Monkompu Devi Temple

Photo of Monkompu Devi Temple 1/3 by Ranjit G Nair

Monkompu is a small but prosperous island about 15 km away from Alappuzha town. Most of the people in this village are rice cultivators. The only mode of approach to this place was by means of boats, although these days ferries are available to carry the vehicles and a new bridge is coming up linking it with the Allapuzha Changanacherry road. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the father of the Green Revolution in India is from this place.

Monkompu is famous for the Shri Bhagvathy Temple

Photo of Monkompu Devi Temple 2/3 by Ranjit G Nair

This temple has an interesting story behind it as to its origin. During the reign of king Veera Marthanda Verma of Thiruvithamcore (erstwhile Travancore) , one official named Pavathil Kaimal requested the king to allot him some forest wood so that he could build his own house. The king asked Kaimal to cut trees from Monkompu hills near Palai. Kaimal cut the required logs and when he was trying to transport the logs by boat , three very pretty women approached Kaimal and requested for a lift. Kaimal informed them that he would allow them to travel with him provided they became ugly. They then transformed themselves into ugly women and travelled along with the logs. When the boat reached the present location of Monkompu, it stopped there and refused to move further. Then the pretty women revealed to Kaimal that they were goddesses and wanted temples to be built there for them. They then changed themselves into idols. For the first Goddess a temple was built in Koyikkal, the second in a place called Vadaiattu. When they were considering where to consecrate the third goddess, she possessed one of the people assembled there and that person threw a branch of a mango tree and requested them to build a temple where it fell. They conceded to the wish of the Goddess and since it was the place where the branch of the mango tree fell, it was called Mankombu, meaning "Branch of a mango tree". Till this day the descendents of the man who threw the mango branch have a say in the affairs of the temple. The temple was consecrated in the month of Meenam (March/April) in the star of The founders day is celebrated during this occasion. It has an annual festival starting on the day of Vishu. It's a 10 day festival in which people from far and wide attend. It's a time when all the people of this village who are elsewhere also take it as an opportunity to come back to their roots.

The temple is little small compared to other temples. The Idol of the Goddess faces west giving it a Roudrya bhavam and is made up of jackfruit wood. However a golden mask (called as thanka anki) having a peaceful feature adorns the face of the goddess. This idol has a crown with 15 serpents carved on it, as also a symbol of an elephant as her right ear piece and a lion on the left ear. She also wears an 'Erukku Maala' (garland of the erukku flower-Calotropis gigantea). There is a big temple pond adjoining it.

Photo of Monkompu Devi Temple 3/3 by Ranjit G Nair

The offerings to the Goddess includes Raktha Pushpanjali for fulfilling all desires and Swayamvara Pushpanjali for early marriage, are performed at this temple. Pregnant women observe 12 day Bhajan in this temple for safe delivery. Several types of Payasams ( keer) are also offered to the Goddess.

One should visit it during the 10 day annual festival to get a very close glimpse of the Bhagvati. The Arratu on the 8th day is a treat to the eyes

Even though motorable roads have reached the temple gates, the best way to go to this temple is get down on the Allapuzha Changanacherry road, at Monkompu bus stop and take a ferry to the Temple. It will be worth a ride.