A few centuries ago, the head of Mulluveettil family was met with a young girl who asked him to help her cross the Killi river in which he was performing his ritualistic prayers. The Karanavar (family head) knew it was no ordinary girl, because of her charm and charisma. He bowed before her and willingly took her to the other side of the river. He invited her to his home nearby and the whole family was preparing to receive this girl. However, they couldn’t find her as she had disappeared by the time Mulluveettil family was ready to receive her.
The Karanavar and his family were a little puzzled. The Karanavar saw the girl once again in his dream, in the same day as he saw the little girl. The girl appeared as an icon and told him to give her an abode in the nearby Kavu (a grove where shrubs and wild animals including snakes are left undisturbed). She told him that he would see three lines at a specific point in the kavu and she wanted her abode erected there.
With joy, the old man reached the Kavu and to his surprise, he found three lines marked on the ground. He knew it was a sacred spot and he wasted no time erecting a temple. The temple became the abode of the goddess, who later came to be known as Attukal Devi (Attukal Amma). Local devotees offered their prayers in this temple and soon the fame of this temple spread far and wide.
The people also offered to renovate the temple and a bigger temple with a new icon was installed. The goddess was represented as a woman with four arms, each bearing a spear, sword, skull and shield. The then high priest of Badarinath Temple led the consecration ceremony.
The girl that appeared before the Karanavar of Mulluveettil family is known to be Kannagi (Kannaki). Kannagi is the famous heroine of Chipathikaram, a Tamil epic written by Elenkovadikal. She is the incarnation of Sree Parvathy, the consort of Lord Siva. She took this incarnation of destroyer goddess, to destroy the evil and to preserve good. Kannagi was returning from Madurai, a city which she has destroyed, when she took a sojourn at Attukal and let the Karanavar see her as a little girl. She was on her way to Kodungalloor.