Located close to the Papanasam beach, Janardhana Swamy temple is probably one of the oldest temples in Kerala, around 2000-yr old. Also known as Varkala temple, it has Janardhana Swami, a form of Lord Vishnu as the resident deity. The standing statue of the deity faces towards east with his raised right hand in ‘Aachamanam’ position. The main idol has four arms holding chakra (wheel), shanghu (holy conch shell), kumbham (pot) and gada (mace). The sanctorum entrance has other bright looking idols of Garuda, Lord Shiva, Hanumana and other gods and goddesses.
The present structure of Kerala’s prime religious site dates back to the 12th century. It does not only has a religious importance but is also known for its spectacular architectural beauty. On the entrance of the circular sanctum sanctorum, there is an old banyan tree as well. The square-shaped Mandapa (pavilion) has Navagaraha (nine planets) carved on its ceilings.
All around the year, this temple is visited by Hindu devotees to perform final rites for the deceased in their families. Every year, the temple becomes the venue of a 10-day Arattu festival in the Meenam month (March-April).