Pampady, a not-so-celebrated village of God’s own country, lies on the river banks of Nila (Bharathappuzha) hemmed with the holy and picturesque landscape of the Temple Town Thiruvilwamala, referred to as Punya Bhoomi (Sacred Land) in Hindu Puranas. This serene village is geographically more connected to Palakkad, though a part of Thrissur District. Owing to its close proximity, Thiruvillwamala shares the fame of holiness with Pampady with the presence of the legendary Vilwadrinatha temple, Punarjani Caves that promises salvation from sins and its consequences, Ivor Madom where Pandavas believed to have performed the rituals to bid ceremonial adieu to the departed souls (Bali Tharppanam) of their cousins Kouravas after killing them in Kuruksheatra War and so on. Sree Parakkottukavu Bhagavathi temple, Someswaram Siva temple, Kodakkurussi Appan Siva Temple etc are some of the other pilgrim centers which amplify the sacred vibes of Pampady. Literally, the name ‘Pampady’ refers to ‘the place where the serpent danced’ in Malayalam language. This ancient title signifies the holy presence of serpents at this place even centuries before. Besides, existence of a reverent serpent shrine, Pambady pambum kavu (Sree Nagaraja Temple), at this locality accentuates the close affiliation of serpents to this ancient place. Pambady pambum kavu (Sree Nagaraja Temple) is situated at East Pampady, 2 kilometers east to the Pampady Township and 5 kilometer North-West to Thiruvilwamala.
It is one of the prestigious Naga temples in Kerala, where the custom of snake worshipping goes back to remote antiquity. It is to be mentioned that there is no particular man-made idol in this temple. Nagaraja and Nagakanya, the main deities are worshipped at the serpent mounds emerged from the earth on its own (swayambhoo) in Sivaakara. Pilgrims and devotees who visit the bathing ghats of Ivor Madom and the treasured hills of Villwadrinathan would never return without a visit to the glorious shrine of Nagaraja.
Snake worship points to the elevated rank of snakes in Hindu mythology. A unique way of life, Hinduism advocates worship of Nature in its all forms and all gears. Snake worship is prevalent in India, especially in Kerala where special abodes were set up, maintained and kept untainted exclusively for serpents. Those sacred groves (Sarpakavu) are not only a part of the rich cultural heritage but are also a strapping hold up for ecological maintenance.
The mystic myths behind snake worship date back to the origin of Kerala. After the reclamation of this land from the sea, Lord Parasurama wanted it to be donated to the Brahmins. But, they refused to stay in the reclaimed land as it was uninhabitable due to the glut dominance of venomous snakes. Parasurama sought the advice of Lord Siva and as per his suggestion started to propitiate the King of serpents, Vasuki. The contented Nagaraja appeared before Parasurama and asked him to accept Nagas as guardians of the land and adore them. Parasurama agreed to worship Nagas with great reverence at every household, thereafter. On hearing this, it is said that the contented Naga danced in delight and hence the name ‘pampady’; the place where snakes danced.
Parasurama entrusted the task of offering daily poojas for the Serpent King Vasuki and his retinue to a Maharishi (a great sage) who was indulged in meditation on the bank of River “Nila (Bharathappuzha) at the eastern side of the Pambady village” for realization of Lord Shiva. Vasuki , pleased with the poojas offered by the Maharishi and opted the place as his abode, started to reside with his retinue as the guardian angels of that locale. The Maharishi continued poojas both to Lord Siva and the Nagaraja with equal reverence until he entered eternal sleep amid meditation.
After the Maharishi’s earthly life, Vasuki deemed to have granted boon to carry out Naga pooja to a couple of Nair Clan, Kooliyil Narayanan Nair and his wife who resolutely worshipped Nagaraja to dispel their misery of poverty. Serpent mounds emerged from the earth at the place where the Maharshi had conducted the poojas, sat up for meditation and entered eternal sleep. The same mounds in Shivakara are being worshipped in Pambady Pambumkavu as the divine abode of Nagaraja, Nagakanya and the abstract charisma of the great sage ‘Risheeswhara’.
Kooliyil Narayanan Nair (Swami) continued rituals and poojas to please the serpent Gods till he attained celestial abode. Following his demise, his wife kept on the worships tracking her husband’s austere, devoting her whole life at the feet of Nagaraja, praying and pleading on behalf of the devotees, as their affectionate “Muthassi” and reduced to memories in 2015. Presntly, the Kavu is administered by their successors.