The temple is located atop an enigmatic looking laterite hilltop. You'll see nothing other than the rusty brown expanse in this arid landscape as you approach the temple vicinity by the approach road. The temple appears in a stark contrast in middle of a 2 acre rectangular pond, atop this hill.
According to local legend, this temple is supposed to be the original adobe (called 'moolasthanam') of Lord Vishnu enshrined in the Padmanabha Swamy Temple of Thiruvananthapuram.
This 9th century temple is a living temple with active worship. A causeway like pavilion gives access to the main shrine in the center. The natural deep pond scooped out of a recess laterite hill slope.
The idol here was originally made of a unique mixture of more than 70 medicinal materials called ‘Kadu-Sharkara-Yogam. This was replaced with the five metal composition (Panchaloha metals) in 1972. According to the local folks, there are plans to make the idol again with the original composition.
Towards the southwest, of the pond with its porch opening to the pond is the shrine of Goshale Krishna. There are also few shrines around the pond.
Around the northeast corner of the pond, you can see the entrance to a tunnel. According to local belief, this tunnel connects to the Ananthapadmanabha Temple (Padmanabhaswamy Temple) in Thiruvananthapuram, some 500km+ south of Ananthapura.
What is quite unusual about the Ananthapura temple is the friendly crocodile called Babiya. This crocodile lives in the pond surrounding the temple. Though the pond of fishes, Babiya is vegetarian! A special gruel made of rice and jaggery. Every day the temple priest feeds Babiya after the noon prayers.
What's astonishing is no one knows when and how this single crocodile made it into the pond. It's presence is as old as the legend of the temple. According to the local folklore, in 1945 a british officer shot and killed a crocodile in the pond. Miraculously a new crocodile appeared in the pond a few days later. Still more, the officer died of snakebite a week later.
Around 12 o'clock in the noon, after the temple pooja, visitors crowds around the corner of the pond to see Babiya getting feed.Possibly this is the only time you can be sure to get a glimpse of this legendary creature.Join the crowd!
Morning 5.30am - 12.30pm
Evening 5.30pm - 7.30pm
If you planing to offer prayers, be there before 12 in the noon or 7 in the evening.
The dining hall attached to the temple serves a simple noon meals everyday to the visitors. It's free though a small donation to serve the community meal is appreciated. Ask for the dining hall direction, it's around the corner of the temple compound.
Ananthapura is about 5km east of a small town called Kumbla, on the NH66 NH17 ( erstwhile NH17 ). Take this route if you are driving on the NH66. Drive towards Seethangoli on the Kumbla-Badiyaduka road. You'll notice a diversion signpost just before Seethangoli junction.
If you are looking for public transport, there are frequent local bus services on the Kumbala-Badiyadukka route. Ask for the Ananthapura stop. It's about 1km walk from the bus stop on the Kumbla-Badiadka road.
Alternatively, take a bus to Seethangoli and hire an autorickshaw (3km).
Madhur Temple is 7km south of Ananthapura. On the way you'll pass the Maipady Palace, the seat of erstwhile Kumbala kings.
Kasargod is 15km south of Ananthapura. The resort town of Bekal is further 10km south of Kasargod.
Tailpiece : Is Ananthapura the only lake temple in Kerala? Are there no temples/shrines in kerala built in a waterbody?
Not very true. There is a Durga shrine in Thrissilery Shiva Temple in Wayanad. This tiny shrine is surrounded by a rectangular waterbody. A perennially flowing natural stream fills this pond. Yes, the shrine and the pond in Thrissilery is of a tiny scale compared to the Ananthapura temple.
Bekal in Kerala is located 65km (40 miles) south of Mangalore (nearest airport) and 85km north of Kannur.
This grandiose temple in north malabar region of Kerala is dedicated to Lord Shiva, however the temple is popularly known after Maha Ganapathi.
If you are wondering how to craft your own itinerary for Bekal, read further!
Gokulam Nalanda Resort in Nileshwar is a mid size resort on the edges of the Karingode River.
This laterite hillock that protrudes into the sea makes a pleasant beach hiking location in Bekal.
Valiyaparamba Backwaters near Bekal makes an an ideal daytrip from Bekal.
Get to this fort just for the panorama it offers from the top. The view of Arabian Sea from Chandragiri Fort easily rivals that from the much famous Bekal Fort.
Bekal has some of the finest resorts in the country. The Lalit Resort and Vivanta by Taj top the list.
A spectacular coastline, unending thickets of coconut palms, a hinterland with rocky outcrops along the beach...the 17th century Bekal Fort sits comfortably in a movie setting like surreal environment. Yes, Bekal Fort and its environs is a popular movie shooting location as well!