Padi Igguthappa Temple – Meet the Presiding Deity of Coorg

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Igguthappa Temple Woodwork
Igguthappa Temple Woodwork

Padi Igguthappa Temple, dedicated to Igguthappa is the most important deity of Kodavas and Kul Devta of the of Kodagu or Coorg. In the ancient times, he was probably the God of rain and crop. Crop being the basis of survival and rain being the survival of crops makes sense. The first crop of Paddy is still offered to Igguthappa 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

Photo of Iggutappa Temple
Photo of Iggutappa Temple

Legend of Igguthappa

The story goes that Igguthappa is the 4th sibling of the 7 celestial siblings who landed on 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.

You can read the full story here

History of Padi Igguthappa Temple

Igguthappa Temple complex
Igguthappa Temple complex

The main deity is Subramanya or Karthik who is considered a son of Shiva and Kaveri. Temple houses both Shiva and Igguthappa. No wonder Kaveri is Kaveri Amma, everything in Coorg region.

Photo of Igguthappa Temple Deity
Photo of Igguthappa Temple Deity

The priest of the temple spoke to me as he cooked the lunch for the devotees. He said this is hundreds of years old temple and was built by the 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. It is believed that once upon a time he lived in Coorg in human form. He directed the people of Coorg 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 Bhagwan Igguthappa. 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 Bhagwan Igguthappa. 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 Iguthappa 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 the Pujari Ji said he has seen as many as 600 couples were 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.

Naga Idol at the entrance of Temple
Naga Idol at the entrance of Temple

Igguthappa temple 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 Tharu tribals of Nepal, who also have a coiled Naga figure outside all their homes.

Bangles on display at Temple entrance
Bangles on display at Temple entrance

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.

Architecture of Padi Igguthappa 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.

A Kodava scene depicted
A Kodava scene depicted

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.

Worshipping Tree
Worshipping Tree

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.

Traditional Kodava Men scene
Traditional Kodava Men scene

Witness the Living Kodagu Culture

The best part of visiting the Padi Igguthappa temple was witnessing the living culture of Kodavas. I saw women in their Coorgi Saris that is like wearing the normal Sari frontside 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.

Kodava Ladies traditional scene

I was the only one not wearing a Sari and that attracted 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.

Artwork on the walls of Igguthappa Temple depicting Kodava culture
Artwork on the walls of Igguthappa Temple depicting Kodava culture

Travel Tips for Padi Igguthappa Temple

  • Temple is open from morning until about noon time and then in the evening for 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.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article as always. I visited Kakkabe many times and I consider it my second home. I visited the Iguthappa Temple as well, since the Homestay owner insisted and said “The Kodavas worship Nature”. This was truly intriguing for me. However one small change I would request you to make in your article. The distance between Madikeri and the Temple is not 10 kms. It is about 30-32 kms.

    • Thanks, Arvind for pointing out the typo error, correcting it. Igguthappa is representative of Indian Culture that is very unique to a place and yet woven in the grander fabric of Indic thought.

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