Vaikom is situated on the north western side of Kottayam district in the Indian state of Kerala. It shares its border with Vembanattu Lake. Its importance in Indian history is due to the Vaikom Satyagraham against untouchability, in which Mahatma Gandhi and Periyar Ramasami participated. It is easily accessible from Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Kottayam. Vaikom has lots of backwaters and greenery and has a high potential for tourism. Vaikom is a pilgrimage centre. The best time to visit Vaikom is during the months of Nov-Dec during the Ashtami festival. Spices like Nutmeg, Black Pepper and Latex have caught the attention of the Vaikom farmers. The economy is based on agriculture with coconut and rice being the major crops cultivated here. Fishing is also of importance to the economy here.
Vaikom is a place of great religious importance. A famous Shiva Temple in the area,Vaikom Mahadevar Temple also known as Dakshina Kasi, is a major pilgrim destination. The temple is built in the Kerala style of architecture. While the Garbagriha is surmounted by a golden Stupa, a golden staff that measures 19.5m dominates the surrounding landscape. Traces of a few paintings might be seen on the exterior of the Garbagriha. A 1m high Shiva Linga (phallic symbol representing Shiva, the Destroyer) is the main deity of the temple. Legend has it that Khara of Ramayana worshipped Shiva at Chidambaram and obtained from him three Shivalingams and journeyed holding one shivalingam on each hand and one in his mouth. He sojourned at Vaikom, and set the shivalingam on the ground and to his dismay realized that it had gotten rooted to the ground. Kharan therefore installed the other two shivalingams at Ettumanur and Kaduthuruthy. He entrusted the shivalingam at Vaikom to the care of Vyagrapadar. Vaikom therefore acquired the name Vyagrapuri which ultimately became Vaikom for short.
The architecture of the Vaikom Temple, Kottayam spellbinds all the visitors to the land with a charm that is truly divine. Surrounded by a courtyard that stretches to almost 8 acres, the boundaries of the temple are marked by four Gopuras or towers.
Vaikom is administered by a Municipality and is the seat of a Munsiff’s court (among the oldest to be established in the Kingdom of Travancore).
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