Sree Dhanwanthary temple, Maruthoorvattom
This temple is located at Maruthoorvattom, a small village lying at the Alleppey-Cherthala route. The fame of the village depends upon this temple. It faces to the west. There is a compound wall on all three sides except the front side, so that people can enter freely at anytime and can take rest under the cool shade of the banyan trees. There is a flag staff and a light house in front of the temple in addition to a newly built elephant shed. The shrine and mandapam are thatched with copper plates. The altar and buildings around the shrine are thatched with tiles. The wall paintings, though they are not clear at certain parts, are perfect pieces of art work. Sree Krishnavatharam, Poothanamoksham and Panchali Swayamvaram are depicted on the wall in a realistic way.
A beautiful stone image of Sree Dhanwanthara Moorthy, which is placed in the shrine, is about 2” tall and in a standing position, holding in its right hand the nectar of immortality (Amrith) in a pot. In the other three hands the divine holds a conch, wheel and bludgeon. The deity wears a crown, ear-ornaments and a chain. He also wears a yellow silk cloth.
The story of Dhanwanthara Moorthy, as stated in the holy Narayaneeyam is as follows.
Once the sage Durvasa got a good flower garland from a Sura woman. He knew that any one who wore that garland would become famous in the three worlds. So he gave the garland to Devendra who was riding along on his elephant ‘Ayiravatham'. Devendra placed the garland on the top of the elephant’s head. The sweet smell of flowers attracted a number of bees which caused great nuisance to the elephant. So it took the garland with its trunk and crushed it under its foot in front of the sage. Consequently, the rishi became so angry that he cursed the entire Suras by uttering ‘Let suras become old and worn out and perish’. Saying these words Durvasa disappeared.
The Gods became sad. In order to find out a way to evade the curse they approached Maha Vishnu. He told the Devas that if they would drink the nectar of immortality from the sea of milk they could escape from the curse. Accordingly, the Devas and demons churned the sea of milk. From the sea Dhanwanthara Moorthy rose up with a pot of nectar which had the power of giving life to the dead and health to the sick.
Dhanwanthara Moorhty, of course, was a reincarnation of Maha Vishnu, who had been founded at Maruthoorvattom temple.
At the western corner of the shrine faces to the east there remains the idols of Lord Siva and Sree Ganapathy. Besides one can see the family deities of Sri Vellattu Thirumeni. Outside the temple at the northern side there is a shrine of Durga. It was the favourite deity of the Vellattu Thirumeni.
At the time of Tippu Sulthan’s war-cry and invasion, the Vellattu Thirumeni left Chalakkudi and came to Marthoorvattom. Since he was financially in a poor condition he was not able to bring the idol to Maruthoovattom and build a suitable shrine for it.
One day the Nampoothiris of Puthiakkal Kovilakom in Vayalar, near Cherthala, came to sea Vellattu Thirumeni. He told Thirumeni that he had got three idols from the Kelankulam in Cherthala and according to the instruction of the divinity that He saw in the dream, he had to leave the first one as there would be no one to perform such poojas as suitable to the deity; and to donate the second one, the idol of the Dhanwanthara Moorhty; and to install the third Vishnu idol at his own Kovilakom. According to it he turned out the first idol, donated the second to Vellattu Thirumeni and placed the third one at his
Kovilakom, and this one was later known as Keraladithyapuram Vishnu temple.
Vellattu Thirumeni received the idol. It was his favourite one, the idol of Sree Dhanwanthara Moorhty, and his sorrow for not bringing his own deity from Chalakkudi, to some extent alleviated. But he doubted whether he could build a temple for the deity. While he was pondering over it, Cheerattamon Moose arrived there. Thirumeni told him the whole story. As the Moose was financially sound he agreed to spend money to build the temple. As a result the temple was built and the idol of Moorthy was placed. At this Thirumeni’s happiness knew no bounds. They equally shared the ownership of the temple.
After a few years, as ill-luck would have it, the two families became enemies for some reason or other. Cheerathu Moose left the place. Since he was an attendant of the Rajah he got a Nalukettu and a temple at Olassa and a few acres of land free of cost. The place where his illom (home) was located later known as Govindapuram.
Later, Cheerattamon Moose came forward with his right of the temple. Legally he was entitled to get half a share. When the Moose approached Thirumeni with the demand he consented to give him money for the share. But he had no money with him at that time. So he sold all his properties except the temple and settled the problem amicably. Thus Thirumeni got the full right of the temple.
Thirumeni became so poor that he could not maintain the temple. The rich Nair families of the locality came forward and helped him. But in 1128 M.E. he gave the temple and all its properties to the local N.S.S. Karayogam as gift. Now the temple runs smoothly under the administration of the Karayogam.
At this temple devotees perform oblation for the departed souls and conduct ‘Santhana Gopalam’ Kathakali as a vow for getting progeny to keep up the lineage.
In the month of Medam (April) a ten-day festival is celebrated on a grand scale.