Kerala is well known as a land specially blessed by nature. Thought it is sometimes designated as ‘The Kashmir of the South' (in the olden days), it si distinctly more than that. It represents a happy blending of the wonderful beauties of land and sea which is found nowhere in India .

Varkala, a sea side town, also known as Janardanam, is a sacred pilgrim centre situated near Thiruvananthapruam in Kerala, and is famous for its ancient temple of Krihna , who is popularly called as Janardana. In Sri Maha Bhavatham, mention is made that balarama, the elder brother of Sri Krishna, visited this shrine during this pilgrimage to Kanya kumari temple and also a few other temple in the south. Also, it is as ‘the Gaya of the South'. Varkala has many attractions peculiar to the place and draws hundreds of pilgrims and visitors all the year round.

Saga Narada, after paying his respects to Sri.Narayana, left Vaikuntam to see Brahma. Enraptured by the sweet music of Narada, Narayana followed him unobserved. When Narada reached Brahmaloka, Brahma saw Narayana following his son Narada reached Brahmaloka, Brahma saw Narayana following his son Narada, and offered salutations to Him, at which Vishnu, realising the awkward situation, suddenly disappeared. Brahma found that the person whom he had revered was his own son, Narada.

The prajeapathis who were laughing at this incident were cursed by Brahma that they would be born on earth and suffer the miseries of human beings. Narada advised them to perform penance at the place he himself would select for them. Narada threw his ‘Valkalam' (bark upper garment0 into the air and at the place where it fell down, they consecrated a temple for Sri Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu. Hence the name Varkala is a corruption of‘Valkala', but the name came into prominent usage.

The temple of Sri Janardana is situated on the summit of a table-land adjoining the sea. It is located on one of the hill-tops, which is reached by a long and wearisome flight of steps and one feels tired on arriving at the feet of the Lord. At the entrance to the inner shrine are the idols of Hanuman and Garuda on either side and in the main shrine is the idol of Sri.Janardana with Sri.Devi and Bhoo Devi.

The temple of Janardana is a fine ex maple of Kerala art and architecture. The circular ‘Sanctum sanctorum” surmounted by a conical dome of copper sheets, the square ‘mandapa' with beautiful wooden carvings of Navagrahas on the ceiling and copper-plated roof over it, the quadrangular enclosures (prakara0 around them, a hall containing a ‘bali peetha' in front of the inner temple are the characteristic features of Kerala style of architecture. The construction period of this temple saw the rise of highly embellished temple. one of the inscriptions indicates that the temple was improved during the reign of Umayamma Rani, who ruled this region during 1677-84 A.D.

The main idol has a striking appearance with four arms having all the attributes of Vishnu. It is the only shrine dedicated to Vishnu in the name of Janardana in this part of the country. Normally all such temples are known only as Krishna temples. In the south-western corner and on the north-eastern side of the outer enclosure are the shrines of Sasta and Shiva with Nandi.

To the scientist, Varkala is well known from its geological formation and has been inspected and examined carefully by hordes or geologists and volumes of interesting literature are carefully preserved in the archives of the Government of India . Besides the enchanging sea-view, there is the backwater journey by canal hewn out of the tremendous heights of hills on either side of it. The vegetation on either side of the canal, rising in height is a magnificent sight, has given rise to a series of springs form which gushes out sparkling water throughout the year. The water in supported to have medicinal properties which cure certain ailments. Even a single bath is a tonic which no traveller or visitor should miss.

It is believed that brahma performed a sacrifice (Yagna) at Varkala. The striate of lignite and mineral waters found in Varkala are attributed to this sacrifice. Tradition also has it that when the west coast was reclaimed from the sea by parasurama, earthquakes were frequent and that land was unfit for human habitation. To remedy this situation, the founder is believed to the performed a sacrifice at Varkala.

In the central shrine there is a huge Dutch bell with an inscription on it is Latin. Centuries ago, a Dutch vessel reached the shore of Varkala and could not proceed further in the sea as there was absolutely no breezed at all. The captain offered the bell from the ship to the temple priest who prayed to the Lord for providing suitable wind to enable the ship to sail on its further voyage. Very soon a good breeze started to enable the ship to move on its voyage. The captain installed this bell at the temple before he set sail from Varkala. It is also says the bell was presented to the temple when the Dutch evacuated Fanjet where they had established a factory.

A tamil inscription assigned to 1252 A.D. is engraved on the southern base of the central shrine. From the base to the top it is built with granite. The Sri Vimana is covered with copper sheets. recently the structures were renewed along with the ‘Mukha Mandapam' and the main idol in the shrine was also consecrated.

The sanctity of Varkala is further enhanced because of its association with Sri Narayana Guru, a great religious teacher-leader and social reformer of Kerala. The Sivagiri Matha and the Yoga Vedantha Ashrama founded by the ‘guru' in 1904 are situated in the midst of beautiful surroundings about 4 kms. from Janardana temple. At Varkala is Sivagiri, the Samadhi of Sri Narayana Guru. He proclaimed a simple faith; ‘One caste, one Religion, one God'. His religious teachings are propagated by the Sri Narayana Dahrma Sangham, an order of monks set up by this disciples. This has become to be one of the biggest organisations in Kerala fully representative of the Ezhavas.

Varkala town is only 41 kms, north of Thiruvananthapuram and is connected by rail route and a very good road. It is 25 kms. from Quilon. State and private buses and vans operate form all places to this pilgrim centre at frequent intervals. There is a good Dharmashala and a rest house maintained by the temple for the convenience of pilgrims and visitors. Tourists and visitors can also stay at Tiruvananthapruam which is also the nearest airport, where there are excellent hotels and lodging to suit every purse.