Southern India is dotted with temples and offers solace and tranquility to the pilgrims from all over, reaching there in quest of the supreme power. One such revered temple is the Guruvayur Shree Krishna temple, situated in the Thrissur District of Kerala which is renowned as the Dwarka of the south.
Photo from Flickr
Guruvayur is often referred to as Lord Vishnu’s abode on earth and the divine idol installed here is that of Lord Krishna. Legend has it that this idol was originally worshiped by Lord Brahma who later gifted it to Lord Vishnu. Once during a heavy flood in Dwarka, this idol was washed away and the gods ‘Guru’ and ‘Vayu’ were the ones who rescued this idol and installed it here. That is why this place came to be known as Guruvayur. The Guruvayur temple was so designed by Parashuram that on the day of Vishu (Malayalam New Year) the first rays of the sun fall directly on the lord’s feet as if seeking his blessings. There are so many stories and legends associated with this temple that probably everything you find in the vicinity here will have a tale of its own to narrate from the Manjulal to the legendary elephant Guruvayur Keshavan.
The spot where the temple is situated is believed to have been vacated by Lord Shiva and Parvathy who moved to Mammiyur to accommodate Guruvayurappan here so no visit to this temple is complete until a visit to the Mammiyur temple which is just a short distance away.
The Guruvayur temple is thronged by thousands of devotees every single day from all over and the rituals begin as early as 3 am with the ‘Nirmalyam’ and end at around 10 pm. The temple is closed after the noon pooja between 12.30 pm to 4.30 pm. The devotees attach special importance to the ‘Nirmalya Darshanam’ where having a glimpse of the Lord beautifully decorated with sandal paste and flowers, is simply a mesmerizing site to behold and cherish for a lifetime. The rituals then proceed to various abhishekams – bathing the idol with various items like honey, milk, sandal paste etc. and experiencing this magical atmosphere not just cleanses our soul but transports us to another world full of tranquillity and content.
Owing to the ever increasing crowd, the opportunity you get to have an actual glimpse of the idol is very short. Most of the time you seem to move in an orderly queue to reach the sanctum sanctorum but with the holy chants all around you, you tend to immerse yourself with full devotion patiently taking in every moment of this surreal atmosphere.
Besides the main deity, Guruvayurappan, there are also other deities within the temple premises (Nalambalam). There is Lord Ganesha on the south-western corner, Goddess – Bhagavathy in the form of Vana Durga on the north-eastern corner and Shastav on the southern side.
It is a very famous venue for marriages and also the ‘chorune’ where a child is fed solid food item like rice in the presence of the Lord. There is also a ‘sadya’ – community meal organised by the temple every single day along with the other usual ‘prasadams’ that the devotee offers the Lord. Many cultural programs are also organized here and are revered to be very auspicious, because performing in front of Guruvayurappan at the ‘Melpathur auditorium’ facing the temple is considered very auspicious.
On Guruvayur Ekadasi and Vishu days the temple sees hundreds of devotees thronging the temple just to catch a glimpse of the Lord. The temple has an array of elephants (as many as 63 elephants now) dedicated to the lord who are taken care of at the ‘Punnathur kotta’ nearby. The place is rife with legends of Guruvayur Keshavan – an elephant who was an ardent devotee of the lord.
The temple is one of the most revered temples in Kerala and offers a soul cleansing atmosphere to the ones seeking celestial blessings. One must visit the place when in Kerala to experience the divine atmosphere.
How to Reach
The temple town of Guruvayur is 29 kms from Thrissur and is situated 79 kms from the Cochin airport. The place is well connected by road and rail. Though there is a small train station in Guruvayur, due to the infrequency of trains buses are the best option. There are numerous private and state-run KSRTC busses from Thrissur to Guruvayur at regular intervals. The KSRTC transport stand is just a walking distance from the Guruvayur temple en-route to the Mammiyur temple.
As every temple town, there is a wide choice of accommodation right by the temple. The Guruvayur devasom (temple trust) also has various buildings offering basic accommodation which are very economical but need to be booked months in advance to avoid disappointment. So chose according to your budget from star hotels to lodges which can even be booked once you reach there. But it would be a safe bet to have an advance booking if you are travelling with the family especially during some festivities or marriage season as the place is almost always crowded.