One of the ancient temples in Kerala, the Janardhana temple is a major pilgrim spot in Varkala. The temple, which has a history of some 2000 years, is located on a steep hill, at the entrance of the beach road.
Ambience and architecture
Varkala Janrdhanaswami Temple is popular not only as a pilgrim centre but it also allures everyone with its architectural splendour. The temple faces Papanasam beach and the proximity to the sea adds to its spiritual as well as aesthetic aura. A flight of broad steps lead to the Janardhana temple and on the way, you will be greeted by a high entrance arch with tiled roof. An old banyan tree stands on the temple ground and idols of several serpent gods and goddesses are also installed here.
Brightly painted idols of Hanuman, Garuda, Lord Shiva and others greet you once you are about to enter the sanctorum. The main shrine Lord Janardhana (Vishnu) has four arms in which are placed shanghu (the holy conch shell) chakra (wheel), gada (mace) and kumbham (pot).
The temple has many attractive features and it has a circular sanctum sanctorum surmounted by a conical dome of copper sheets. The mandapa or pavilion is square in shape and it has wooden carvings of Navagrahas (nine planets) on the ceiling. There is a hall in which the bali peetha is situated and this too is an important feature of the temple architecture.
Though the original date of construction of the temple is not available, there are some inscriptions which indicate that the renovation of the temple had been carried out at different periods of history. One of the inscriptions says that the temple was renovated by Umayamma Rani, who ruled this region in the later 17th century.
An ancient inscription dated 1252 has also been found on the temple premises. It is seen engraved on the lower part of the mandapa before the temple. Tall granite posts and heavy brass bells hung from ceilings too evoke interest in a connoisseur. The oil trays cut in the granite posts hold lighted wicks during evenings and it is a treat to the eyes.
There is a pool called `Chakra Theertha’ on the northern part of the temple which is about 240 ft in circumference.
The main festival of the temple Arattu, falls in March/April and it attracts a lot of visitors. Karkidaka vavu too is an important function and the priests of this temple help the devotees perform homage to their ancestors during that day.
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