If you happen to be in Nagercoil during the month of August-September, do make a note to visit the Nagaraja Temple on Sundays, or at least the Ayilyam (Ashlesha) nakshatram. People who visit the serpent deity during these days are said to be cured of all serpent related doshas like the Kalasarpadosha, the Rahu dosha, etc.
It is believed that the town Nagercoil derives its name from the presiding deity of this temple the Nagaraja, or the serpent king. The deity is a five headed Naga. Deities of the Lord Shiva and Anandakrishnan (a form of Krishna) are also present.
There are many stories associated with the temple. According to one, a lady who was cutting grass around the temple area found blood oozing from her sickle. She later realized that her sickle had hit a stone. A namboothiri recognized this stone to be a Nagaraja idol. He performed all pujas as per rituals and erected a temporary temple. Later a grand and permanent structure was erected in its place by the Maharaja of Kalakkad in gratitude for curing him of leprosy. He used to visit this temple every Sunday. Since then, devotees visit the temple every Sunday to offer prayers. But the Nagaraja appeared in the Namboothiri’s dreams and said that he wished to live in the old premises. Ever since, the main deity is kept at the temporary attachment covered with a thatched roof. This roof is changed every year- temple authorities claim to see a snake every year while changing the roof.
In fact, much of this legend is true. Scientists have now found that leprosy can be cured using Cobra venom. Also, the temple and areas around it are believed to be a haven for snakes. Yet, nobody within the vicinity of the temple are said to have been killed by snake bite.
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