Ananthapura Lake Temple & Babia Crocodile

Believe it or not, there is a temple in Kerala that is guarded by a vegetarian crocodile. Babia the crocodile in fact it is believed to have existed there for many years and is revered as the guardian and messenger of the temple.This is the main attraction and uniqueness of Kerala's only lake temple "Ananthapura Lake Temple" 

It is a Hindu temple built in the middle of a lake in the little village of Ananthapura, Kasaragod District of Kerala, South India, at around 6 km from Kumble. This place is believed to be the original seat of Ananthapadmanabha Swami (Padmanabhaswamy temple) Thiruvananthapuram. Legend has it that this is the original site where Ananthapadmanabha settled down.

From Mangalore Arun & I boarded a bus and proceed towards Karsargod, Edappaly-Panvel High Way. After 42 km in the Edappaly - Panvel High way, stopped at the small town Kumbla, we changed the bus, left the High way, took left and around 6 km from Kumbla, reached small village Naikap.

From Naikap. you can find many auto riksha, they will take you to the temple which is another 1.2 km from main road. It would be better if you book the same auto for return, as temple is located in the peaceful isolated place and you will hardly see any other public transport.

Ananthapura Lake Temple is very old temple and it belongs to the 9th century.The uniqueness is that, this is the only lake temple in Kerala. Temple is well maintained, very clean and priests are very helpful. The temple affords a bird's eye view of the green landscape around. The temple is open to all visitors irrespective of caste, creed, and color.

An interesting spot to keep in mind while visiting the temple is a cave to the right corner of the lake. According to the local legend, the deity Anantha Padmanabha chose to go all the way to Thiruvananthapuram through that cave. Hence both the places retain similar names, in spite of being on either end of the region.

Most unique about this temple is the presence of Babia, a pure vegetarian human-friendly crocodile who lives in the cave and lake waters.  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. Temple authorities claim that the crocodile does not harm anyone, not even the fish in the lake. He only food that Babia takes is the offerings of the devotees. Usually it is a special gruel made of rice and molasses. After the worship, the feed offered by devotees is given to Babia at noon.

One of the priest directed us to location where Babia was resting. It was hot weather that day and Babia was having good fun at the lake.Waited there for 30 mins and he came out once to see us.Hardly for some seconds and then he disappeared inside the water.

There is an interesting local legend that narrates the entire story behind the guardian crocodile (source - Internet). Once Sree Vilvamangalathu Swami, devotee of Lord Vishnu, was doing penance for his favorite lord. While he was in his prayers, Lord Krishna in the form of a little boy appeared and started disturbing him. Being annoyed by the behavior of this child, the saint pushed Lord Krishna aside with his left hand. The boy immediately disappeared into a nearby cave and 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.In 1945, when the British soldiers were stationed there, one soldier shot dead the crocodile. To the surprise of everyone the soldier died within few days by a snake-bite. People believe it to be a revenge by the serpent god Anantha. Soon another crocodile appeared in the tank and even now if one is fortunate one can see it. 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 devotees pay great respect to this crocodile.

If you are visiting Mangalore or Karsargod, Then you should add a visit to Ananthapura Lake Temple to your itinerary. If you are lucky, you can spot Babia the vegetarian guardian crocodile!!

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