Kerala’s only lake temple,  guarded by a vegetarian crocodile with unknown origin

Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple devoted to Lord Mahavishnu is located near the northern end of Kerala, in Ananthapura near Kumbla in Kasaragod District. The temple is known as the moolasthanam, the original source, of the Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala State, which is in the far south.

The Landscape on the way to the temple opens a vast panoramic scene with ranges of sprawling hillocks in the background. An aura of peace and solitude permeates the whole region. In the midst of a vast grassland remains in splendorous charm Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple, in the centre of a rectangular lake.

The pilgrim is reminded of the Puranic Symbology of Lord Vishnu, the all-pervading and timeless supreme reality, resting on the serpent Anantha, representing the endless phenomenon of time, and floating in the Ksheera Sagara, the ocean of Milk, representing the endless energy of creation.

Here, in the sanctum sanctorum, of the temple, Sri Anantha Padbhanabha is depicted as seated on the divine serpent Anantha, while in the Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple of Thiruvananthapuram, the Lord is reclining on Anantha. On both the sides of the Lord are Bhoodevi, the Goddess of Earth and Sreedevi, the Goddess of Prosperity. Garuda and Hanuman stand in front of them praying with folded hands. Heavenly maidens tan the Lord and his consorts from behind. Jaya and Vijaya, Lord Vishnu’s attendants, stand in guard at the entrance.

The Sanctum sanctorum is surrounded by a rectangular lake. The Gopuram, the temple edifice, and the Sanctum sanctorum are connected by a small bridge. On the outer walls of the Sanctum sanctorum there are marvellous and ancient mural paintings on Puranic themes. To protect these paintings an outer wall was constructed around the Sanctum sanctorum in recent times.

The Legend about the temple associates it with the great mystic and devotee of Lord Vishnu, Sree Vilvamangalathu Swami, who dominates the ancient spiritual lake of Kerala. In fact, his fame extends the borders of Kerala. In Bengal he is popular as Bilvamgala.

On the north-East corner of the lake there is still a big cave with a small pit with a perennial presence of water in it, which is considered as a sacred Theertham. It is believed to be the cave where boy Krishna disappeared.

Near the south-west corner of the lake there is a shrine housing a very graceful idol of Sreekrishna believed to have been the same idol worshipped by Sri Vilvamangalathu Swamy.

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