Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Trivandrum is located 2 km off Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The temple has earned the sobriquet of "Sabaramala of Women" after being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records on 23 February 1997 to have the largest gathering of women in the world. During Attukal Pongala Festival in the year, more than 1.5 million women assembled and worshipped in the temple premises and open spaces, commercial establishments and offices around it. The temple is dedicated to goddess Kannaki, who is a form of goddess Parvathi, the consort of Lord Shiva.
The legend has it that once Kannagi married Kovalam, the son of a wealthy merchant. However, Kovalam met a dancer and spent all his fortunes on her, ignoring the pleas of his devout wife Kannagi. He finally became penniless and approached Kannagi for help who was left with just a pair of anklets. The couple approached the king of Madurai to sell the anklets. By chance queen's anklets were stolen during the time of their visit to the palace and Kannagi's anklets strikingly matched with those of the queen's. The couple was mistaken to be thieves and Kovalam was then beheaded.
Kannagi got infuriated at all this and rushed to the king to show him the second anklet. She broke the anklet which had rubies inside it while that of the queen's had pearls. She then cursed the city of Madurai, which came true due to her devotion to her husband and her chastity. Kannagi attained salvation only after the goddess of Madurai appeared and blessed her. On her way to Kodungaloor, she stayed at Attakul and assumed the form of a little girl. There was an old man sitting near a mountain stream. Kannagi requested the old man to help her cross the river. The old man brought the little girl to his home out of mercy. The little girl suddenly disappeared. Kannagi then revealed to the old man in his dreams and asked him to build a temple for her at the place where he would find 3 golden lines in his grove. Obliging the wishes of the goddess, the old man built a little temple. The present Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is located exactly at the same place.
Pongala Festival :
10 days long Attukal Pongala festival is celebrated with much fanfare in Attukal Bhagavathy Temple during the month of Kumbham (February -March) in which thousands and thousands of women participate. An estimated more than 3 million women attended the grand Pongala festivities in the year 2011. Pongala is actually a sweet dish which is made with rice, jiggery, coconut, ghee and other ingredients. It is first offered to the Bhagavathy Temple deities and then distributed to the devotees.
The grand Pongala festival has gained international recognition and tourists from around the world come to Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram to witness and participate in the grand festivities. Trivandrum city is beautifully decked during the festivities and a public holiday is observed on the last day of Pongala festivities. Mandala Vratham, Pooja Vyapu, Karthika and Aiswarya Pooja are other prominent festivals of Bhagavathy Temple.
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is at half an hour's drive from Thirvananthapuram International Airport