Mannarasala Snake Temple is located 3 km off Haripad on national highway No. 47 in Alappuzha (Alleppey) district of Kerala in southern India. The ancient temple is renowned all over the world as a pilgrimage center for the snake charmers and the devotees of serpent god Nagaraja. Nestled in a forest glade in the Alleppey, Snake Temple has more than 30,000 images of all varieties of highly poisonous and non-poisonous snakes that are found on the earth, several of them being the mythical snakes.
These snake images are dotted all over the paths and trees in the Mannarasala Nagaraja temple complex, which is the largest of its kind in South India. Women seeking children come to the temple for the blessings of Nagaraja. Once they bear child, they come back to the Mannarasala Nagaraja temple for their thanks giving to Nagaraja and often donate snake images to the temple, adding to its already huge collection of snake sculptures. A peculiar turmeric paste is available in the Mannarasala Snake temple which is used as a medicine for snake bites and other skill ailments.
The legend has it that once Parashurama approached holy rishis (saints) to ask for the penance of killing millions of Kshatriyas. The rishis asked him to gift them a piece of land of his own. Parashurama propitiated Varuna for the cause. Varuna threw his axe into the sea which he had got from Lord Shiva. Parashurama then reclaimed the land of Kerala from the sea with the help of divine axe and offered the same to the Brahmin rishis with proper rites. However, the land was full of salinity and was infertile. People started moving out of the land.
Rishi Bharghavarama was pained at all this. He was then advised by Lord Shiva that the land could become fertile if the flaming poison of the snakes is spread over its soil. To do this, Parashurama had to worship Nagaraja, the God of Snakes. He found a suitable place near the sea shore in Kerala for the purpose and meditated day and night to invoke Nagaraja. Pleased by his devotion, Nagaraja appeared before Parashurama with the brilliance of millions of moons and had jewelry and emeralds stuck to his hoods.
Parashurama immediately prostrated at the lotus feet of Nagaraja who graciously accepted his prayers. Thousands of ferocious snakes then reached the spot and spread their flaming Kalakuda Poison all around which desalinated the entire land. Thereafter, the land of Kerala was desalinated and became very fertile with envious greenery all around. Parashurama then requested Nagaraja to bless the land of Kerala to be fertile forever. His request was accepted by Nagaraja and hence the soil of Kerala became fertile forever. Parashurama then installed Nagaraja at the site where the present Mannarasala Snake Temple was constructed later on.
People come to Mannarasala Snake Temple to seek blessings of Nagaraja for good health, prosperity, long life, fertility and to get protection from snake poisons. They offer turmeric, salt, pepper, silk grains etc. to Nagaraja.
Nearest international airport to Mannarasala Snake Temple is at Kochi, which is 115 km away while another international airport is at Thiruvananthapuram which is 125 km away. Nearest railway stations are at Haripad (3 km) and Mavelikkara (10 km), while KSRTC bus stand is just 1.5 km from the Mannarasala Nagaraja temple at Haripad.