The sublime and serene Janardhana Swamy temple at Varkala near Thiruvanathapuram in Kerala known as Daksin Kashi, is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and believed to date to 12th century AD. A temple that is permeated with history and culture allured me to no extent and was on my bucket list since the time I read about the folklore.
Embark with me on a beautiful sojourn to the beach town Varkala, a verdant scenic town situated on the coast of the Arabian sea enriched with the supremacy of the ruling Lord Janardhana swamy. A sacred pilgrimage town that is constantly washed clean by the lashing waves of the Papanasam beach.
The magnificent and picturesque Taj Gateway, Janardhanapuram nestled amidst swaying coconut trees, atop the red hills beckons the travel weary soul searching vagabond with all the genuine hospitality and warmth that soothes our frayed nerves. A feeling of nirvana transcends us as we make our way into the grand and charming hotel swathed in brick red and cream hues that stand in stark contrast to the lush green verdant trees enveloping it. A haven and a sanctuary that is a balm to the tired feet and hungry soul!
The unique flavour of the Taj group can be felt here too with absolute refinement along with copious amounts of warmth and affection. A perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle of urban life fortified with the deep inclination towards tradition and history, the Taj Gateway at Janardhapuram presents the fascinating face of India with all her mindboggling arts, traditions, culture, rituals and fables.
I soaked in the luxurious ambience of the hotel, pampered myself to a spa treatment by expert therapeutics and then headed towards the lounge that offered a gourmet’s delight with a plethora of dishes from various cuisines that match and cater to the palate. The authentic choice of the local food is very much evident in the spread and a lip smacking hit with the visitors and tourists.
We had booked the sea facing room and the panoramic view of the palm fringed Arabian sea was a visual treat from a spacious room with fine decor. I plonked into the allergen free bed, cosy and snuggled in the soft pillows and went into deep slumber. The vishwaroopam of the Lord in my forty winks completed my shut eye programme and I knew the next morning would be a moment of reckoning, a day for self realization and to be part of a legend that brings in astonishment and bewilderment.
The flight of steps
to the temple on the hillock built in traditional Kerala style architecture, is hopped, skipped and jumped, thanks to the night’s rest at the cosy and comfortable Gateway! The trademark circular sanctum sanctorum with a conical top and the idols of Hanuman and Garuda at the entrance and the main deity at the centre leave us in a trance, mesmerized at the power of the creator. The idol is in standing position and has His right hand performing Achamanam (this is one of the most important rituals in the Hindu tradition. It is a male purification ritual that is believed to cure all physical and mental illnesses. As such, it is performed prior to almost all other Brahmin rituals. The popular belief is that the hand is moving slowly towards His mouth and the day He succeeds to complete the task, will deluge the world! The doomsday is supposedly not far off. It is also believed that Sage Narada threw a towel which landed here and hence the temple was built. At the southern side are two bells that were supposedly presented by Dutch sailors whose ship was allegedly submerged. The Dutch names are also inscribed in the bells.
Standing in total reverence at the sanctity of the temple premises with the gentle warm breeze, one can experience the delight of worshipping.
Back to the exotic hotel, it was indeed time for utilizing the amenities to our hearts’ content and the facilities were simply awesome, be it the tennis or the badminton courts or the swimming pool! An experience at a luxury augmented by the presence of the Lord in close proximity will remain etched forever in my eyes! An unforgettable pilgrimage giving an outstanding experience filled with self realization and revelation and Taj Gateway Janardhanapuram helped me to rediscover in a grand spiritual manner and very much obliged to my travel partner who made this memorable and magical.