Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is on his first official visit to Kerala joins the elite list of famous people to have visited Varkala, one of the famous tourist spots in God's Own Country. We take a trip down memory lane at some of the distinguished personalities to have visited Varkala.
According to the myth, Balarama, the elder brother of Sri Krishna, was disgusted with the injustices perpetrated by both sides during the Mahabharatha war. After the war ended, he went on a pilgrimage to famous temples across the land and he is supposed to have visited the Janardhana Temple at Varkala too. Those days, the place was known as Jhanardhana Kshethram or Janardhanam after the temple. It was considered as holy as Gaya and was also referred to as southern Gaya.
An inscription dated AD 1252 in the temple records says that it was rebuilt that year. After a gap of several centuries some Dutch sailors who were forced to evacuate from Anjengo briefly sojourned here. They presented a bell with a Latin inscription, which can still be seen at the temple here.
However, there is another legend that says that a group of Brahmins approached sage Narada and confessed that they had sinned, and prayed to him for salvation. Narada, threw off his bark garment (valkalam) and it fell in this stretch of land, which later came to be known as Varkala. Following Narada, several Brahmins used the place as a venue for their holy rituals and over time, it came to be known as 'Papanasam' – a place where sins will be washed off.
Sree Narayana Guru had an unerring eye for places of outstanding natural beauty. He could associate sanctity with such sites. No wonder, he selected Varkala for his headquarters and established the Sarada Mutt in 1904. Sarada Devi adorns the famous temple of the goddess of learning that he installed here. He attained Samadhi in 1928 and was interred in an ornate tomb at the top of the hill.
While Sree Narayana Guru was alive, the great poet and social reformer Rabindranath Tagore made a trip to Varkala. They held long discussions about the backward communities and the problems they face in the state. Mahatma Gandhi, accompanied by C. Rajagopalachari, stayed at the Ashram in Varkala during one of Gandhiji's many visits to Kerala during the Freedom struggle. The Mahatma also addressed the crowds who had gathered to meet him at Varkala.
Even after Sree Narayana Guru's death, various political stalwarts have visited his Ashram and the premises. The first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi along with her son Rajiv Gandhi, Babu Jagjeevan Ram, Dr Zakir Husain and V.V Giri have also paid a visit to this sea side haven.