|The Name Kukke:
It has been learnt from legends that Subrahmanya used to be called Kukke Pura or Kukke Pattana in the past.|
In more recent times Guru Adi Sankaracharya visited Subrahmanya and referred to this place as 'Bhaje Kukke Lingam' in his composition Subrahmanya Bhujangaprayata Stotram makes, the above evidence all the more convincing.
According to legend, many sages have installed the idols of Lord Shiva here. Even serpent Vasuki has installed a Shivalinga here. The word Kukke perhaps cannot the phallus of Lord Shiva installed in cave. It is held by some that in Sanskrit the word 'Kukshi' can also be used to mean a cave and the word 'Kukke' can be the corruption of the word 'Kukshi'.
But as per the villagers explanation the Kukke means basket. The worship of linga in basket (kukke) resulted in naming this place as Kukke.
Legend of Subrahmanya swamy:
The Skanda purana narrates that Lord shiva was married to Dakshayini (also known as Sati), the daughter of Daksha. Daksha never liked Shiva and insults Shiva in front of Dakshayini in a Yagna. Unable to bear this insult, Sati immolated herself. Shiva unleashed his fury at the death of his wife by performing the Taandav Nrithya (a violent dance). He wiped out Daksha's kingdom, undertook penance and retired to the Himalayas.
The same Sati was reborn in the house of Himalaya as Parvathi (daughter of parvatha) and performed a great penance to propitiate Shiva. But lord Shiva was in a rigorous penance and even the immaculate beauty of Parvathi cannot wake up Shiva from his penance. Devas devised a plan to wake up Shiva and approached Manmatha, the god of love to execute their plan. All gods arrived to the place where Shiva is performing penance, Parvathi too arrived.
Manmatha awakened Shiva from his penance, incurring his wrath by opening his third eye of destruction, and being destroyed & resurrected. Lord Shiva married Parvathi, after Parvathi pleased Shiva by performing severe penance.
Though divine being free from the cycle of birth, the newly wedded couple spent a thousand divine years in marital bliss, unaware of the desire of the gods. Then all gods sent the Agni (fire god) who appeared as a dove in the bed chamber of Lord Shiva. Realizing his reason Lord Shiva gave him a part of his energy. Finding the charge intolerable, Agni deva gave it in turn to Ganga who too felt its burning effects soon and she places it on a bamboo shrub. The nucleus thus placed, took a form of male baby (Gangeya) with six faces, thus the baby is called 'Shanmukha'.
Shanmukha was first spotted and cared (by feeding him) by six women (Kruthikeyaru), thus Shamukha is called as Karthikeya. As he was born in forest (vana) on reeds (Shara), so he is also called as 'Sharavanabhava'.
Lord Shiva and Parvathi takes Karthikeya to devaloka called him by the following names according to the incidents of his baby hood: Shanmuka, Agneya, Gangasuta (son of Ganga), Sharavanabhava, Karthikeya and Parvathinandana (son of Parvathi).
Karthikeya was taught archery and Goddess Parvathi presented him with a weapon, thus Karthikeya also called as Velayudha. He was made as Devasenapati (lord of army of devas). Karthikeya destroys Tarakasura. As this youthful saviour he is called Kumara swamy.
Kumara swamy offering 'abhaya' to Vasuki:
Previous to Karthikeya, Garuda, the mount of Vishnu was once chasing Vasuki (the king of serpents) and he saw Vasuki was hiding in a large cave. Both of them engaged in a severe fight. Kashyapa appeared before them and asked Garuda to stop from killing Vasuki, who was devotee of Lord Shiva. Kashyapa suggested Garuda, alternate way of getting food. Kashyapa also advised Vasuki to go to Kumara Kshetra and pray for Lord Shiva.
Vasuki arrived Kumara kshetra and performed a severe penance. Pleased with his penance, Lord Shiva appeared to Vasuki and replied: My son Karthikeya will arrive this place after killing the demon king, Tarakasura. Indra will celebrate the marriage of his daughter Devasena with Karthikeya. You will be blessed by Karthikeya, you will be united with Karthikeya and has been worshipped alongside Karthikeya ever since. Garuda will never trouble any more (even today one cannot find Garuda at this place). Vasuki then lived in a place called Moola Subrahmanya, eagerly waiting the arrival of Karthikeya.
After killing the demon Tarakasura, Lord Brahma installed the deity of Karthikeya in Subrahmanya Kshetra along with the deity of Vasuki through whom Karthikeya accepts the worship of his devotees and bless them all with fulfillment of their desire immediately. The deity is popularly known as 'Sri Subrahmanya Swamy'.
Dhara River (also called as Kumaradhaara)
It is believed that after killing the demon Tarakasura, Karthikeya washed the demon's blood from his spear in the River Dhara.
In the Treta-yuga, Lord Parasurama came to this place and bathed in the River Dhara in order to absolve himself of the sins of exterminating the kshatriya-race twenty one times over.
In Dvapara-yuga, when Samba was cursed with leprosy, he came to bathe in the Dhara in order to become free from the disease. By smearing the mud (mrithika) from the riverbank over his body and bathing in the river, he regained his original beauty.