Copied below is the text of a mail received from PP Ramachandran:
Koodalmanikkam Temple is is situated in Irinjalakuda, Thrissur district of Kerala . The temple comprises the main structure, walled compound with citadels, four ponds around the main structure .
The Temple is the only ancient temple in India dedicated to the worship of Bharata, the third brother of Rama. However the idol is that of Vishnu. "Sangameshwara"(Lord of the Confluence) is another name associated with the deity at Koodalmanikkam. The temple is one of four in Kerala that form a set called "Nalambalam", each temple dedicated to one of the four brothers Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
The Thachudaya Kaimal as "Manikkam Keralar" is the spiritual chief and the temporal ruler of the Koodalmanikkam Temple and its Estates. The line goes back to antiquity and is mentioned in the Skanda Purana.
The earliest historical reference to Koodalmanikkam Temple is found on a stone inscription attributed to the Chera King Stanu Ravi Varman dated 854 A.D, donating vast extents of land for the temple. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that the temple must have been in existence for quite some time before this date and that even then Koodalmanikkam occupied a place of importance among temples of Kerala.
Koodalmanikkam temple plays a key role in the history of Irinjalakuda as most land in and around the region belonged to the Koodalmanikkam Temple and the Thachudaya Kaimals of Travancore until 1971.
The custom in most of the temples in Kerala is to have five poojas and three sivelis a day. But in Koodalmanikkam there are only three poojas and no siveli. There is no Usha Puja and Pantheeradi Puja at this shrine. The deity is taken out for ceremonial procession only during the annual festival. There is no deeparadhana. This is the only temple without Deeparadhana.
Sticks and camphor are not used for the pooja. The floral offerings to the deity consist of lotus, tulasi and thechi . But they are not grown in the temple compound. No other flower is taken for pooja or for making garlands. Lotus garland is an important offering to the deity.
The temple holds its chief annual festival for ten days each year in the month of April/May. The first day of the festival is calculated by the appearance of the Uthram asterism and signified by hoisting a ceremonial flag. (The start day falls one day after the famous Thrissur Pooram festival in nearby Thrissur.)
Each day of the festival, a seeveli (procession of caparisoned temple elephants) is held twice, once in the morning and once at night, to the accompaniment of Panchari melam (sacred music). Seventeen elephants take part. Two features of the seeveli are unique to the Koodalmanikkam Temple: first that two baby elephants are included in the procession, one standing on each side of the elephant carrying the deity. Second, while the headdresses ('Netti pattam' in Malayalam) of seven elephants are made of pure gold, the rest are made of pure silver. The last two days of the festival feature Panchavadyam (sacred music from an orchestra of five instruments), and the festival ends at the Thiruvonam asterism.
There are four ponds that are located in and around the temple. The largest of the four are Kuttan Kulam, located outside the compound on the eastern side, and Kulipini Theertham, located inside the compound. Kulipini Theertham is believed to have been sanctified by the sage Kulipini Maharishi, who held a great ritual sacrifice, a yajna, at the spot. Water from this source is used for rituals and ceremonies within the temple.
Priests are allowed to take part in the ceremonies after cleansing themselves at the "Kuttan Kulam" outside the temple and then have to take a dip in "Kulipini Theertham" before entering Sanctum Sanctorum. The pond outside the compound located at the western side is called "Padinjare Kulam" and the pond outside the compound located at the southern side is called "Thekke Kulam". These three water bodies constitute a significant area as much as the size of the temple itself. Except "Kulipini Theertham" the other three water bodies are open to the public.
Closely connected with this temple is Nalambalam Yatra which begins from the Rama temple in Triprayar and ends up at Shatrughna Temple in Payyammal. It is customary to visit the four temples in the order Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna
respectively. A pilgrimage to these temples on a single day during the holy month of Karkkidakam is believed to shower blessings and ensure prosperity. Steps are--Starting from Thripprayar and ending in Payammel, through Irinjalakuda and Moozhikulam.
Thriprayar Temple houses a 6 ft tall idol of the Lord,holding Shankha',
Sudarsanachakra, Stick and Garland, in a very ferocious form facing east. He is seen in standing posture. Vedi Vazhipadu and Meenoottu are the main offerings. The temple is under the control of Cochin Devaswom Board, an autonomous body.
This temple observes Sethubandhanam in every year in "Thiruvonam" day of Malayalam month "Kanni".The temple is closed early after performing "Deeparadhana" and "Athazhapooja" (Evening and night poojas). At a time the early closing of Sreeramaswamy Temple is done only in two occasions in a year. One is for "Sreeraman chirakettu" (ie.Sethubandhanam)and another is "Arattupuzha Devmela"
Thriprayar is the seat of famous Rama temple. This is the first temple you have to visit as part of Nalambalam Pilgrimage.
Next to see is Koodalmanikam Temple is the only temple in India dedicated to the worship of Bharata, the second brother of Rama. Koodalmanikyam Temple houses another 6 ft tall idol of the Lord, seen in ferocious form, facing east, in standing posture holding the same things as seen at Triprayar. This is a unique Vaishnava Temple and the second temple to visit.
Third is the Thirumoozhikkulam Lakshmana Perumal Temple the only temple in Ernakulam District, and the only one among the four temples, which belong to the 108 Divya Desams, praised by Azhwars. The temple houses another 6 ft tall idol, similar to the idol at Triprayar, holding Shankha, Sudarsana chakra, Mace and Lotus, in standing posture, facing east.
Moozhikkulam dedicated to Lakshmana. This is in Ernakulam District near to famous Annamanada Mahadeva temple proceed
Payammal Sree Shathruknha swaamee Temple is the smallest temple, having the smallest idol, also similar to that at Triprayar. This is the way to praise them: First, we have to worship Hanuman. Then worship Rama at Triprayar during his nirmalyadarsanam. Then worship Bharata at Koodalmanikyam and Lakshmana at Moozhikkulam during their Usha Poojas. Then worship Shatrughna at Payammal during his Ucha Pooja.