The handsome Padmanabhaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, has a seven-story gopuram (entrance tower) that's as wide as it is tall to accommodate an unusual reclining statue of a very dark-skinned Vishnu (Padmanabha), lying in eternal slumber on a five-headed serpent. The date of its original construction has been placed at 3000 BC; legend has it that it was built by 4,000 masons, 6,000 laborers, and 100 elephants over the course of six months. In the main courtyard
there's intricate granite sculpture, supplemented by more stonework on the nearly 400 pillars supporting the temple corridors. The complex is technically open only to Hindus and keeps erratic hours, so call ahead to be assured of entry into the temple courtyard and the main temple (although probably not the inner sanctum. The hours of opening reflect the eccentric uniqueness of this magnifiicent-looking and much revered house of worship: 3:30 am–4:45 am, 6:30 am–7 am, 8:30 am–10 am, 10:30 am–11:10 am, 11:45 am–noon, 5 pm–6:15 pm, 6:45 pm–7:20 pm, and a viewing of the lord can be booked online. You'll have to take off your shoes, and women should wear appropriate clothing (i.e., no shorts or sleeveless or revealing tops for women). Nearby there are little shops selling handicrafts.