Janardhana Swamy Temple
#2 of 21 Places to Visit in Varkala
Distance (From Varkala Railway Station): 3 Kms
Trip Duration (Including Travel): 30 Mins - 1 Hr
Place Location: Near Papanasam Beach
Transportation Options: Cab / Auto
Travel Tips: Though non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple?s inner sanctum, one can walk around outside and get a view of the huge banyan tree.
At a distance of 3 km from Varkala Railway Station, Sri Janardhanaswamy Temple is an ancient Hindu temple situated in the coastal town of Varkala, Kerala. Popularly called Varkala Temple, it is one of the popular places of pilgrimage in Kerala, and among the best places to visit in Varkala.
Situated on top of a small hillock near Papanasam Beach, Sri Janardhanaswamy Temple is dedicated to Lord Janardhana, a form of Lord Vishnu. The temple is situated near the Arabian Sea and is referred to as Dakshin Kasi. According to the inscriptions, the temple is said to be 2000 odd years old while the current structure dates back to the 12th century. It has been renovated during the reign of Umayamma Rani who held the power of this region from 1677 to 1684 AD. The temple finds its name mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam which says that Balarama had visited this shrine during his pilgrimage to Kanyakumari and other temples of South India.
According to the legend, Lord Vishnu once followed the divine sage Narada, mesmerized by his music, and reached Brahmaloka. When Lord Vishnu realized that he had been following the sage, he disappeared suddenly to get rid of the awkward situation. Brahma, without knowing this, paid salutations to Lord Vishnu. When he lifted his head, his son, Sage Narada was standing in front of him instead of Lord Vishnu. Devas who laughed at the situation were cursed by Lord Brahma that they would be born on earth and would undergo all the suffering of human beings. As a cure for the curse, Narada advised them to perform penance at a place, which he would choose for the same. For this, he threw his Valkalam or bark upper garment into the air that was landed in this place where they built a shrine dedicated to Janardhana Swamy. The Prajapathis did tapas there and were pardoned for their sins. Varkala is a corrupt version of Valkala.
Built-in the Kerala style of architecture, the temple of Sri Janardana Swamy is situated on the summit of a table-land adjoining the sea, which is reached by a long flight of steps. The temple has a circular sanctum sanctorum, a square mandapa, and a hall containing a 'Bali peetha'. The sanctum sanctorum houses the striking idol of Sri Janarthana Swami along with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. The presiding deity is found in a standing position with four arms having all the attributes of Vishnu. The idol of Janardhana Swamy has the aabhojana in his right hand. Devotees believe that his hand is slowly rising towards his mouth and kali yuga would come to an end when the idol consumes the aabhojana. There are also shrines of Sasta and Shiva. At the temple, one can also see an ancient bell removed from a shipwreck, donated by the captain of the Dutch vessel which sank near Varkala without causing any casualties. Though non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple's inner sanctum, one can walk around outside the temple.
The temple is important for 'Pithrutharpanam', and a huge number of devotees visit this shrine during Karkidaka Vavu to pay homage to their ancestors. Besides, Arattu is the main festival celebrated in this temple for ten days during the months of March-April every year that attracts a lot of devotees as well as tourists. A colorful procession led by adorned elephants is one of the prominent features of the festival.
Timings: 4 AM - 12 PM & 5 PM - 8 PM