The centuries old Melpazhur Mana houses some precious temples from an era gone by, temples ostensibly worshipped by Sri Sankara and his mother, Aryamba. Hence it is a blessing to have these in the precincts of CIF. We have on these premises the ancient shrines of Ayyappa, Rama, Krishna, Ganesha, Vettakkoruvan (Kirata Siva, the family deity of Melpazhur Mana), and Goddesses Nagayakshi and Bhagavati. It is indeed amazing to note that all the deities chose the Mana premises to bless it with their divine presence. The pond adjacent to the temple compound adds immense beauty to the serene surroundings and artistic structures.
Lord Ayyappa is the main deity in the centuries-old temple complex of Melpazhar Mana. The idol of Lord Ayyappa is ‘svayambhu’ (born on its own out of the earth). Legend has it that one day, a woman went to the thick forest in the backyard of the Mana to collect grass. When she sharpened her sickle on a stone protruding from the ground, the stone began to bleed. Frightened, she screamed, ran to the Mana and reported the incident. The elders of the Mana rushed to the scene and verified her account. The story goes that a ‘tampuratti’ (elderly Nambutiri lady) who was an ardent devotee of the Lord used to walk about two kilometres to the Ayyappan-kudam temple at Vadayaparambu every day to worship the Lord. As she grew old and was unable to walk to the temple, she became inconsolable. She could not bear this separation from the Lord. Astrological readings revealed that the same Lord manifested as svayambhu in the Mana's backyard in answer to the tampuratti’s prayers. That svayambhu stone thus became the idol of Lord Ayyappa around which a temple was later built. Today, it is known as the Svayambhu temple of Melpazhur. The old temple at Vadayaparambu no longer exists.
An age-old, dilapidated Sri Krishna temple was situated on a hillock on the northern side of the Mana's temple complex with a Krishna idol. As desired by Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, the temple on the hillock was eventually dismantled and the idol was consecrated inside the Lord Ayyappa temple.
A Rama temple once existed in Ponmanadi, a nearby village under the Melpazhur Mana umbrella. 'Ponman' means 'golden deer' and 'aadi’ means 'danced'. Ponman refers to Maricha, Ravana's uncle, and Ponmanadi is where Maricha took the form of a golden deer and danced, thus becoming an accomplice in Mother Sita's kidnapping.
As time passed, the Rama temple in Ponmanadi lost its importance. The Rama idol from this temple was brought to the Mana complex and a temple was built as a tribute to Rama of Ponmanadi.
Vettakkoruvan is 'Kirata Siva', Lord Siva in his hunter aspect (as a hunter he had given His darshan to Arjuna and bestowed on him the Pasupata-astra), and is traditionally considered the ‘karnavar’ (eldest counsel to the Mana) in addition to being a tutelary deity. Since olden times, all-important decisions regarding the Mana and its residents were based solely on Lord Vettakkoruvan's blessings.
The ancient idol was re-consecrated in the newly built temple within the Mana's temple complex. The erstwhile temple has been converted into a Satsang Hall that features a most vivid and ornate mural of Adi Sankara, Parama Pujya Swami Tapovanam and Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda.
Sarpa-kavus, a special place for the Naga Devatas is a unique feature of Kerala. Sri Nagayakshi, Mother Goddess of all Nagas along with Nagaraja and Ashtanagas reside in the Sarpa-kavu of this ancient Mana. The idols of the goddess in the sanctum are unique for their exquisite carvings which have deep symbolic meanings and are the biggest of its kind in Kerala. An elaborate puja, called sarpa-bali, is offered once a year to please Nagayakshi Devi and Nagaraja Deva. Special pujas are performed on Ashlesha nakshatra every month.
Sri Bhuvanesvari, the Goddess of Universe, resides in this small temple sanctum. Everyday regular pojas are offered. Special pujas are performed on Navaratri days.
As a befitting tribute to the omnipresent guiding presence of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, there is a holy shrine built in the vicinity of the temple complex. This is used as a meditation hall as well as a venue for paduka puja, vidyarambha and upanayana functions and other private prayers. The jayanti (birthday) of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, as per the Indian calendar, falls on Puyam-nakshatra in the month of Mesa (corresponding to April-May of the Western calendar) and is celebrated every year. A ‘kalasa-puja’ is offered using copper and earthern pots. A group of tantris, or priests, perform this traditional Vedic puja and thereafter pour the consecrated waters on all the idols in the complex, amid conch calls, chanting of hymns, and the play of traditional musical instruments. The ceremonies are celebrated with great pomp, festivity and feasting.