Poonjar Dharma Sastha temple or Kattunel Kavu
Poonjar ia slightly big village in the Meechil Taluq of Kottayam district of Kerala. It seems this was being troubled greatly by a dacoit called Udayanan. Ayyappan was the prince of Pandalam at that time .At that time a pandya king called Mana Vikrama Raja arrived there from Madurai.He decided to put down Udayanan. AT that time an old divine man met Mana Vikraman and gave him an elephant a goad and a hook to control the elephants and also tols him how to suppress Udayana.A per the instruction Mana Vikrama Raja fought with Udhayana and suppressed him.Later that Pandya king opurchaesed that area and wanted to build a temple to ayyappan as he could easily understand that the old man who helped him was lord Ayyappan himself. One day when the king went to take bath in the river , he kept his umbrella made of palm leaf and went to take bath, Butwhen he came back he was not able to move that umbrella at all. Understanding that the God wanted to have temple there itself he started building the temple(History says that the temple was built in 1165 ad). Employing architects and arists from Madurai and Kerala. The temple thiough small is very artistic, The entire Kirtharjuneeyam story has been sculpted on the outer walls of the temple. This temple is also known as “ Kattunel Kavu”
The Saastha statue of the temple is made of black stne.Lord Ayyappa is is made in such a way that it appears to be teaching the third Pada of Gayathri Manthra with open book of Veda in his hand , which is resting on his knee.
In the month of Makaram there is a Kodiyettu festival for eight days.. The procession of the God on the elephant daily goes out at night with lots of burning light .On the first six days the goes round five times . Before the God takes bath on the eighth day , the God visits the Poonjar palace.There takes rest in the Lord Krishna temple in the palace and later he would go round the Madhuai Meenakshi which is on the way to the river and he goes take a dip in Meenachil river and goes back to his temple , On the Mahanavami day there is a festival called Varam when all visitors are fed by the palace .During the Mandala time in Sabari Malai , very large number of pilgrims going to Sabari Malai c visit this temple on their way.On those days daily there is a function called Kalamezhuthu and Pattu . It is intereting to know that the priests of this temple from Thazhaman family which also does worship in Sabari Mala temple..This temple is still the control of POonjar royal family,The temple can be reached from Kottayam via Pala , Erattupetta and Panachipara ,