Joining the land of  Tamils only after almost a decade after India got her independence, Nagercoil, so called due to its Naagaraja kovil (the temple of the King of Snakes, Vasuki ?) was earlier, part of the Travancore State. The following is from one of the stories in the Aithyamalaa, about the Paambu Mekkattu Namboodiri family.

Legend has it that a Namboodiri of the said family, after successfully curing a Paandya king of a skin disease, was traveling back to his family home in Cochin, when he encountered a woman in tears in the forest. It turned out that she had hit a stone figurine of a five headed serpent with her sickle, which had caused the idol to bleed, and every attempt to stem the flow of blood was in vain. The skilled Namboodiri however soothed the distressed woman and stopped the bleeding after performing a puja. He also cleared the area in the forest, and built a temple around the stone snake, which became the famous Naagaraja kovil, which gives the town its name.

It is said that the red hue of the soil in Nagercoil is because of the spilled blood from the injured head of the stone serpent, and it has become a tradition for devotees who visit the temple to take back a handful of soil and try to cure skin ailments with it.

Notes :

1) It is doubtful whether the soil is still thought of to be holy, in this day and age. Must remember to check up with anyone visiting Nagercoil

2) Here is a nice account of the temple and city with some nice pictures. The Tamil version of the story associated with the temple avoids all mention of Paambu Mekkatu family



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