Sree Keraleshwar Siva temple, Cherlai, Cochin
Vasukeswar and Naga Vigrahas
The temple has many Naga vigrahas. Hence Lord is also called Vasukeswar in this temple in the belief that he is worshipped by Vasuki, the King of Nagas. Many visit the temple on Saturdays and Mondays to pray to get rid of Sarpadosha and Sanidosha. The naga vigrahas were originally in the open land on the south west corner of the temple. Later a wall was constructed around the platform with Metal mesh above the wall (as seen in the pic below).
Thereafter, many vigrahas were shifted to this temple from private houses and smaller temples. At present there are more than thousand vigrahas on this platform.
The Naga vigrahas were originally shifted from the Gosripuram Tirumala temple, more than a century ago. The Thantris from the Gosripuram temple visit the Keraleshwar temple on Naga Panchami day to offer special pooja to the Nagas.
It is believed that Nagas are agreeable to be shifted to this temple and many persons purchasing properties with Naga Pratishtas shift them to this temple.
Sri. Kalaga Prabhu was a prominent merchant at Cochin in the 18th century. He joined hands with Jews and the Dutch in business ventures and also became their Defense counselor. The King of Ramanathapuran, Tamil Nadu had a business agreement with the Dutch to supply Silk and Cotton. When the King broke the agreement, the Dutch company deputed Sri Kalaga Prabhu along with soldiers to the Kingdom. They reached Ramanathapuram by sea. The soldiers mistook Ramanathapuram temple gopuram as the King's fort and gunned it. When he knew the reality, Kalaga Prabhu repented about it. He carried a Shivling from Rameshwaram while going back. He was advised by astrologers that he has to install the image of Lord Shiva in a temple to escape from his act. With the help of the Dutch, he constructed Keraleswar temple and installed the Shivling. The Lord was called Keraleshwar, believing that He came to Kerala at his wish.
Later in 1771 AD, Kalaga Prabhu entered into a sensational law suit with a Jew businessman. Kalaga Prabhu then entered into correspondence with the generals of Hyder Ali with the aim of humiliating the Raja of Cochin and the Jews of Cochin. The correspondence was detected in time and the Kalaga Prabhu and his son Chorda Prabhu were caught and exiled for life to Cape of Good Hope.
After the exile, the Dutch sold at public auction all
properties of Kalaga Prabhu including the Keraleshwar temple. The temple and the property
of Kalaga were purchased by one Nagaresa who entrusted the temple to Raja of Cochin in
1775 AD. However, the Raja of Cochin in 1780 AD, handed over the management of the
Keraleshwar temple to Cochin Tirumala Devaswom. He also made available an annual grant to
meet the pooja expenses of the temple from the Royal treasury.