- Weekly Off:
- Time to See:
- 45 minutes
- 60 minutes
- Enjoyed By:
- People who are religiously inclined
- Mode of Payment :
- Cash ;
- Currency :
Janardhanaswamy temple is a 2000-year-old Vishnu shrine perched on a steep cliff lining the Arabian Sea in Varkala. The original temple was destroyed by tidal waves only to be rebuilt many years later by a Pandyan king. A fine specimen of traditional South Indian architecture, the temple is a circular building with a red-tiled roof housing the main shrine, and speckled with colorful sculptures of deities from Hindu mythology. Appreciate its typical features such as the circular sanctum sanctorum surmounted by a conical dome of copper sheets, the beautiful wooden carving of navagraha (meaning nine planets) on the ceiling of the square mandapam with quadrangular enclosures around them.
Within the temple precinct is an old banyan tree that holds in its trunk images of ancient snake deities. Interestingly, of the many inscriptions some of them trace their origin to the reign of Umayamma Rani, the ruler of Travancore from 1677-84 AD. It is worth noting that Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the inner sanctum sanctorum. You can, however, walk up to the sanctum, explore it and take a round of the greatly revered banyan tree.
Arattu is the main temple festival celebrated every year in Meenam month of the Malayalam calendar (March-April). At this time of the year the temple comes alive withlights and brass lamps, and is decked with elaborate flower arrangements in every corner. Devotees come in droves to take part in the festivities from across Kerala and Tamil Nadu. A procession lead by beautifully caparisoned elephants is the highpoint of this festival. Local musicians play their traditional instruments and follow the colorful procession. They are joined by performers dressed to reflect various Hindu legends associated with the temple including artists dressed as demons. Against Varkala’s breathtaking coastal scenery this parade of bejeweled elephants, musicians and devotees carrying flowers, vermilion and other offerings, is quite a spectacle! Also on the fourth and fifth days of the festival you can witness a dramatic display of abhinaya (expression) in a color-suffusing Kathakali dance recital.
The shrine of Janardhana Swamy stands on Beach Road, about 3 kilometers (1.87 miles) from the Varkala railway station. You will notice that the main idol has a remarkable appearance with four arms having all the attributes of Lord Vishnu. Look out for the shrines of Sasta (Ayyappa) and Shiva with the holy cow, Nandi. Even if you are not so religious, visit the temple for its palpable aura and those intriguing ancient sculptures.
Popularly referred to as Dakshin Kashi or Benaras of the South
The site is peaceful, and free of irritants.
Dress appropriately. Since it is a religious site, avoid wearing short or revealing clothes.
You can take an auto-rickshaw from the Varkala railway station to the temple.
People who are religiously inclined
You will mostly be indoors.
Open through the year
The famed Sivagiri Mutt is just 3 kilometers from this Vishnu shrine.
Things Not Allowed
No such restriction
Plan a visit to the temple in the first half of the day.
Type of site
Hindu temple/religious shrine