A long time ago, Raja Mandhata, a scion of Surya Vamsam, renounced the throne of Ayodhya and started roaming about the entire Bharathvarsha as a Sanyasin. When he reached a village called Angadipuram, in the present District of Malappuram in Kerala, he felt attracted by the beauty of the place. In those days it was a deep forest full of wild animals and thick wild vegetation. It is said that in those forests, all the animals lived in perfect peace.
To Mandhata Maharishi the place appeared divine. The symphony of the sweet chirping of birds, the musical rustling of tree leaves in a light breeze, the tintinnabulation of a miniature water-fall, where a stream with crystal clear water tumbled over uneven rocks, all made him love the place. He went up on a small hillock in the middle of the verdant scene and settled there to do Tapas, thus enhancing the divinity of the place.
After a number of years of penance, Lord Shiva appeared in front of him and asked Mandhata Maharishi what was his wish. The Maharishi said he wanted nothing. However, if the Lord wanted to give him anything at all, then perhaps he could give him the best Shivalingam of the world so that he could do daily puja in front of it. Shiva replied, flustered, "The best Shivalingam is with Parvathi (Durga), so how can I give it to you?" But Mandhata Maharishi insisted that he wanted nothing else.
How could Shiva disappoint his dearest devotee? So, without the knowledge of Parvathi, he gave the same Linga to Mandhata Maharishi. With extreme devotion, the Maharishi installed the lingam on the hill.
The next day Shri Parvathi found the Lingam missing in the morning. Shiva told her that it was handed over to a devotee and now he could not take it back from him.However, if she wanted, she could try to get it back from him. Shri Parvathi immediately ordered Bhadrakali to go and retrieve the Lingam. Bhadrakali, together with her Bhoothagan (soldiers), went to Angadipuram and negotiated with the Maharishi for getting back the Lingam.She did not succeed in her efforts and decided to use force. The soldiers sent arrows at the Maharishi. In return, the Maharishi's disciples started throwing some wild fruit at the Bhoothagan. Each fruit appeared like a Shivalinga to them and so they ran away.
Then Bhadrakali came to the Maharishi and started pulling at the Lingam. The Maharishi held it very tight with both of his hands. In the tug-of-war, the Lingam broke into two.
All the three gods (Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva) appeared in front of Mandhata Maharishi and blessed him. The broken Shivalinga is still there and even now a ritual is enacted on the particular day (mid-October) when two groups, one at the bottom and another at the top of the hillock, throw a fruit (Attanga) at each other. After the Samadhi of the Maharishi, the place remained neglected for a long time and the area became a thick jungle again.
Long after these happenings, some forest dwellers accidentally came to the same spot. One of them started sharpening his knife on a stone there and a few drops of blood oozed out of it. The group immediately ran to the king and informed him about this mystic incident. The King with his assistants immediately rushed to the spot and on investigation by those skilled in such matters, he found that Devi's (Durga) presence existed in the place.
The King arranged for daily puja there and entrusted the work to two Brahmin families. These families were Panthalakode and Kattilamittam. When the temple (Thirumandham kunnu) was erected later, these two families were made the Thanthris of the Temple. They had all the powers to decide about the pujas and the ways of Worship. 

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