Kari varadaraja perumal kovil King indrajyudhman was a very staunch devotee of vishnu. Despite being a king, he spent many hours of the day worshipping lord vishnu. One day, sage agastya came to visit him. The king was lost in his thoughts of the lord and did not notice the sage. Angered, the sage cursed him to become an elephant. Indrajyudhman was shocked. He told the sage that he was a devotee of vishnu and had not ignored him deliberately. The sage said that once a curse was given, he could not take it back and that the king could pray to vishnu to give him shapa vimochana. When the king prayed to the lord, he heard a voice telling him “i’m in a place where nel (paddy) is heaped like a kundram (hill). Come there and worship me every day and you will get moksha” said the voice. So the king who had then turned into an elephant, came down to nerkundram, and found the varadaraja perumal temple next to a pushkarni. Every morning, he would pluck a lotus from the pushkarni and worship the lord by placing the lotus at his feet. One day, a gandharva called hoo hoo and his wife came down to bhooloka and were playing near the pushkarni. When hoo hoo noticed the elephant plucking a lotus, and worshipping lord vishnu, he was very impressed. He wanted to stay back and watch what happened. So he and his wife took the form of crocodiles and swam around in the pushkarni. At that moment, sage bharadwaja came to the pushkarni to perform his sandhya vandhanam. Hoo hoo, now in the form of a crocodile did not see the sage and trying to chase his wife, banged against the sage standing in water. Sage bharadwaja became angry at this impertinent act. Realising that the crocodile was a gandharva, he cursed him to turn into a crocodile permanently. Hoo hoo was sorry for his inadvertent act and begged the sage’s forgiveness. The sage told him that when he held the foot of a vaishnava he would be forgiven and would attain his original form. The crocodile immediately thought of the elephant who was a loyal devotee of vishnu and decided to hold his foot. The next day, when the elephant got into the water to pluck a lotus, the crocodile swam quickly towards him and caught his foot. The elephant tried to pull his leg from the crocodile’s grasp, but could not do so because the crocodile is more powerful in water. In pain and distress, the elephant sought the help of his lord ” adhimoolame” he bellowed. Does this story sound familiar to gajendra moksham? Well, not completely. When the lord heard the cry of the elephant, he wanted to come out and save both his devotees – the elephant and the crocodile. So he sent out his sudharshana chakra and asked him to bring both elephant and crocodile to the shore. The chakra went swishing and sliced through the water, to carry both the creatures out of the water. Once on land, the elephant gained strength and was able to pull his leg out of the crocodile’s mouth, with some effort. When that happened, both the elephant and the crocodile gained their original forms of king indrajyudhman and hoohoo and the lord gave both of them the boon of paramapadha. As this lord granted the boon of paramapatha to an elephant (kari) he came to be known as kari varadaraja perumal kovil.