Since ages, serpent worship has been part of the rich and varied Indian culture. We, Indians, have a lot of reverence for the serpent gods and have built some temples dedicated to them. Snakes are considered auspicious and because of their peculiar feature of shedding their skin they are epitomized as divine symbols of creation,preservation and resurrection. The main five serpent gods of India are Vasuki, Astika, goddess Manasa, Sheshnag and kaaliya. In order to worship them The famous Hindu festival Nag panchami is celebrated on fifth day of Shravan, monsoon month according to Hindu calendar.
Nagdwar – It is an unknown and unexceptional temple dedicated to snakes situated in the massive caves of pachmarhi in Madhya pradesh. The temple lies in Satpura tiger reserve zone and is well protected by the forest department. Since past 100 years, every year a fair is organised at Nagdwar and it is permitted to visit this temple for a short duration of ten days during the month of shravan but only on foot. Even though the journey to this temple is full of adventures as one has to trek through wet dense forests full of poisonous snakes, rivulets and dangerous cliffs, almost 5 lakhs devotees visit this shrine. Yatra to this place starts from Dhoopgarh and Gupt Ganga in pachmarhi.
The important spots on the journey are Ganesh tekdi at Dhoopgarh, Kajali, Padamshesh dwar, Paschim dwar, Swarg dwar and Ambamai. On the way devotees can also visit strikingly different Haldishesh and Gulalshesh caves wherein one has to crawl like a snake to enter the cave. Chintamani cave in Nagdwari is 100 ft long and has many idols of Nagdev. One has to pass through poisonous snakes to take the darshan. But till date there is no incident of snake biting.
Puja Timings : Only ten days of shravan from morning till evening How to reach : By air – Bhopal or Raja Bhoj airport By Train : Pipariya railway station
Mannarasala Temple in Kerala – This is a well known 3000 yr old temple in Alleppey district of Kerala, created by lord Parshurama, wherein the deity embodies both Anantha or Sheshnag and Vasuki in one. It has the largest no of snake images, almost 30000 images adorning the path and among the trees. A striking and one of its kind feature of this temple is the custom wherein the chief priest of the temple here is a lady of the Namboodari (Kerala Brahmin) family who completely dedicates her life to the temple rituals. The major festival here is the Aayilyam Festival that falls on the Ayilyam asterism in the Malayalam month of Thulam, which roughly corresponds to the months of October / November.
Puja Timings : 5.30 a.m to 1 p.m and 5.30 p.m – 8.30 p.m How to reach : By train : Harippad, about 4 km
By air : Cochin International Airport, about 100 km
Sheshnag temple in Jammu and Kashmir – Sheshnag temple located on the eastern bank of the Mansar Lake and is dedicated to Lord Serpent Sheshnag, a mythological snake with six heads. The shrine comprises a big boulder on which are placed a number of iron chains perhaps representing the small serpents waiting on the tutelary deity of the Sheshnag. Newlywed couples consider it auspicious to perform three Parikarma around the lake to seek the blessings of Lord Sheshnag. Sheshnag lake in Anant nag district in kashmir is also dedicated to lord Sheshnag where Lord shiva removed all his snakes on the way to amarnath cave to speak to Goddess Parvati. Recently, the longest goods train of India is named as “SHESHNAG“.
How to reach : By Air : Jammu or Srinagar airport By Train :Sangar railway station
Kukke Subramanyam temple in Karnataka – It is a temple located in Dakshin Kannada, land of serpents, in a village called Subramanya with beautiful Kumar Parvatha peak in the backdrop. The temple is built by the royal family of Sandur and is dedicated to Lord Karthikeyan or Murugan, lord of serpents. It is considered as one of the seven most prominent pilgrimage centres of karnataka. The temple derived its name kukke as original inhabitants of this place the malekudiya tribe rescued serpents from fire in kumaragiri hills and carried them in kukke(baskets) which further became kukke lingam. As per epic stories, the king of snakes, Vasuki, and other serpents sought refuge under Lord Karthikeyan when threatened by Garuda.
In Kukke Subrahmanya pooja is offered to lord Subrahmanya merged with serpent king Vasuki. Hence, believed to be the ultimate solace for salvation from any sort of naga doshas. Thousands of devotees come here from far and wide to offer Sarpa Samskara, Nagaprathishta, Ashlesha Bali &other rituals.
Temple Timings and Darshanam
Morning: 7 AM TO 1 PM
Evening: 3 PM TO 8 PM How to reach : By Air : Mangalore International Airport (Bajpe Airport). By Train :The nearest railway station is Subrahmanya Road Railway Station (SBRS) on Mangaluru-Bengaluru railway route,7 km from temple.
Bhujang Naga temple in Gujarat – A majestic temple built at an ancient Bhujiya fortress in outskirts of Bhuj in Kutch district of Gujarat, is a dedicated temple of Bhujang Naga. The temple is built in memory of the last Naga chieftains, Bhujanga. A fair is held every year near the Bhujanga naga temple.It is said Bhujang Nag came from Than of Kathiawar and freed kutch from the oppression of daityas and rakshasas.
How to reach : By Air : Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel AhmedabadAirport . By Train : Bhuj railway station
Thirunageswaram temple in Tamil Nadu – The temple is located in outskirts of village called Kumbakoanam in Tamil Nadu. Naganatha swamy temple and Oopliyappan Sannadhi are the two main temples of Thirunageswaram temple. Mythological snakes Sheesha, Kaarkotakan and Dakshan are known to worship Lord Shiva at this temple. The temple is also known as Rahu Stalam and has six daily rituals at various times from 5.30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and twelve yearly festivals on its calendar. The ablution of the image of Rahu during Rahukaalam with milk turning to blue colour in this temple is considered to be a miracle and attracts devotees from distant places.
Puja Timings : 6 a.m to 12.45 p.m and 4 p.m to 8.45 p.m How to reach : By air – Trichy airport , 109 km from temple By train : Thirunageswaram station and kumbakoanam station
Nagarcoil Nagaraja Temple in Tamil Nadu – Located in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. Lord vasuki (king of serpents) or Nagaraja is worshipped in this temple along with Lord Krishna. It is a 1000-2000 yr old temple. Sri Nagaraja swami is a swayambhumurthi and is below ground level in a square plot which is a wet place. The deity has five faces and only the place where the Nagaraja sits is wet and is of saffron colour. It is because of the blood that oozed from the head of the idol. A unique prasad “mannu”(sand) is given to devotees as devotees offer milk and turmeric.Festivals like Brahmmotsavam, Aavani aashlesha, Krishna jayanthi, Navrathri and Tirukarthikai are celebrated in this temple.
Puja timings : 5.00 to 8.30 p.m How to reach : By Air – Madurai airport, Thiruvanathapuram By rail– Nagercoil junction
Agasanahalli Nagappa – Agasanahalli Nagappa Temple is an unexplored temple located at Devanagere surrounded by numerous mysteries. This place derived its name from sage Agastya as he performed meditation at this place. According to mythology, Lord Narasimhaswamy is present in the form of Lord Subramanya (the Lord of Snakes) in Agasanahalli in the shape of an ant-hill. Interestingly, there have been sightings of a golden coloured snake around this temple. Devotees crowd especially on Amavasya.
How to reach : By air – Hubli airport By rail – Devanagere railway station
Ghati Subramanya in Karnataka -It is a 600 yr old temple with Dravidian architectural style located at 60 km from Bengaluru nestled close to Mallikadurga hills. It is a temple dedicated to Lord Subramanaya and built by Ghorpade of Sandar dynasty. The sanctum has idols of two deities Lord Narsimha and Lord Subramanya emerged from the ground. The idol of Lord Subramanya, in his serpentine form, faces the east while the idol of Lord Narasimha sits at the back of the former and faces the west. Devotees can view the idol of Lord Narasimha through a strategically placed mirror, allowing both deities to be worshipped at the same time. It hosts a cattle fair and some festivals like Brahmarathotsav and Narsimha Jayanti.
Puja timings : 6.00 a.m to 8.30 p.m How to reach : By Air – Bengaluru airport By rail – Oddarrahalli railway station
Shetpal Village – Last but not the least even though shetphal is a village and not temple, I had to add this village to this blog as every home in this village is a sacred temple of serpents. It is a small village near Solapur and 200km from pune. Every home has a hollow place called “devasthanam” for worshipping snakes. The king cobra is welcomed by one and all and stays in close proximity with humans. Snakes are treated as pets and kids are found playing fearlessly with them. Till date there is no incidence of snake bite.
How to reach : By air : Pune airport By rail : Modnimb railway station