Published Date: 02 Oct, 2006 (9:41 PM)
By: Team Mangalorean
Photographs: R.K. Bhat
Mangalore Sept 26: About 40 kms away from Mangalore and 15 kms away from Kasargod in a peaceful place called Kumbla, lies Anathapura, Kerala’s only lake temple. The temple nestles serenely amidst the abundant beauty of nature with a rectangular lake surrounding it on all sides.
Built in the 9th century, the Ananthapura Temple is said to be the original abode of Anandapadmanabha, the deity of Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple, Thiruvananthapuram.
A huge cave which faces the North East corner of the lake is believed to be the entrance from here to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala. A small pit at the cave entrance is treated as sacred as it always has water in it. It is believed that Lord Vishnu went through this cave to reach Thiruvananthapuram and hence the temple is known as the original source of the world renowned Sri Padmanabhaswamy of Thiruvananthapuram.
The seven original idols found in the temple are made of neither metal nor stone, but of a combination of about 108 materials collected from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and are called Kadusharkara yogam.
The walls of the temple are adorned with spectacular murals and one of its unique features is a 16th century epigraph with engravings in the Tulu script. A very old fort named Sarpakattu, which means even a serpent cannot climb it, surrounds the temple. Tourists and worshippers frequent this place and usually choose to stay in the Devaragudde Palace nearby.
What is perhaps most unique about this temple is the presence of Babia, a pure vegetarian human-friendly male crocodile who lives in the cave and lake waters. In fact it is believed to have existed there for many years and is revered as the guardian and messenger of the temple. The legend goes that there is only one crocodile in the lake at a time. When one crocodile dies, another one appears in the lake.
In actual fact, the temple authorities told Mangalorean.com that there were two crocodiles living here. One crocodile was killed by the British when this temple was attacked. At present there is only one crocodile, Babia, and Babia is believed to be 76 years old.
The temple officials feed it a gruel made of rice and jaggery, which is actually the prasadam offered by the devotees. Babia religiously sticks to his lunch timings and is there at exactly 1:30 in the afternoon to have his lunch. He does not seem to mind that he is not offered any dinner. Strangely, he seems to be completely satisfied with his vegetarian diet and does not harm anyone not even the fish in the lake.
The lake temple is open to all visitors regardless of caste or creed. The District Promotion Council has plans to preserve the temple and its surroundings for its uniqueness. The annual festival at this temple is in the second fortnight of April.
The temple is currently under renovation and if any one would like to extend their help, they can contact the temple at the following address:
Board of Trustees
Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple
P.O. Kannur via Kumbla