Chirayinkeezh Sarkara Devi temple
This very famous temple of Goddess BHadrakali is located near Chiyankeezh railway station and is near both Athingal and Varkala and is 34 km from Trivandrum. Sarkara is the name for Jaggery in Malayalam. It seems once upon a time some merchants from Ambalapuzha who were selling Jaggery reached this place at night fall. They kept all their pots of jiggery in a place and slept. Next day when the wanted to go, they were not able to move one pot of Jaggery. They left it there and went away. Next day an old woman of the place , located it and splitting open the pot saw the form of Goddess Bhadrakali in it. The villagers then constructed a temple around the idol there. They also consecrated Ganapathi and Nagaraja idols in subtemples within this temple.
There is another story aboput the origin of the temple. It seems the Vilwamangalath Samiyar who was responsible in finding Lord Padmanabha in Ananthankad in Trivandrum , it seems saw Lord Vishnu siting on a branch of a tree and Goddess Kali in the form of a girl was playing in the tree shade . On seeing the SAmiyar the girl ran away and joined the Pulaya settlement nearby in a place called Chakkiamma ground. On the ground it seems some Jaggery merchants had camped and kept their jars of jiggery there. The goddess entered one of those jars and hid there. When the merchants were not able to lift one jar, sage Vilwamangalam recognized that jar had Bhadrakali in it. He persuaded the goddess to stay there and built a temple for there.
In this temple there is a very peculiar worship ritual called Kaliyootu. It was it seems started by The king Marthanda verma who was going on a mission to conquer the nearby Kaymkulam kingdom. Though the king had several times tried to conquer this kingdom, he was not able to do so. Once on his journey of conquest he struck camp near the Sarkara devi temple. The priests of this temple who had come and settled there from Malabar suggested to the king to perform a Kaliyoootu to Bhagwathi. The king agreed and he was able to annex the Kayamkulam kingdom that time. From that time the Kaliyootu festival was being celebrated annually in this temple. Kaliyootu festival is celebrated in the month of February-march for 9 days at the temple. The first seven days there are dramas , dances and narration of the story of Kali and Dharika ,. On 8th day the Bhadrakali from the temple goes in search of Daruka. But returns back at the end of the day without finding that dreaded Asura. On the ninth day a ceremony called Nilathil Poru(War on earth) takes place and Kali exterminates Dharika. The memembers of Kannara families put on the costumes of Dharika and Kali and the war is enacted. There is one more important festival at this temple celebrated in the month of Meenam called Menathu Bharani. This is celebrated on the birth day of the Goddess. The festival starts with flag hoisting and ends with Arattu( Anointing of the goddess in the nearby river.)
The Goddess is so popular that people call her “Sarkara Ponnamachi “ ( The golden Sarkara mother.) Recently they have also started a pongala festival in this temple. It would be held on the first day of Kumbam month.