Ananthapura Lake Temple, a serene Hindu temple built in the middle of a lake located in Village Ananthapura, Kasargod, is a renowned tourist traction in God's Own Country, the South Indian state of Kerala, India. Walk down the entrance, and you'll notice how tranquil and pleasant the location is. The calm lake that is formed by a continuous supply of spring water and the pleasant temple with its traditional architecture are sure to put you at ease in an instant. This is the only temple that has a crocodile considered as a guardian and a messenger. This guardian is a vegetarian, 80plus-year-old crocodile named Babiya and if you are lucky, you could spot him swimming in the lake waters.
According to a legend, a Brahmin sage, Divakara Muni Vilwamangalam, used this location to perform poojas and carry out penance. Once, Lord Narayana appeared before him in the avatar of a boy. The sage was overwhelmed with the divine radiance the child exuded and asked him who he was. The boy told him he was an orphan. The sage took pity and offered the boy to stay with him. The boy put a condition forth to the sage stating he would leave if he were ever humiliated. The sage agreed his condition and took him in happily. The young boy served the sage for some time but began playing juvenile pranks on him. When the pranks were intolerable, the sage reacted in a fit of anger. The young boy, feeling humiliated by the sage's reaction, proclaimed that he will leave him and if the sage wishes to see him again, he will have to go to the forest of Serpent God, Anantha. This forest is also known as Ananthankat.
The sage soon realised that the boy was an avatar of God himself and he followed him. He soon found a cave where the boy had disappeared. He followed the route and reached the sea. As he walked further down south, he reached an area near the sea that had Illipa trees (Mahua trees). It was here that the sage saw the child disappear into a huge Illipa tree which fell immediately and took the form of Lord Vishnu resting on thousands of serpents.
According to another interesting legend, a devotee of Lord Krishna, Sree Vilvamangalathu Swami, was doing a pooja for Krishna. Lord Krishna appeared at the location in the avatar of a young boy and began troubling him to disturb the pooja. Saint Vilvamangalathu got annoyed and pushed the boy aside. The boy disappeared into a cave, and when the saint saw this, he realised that it was nobody ordinary but Lord Krishna himself.
Babiya, the guardian and messenger of the Ananthapura Lake Temple, is a marvellous being. His presence in the lake waters proves that a harmonious co-existence of all beings is possible. Many say, during the British Raj in 1945, one of the soldiers shot a crocodile present at the lake. The soldier later died of a snake bite which is believed to be a revenge taken by the god of serpents, Anantha. After the demise of the first crocodile, another one appeared and has been guarding the shrine ever since.
It is said that only one crocodile is present in the lake at a time and only after that crocodile dies does another appear. The crocodile we see now is named Babiya, and he has been living in the lake for over 80 years. Babiya is fed the holy prasadam after every pooja and he calmly comes down, eats the prasadam and goes about his business in the water without troubling anyone. It is also believed that the crevice in the cave where Lord Krishna disappeared is also being guarded by him.
The glorious temple was built in the middle of a lake formed by a perennial supply of spring water and was constructed in the middle of this lake that stretches over 300 square feet. It is said that the original idols in the sanctum sanctorum were made of a combination of over 70 herbs that were referred to as kadu-sharkara-yogam. In 1972, however, these idols were replaced with the idols made of Panchaloha metals that were donated by Kaanchi Kaamakoti Mathadipathi, His Holiness Jayendra Saraswathi Thiruvatikal. The current idol of Lord Vishnu is sitting on the God of Serpents, Anantha.
The excellently carved wooden architecture of the Ananthapura temple depicts the incidents from the stories of Dashavatharam which are the stories of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Some of these stories are even painted along with Nava-grahas (nine planets) on the mukhta-mandapam which is the temple porch. The beautiful footbridge connects the eastern rock and the namaskara mandapam and serves as the only passage to reach the Sreekovil, which is the sanctum sanctorum of the temple complex. The entire complex consists of the Sreekovil, the Namaskara Mandapam, the Thitapalli, the Jala-Durga shrines and the entrance of the cave.
Tapotsavam: This is a religiously important festival celebrated at the temple in the month of April. This festival involves a ceremonial procession of the deity along the lake. This part of the celebration is followed by Yakshaganam, which is a traditional form of dance from Karnataka.
The deity pooja timings are - Morning Pooja at 7:30 AM, Noon Pooja at 12:30 PM and Night Pooja at 7:30 PM.
The visitors need to follow the traditional dress code. Men can wear Mundus (white dhoti) or pants. Dark coloured dhotis are not allowed. They need to remove their shirts while offering their prayers at the temple.
Women need to follow a conservative dress code. Short and revealing dresses are not allowed. The best option is a saree or a conservative dress.
The best time to visit Ananthapura Temple is between September and March as the weather is cool and pleasant to explore the site.
One can take an auto from the Kasargod Station which is 12 kilometres away from the serene temple complex. Visitors can also avail auto rickshaw rides from the Kumbala Railway Station which is 5 kilometres away.
The Ananthapura Temple can be reached from the nearby Mangalore International Airport (56 kilometres) and the Karipur International Airport (200 kilometres) via tourist and private vehicles.
1. Do not litter the premises.
2. Keep your decibels low while interacting on the temple premise.
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