Kannaki, who is said to be an incarnation of Devi Sathi, after killing the king of Madurai Pandya raja, who killed her husband, went to Chengannur and penance at the top of a hill. While devi was meditating her husband Kovalan appeared before her and they together went to Heaven.
The people who were living in the valley of that hill saw Devi meditating there several times. In Silapathikaram the place where Devi meditated is mentioned as Chen Kunnu. (ref: Page 62)
They constructed a temple there with the financial assistance of their king Cheran Senkuttuvan. The Chera monarch Senkuttuvan is believed to have brought a piece of stone from the Himalayas, carved her image and consecrated it here as Chenkamalavalli.
The same Story holds at the Kodungallur Bhagawati temple.