Why is Janardhana Swamy temple of Varkala, Kerala popular? - some interesting facts!!

Janardhana Swamy temple, varkala. varkalatemple.org

The temples of Kerala with unique architecture which is in harmony with the terrains and seasons there are quite fascinating and never in my life have I lost my admiration for them. The inherent style, native to this land - God's own country,  is characteristic of plenty of quality wood with intricate designs along with metals and stones available in the local areas. The structure may have two storeys or three and the roof is mostly protected with copper plates. The advantage is it also protects the inner wooden frame works upon which the roof rests from the rigors of SW monsoon that sweeps  across coastal Malabar. Commonly the walls of Garbhagriha (Sreekovil / sanctum) are made of stone with fine murals and excellent  wood carvings  on the ceiling. No pomp and show and simplicity is the hall mark of places of worship in Kerala and that is the reason why temples of Kerala stands apart from others.

Janardhana Swami Temple, also known as Varkala Temple is a famous Hindu place of worship  dedicated to Lord Vishnu.  It is about 25 km north of the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram and is just 11 km from Kattambalam.


Varkala Vishnu temple has the following interesting feature:

01. It's location - Varkala   near the sea-side gives an extra boost to the pilgrims coming to this temple. The sea side town also goes by the name of Janardhanapuram.

02. Atop a small hill, overlooking the Arabian sea, this beautiful temple can be accessed  through an arduous flight of steps.  You can have a panoramic view of the picturesque surroundings. here you can forget the mundane existence and let you mind slip into a relaxing mode.

 03. It is called  the Gaya of the South (Dakshin Gaya) as this temple  is popular for Pithrookaryam - the annual paying of homage or obeisance  to the forefathers. This tradition is common among Hindus irrespective of casts. Men come over to this place and do Thithi in memory of their departed souls. This ought to be done with a leaned Pundit.

 04. Hence lord Janardhana is called Pithru Mokshakan (one who gives salvation) as lots of Hindus come here on a pilgrimage to conduct annual Pithrukarkayam so that they may be from the cycle of birth and death - salvation from human bondage.

05. A note-worthy aspect of this  temple is its sanctum (Srikovil /garbagraha) which is circular in shape  surmounted by a conical dome which is laid with copper sheets. 

06. In the Srikovil of the main shrine is the idol of Sri. Janardhana  along with his consorts  Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. The impressive deity - lord Vishnu (facing East direction)  has all his attributes; he  has four arms, each carrying  Sangu (conch), chakra (mystical, destructive disc), gatha (mace) and kumbham (pot). 
07. An unusual  posture of the presiding deity here is not found anywhere.  It is quite mystical  as lord's  right hand is raised  toward  his mouth as if  he is doing Achamanam (a basic ritual  done initially by Brahmins to begin any ceremony).

08. As for the Achamanam posture of the lord here, the learned Pundits say that if lord's  right hand gets closer to the mouth it will be gloomy and foreboding. It will  mark the end of the world. Possibly,  Cataclysmic forces will devour the earth, a sort of deluge - transgression of the sea, etc (Pralayam)

09. This temple is believed to be around 2000 years old. Umayamma Rani, who ruled this region during 1677-84 A.D made some modification and embellished this temple. This temple in the square mandapa around the sanctum has fine wooden carvings of Navagraha (nine planets) on the roof.

10. The temple is said to have been built by Devas (Celestial) and the Pond was dug by Prajapathis according to Sthalapurana.

11. The most celebrated annual temple festival at the Janardana temple, falls in the month of Meenam (March–April), a ten-day Arattu festival  which is held with great fanfare. Beginning with Kodiyettam - flag hoisting ceremony, part of the festival includes caparisoned elephant procession, night long performance of traditional dances like Kathakal, etc.

12. Those who look for mental peace and tranquillity, besides spiritual exhilaration, Varkala is the right place. It  offers an  enchanting sea-view over-looking the Arabian sea that will rejuvenate your mind. This place  is connected by backwater canals on either side of which lie tall rock cliffs with thick growth of medicinal plants. The presence of natural springs is the main reason for their luxuriant  growth here. The gush of water  throughout the year from the springs is an added advantage. The water is believed to have medicinal properties which cure certain ailments. So, visitors never fail to take a head bath here . This place has emerged as an important Ayurveda center in kerala.