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Garudan Kavu Temple in Malappuram

The Garudan Kavu Temple is the only temple that has a mini temple devoted to the second incarnation of Lord Vishnu which is the tortoise or Koorma form.

Garuda Kavu Temple in Malappuram

This temple is one the most ancient temples, believed to be more than eighteen hundred years old. During the reign of Tipu Sultan this temple has been virtually razed to the ground. The locals and devotees from near and far, however, rebuilt the temple at the same spot. It is true that this is the only ‘Garuda’ temple while there are several temples where the Garuda has been depicted as the conveyance or ‘Vahana’ of Lord Vishnu but this is the singular site where Garuda is the reigning deity and is shown in the flying pose.

Story about Garudan Kavu Temple

There are several mythological stories linked with the temple as well as some historical features.
One of the stories about the location of the temple records the episode when several centuries ago a sage had performed austere penance to obtain from Lord Vishnu the secret of keeping the population from disease and pain. When Lord Vishnu decided to give his discourse on the subject. Garudan too flew nearby and sat on the banks of a pond called the ‘theertha’. Thus, this site where Lord Vishnu appeared to the sage or gave ‘darshan’ became haloed ground and on which the temple was later constructed.

It is also reported that Jagadguru Shri Sankaracharya known as Sri Padapadacharya had also undertaken severe penance at the temple which further increased the spiritual worth of the already haloed ground. Then there is another legend that gives the origin of the Garuda Idol installed in the Temple. Perum Thatcham was a highly skilled master craftsman who was a renowned mason of those times in that region. His dexterity was known far and wide. He could make several idols of gods and goddesses. This had been installed in many of the temples of Kerala. Perum Thatchan had created a beautiful idol the flying Garuda which was very life like.

So exquisite was the idol that The Raja of the Malappuram region was impressed and said that the Garuda looked like it could fly away. The master craftsman or Perum Thatchan replied that if the bird was touched by a purely chaste woman the ‘idol’ would definitely come alive and fly. At first the Raja took offence but later challenged the sculptor or ’Shilpi’ saying that if he was proven wrong he would be sentenced to death. The mason asked him what the Raja would give if he was proven true. The Raja promised to build a temple in honor of the idol. On hearing this Perum Thatchan called his wife and asked her to touch the Garuda idol. The moment she touched it the Garuda flew away. The Raja sent his soldiers to chase it. It landed on a pond filled with while turtles. The Garuda settled on the back of one of the white turtles. This marked the site of the present temple. This site came to be called Vellamassery or the site of the white tortoise.

An interesting feature of the temple is that the present Garudan Kavu temple faces west while all other temples with the complex devoted to other deities are facing the east. The temple has special places making devout prostrations called the ‘namaskara mandapams’ situated before the sanctums of the Vishnu and the Sankara Narayan. The temple complex also has the shrines of Bhagavathy, Sahstha, Bhadrakali and Ganapathi. All these are located on the West side. There was also a deepastambam as well as the Gopuram located on the same side.

Offerings at Garudan Kavu Temple in Malappuram

Just as this is one of the most unique Hindu temples and is singular in having the distinction of the only Garuda temple the offering and rituals of this temple are just as extraordinary.

One feature that distinguishes this temple from all other ancient temples is that entry is not restricted to anybody in the temple. It is open to all. It is almost like the Garuda that flies high above in the skies and did not discriminate between any caste, creed class or color.

Another amazing aspect of this temple is that in order to obtain immunity from snake bite the devotees bring snakes for the Garuda as snakes are known to be its food. There are several astonishing facets to this phenomenon. Firstly, devotees by the hundreds offer snakes in earthenware pots and throw them from the Gopuram. The snakes are always seen alive and well when they land.

Secondly, as this ritual offering has been going on for several centuries’ virtually then this region should have been thickly infested with snakes while hardly any snakes are visible here.

Thirdly, in the presence of so many snakes being carried by devotees and handled by several other people there has never been a single instance of snake bite. Thus, this goes to show the divine power of the temple and its reigning deity.

One of the distinctive ‘prasadam’ or offering made at this temple is the yellow ‘payasam’ or sweet rice porridge that has turmeric added to it. A similarly distinctive offering is the oil known as the Garuda Panchakshari. It is known to be a panacea for skin problems and is also useful in all forms of internally poisoned conditions.

The offerings to Garuda are all in the form of fruits and seeds, in fact all the things preferred by birds. It is believed that even snakes pray to Garuda annually to grant them long life. People suffering from ‘Naga Dosham’ some form of astronomical and astrological mal-effect, are cured at this temple. People with all kinds of shin ailments seek succor at the Garudan Karu temple of Malappuram. Often people going to Sabrimala tend to stop at this temple as it also enshrines Lord Vishnu in his ‘Koorma’ or tortoise ‘avatar’ or incarnation.


The temple is open on week days from five to ten in the morning. In the evening it is open only for an hour from five to six. On Sundays the Temple is open for an extra half hour in the morning but this remaining for half an hour less in the evening.

How to Reach Garudan Kavu Temple

The Garudan Kavu temple is accessible by road being at a distance of just two kilometers from Tirur. The roads are good and the National Highway number seventeen connects through Kozhikode. Both government and private vehicles are available for the devotees visiting the temple.

By rail the temple at Vellamarsery is connected by several rail routes. Especially to Kozhikode and Tirur towns as well as Kuttipuram that lies at a distance of around ten kilometers.

By air also there is connectivity up to the nearest airport is from Karipur which is located at a distance of about forty kilometers motorable distance from the temple.

Vellamassery Devaswon – Shri Garudan Kavu Kshethram Address: PO Allathiyur, Pin – 676102
Phone no: 0494 – 2428181, 9388818948. 9496129246

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