1000 years old Ananthapuram Mahavishnu Lake temple, Kasargod (Kerala)
Amazing Legend: Believe It Or Not
The temple is guarded by a vegetarian crocodile. Babia, the crocodile, is said to be the local guardian and messenger of the temple. This is the main attraction and uniqueness of this temple, Ananthapura Lake Temple situated in the centre of the Ananthapura Lake, on a remote rocky hill in a calm isolated region. It is a ninth century shrine. Sree Padmanabha (Lord Vishnu, The Preserver) seated on the serpent god Adisesha is the presiding deity here. It is said that Babia has been living in the pond for the past 60 or more years and lives in a nearby cave. After the worship, the feed offered by devotees is given to Babia at noon. The meal is a kind of gruel made of rice and jaggery. Babia does not eat anything else and eats what is offered by the temple officials.
The crocodile does not harm anyone, not even the fish in the lake. and it guards the entrance and the shrine. 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.
Hoax or Fact:
Mixture of hoax and facts.
This interesting story that comes from Indian state of Kerala (better known as 'God's own Country') talks about the Ananthapuram Mahavishnu Lake Temple which is supposedly 1000 years old and that it is guarded by a harmless, Vegetarian Crocodile called Babia. Today, we will analyze the possibility of these 'unbelievable' claims.
Official Claim of Temple
Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Lake Temple is located in Ananthapura near Kumbla in Kasaragod district of Kerala, India. The temple is considered to be the moolasthanam (the original source) of the world renowned Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala. The Lake Temple resides in between the beautiful surroundings of nature, with a lake surrounding it on all sides. You can find the details of the location of Lake Temple on keralatourism.org.
According to the temple website ananthapuratemple.com describing its history, the age of the Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple is not known clearly; it belongs to somewhere between 9th century and 16th century. The website also mentions the presence of a single crocodile ‘Babia’ in the temple lake as an unusual phenomenon. Interestingly, when one crocodile dies another one supposedly appears in the lake, which is not surrounded by any other river or pond with crocodiles. There's this traditional belief that the temple lake is inhabited by a single crocodile, and according to the very aged men, Babia happens to be the third crocodile they have seen. The Crocodile is described as friendly and harmless to human beings, but there's no mention that it is vegetarian. A related article on mangalorean.com mentions the temple authorities to have told that there were actually two crocodiles living there, one of which was killed by the British when the temple was attacked. The male crocodile Babia, which lives in the lake waters and also a nearby cave (shown in Image Gallery) is seen as the guardian of the temple and messenger of the lord.
Crocodiles mostly eat fish and other meat, and what they eat varies greatly with the kind of species, size and age. Notably, crocodiles are cold-blooded predators with very slow metabolism, which helps them survive long periods without food.
Vegetarian Fed Crocodiles
In 2006, under economic crisis, a company in Zimbabwe found it difficult to feed meat to the 164,000 crocodiles being raised in their farm on Lake Kariba. So they started feeding the crocodiles with pellets that were a mix of meat and vegetables and later switched to entirely vegetarian diet consisting of protein concentrate, minerals, vitamins, maize meal and water. The farmers believe feeding vegetarian diet to the crocodiles will enhance the quality of their skin, which is used for handbags and shoes. The crocodiles that are apparently 100% vegetarian have supposedly become more docile.
According to the temple officials, Babia is fed at noon with a gruel made of rice and jaggery, the prasad offered by the devotees, which is why it is thought to be vegetarian. Shown in this article is a brief footage of the temple surroundings and crocodile Babia shot by a visitor. Babia does not seem to harm the fishes moving around; and according to many visitors, it is an abnormally quiet crocodile. This can also be so because Babia is an old crocodile. Some people say Babia is 150 years old, while some accounts say the Crocodile was 76 years old in 2006. Freshie, a freshwater crocodile caught by Steve Irwin and his dad, Bob, which died in March 2010, was estimated to be between 120 and 140 years old. And since Babia is fed and raised by humans, it is possible that the crocodile has become human-friendly. It is a belief that the Crocodile Babia guards the Lake Temple in Kerala.