Ours is a land rich in culture and heritage. It is a land known for its enthralling mythological tales and spellbinding stories.
Such tales have been passed on from generation to generation and they not only excite and inculcate interest but also impart morals and values to the younger generation.
Apart from the myriad of such popular tales which are mostly from Ramayana and Mahabharata, there are also other stories of faith and beliefs in every nook and corner of the country.
Here’s one such tale that I want to share with you.
Divine Justice by Judge Uncle (Judge Ammavan)
The Legend of Judge Uncle
Back in the 18th century, during the reign of King Shri Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma in Travancore region, there lived a lawyer named Govinda Pillai of Thiruvalla Thalavadi Ramapurathu Madam.
Just like the King known as DharmaRaja aka the Just King, who believed in a fair law and order, Govinda Pillai- the Chief Judge of the Royal court (or Sadar Court) also was known for his impartial judgments and fair verdicts. He was also a Sanskrit scholar who was proficient in ‘Neethisastra’.
One day, a trial took place in Govinda Pillai’s court in which his nephew was accused.
The revered judge weighed all the evidence and heard all the arguments and counter-arguments. He found that his nephew was guilty and sentenced him to death.
However, after his nephew’s execution, fresh evidence was brought in. Govinda Pillai realized that there was an error in his judgment and that his nephew was innocent.
He was burdened by guilt and requested the King to punish him.
The King couldn’t bring himself to punish the judge for a mistake he unknowingly made. He entrusted the task to the judge himself.
For Govinda Pillai, his reputation was everything.
He ordered his own execution in which his feet were to be chopped off and his body was to be hung from a tree for three days for the people to see, making him subject to a slow and painful death.
Several disasters and catastrophe struck the kingdom for years. Upon the Ashtamangalya Prashnam (Kerala astrology), it was concluded that the Judge’s soul was to be entombed at his ancestral house in Payyambally’s temple near the Cheruvally Goddess’s deity and his nephew’s at Panayarkavu Temple in Thiruvalla.
The Cheruvally Devi Temple was on the lease-free land granted to Chenganoor Vanjipuzha Thampuraan by Dharma Raja’s predecessor King Marthanda Varma.
With the blessings of the Thampuran, Govinda Pillai’s soul was installed at Cheruvally who is apparently, also his favorite Goddess.
Upon the wish of his descendants, his deity which we see today was officially built as a Sanctum Santorum in 1978.
Offerings to Judge Uncle at Cheruvally Temple
Govinda Pillai’s, now fondly known as Judge Ammavan aka Judge Uncle–
Judge Ammavan resides here as a sub-temple or Upa Devatha.
His temple remains closed in the morning.
Judge Ammavan’s worship commences by about 8.30 pm. This is after all the poojas and offerings are made to the Cheruvally Devi and Kodum Kali – the fierce form of Maa Durga.
Judge Ammavan’s temple is open for only about 30 to 45 minutes.
The three main offerings to Judge Ammavan are Karikku Abhishekam (Sacred Bath of the deity with Tender Coconut Water), Adakka-Vetilla Samarpanam (Arecanut and Betal leaf offering) and Ada Nivedyam (Offering of Ada- a Kerala delicacy), Ada Nivedyam being his favorite.
Litigants and others with delayed cases fly from across the country, making
note of their case numbers to do offerings to the deity.
There have been days were up to a 1000 ‘ada’s were offered to Judge Ammavan in a day.
The temple is mostly crowded on Sundays as well.
It is believed that if those seeking justice from the court come to the temple and prays to Judge Ammavan, a favorable judgment will soon be passed.
Of course, that is only if the truth is on their side.
From famous politicians like K.Karunakaran and Jayalalitha to Indian cricketer Sreesanth to the Actor Dileep, many celebrities also have visited the temple when they were alleged in various conspiracies.
The Travancore Devasam Board also had made offerings at the deity for a verdict in favor of the Sabarimala Temple women’s entry case.
How to reach Cheruvally Devi Temple
The picturesque Cheruvally Devi Temple is situated in the Kottayam District of Kerala and is believed to be at least 1100 years old.
Legend says that Cheruvally Devi appeared here upon the request of Adi Shankaracharya.
However, she was left here ignored for centuries until one day a woman from the lower caste found a stone bleeding upon sharpening her sickle.
A temple was then constructed here installing the stone idol which is about four feet high.
The Cheruvally Devi Temple is about 8kms from the town of Ponkunnam in the Chirakkandam-Manimala route.
One can travel by car or use the local bus transportation. You can see the magnificent Manimal river on one side on your way to the temple.
Manimala River, also known as Valla Puzha is an important waterway of Central Travancore. It flows through three districts of Kerala – namely, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, and Alappuzha.
Many famous temples and churches reside in its banks. The river also offers a picturesque view striking against humongous rocks.
It may seem unusual and even bizarre to have such beliefs in this 21st century. But one cannot ignore the steady rise of devotees and believers leading to the Temple to offer and please their beloved Judge Ammavan.
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That’s all for now, folks!
Have you been to Cheruvally Temple?
Mayuri Nidigallu says
I love the name Judge Uncle! Apart from being a temple that holds a strong belief for many, it also seems like a beautiful place to visit. Thanks for introducing us to this unique temple, Shalini.
sivasankara kurup says
really i loved to read this story. i heard about judge amman before but didnt know much about him. thank u so much for writing about this. keep writing such intersting stories
Noor Anand Chawla says
Wow this is really interesting- something I was completely unaware of. I would love to visit this place someday. Thank you for sharing!
Not just this temple is scenic but the story behind it is equally intriguing. I loved the fact that people who pray here get the judgement in their favour, of the truth lies at that end. Righteous way!
Where we have people like Shakuni in our stories there are others like Judge Uncle too! Loved reading about him. It is a beautiful place indeed!
Patricia-Ann Que says
always love to visit places like this! the temple surely made it even more interesting! would love to see someday i hope!
Neha Tambe says
That’s an interesting read for the day! I would rather have a judge’s temple than an actor’s. It also reminded me of an era when honor was above everything.
It is an interesting story/facts about the place Shalini. Judge Uncle temple and his beliefs are making people believe in fair judgement is very good perspective.
Cristina Petrini says
What a place full of emotion, wonder and a lot of tradition. Sense the scent of adventure even beyond the screen!
Danielle Wolter says
what an awesome place to visit. the ground look beautiful and the history is interesting.
The temple looks amazing!!! I love Asia and would love to visit here next time
Charu Chittwal says
Such a beautiful place it is, loved the views, plus the story of the Judge Uncle is so amazing, huge respect for him to the man who lived on the right principles, thank you for sharing this amazing blog
What an interesting and cool post. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge!!!
The Judge Deity is so unique. Would love to visit this interesting temple. I enjoy traveling and Kerala seems amazing.
Georgina Nderitu says
Such a beautiful place… I would definitely love to visit here…. thank you for sharing.
Very beautiful place to visit. Thank you for your information. I love visiting places and knowing their history at the same time.
What an interesting place to visit. Love the history behind it as well!
Thank you for introducing us to Judge Uncle!
Roshan Radhakrishnan says
Wow… I really was not aware of this story and this place at all…
Monidipa Dutta says
Although I am an atheist but still it sounds like a beautiful place to visit.
Alice Gerard says
What a fascinating and sad story of the judge! Thank you for the beautiful retelling of it, as well as the photographs.
What a story. It teaches us a lot about the nature of humans everywhere – justice, guilt, and the belief of hope.
What a fascinating tale. Hard to find such self righteous men in this age. Loved reading the history behind the temple. The surrounding looks beautiful… So many fascinating stories hidden behind those structures.
What an interesting story! I hadn’t heard of this place either.
Oh my goodness! I love folk lore. Such an interesting story and great pics, as always.
Modern Gypsy says
What a fascinating story! I hadn’t heard this story or of this temple before. The temple is so beautiful too – looks like a lovely place to visit.
Becca Wilson says
This temple looks like it would be so amazing to see. I would love to be able to experience a cultural experience like this.
I didn’t know about this Judge ammavan temple I will try to visit next time when I visit Kerala. Your pictures are really beautiful missing those greeneries here.
Great informational post, learned so much! Its so scary that he ordered his own execution and in such a painful manner.
Stories passed down for generations are such a rich part of a culture and a great way to learn about a country and it’s people- thanks for sharing this!
Hmm, interesting story or fact, can’t imagine how painful and slow death he had. Loved that I learned something new. The photos are great too, and the place looks so relaxing and worth a visit.
Ženja | Bearly Here says
Oh I didn’t expect this legend to end this way! 😲 But I learned something new today thanks to you 😊 great job in sparking interest! And thanks for sharing with us 😊
Interesting story behind this temple! It looks very serene! Would love to see it one day!
Dani Ward says
Wow! What an interesting story. I cringe thinking about his choice for how he was to be executed! Folk lore is always so fascinating.
I love mythologies which speak of Bleeding stones and justice ! Such an interesting post. I like this #fridayreflection of yours 😃
Sarah Wilson says
What a fascinating story. If I ever had to order my own execution, I would not choose his way. Sounds far too painful and slow.
Carrie Ann says
I had never heard the story of Judge Uncle – thank you for sharing it! I can’t even imagine how he must have felt when he realized his nephew was innocent.
Amazing to hear the background of Judge Uncle – I’ve been to Kerala twice but I’d never heard of it – it looks awesome. I’d like to see this next time I head to Kerala.
Such a fascinating story! And a what a beautiful temple! I think the temples in Kerala are so serene and beautiful; of course, I’m partial. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the history of this temple and the pictures!
An Indian Traveler says
I was not aware about this tale. It was an interesting read. I’m planning my Kerala trip soon. Can’t wait to explore this beautiful state!
I can not believe that I have found your blog because I am starting to think lately about traveling to India this year. How is the Kerala part?
What an interesting story that was! Thanks for sharing. Hopefully, I do not need to visit this temple for the Lord’s grace but would definitely visit it out of curiosity ……
That is a really interesting story, I had never heard about this temple before! This is somewhere I would want to visit after hearing all that. Very cool.
Wow, what a story! I feel so sorry for the judge, I would be wracked with guilt as well 😦
However, the temple is really pretty – I especially like the red and yellow colors and details!
Renata - www.byemyself.com says
What an incredibly fascinating story! The more I hear about India, the more my feet are itching to go – especially this region must be totally mesmerizing!
Thelittlelai: Beyond limits says
I love the fact the you were able to elucidate the story very well. It is truly interesting that I wouldn’t want to miss this temple If I get the chance ti visit India soon. Thank you so much for sharing such an interesting story.
[email protected] says
Interesting story and thanks for sharing so much about the temple.
that’s a unique judge uncle connection
Such beautiful pics of the temple and surroundings so loved it.
Judge uncle deity, Govind Pillai, may be a mythical character. He sets a high standard what a judge should be. If evidence points, he would not spare his own relation. Once proven wrong based on faulty evidence, judge would not hesitate to punish himeself. That is what a judge should be. What a tremmendous Standard Judge uncle has set for all others to follow!
Janaki Srinivasan says
Haven’t heard this story before though I have many friends from Kerala. I’m glad I read your post. Thanks.
Nilesh Sharma says
This was quite an interesting post. I enjoyed reading it and the legend behind Judge Uncle. My many thanks to your husband who serves Army and is ensuring that we all stay safe and secure. It’s only because of all the men and women in the force that we can sleep peacefully, and I also deeply empathize with the sacrifices which all the spouses of these armed forces people have to make and go through. Many thanks for writing and sharing this post.
This is an interesting place and I have never heard of this place before even though I have visited Kottayam a few times. That makes this piece of information very interesting. Thank you for sharing.
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