Updated: Dec 9, 2022
Initially, there was no temple in Kerala to worship goddess Saraswati. Adi Shankaracharya, the spiritual leader, took it upon himself to resolve this issue. He travelled all the way to Kashmir and meditated there to request the goddess to come to Kerala. Pleased with his devotion, the goddess agreed but on one condition - she would follow him on foot wherever he went, but if he happened to look back at her, she would stop then and there. They then began their journey. At one point Shankaracharya couldn't here the tinkling of her anklets, and thinking of checking on the goddess, stole a look back. True to her promise, the goddess refused to go any further. Shankaracharya pleaded to her profusely to come with him ahead. They eventually reached a compromise and ended their journey at Chottanikara, where the temple stands today.
Interestingly, the place where the goddess stopped first, is the location of the Mookambika Temple today. The goddess is believed to first visit the Chottanikkara Temple in the morning followed by Mookambika Temple in the afternoon. Which is why, the sanctum doors of the Chottanikkara Temple are opened during early morning hours and only then are the sanctum doors of Mookambika Temple opened later, in the afternoon.