India is a country rich in heritage and culture. Almost every locality or street in India has some exciting story behind it. TBI Heritage is a series that concentrates on some lesser known buildings, monuments and heritage sites of India – places which are full of amazing stories that need to be told.
Taking forward the TBI Heritage series, we present to you Ananthapura temple. The temple located in Kasaragod is the only lake temple in Kerala and it is famous for the legend that a divine crocodile named “Babia” that guards the temple, and when one crocodile dies, another one appears in the lake mysteriously!
The temple is dedicated to Lord Ananthapadmanabha Swamy (Lord Vishnu). It is surrounded by a lake that is 2-acres large and gives a beautiful view of the landscape all around it.
The original idols in the premises were not made of metal or stone, but of a unique mixture of more than 70 medicinal materials called ‘Kadu-Sharkara-Yogam.’ These idols were replaced by panchaloha metals in the year 1972. Efforts are now being made to replace them with idols made with ‘Kadu-Sharkara-Yogam.’
Ananthapura Lake Temple is the original seat of Ananthapadmanabha Swamy of Thiruvananthapuram. The presiding deity, Lord Ananthapadmanabha, is seated on the serpent God Adisesha. Local belief is that the Lord had settled down here originally.
The temple’s walls are surrounded by paintings and there is a cave that opens to a water tank where water level remains constant regardless of climatic changes.
The crocodile that guards the temple is believed to be living here in the pond for over 60 years. After worshiping the deity, the ‘prasad’ by the devotees is given to Babia who eats it only when offered by the temple’s management team. Babia is fed like an elephant by putting food in its mouth. This crocodile is believed to be vegetarian and does not harm anyone, not even other species in the pond.
It is said that in 1945, a British soldier had shot dead the crocodile. The soldier died within a 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.
“We have a strong belief that this crocodile is a messenger of God and always alerts us when there is any unusual thing about to happen in and around the temple premises,” says Ramachandra Bhatt, a trustee of the temple. (Source)
How to reach Ananthapura Temple?
If you are travelling by train, you can get down at Kasaragod and take a cab or rickshaw to the temple. The temple is around 18 kms. from Kasaragod. The temple is also very well connected by road from Kasaragod.
If you are flying, the nearest airport is Mangalore airport. The temple is about 50 kms. from the airport. You can take a bus or a train to reach there. For more information check out their website, Facebook and Twitter.