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ONATTUKARA

Onattukara (meaning the land of Onam) was a principality of ancient Kerala. Also known as Odanadu (meaning the land of bamboo), Onattukara was at times, part of the kingdom of Venad and was comprised of the present day Taluks of Mavelikara, Karunagapalli, Karthikapalli etc. Historical evidence shows that centuries ago Onattukara area was a flourishing centre of a Buddhist culture and civilization that was destroyed and possibly consciously erased from history after the revival of Hinduism post 8th century A.D. Names of towns and villages in the Onattukara region carry the “palli” suffix, which was common usage in Pali, the language of Theravada Buddhism. Karunagapalli, Karthikapalli, Pallickal, Pallippuram, Puthupalli are examples of such historical and present names of places in the Onattukara region. The temple festivals and customs such as the Chettikulanga Kutthiottam and Kettukazhcha are considered to have originated from Buddhist customs and practices. Also large temples, such as the Kandiyoor Mahadevar temple, could possibly have been Buddhist viharas in their initial days. The ancient Buddha statue placed today in Mavelikara town, at Buddha Junction in front of the Krishnaswamy temple, was excavated more by accident in the early 1900s from a paddy field near the Kandiyoor temple. It is possible that a lot more of the vanished Buddhist civilization of Onnattukara still lies buried in history, yet to be unearthed.

The name Onattukara is even today officially used for one of the many revenue villages included in Mavelikara Taluk.

STATUE OF BUDDHA

The statue of Buddha is currently placed in front of "Sri Krishnaswami Temple, East Fort, Mavelikara". Due to this, the place is known as "Buddha Junction". The statue is in the early 1900s from a paddy field near the Kandiyoor temple . The most special thing about this statue is that it is in seating position which is rare among Buddha statues. The statue unveils the history of "Onattukara" and the importance of Buddhism in its history.

The statue is in seated posture, resembling Padmasana. A feature common to the idols is that hair has not been engraved on the head. Studies by the Archaeology Department have not been able to explain the absence of hair which is common in Buddha statues of the Gandhara and Mathura tradition. The head has resemblances of a headgear. Though the department has made a pagoda-like structure for the statue, no information on the idol is available to tourists who visit the area. Local people in the area light lamps before the idol. The idol at Mavelikara is four-foot high and is perhaps, the biggest in kerala. The engravings on the head resemble a helmet of Greek statues. The mark of a sacred thread is visible on the body. Another feature is the marking of a shawl on one shoulder. Here the Archaeological Department has put up a board specifying the age of the statue.