KOCHI: Temple tanks have been significant markers of social history and cultural landscape. They not only add charm and character to temples, but are tools for water supply, conservation and irrigation. They are repositories of biodiversity, indeed. All this is in addition to the spiritual aspect they are primarily designed and built for. Each tank has a story to tell and, if it is in north Malabar, then rest assured, there is abundant lore. One such legend tells the tale of a theertha kulam or holy pond whose source of water remains a mystery till date.
Situated in Klayikkode, a scenic village in Kasargod, the sacred water body is shared by two temples on the eastern and western sides (both facing each other) – Parammal Sri Durga Bhagavati Kshetram and Goshala Sri Krishna Kshetram. The two temples and the pond together comprise the Parammal temple complex. Particularly dear to the Pothuval community, the Sri Krishna temple was plundered and pillaged during the reign of Tipu Sultan. Following this, the temple remained closed for several years. Both the temples have been renovated and now, prayers are offered on a regular basis.
The depth and other parameters of the tank are yet to be determined. But what is quite interesting about it, is the fact that while most temple tanks have dried up nowadays and are vanishing or in dire need of restoration — either due to siltation or clogged inlet/outlet channels — the theertha kulam has been full for the last three hundred years. It hasn’t dried up even during the most scorching heat.
The story of the temple tank goes like this. Eons ago, when the tank as we know it today did not exist, the priest at the Bhagavati temple would walk down to the Kolikkal Pothi temple, about a kilometre away, to collect water for daily prayers. One day, when he reached the Pothi temple, the rope and pulley, with which he would draw the water up, were missing. Disappointed and exhausted, the priest returned to the Bhagavati temple and prayed, in despair, to the goddess.
Later that night, when the old Brahmin fell asleep, the goddess appeared in his dream. She reassured her devotee and told him that there would be three sounds of explosion and that he should look back after the third and find a body of water close to the temple. Soon after the Devi disappeared, the priest heard the first explosion. He did not turn around. The second explosion was a lot louder than the first and he was too shaken. So he saw a pond near the temple. (If the priest looked back after the third explosion, the pond would have been closer to the temple).
Water for worship at both the Bhagavati and Krishna temples is drawn from here. Interestingly, there are waves in this pond. This is backed up by another tale that says there is a well deep inside the pond which is connected to a tunnel system to the west.