Panayannarkavu is one of the few temples in the state of Kerala where the Sapta Matas, or the Seven Mother Goddesses are worshipped as the presiding power. Chamundi, the fiercest of them all, gets the predominant place as Kali. There is also a temple of Siva in the premises. Situated in a luxuriant grove near Parumala and girdled by a tributary of the Pampa, this apparently modest temple is only about 2-miles from Mannar, a village well known for its bell-metal lamps and vessels.
Until recently, esoteric tantric rituals were conducted in this Saktheya temple. From an allusion to this temple in the 14th century Malayalam epistolatory poem, Unni Neeli Sandesam, countless legends and stories sprang and gained credence, about the sacrifices and rituals practiced to invoke the blessings of the ferocious goddess. The poem mentions, in figurative language, the practice of sacrificing elephants to appease the goddess.
And even today, the goddess inspires fear and awe in the faithful. But as one walks into the temple and beholds the paintings around the shrines, the initial fear vanishes and a rare calm settles in. Familiar stories from the Puranas, in gentle and pleasant tones adorn the walls.