Historical Janardhana Swamy temple, Kerala

Janardhana temple, Varkala, Kerala., access through a flight of numerous steps.easydigest.blogspot.com
Temples of Kerala are unique in their own ways. Only in Kerala we can see  certain temples  that  still follow Tantrik Sastras  in their Pooja protocols and temple ceremonies. Mostly, it is done by Kerala Nampoothiri Brahmins. Palakkad Brahmins normally follow the  Vedic  Agama Sastras for temple worship, etc. In well-known temples, there will be one head Pundit and he will be assisted by other Pundits. The Janardhana temple, Varaka has a unique tradition. The main priest / Pundit should be from other area and not from Varkala or its neighborhood. Another uniqueness about this temple is here the devotees can do poojas for their pethroos (forefathers) for their salvation - free from the cycle of birth and death.

Janardhana Swamy temple in Varkala, in Tiruvananthapuram district, Kerala is an important temple dedicated to lord Vishu. Often referred to as Varkala temple, it is said to be 2000 years old. The temple is close to  picturesque Papanasam beach, near the Arabian Sea shore and is called Dakshin Khasi. This place is believed to have medicinal properties and this being due to the presence of numerous medicinal plants nearby. The temple has an old  bell, which was donated by a Dutch ship captain centuries ago. The bell was taken from  a shipwreck.
. India - Kerala - Varkala - Sree Janardhana Swamy Templewww.flickr.com
 The sea-shore town Varkala, about 11 km from Kattambalam is  also called Janardhana Puram, an important pilgrimage center. The idol in the sanctum was recovered from the near-by sea by the Pandya ruler centuries ago. This highly embellished  temple is on top of a small hill and can be accessed by  a long, tiresome flight of steps. The circular sanctum, covered  with conical  dome copper sheets, has the main deity Janardhana and his consorts, Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi.
Janardhana temple, Varkala, Kerala. entecity.com/n
The note-worthy feature here is the deity - lord Vishnu has four arms, each carrying  Sangu (conch), chakra (mystical, destructive disk), gatha (mace) and kumbham (pot). In Sri Maha Bhagavatham, it is mentioned that Balarama, elder brother of Lord Krishna, when he was on pilgrimage to the Kanyakumari Temple and and other temples in the south, had a chance to visit the temple. The square-shaped Mantapam has beautiful wooden carvings of Navagraha (nine planets) on the ceiling and the quadrangular enclosure - prakaram has a roof covered  with copper sheets. It was during the reign of Umayamma Rani (1677-1684), ornamental  works in the temple had been introduced. This embellishment and the striking Kerala style temple architecture enhance the beauty of this temple of great antiquity. 

According to the legend: Once  sage Narada was on his way to see  god Brahma (creator) after his visit to  god Narayana's place  in Vaikuntham. Without his knowledge lord  Vishnu  was following  sage Narada. When Narada reached Brahmalogam - the world of Brahma, Lord Brahma saw Narayana following his son and paid his obeisance to him Realizing his awkward position,  Lord Narayana disappeared. The nine Prajapathis, who were visible to Brahma, thought Brahma had revered his own son and laughed at him in a contemptuous way over which Brahma got angry and told them what he saw.  In anger,  Brahma cursed the Prajapathis  to be born on earth and experience  the miseries of humans. However, to redeem and  relieve of the curse,  sage Narada advised them to do penance at a place  where his Vastra would fall on the earth.

He threw his upper garment (deer's skin) - Vaikalam  on to the earth and later a temple  csme up in the place where it fell. The temple is called Janardhana Swamy temple. Varkala is a derivative of Vaikalam. A pond was built here on the request of Prajapathis. It is believed the Devas (Celestial) built the temple.
Varkala beach,near Tiruvananthapuram  kerala. www.mylanchi.com
 The other  legend has it, centuries ago, this temple was in a highly damaged state. Once  the Pandya king, who was possessed by a spirit, came here for cure. Upon intense prayer, the god appeared in his dream and told him to go the sea shore where he would find an idol without a left hand in a heap of floating flowers.  Following day, he found the idol near the sea  shore and fixed a golden left hand on the idol as instructed by god and had  a temple built here with grants for maintenance, etc. 

The god in this temple is also called Pithru Mokshakan, meaning giving salvation  forefathers if we worship here. The ten day Aarattu festival is famous and colorful. Every year, it comes up in the month of Meenam - March - April and this festival starts  with Kodiyattam - flag-hoisting ceremony. During the festival days traditional dance of Kerala - Kathakali is performed all through nights and people gather in large number to watch them. The performers include many young, talented boys and girls who make their debut.

The temple has other shrines dedicated to lord Shiva, Ganapathy and other deities.