Varkala is also famous for the Papanasam holy spring, which is a health resort in addition to being a place which elevates the pilgrim spiritually.
Legend of Sree Janardana Swamy Temple
There is an interesting legend behind the temple. Once when Brahma was relaxing in his 'Vyjayanti' assembly, the sage Narada entered singing the praises of Sree Narayana. Lord Brahma was so enraptured that he fell at the feet of Narada seeing him not as a son but as Hari Himself. The other devas who saw this burst into laughter and Brahma was greatly embarrassed. Infuriated, he cursed them banishing them to earth where they could purify their minds and acquire knowledge and wisdom.
Narada had consoled devas and advised them to do penance at the place where his valkalam (garment made ill bark of a tree) fell. And the place where it landed is now called 'varkala' a collouqial form of valkalam. Devas built a temple there dedicated to Lord Krishna. This was however destroyed by sea erosion.
Lord Brahma, the legend goes, came to earth one day to conduct a yaga. Lord Mahavishnu as Sree Janardana Swamy appeared before him to bless the devas and redeem them. The presiding deity of Varkala temple is thus Sree Janardana Swamy. The image has four hands one holding divine water, another, the conch, the third, the discus and the fourth, the mace.
Sree Janardana is said to have brought the holy Ganga here with the help of the 'Sudarasana Chakra'. The holy water collected is now known as Chakra Tirtha. The water used for the temple is from this source.
It is widely believed that worship at this shrine cures many ills which explain why devotees come here from all ever the country and even abroad including non-Hindus. The chief offering made is mukhacharthu and muzhukappu i.e. decorating the face and whole body respectively with sandal paste.
Deity of Sree Janardana Swamy Temple
The central deity of the temple is Sri Janarthana Swami. The deity faces the east in a standing position. The right hand of the deity is pointed towards the mouth and according to the legends the belief is that if the hand of the deity reaches the mouth the world will come to an end and that is going to happen at the end of the Kali Yuga.
Worship in the Sree Janardana Swamy Temple
Four poojas are offered in the temple by a priest who is not the native of the area where the temple exists. Besides the daily four poojas offering of obeisance to the departed souls and four fathers is an important ritual of the temple.
Fesivals of Sree Janardana Swamy Temple
The annual festival-arattu-is a 10-day event commencing with the kodiyettam or flag-hoisting ceremony on Kartika day and ending with arattu on Uttram day in Meena'm (March-April).