would like to know the history of Adimai Kavu(Sree Kurumba Bhagavathy, Thekkethara, Majapra, Puducode, Palakkad Dt.

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