Mookkuthala is a small place in the Nannamukku village in the Malappuram District of Kerala. The name is derived from Mukthisthalam. Mukthi means Liberation in English (Moksha in Sanskrit). Sthala means Place. Mukthisthalam means a place where one gets liberation or enlightenment. It is here Adi Shankara performed his first penance.
It is believed that at his early days of sanyasa and travel, Balashankara at the age of 10, crossed the Narineenthi River (known as Naranipuzha now) towards east and reached a dense forest.
Balashankara was attracted towards a divine light which directed him to a place where the Melekkaavu temple is situated today. He realized that the light is emanating from the divine presence of Rudraksha shila.
To know more about this divine light, he started meditation on different deities and each one appeared in front of him. The first one was the Goddess Durga and he installed the deity there. This is the Keezhekkaavu temple.
The light still remained. Next one was the Goddess Bhadra (Bhadra Kali) and later installed several other deities including Shiva, Narasimha and Sastha in the nearby places about one kilometre between each other. But the presence of light continued. Curious, he wanted to know more about the light and started penance at that place.
He heard a voice from behind asking what boon he wants. Shankara realized it was Adi Parashakthi behind him. He requested to grant a boon by which anybody who worship that place should be blessed with knowledge, progeny and prosperity. Shankara installed the deity there, which is now known as Melekkaavu temple.
The temples in which Shankaracharya did consecration in Mookkuthala include Raktheswaram Shiva temple, Kolanchery Narasimha temple (which is the first and last temple in which Adi Shankara installed Narasimha), Karuvatta Sastha temple. It is one of the rarest places where one can find temples of all deities and thus a blessed place.
It is believed that the poojas performed by Brahmins to goddess Bhadra made her extremely powerful for the devotees to approach her. At the request of the devotees, Adi Parashakthi requested Bhadra to change her seat two feet to the west where the present Kannenkaavu temple is situated.
The area belonged to Azvaancherry Thampraakkal and were happy to take ownership and responsibility of the Kannenkaavu temple. They had to bring an Elayathu (another Brahmin category) from Kochi to conduct pooja at Kannenkaavu and calm down Bhadra.
Vazha Leaf and Mookkuthala Kallu
The Melekkaavu temple is still situated within a forest with dense, tall trees. Vazha tree is famous here and the leaves of this tree is believed to have a special protective power. Those who keep a leaf under the pillow while sleep is still believed to be free from all bad dreams.
Mookkuthala Kallu (Stone) is very auspicious. Only one stone comes out from within the shrine in a day from the Melekkaavu temple. Wearing it is believed to give protection from all untoward in life and very good for prosperity.
If Bhubaneswar in Orissa is known as a temple city, Mookkuthala is a temple village.