A Kerala lake temple that worships a vegetarian crocodile

via www.keralakaumudi.com published on August 25, 2006

KOCHI: Believe it or not, there is a temple in Kerala that is guarded by a vegetarian crocodile.

Babia, the crocodile, is said to be the local guardian and messenger of the temple. This is the main attraction and uniqueness of Kerala’s only lake temple, Ananthapura Lake Temple situated in the centre of the Ananthapura Lake, on a remote rocky hill in a calm isolated region.

The Ananthapura Lake Temple (Sree Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple ) is a ninth century shrine in the northern most district of Kerala. Sree Padmanabha (Lord Vishnu, The Preserver) seated on the serpent god Adisesha is the presiding deity here.

It is said that Babia has been living in the pond for the past 60 or more years and lives in a nearby cave.

After the worship, the feed offered by devotees is given to Babia at noon. The meal is a kind of gruel made of rice and jaggery. Babia does not eat anything else and eats what is offered by the temple officials.

Temple authorities claim that the crocodile does not harm anyone, not even the fish in the lake.

Ramachandra Bhatt, a trustee of the temple, said: “Babia is a total vegetarian and is feed daily after the noon worship conducted at the temple, it is given the prasads offered by the devotees and gruel which is prepared extra for Babia is feed like an elephant by putting to its mouth.”

“We have a strong belief that this crocodile is a messenger of god and always alerts us when there is any unusual thing is going to happen in and around the temple premises,” he added.

The legend goes that while the great mystic and devotee of Lord Vishnu Sree Vilvamangalathu Swami was doing penance, Lord Krishna in the form of a little boy kept disturbing his prayers. Irked by the behaviour of the child, the saint pushed Lord Krishna aside with his left hand.

It was only after the boy disappeared into a nearby cave that the truth dawned on the saint. The crevice into which Krishna is said to have disappeared is still there. The crocodile guards the entrance and the shrine.

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.

The sanctum sanctorum, surrounded by a rectangular lake, is another architectural wonder of this temple.

Another unique feature of the temple is that the original idols in the sanctum sanctorum were not made of metal or stone, but of a rare combination of more than 70 medicinal materials called `kadu-sharkara-yogam.’ Although those idols were replaced by panchaloha metals in 1972, efforts are now on to reinstall the idols made with `kadu-sharkara-yogam.’

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.

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