Guruvayur is a town in the south Indian state of Kerala housing the world famous temple of Lord Krishna which is a highlight of Kerala tourism. Often called the Dwarka of the South, Guruvayur temple is renowned for its healing powers. The main idol of Lord Krishna is supposed to be 5000 years old as per a legend! Guruvayur temple also has a unique sanctuary of more than 60 Elephants which is a big attraction for pilgrims. Kerala tourism is incomplete without a beach sojourn, so most visitors to Guruvayur Temple also visit the Chavakkad Beach nearby.
Guruvayur is well connected by road to all major cities of South India. If you plan to fly in, Cochin is the nearest Airport and is 100 KMs away from Guruvayur. Trichur is the nearest Railway Station and is about 30 KMs away from Guruvayur.
Guruvayur is one of the most popular temples of South India and hence sometimes it is difficult to find a good Guruvayur Hotel if not planned in advance. While there are many Hotels in Guruvayur town, in case they are full, another option is to stay at Trichur as it is only 30 KMs away.We had stayed at Hotel Gokulam Vanamala (Ph. 014872556702). It was clean and comfortable. The Hotel is walking distance away from the Temple. Kausthubham Guest house is managed by Dewaswom, temple management and can be contacted at 014872556537. Another suggestion for Guruvayur hotel would be Hotel Elite, contact 0487 2556215.
Historical references date Guruvayur Temple to the 14th century but legend says its origin is timeless. The deity of Lord Krishna is made of a precious stone called Patala Anjanam. The Lord is seen carrying a Conch, a Disk, a Mace and a Lotus in each of his 4 arms. There are fascinating legends associated with the Temple. One hears the story of the famous temple elephant 'Guruvayur Keshavan' who was besotted with the Lord. He died on Ekadashi day after raising its trunk one final time to pay obeisance to the Lord. There is a story of a famous poet Narayana Battadri who was cured of his ailment after singing praises of the Lord which we now cherish as Narayaneeyam.
At all times one finds devotees making several types of offerings. 'Thulabharam' is the most popular mode of offering by pilgrims. The devotee chooses an item like sugar, coconut, jiggery, bananas or even silver. He or she then donates an amount equivalent to his or her weight.
At the entrance to the sanctum is a large Uruli the heavy broad vessel, full of red 'manjadikuru seeds'. Devotees get small children to take a handful of seeds and fling it back in the Uruli, thrice praying to the Lord who was himself a naughty child, to discipline the children.
Weddings are also solemnized at Guruvayur temple, close to a hundred a day. 'Annaprasanam' is an important function held in the temple where babies are fed for the first time with rice. Several other 'Vazhipadus' or offerings are carried out between 10pm and 3am every night.
What I like about this temple is that there are no special queues for darshan on payment basis. There is one queue for all excepting for senior citizens, ladies and handicapped.
The famous Elephant Sanctuary is located just 3 km from the Guruvayur temple. Popularly called ‘Anaidalam' this sanctuary houses 64 elephants. Spread over around 50 acres and open from 8AM to 5PM it is a visual treat to watch the pachyderms laze around. Its fun to watch the elephants being given a bath and getting their nails cut. It’s a great value for money for an Entry fee of Rs.5 per head!
Ekadesi is the biggest festival of the Guruvayur Temple, celebrated in Nov-Dec. The Chembai music festival is also popular and is celebrated for 12 days in winter.
“Seeveli' is a colorful festival where fully adorned elephants carry the Lord 5 times around the temple. The elephant that carries the idol of Lord Krishna, is selected out of an elephant race. The most famous of these bearers was Kesavan. Known as Gaja Rajan, he entered the assignment when he was 10 years and carried the honour for 54 years until he reached the lotus feet of the Lord on December 2, 1976. Kesavan’s majestic statue can be seen at the rear of the temple, at the place where his mortal remains are buried.
An exhilarating experience is the 'Utsavam' in Feb-march which is accompanied by an elephant race!
The closest beach from Guruvayur is at Chavakkad. This beach is just 4kms away and one can visit the light house on paying a small entry-fee.
The origins of this temple can be traced back to a well known legend. In the Dwaparayuga, during the great Deluge, Lord Krishna was found playfully floating in the Waters. Vayu the Wind God and Guru were sent to look for a place on earth to consecrate and build a temple for him. They found lord Shiva in deep meditation on the banks of the beautiful Rudratheertha River and offered to vacate the place for a temple to be built for Lord Krishna and also offered to move to a nearby place.
The temple for Lord Shiva is just a kilometer away at a place called Mammiyur. Mammiyur actually is a distorted version of the actual name Mahimaiyur , relating to the “Mahima” of Lord Shiva offering the place for the Guruvayur temple to be built. While circumambulating the temple, around the walls one can find 5 diff trees all of them sacred and of medicinal value. It is said that the gentle breeze wafting from these trees is of very great value for health.
Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple. There is a strict dress code to be followed inside the Temple. Men need to wear a Dhoti and should be bare-chested. Women need to wear a Sari.
Temple timings need to be referred from brochures available in every Hotel. It is advisable to join the queue basis these timings as the Sanctum-sanctorum doors get closed often for prayers. There are special timings for the most sacred 'Nirmalayam' darshan which is the first opening of temple doors at 3am when the Lord is decorated with chandan head-to-foot.
Senior-citizens are allowed a special queue thrice a day, 615 AM, 4PM and 8 PM.
Carrying fluids and a head cover is a must during Summer months.
No trip to Kerala is complete without a ride in a houseboat on the backwaters! Plan your trip to include Allepey in the itenarary for this ride of a lifetime.