Sri Janardana Swami Temple also known as Varkala Temple is an ancient Vaishnava Temple located on the Arabian sea shore in Varkala, Trivandrum, Kerala. It is also referred as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the south). The history of the temple is more than 2000 years old. The real date of the construction of the temple is unknown but some inscriptions in the temple indicate that the temple was renovated by Umayamma Rani who ruled this region in the late 17th century.
The Janardhana Swamy Temple’s presiding deity is Lord Vishnu. His idol has four arms in which you will see a Conch shell, wheel, mace and pot. Apart from the main shrine, you will also see painted idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman and other gods at the entrance of the sanctorum.
The most interesting feature of the shrine of this temple is that it has Aabhojana in its right hand. Locals believe that his hand is slowly rising towards his mouth which means the world will face great deluge and Kalyug will be over if he eats Aabhojana.
Arattu is the main festival of Swamy Janardhana Temple which is celebrated in the month of March/April. Another major festival celebrated here is Karkidaka Vavu. On this day the priests of this temple help the devotees to worship their ancestors and pay homage to them.
Sri Janardana Swami Temple is maintained by Travancore Devaswom Board.
Sri Janardana Temple Timings:
Morning: 4:00 AM to 12:00 Noon
Evening: 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Varkala Janardana Temple History:
Several myths, legends and stories are associated with the origin and history of the temple. The most popular among them is the story related to Lord Brahma and Sage Narada. Once lord Brahma descended to earth to perform a Yaga (fire sacrifice). He chose the present Varkala as the Yaga Bhoomi (place to perform the sacrifice). The striate of lignite and mineral waters found in Varkala are attributed to this sacrifice. Engrossed with the ritual Brahma forgot his divine job of creation. Lord Vishnu became aware of this situation and came to Varkala to remind Lord Brahma about his duty. Lord Vishnu entered the Yagashala in the disguise of an old man. The Brahmins assisting Lord Brahma received the old man and gave him food. But whatever he ate, his hunger was not satiated. Lord Brahma’s assistants went and told him about it. Realising that the old man is none other than Lord Vishnu Brahma came immediately to see him but was shocked to see Vishnu eating Aabhojanam.
Lord Brahma then prevented Lord Vishnu from eating it and told him, “Lord, if you eat it, then the final deluge will swallow this world. “ Lord Vishnu then requested Lord Brahma to stop the Yaga and recommence his job of creation.
One day Sage Narada followed by Lord Vishnu was walking in the sky over Varkala. Lord Brahma who came there saluted Lord Vishnu. The nine Prajapathis (Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Vasishtha, Prachetas or Daksha, Bhrigu (Narada is the tenth Prajapati, they are the ten lords first created by Brahma) were watching this. who were watching this started laughing because they couldn’t see Lord Vishnu. They thought that Lord Brahma was saluting his own son Sage Narada. Then Lord Brahma corrected them. They felt sorry for having committed a sinful deed. Lord Brahma told them that the proper place to pray for their redemption would be shown to them by sage Narada. Sage Narada threw his Valkalam (cloth made of deer’s skin) that he was wearing towards the earth. The Valkalam landed in a place that was later called by the name Varkala. Later Lord Vishnu made a pond there using his Chakra (wheel) at the request of Narada for the Prajapathis who wanted it to do the atonement. The Prajapathis did thapas there and were pardoned for their sins.
The Janardhan temple is believed to have been built by the devas. But this temple became dilapidated and was later reconstructed by a Pandya king. The king was once affected by a ghost. He went on a pilgrimage but couldn’t cure himself from the sway of the evil spirit. When he came to the present-day Varkala, he saw the remnants of a dilapidated temple by the side of the sea. He prayed to God promising he would rebuild the temple there. The next day he had a dream in which he was told to go to the sea and stand near the dilapidated temple. Nearby he would see a huge amount of flowers floating in the sea, if he searches there he would get an idol. The present Janardhana idol was recovered from the sea by him. He built the temple and laid down the rules for the maintenance of the temple.
The Dutch Bell:
A huge bell was placed in this temple which is marked as 1757. It is said that the bell was offered to the temple as an oblation. While sailing to Europe, a Dutch ship didn’t move as it passed the temple. Hearing the chiming of the temple bell, the captain of the ship promised to offer a bell on his ship as an oblation to Sri Janardhana Swamy if he would allow the ship to continue its journey. Soon a wind came and moved the ship and crew safely reached the next port. The captain came back and kept his promise.
Varkala Vishnu Temple Address:
Kerala – 695141.