Chettikulangara, the heartland of the erstwhile granary of Central Kerala – Oonattukara, had, and still, has an important place in the historical and cultural ethos of Kerala.
Tucked amongst the lush green paddy fields, this serene hamlet, spanning an area of over many sq.kms. in the Kannamangalam, Pathiyoor, Thekkekkara, Peringala etc. of the Mavelikara taluks in the Alappuzha district of Kerala, is mainly dependent on its agrarian economy. Thanks to the fertile ‘Edanadu’ soil, coconut, arecanut, cashew, and almost all cash and plantation crops grow here abundantly. Sesame is grown here as an interim cash crop in the paddy fields during summer, the time of festivities for the people of Central Kerala.
Though agriculture still remains the main backbone, the economy of Chettikulangara is also supported by the NRIs in different parts of the world especially the Middle East, and by the educated people working with various public and private sector establishments. Literacy is 100 percent here, and physical infrastructure like shops, kiosks, medical shops, hospitals, educational institutions are in plenty.
VSM Hospital at Thattarambalam, promoted by a US based native of Chettikulangara, is among the largest super speciality hospitals in Central Travancore.
The 1200-year odd old Chettikulangara Sree Bhagavathi temple is the nerve centre of this hamlet, spread over 13 God chosen (Karas) territories. The temple is at the centre of the first four Karas – Erezha South, Erezha North, Kaitha South and Kaitha North, and the rest of the Karas - Kannamangalam South, Kannamangalam North, Pela, Kadavoor, Anjilipra, Mattam North, Mattam South, Menampally and Nadakkavu surround this temple. Each Kara has an average of 1000 to 2500 houses, and every year, all families contribute a pie of their earnings, in accordance to their might, to conduct the temple festivities. More than 100 families are exclusively dependent on the temple for their living, as they form the entourage of Bhagavathy’s ‘Parayeduppu’ - five month long visit to the homes.
Chettikulangara Sree Bhagavathi temple, now under the control of the Travancore Devaswom Board, is the second largest temple, next to Sabarimala, under the control of the Board. It is estimated that annually the temple has earnings worth many crores per year, of which ‘Nellu’ (raw rice) constitute the major contribution. A major part of the ‘Nellu’ offered to the Bhagavathi is also used to make Appam and Aravana prasadams at Sabarimala, the single largest seasonal pilgrimage centre in the world next to Mecca. The income from the temple is also helpful to run the daily rituals and Poojas at various temples under the Travancore Devaswom Board.
Besides, there are many primary health centres and Ayurveda hospitals in Chettikulangara. Many medical shops are also available.
There are good hotels at Mavelikara and Kayamkulam, besides the Government run municipal rest houses. The temple has a 12 room rest house run by the Travancore Devaswom Board, and Sree Devi Vilasam Hindu Matha Convention available on rent for devotees at very nominal cost.