Padi Igguthappa Temple, dedicated to Igguthappa is the most important deity of Kodavas and Kul Devta of the of Kodagu or Coorg. In ancient times, he was probably the God of rain and crop. The crop being the basis of the survival of humans and rain being the survival of crops makes sense. The first crop of Paddy is still offered to the Lord every year at this temple by the local farmers. After this, the harvest festival called Puttari officially begins in the Coorg region.
Igguthappa Temple, Madikeri
The story goes that he is the 4th sibling of the 7 celestial siblings who landed on the Malabar coast in a conch shell. They were 6 brothers and one sister. The three elder brothers chose a village each in Kerala and settled there. The 4 younger siblings crossed the western ghats to reach the region of Coorg.
The siblings lived on this land like all siblings do – fighting and living together. The eldest brother of these – Igguthappa decided to stay here and provide the people of Kodagu with rain and rice. Others moved on to other regions.
You can read the full story here.
The main deity at Padi Iguthappa temple is Subramanya or Karthik who is considered a son of Shiva and Kaveri Amman, considered an avatar of Gauri. Temple houses the Murtis of both Shiva and Igguthappa. In this region, the river Kaveri is Kaveri Amma, the omnipresent deity of Coorg and its people.
The priest of the temple spoke to me as he cooked lunch for the devotees. He said this is hundreds of years old temple and was built by King Veer Rajaraja. Recently, it has been renovated by the people of Coorg who pooled in crores of rupees for the renovation.
According to him, Igguthappa is the local name of Kartikeya, the son of Shiva. It literally means the God who gives food. People here believe that once upon a time he lived in Coorg in human form. He directed them to offer him rice. Since then Puttari harvest festival is celebrated in Coorg.
Harvest Festival of Puttari
Puttari typically falls in mid-December when the Sun is in Rohini Nakshatra. Igguthappa Bhagwan is taken out in a procession – he is bathed and adorned with Shringar, entertained with music and dance before being brought back home to the temple. It looks like an annual outing of the lord. Once the deity is back in the temple, 9 types of Shiv Tandav Nritya or 9 forms of Shiva’s celestial dance is performed. After that, an elaborate Pooja is offered to the deity. And then Anna-Daan is done or the food is donated. This is also the Tulabhar that is donating grains worth your weight. Remember I spoke about it in my post on Dwarka.
Pujari Ji said he himself or his family members perform the Tandav Nritya. They have taken elaborate training for the same.
A Tulabhar is done every Wednesday and Saturday in the temple.
He also told us that people come here to pray for rains, in case the rains do not come as expected. He, in fact, quoted an example of an official of Tata Coffee who also came here to pray the year rains were not good. It seems within hours of performing the puja the rain gods obliged.
Childless couples also come here and Pujari Ji said he has seen as many as 600 couples blessed with a child after offering Puja at Padi Igguthappa Temple.
As he spoke to us, he kept cooking the meals for the devotees. We got to taste the snacks and pineapple halwa along with a hot cup of Chai.
Visiting Igguthappa Temple
Located just about 10 Km from Madikeri city in the town of Kakkabe, it is easily reachable by road. You take a ramp-up to the temple where you can sit and look around for the lovely views of the lush green valleys of Coorg.
It is a small temple but a very well maintained one on a hillock. As we walked up to the temple I could see a lot of Naga Sculptures under the trees. They all had signs of being worshipped. Most of them wore fresh flowers. A group of larger Naga stones had a lamp burning in front of them. Naga is a very prominent sign in all of this region. It reminded me of the Tharu tribals of Nepal, who also have a coiled Naga figure outside all their homes.
A bangle seller was selling glass bangles. I could not gather if it is for the devotees or is meant to be offered to the deity.
The architecture of the temple
The current structure is less than 10-year-old and it shows. It is a stone temple with a slating wooden roof like the one we associate with Kerala Temples. The roof on the side of the entrance is beautifully carved with metal adornments. I could see the elephant motifs on either side.
As a visitor, you are not allowed to enter the temple, so you have to see the deity decked with flowers only from a distance. The main door is covered in silver with many legends and symbols of Kodagu’s engraved in it.
The outer walls of the temple are adorned with stone slabs telling the tales of Kodavas. There are scenes of worship, Tulabhar, martial arts, festivals, music, and dances.
Witness the Living Kodagu Culture
The best part of visiting the temple was witnessing the living culture of Kodavas. I saw women in their Coorgi Saris that is like wearing the normal Sari’s front side on the back. I saw rows of women sitting on the temple parapet wearing colorful Saris in their own special way. It was interesting to see the Saris worn the other way around.
I was the only one not wearing a Sari and that attracted a lot of unapproving eyes. The food cooked by the Pujari family was being served. We did not stay for lunch as we had a long day planned but we saw many families lining up to eat there.
- Temple is open from morning until about noon and then in the evening for a few hours. You would need to check the exact time locally.
- No Photography is allowed inside the temple.
- Anyone visiting the temple can have food there.
- You are not allowed to enter the temple. In general, dress appropriately for the temple.