Monday, 18 September 2017

Lake Temple Guarded By A Vegetarian Crocodile - Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple - Ananthapura, Kasaragod

Ananthapura Lake Temple is a Hindu temple built in the middle of a lake in the little village of Ananthapura, Kasaragod District of Kerala, South India, at around 6 km from Kumbla. This is the only lake temple in Kerala and is believed to be the original seat (Moolasthanam) of Ananthapadmanabha Swami (Padmanabhaswamy temple) Thiruvananthapuram. Legend has it that this is the original site where Ananthapadmanabha settled down. The lake in which the Sanctum Sanctorum is built measures about 2 acres (302 feet square). An interesting spot to keep in mind while visiting the temple is a cave to the right corner of the lake. According to the local legend, the deity Anantha Padmanabha chose to go all the way to Thiruvananthapuram through that cave. Hence both the places retain similar names, in spite of being on either end of the region.

Ananthapura Lake Temple Entrance Archway
Ananthapura Lake Temple Entrance Archway
The temple premises are surrounded by lush green imageries. It is the seat of the deity Sri Padamanabha or Lord Vishnu who is shown to be resting on a serpent. After reaching Ananthapura Lake Temple. The temple’s lake is also home to a crocodile, called Babia who is supposed to be living in the lake for the past six decades. This animal is considered a protector of the sacred temple. This single crocodile very well mingles with the human beings and it never harmed anyone. It takes only the sweet rice provided by the priest. The pond has got variety of fishes. It is believed that there is a single crocodile in the lake and as one dies, its place is taken by another one, though there no other river or ponds near by. Every day after the uccha pooja (noon worship), Babia is fed with the prasad (a kind of gruel made of rice and jaggery) offered by the devotees to the deity.

Ananthapura Lake Temple Entrance
Ananthapura Lake Temple Entrance
The temple also has yet another interesting tale to tell – the story of the guardian crocodile. From very ancient times, one crocodile has been seen there. Though devotees used to take bath in the tank there is no instance of it harming anyone. Babia is the name by which this guardian is known to the world. It is the local guardian and the messenger of the temple. The only food that Babia takes is the offerings of the devotees. Usually it is a special gruel made of rice and molasses. After the worship, the feed offered by devotees is given to Babia at noon. Temple authorities claim that Babia is a vegetarian and has never harmed anyone including the fishes in the pond.

Ananthapura Lake Temple Sanctum Sanctorum
Ananthapura Lake Temple Sanctum Sanctorum
There is an interesting local legend that narrates the entire story behind the guardian crocodile. Once Sree Vilvamangalathu Swami, devotee of Lord Vishnu, was doing penance for his favourite lord. While he was in his prayers, Lord Krishna in the form of a little boy appeared and started disturbing him. Being annoyed by the behaviour of this child, the saint pushed Lord Krishna aside with his left hand. The boy immediately disappeared into a nearby cave and the truth dawned on the saint. The crevice into which Krishna is said to have disappeared is still there. The crocodile guards the entrance and the shrine.

In 1945, when the British soldiers were stationed there, one soldier shot dead the crocodile. To the surprise of everyone the soldier died within few days by a snake-bite. People believe it to be a revenge by the serpent god Anantha. Soon another crocodile appeared in the tank and even now if one is fortunate one can see it. The legend goes that there is only one crocodile in the lake at a time. When one crocodile dies, another one appears in the lake. The devotees pay great respect to this crocodile.

View Of Ananthapura Lake Temple
View Of Ananthapura Lake Temple
The temple is unique in its structural aspects for it is erected in the middle of an impressive lake of 302 feet. The lake is gifted with a perennial supply of pure spring water. We can find the ruins of temples all round the lake which stand testimony to the fact that it was part of a great temple complex. The sreekovil (sanctum sanctorum), namaskara-mandapam, thitappalli, and shrines of Jala-Durga and the entrance of the cave are located in the lake. The namaskara mandapam is connected to the eastern rock by a foot-bridge which is the only passage to the sreekovil. The principal deity is Lord Vishnu. One of the key features of the temple is that the original idols in the sanctum sanctorum were not made of metal or stone, but of a rare combination of more than 70 medicinal materials called `kadu-sharkara-yogam.' These idols were replaced by panchaloha metals in 1972. They were donated by Kaanchi Kaamakoti Mathaadhipathi His Holiness Jayendra Saraswathy Thiruvatikal. Efforts are going on now to reinstall the idols made with `kadu-sharkara-yogam.' The Lord Vishnu idol is in a sitting pose over a five-hooded serpent king Lord Anantha. The lake temple is open to all visitors regardless of caste or creed.

Crocodile Babia In Ananthapura Lake Temple
Crocodile Babia In Ananthapura Lake Temple
The Vishnu Idol is like sitting on top of Aadisesha. On each side there is “Boodevi” and “Shree Devi”, besides them Hanuman and Garuda worshiping the vigraha. At the back side there are two ” Devakaanya” fanning vishnu idol. The temple has an excellent collection of wood carvings on the ceilings of the mandapam. These carvings depict the incidents taken from the stories of dasaavatharam (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu). Some of them are painted. The Nava-grahas (nine planets) are painted at the muktha-mandapam. On either side of the sreekovil dwaara-palakas (jaya and vijaya) are beautifully carved in wood. The temple is open to all regardless of religion or cast.

Ananthapura Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Lake Temple Main Deity
Ananthapura Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Lake Temple Main Deity

Temple Timings:

Morning Timings : 05:30 AM To 12:30 PM
Evening Timings : 05:30 PM To 07:30 PM
On Special Occasions timings might differ.

Temple Location:

Mangalore to Kumble (also known as Kumbla) – 40 km. One can catch the Mangalore-Kasaragod bus to reach Kumble. From Kumble, take an auto to Ananthapura or catch a bus to Naikap (4 km from Kumble) and then get an auto from there. There are daily luxury bus services from Kasaragod & Mangalore to all major South Indian cities like Calicut, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli, Belgaum, Panaji, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad & Chennai .

Temple Address & Contact Details:

Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple,
Ananthapura, P.O. KANNUR, Via Kumbla,
Kasaragod,
Pin Code : 671 321,
Kerala.
Phone : 04998 214360

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