Chirakkal Kizhakkekara Mathilakam Sree Krishna Temple – The ancestral home of Krishnagadha
Many of us fondly love Krishna songs. But only a few of us are familiar with the place, where Cherussery wrote the famous, Krishnagadha. Do you know where it is? Its answer is Chirakkal Kizhakkekara Mathilakam Sree Krishna temple of Kannur district. If you closely examine Kollavarsham (Malayalam calendar), Cherusseri’s Krishnagatha is 500 years old. But in the past 5 centuries, no one has given enough recognition to the temple where this great work was authored, either from literal world or cultural world.
Till now debates are going on about the authentication of Cherusseri Namboodiri as the original author of Krishnagadha. Many of those experts and historians regularly quote the verses from Krishnagadha to back their opinions. Yet none of them have really cared about the place where it was written.
Where is Mathilakam temple situated?
From Kannur main town, travel 6 kms towards north to reach Chirakkal Mathilakam temple. It’s located near to Kadalai Sreekrishna temple, and facing Chirakkal chira. In the preface of Krishnagadha, it’s written that Cherusseri was a member of Udayavarma Kolathiri’s court, the ruler of Kolathunaad.
There is a legend behind this great work. It’s connected to a chess game played between Kolathiri and Cherusseri. To help her husband, the queen gave clues to the king in the form of a lullaby she used to make her son sleep. Through lullaby, queen hinted to move pawn, and king did so to win the game. As soon as the game was completed, he asked Cherusseri to write poems praising Krishna in the same rhythm sung by the queen. Krishnagadha – written in the 16th century owns the recognition of first Mahakavyam (Brihadkavyam) written in Shudha Malayalam (Pure Malayalam).
Kizhakkekkara Mathilakam Temple which was once controlled by Udayamangalam dynasty, later came under Chirakkal royal family. At present a big oil painting of Cherusseri Namboodiri is placed in front of the main door. Below the picture, a note is also given that the poet wrote Krishnagadha in this temple. As per archeological reports, the temple and its Nalambalam are approximately 1200 years old.
Mathilakam temple in history books
During those ancient era of landlords and revolts of the lower class people against them, a few chapters of Kerala history are linked to Mathilakam temple also. Under the leadership of A.K. G, once they prevented landlords from taking rice to the temple. The strike was successful, and later Chirakkal Raja accepted their claims. Not only did he declared that rice belongs to the poor people and should be reserved for food alms, but also invited them to the Oottupura of the temple, where food is prepared for devotees. 1200 people can have food at the same time in Oottupura.
At present, the temple is controlled by Malabar Devaswom Board. Navaneeta Krishna is the presiding deity. Lord Siva in the form of Vaidyanathan also resides here. Rituals and worship are done by Brahmins of Kaattumadath Illam, and its right is passed to next generation.
The architecture of Mathilakam temple
Gopuram of Mathilakam temple gives an excellent instance of ancient art a few centuries old. Kiraathaarjuneeyam, Dasavatharam and Sree Krishna Leela are inscribed in the art pieces of the temples. From Krishna’s birth to Balaleela and later life are drawn as beautiful pictures at the ceiling of the gopuram. Sree Krishna Leela is inscribed in between Kiraathaarjuneeyam and Dasavatharam. The art pieces include beautiful elements such as birds, elephants, snakes, horses etc apart from humans. The ceiling is done in teak wood, and the stories of Lord Krishna are printed on them. The temple’s age is dated to 1200 years.
It’s really sad that even while we give a lot of respect to Cherusseri and his masterpiece work, we ignore Mathilakam temple which gave a lot of inspirations to the poet to write one of the great literal works of Malayalam literature.
You can read a few more articles on Kerala temples, with detailed description of legends and celebrations associated with them. Click on the images in the gallery to read