Babia crocodile Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple Kerala Kasaragod
Babia the crocodile was reportedly vegetarian and survived on “prasadam” from the temple (image source: Twitter)

Babia’s death: Kasaragod temple in Kerala awaits another crocodile

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The Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple lake has housed crocodiles for centuries. After the death of Babia, who was decades old, everyone at the Kerala temple is waiting hopefully for the next one to appear.

The secretary of the temple, Jeernodhara Samithi Ramachandra Bhat, told agencies on Tuesday that the crocodile before Babia died around the time of World War II. The British military shot it dead.

“Sometime after that, Babia appeared in the lake. Over the decades, she became a part of the family of everyone in the temple. We are all heartbroken. We could barely contain ourselves as we pulled the carcass out of the lake,” Bhat said. Babia died on Sunday.

“We believe another crocodile will now appear in her place. That is what has been happening for centuries. We have faith that it will happen again,” added Bhat, who has been part of the temple administration for over 30 years.

Also read: Humans and crocodiles share space in this Gujarat village

Plans for a memorial

They also plan to build a memorial for Babia, but they need permission from the senior temple priests, Bhat said. He added that the presence of crocodiles in the lake around the Mahavishnu temple reminds devotees of the well-known “Gajendra Moksha” story in the “Bhagavata Purana.”

Legend has it that a crocodile attacked Gajendra, an elephant, grabbing it by a leg and not letting go. The pachyderm sought Lord Vishnu’s help and he decapitated the reptile.

However, Babia was harmless, Bhat said. He recalled an instance when some kids fell on top of the crocodile in the lake, but it did not harm any of them. After devotees left for the day, the crocodile would roam around the temple premises, he said.

People pay respects

The crocodile, reportedly vegetarian, survived on “prasadam” (ritual offerings) from the temple, he added.

Babia was found dead around 11.30 pm on Sunday. It did not turn up as usual on the previous day, making temple officials suspect something amiss. The carcass was removed from the lake and kept for the public on Monday. Hundreds of people, including politicians, turned up for a last glimpse of the crocodile.

The carcass was buried in a pit near the temple that afternoon. On Tuesday, too, many people visited the temple and the burial site and paid their respects, Bhat said.

A strange phenomenon

The Mahavishnu temple is located at Ananthapura near Kumbla in northern Kerala’s Kasaragod district. According to its website, the temple is known as the “moolasthanam” (the original source) of the Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple of Thiruvananthapuram.

Also read: Poor diet, low exercise leave TN temple elephants stressed, unhealthy

The website claims that “the lake is inhabited by a single crocodile, and in the memory of the very aged men, the present crocodile (Babia) happens to be the third one they have seen.”

“When one crocodile dies, another inevitably appears in the lake, and this continues to be an unexplained phenomenon,” the website states. It is strange because “there is no river or pond nearby where crocodiles live.”

(With agency inputs)

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