Guruvayoor or Guruvayur is the most revered and sacred pilgrimage centre of Hindus in Kerala. On any given day, the place witnesses thousands of visitors from India and abroad. The main temple in the town is dedicated to Lord Krishna known as ‘Guruvayurappan’. A large number of young couples come to the town to get married and the busiest business in the area is conducted by the flower and garland sellers. Notwithstanding the large number of people in the temple town, it is a perfectly safe place and it is not surprising to see men and women loaded with jewellery roaming about. If you are lucky, you could witness the special processions of the images taken out on the elephants of the temple. During festivals, the temple is decorated with thousands of earthen lamps. Near Guruvayur, at Punnathur Kotta, you can see the 44 temple elephants at their home.
The temple is shrouded in mystery and dates back to the 16th century. According to belief, the temple is the creation of Guru (Preceptor of the Goods) and Vayu (God of Winds). Legend has it that at the beginning of this era (yuga), Guru Brihaspati found a floating idol of Lord Krishna. He along with Vayu installed the idol in this temple for helping mankind get through the travails of this yuga. Hence the deity is named Guru-Vayur-Appan.
Another legend goes like Mahavishnu in Vaikunta once worshiped this idol of Guruvayur. Vishnu handed it over to Brahma. Legend has it that King Suthapa and his wife Prisna were childless. They worshipped Brahma devotedly for a child. Brahma then handed over this idol to them advising them to worship it ardently. Lord Vishnu appeared before them and blessed them that he himself will be born to them in three re-births, in three different forms and in three different situations. The third rebirth was as Vasudeva and Devaki. Lord Krishna was born as their eighth son. In the long run, the Lord Krishna himself installed this idol in Dwaraka and worshipped it. Before leaving the earth to the heavenly abode, Lord Krishna told Udhava, his foremost disciple that he had installed the image of Lord Vishnu in the temple built by him at Dwaraka and that it should be entrusted to Brihaspathi(Guru of Devas) to take it to a sacred place so that people could worship it to attain salvation in the Kaliyuga. There was a flood in Dwaraka and it was submerged in the seas. Guru recovered the idol with the assistance of his disciple Vayu. Together, they traveled all over India in search of a holy place and finally reached Kerala. Here, with the help of Parasurama, they located a holy spot. Guru and Vayu installed the idol of Lord Vishnu (Lord Krishna). Vishwakarma, the divine architect was requested to build a Temple, which he made in such a way that on the day of Vishu (Summer equinox), the sun himself makes his obeisance. The first rays on that day fall straight on the Lord’s feet. As Guru and Vayu together founded the temple, the place came to be called ‘Guruvayupura’ in accordance with Lord Shiva’s wish. Later the name was shortened to Guruvayoor.
Points to Remember
A devotee can enter the Temple through the eastern or western gopura. It is ideal that the darshan is made after a dip in the Temple pond (Rudratheertha) and in wet clothes.
While making the darshan one has to be careful not to violate the Temple rules.
Doubts can be cleared from Security officers and the attendants inside the temple.
Devotees are not allowed to enter the temple wearing shirt, pants, pyjama, lungi, printed dhoti, chudidar, chappals etc. These can be kept at the Devaswom cloak rooms free of cost. There are facilities for the same at the east and west nada.
Mobile phones,Camera, video camera, Tape recorder, radio etc should not be taken into the ‘Chuttambalam’
The devotees are not allowed to stand on the big ‘Balikallu’ inside the temple, for the darshan.
The newly married couples are not allowed inside the nalambalam, soon after the marriage ceremony.
Devotees should be careful not to spit or vomit inside the temple. Those found dirtying the Temple will have to pay for the ‘Punyaha’ (purification ceremony). So, small children should not be allowed to be inside the ‘nalambalam’ for a long time.
Payments can be made and the ‘Prasada’ received at the respective counters, inside the temple, on the northern side. Devotees should be careful not to be cheated by private agencies in this regard. Guruvayur Devaswom has not authorized any individual or private agency for the collection of any amount or money due to the Devaswom.
Those who want to make offerings of ‘Aalroopa’ in gold or silver, have to approach the watchman at the flag staff for the same. They can put the desired amount of money in the hundi and place the ‘Aalroopa’ there itself on the ‘mandapa’, praying to the Lord.
Those who want to make expensive offerings like gold or silver can deposit the same in the big hundi just outside the Srikoil in the Chuttambalam.
Those desiring to make offering on a particular day, have to send the money early. Those who send cheques should send the same in advance because the offering will be done only after the cheque has been realized.
Devotees can make arrangements for endowment funds by paying money in advance. The interest from the same will be utilized for different offerings, to the satisfaction of the individual concerned. ‘Vella Naivedyam’ offered to the Lord and later distributed to the elephants is believed to be very good for the devotees
All communications relating to Temple matters, should be sent to the following address :-
Kerala – 680101
Places of Interest
Sabarimala Temple –Sabarimala is a renowned pilgrim center crowning the rugged hills of the Western Ghats. This holy shrine here is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The Village of Sabarimala is named after Shabari who did severe penance in order to meet Rama. As the legend goes, touched by her devotion and faith, Lord Rama lovingly ate the half-eaten ‘ber’ (kind of berries) that she offered. In her simplicity, she had preferred to taste them first to ensure that they were sweet and tasty.
There are two main Pujas called the Mandal Puja and the Makara Sankranti Puja, which are celebrated from November to Middle of January in Kerala, during which time the devotees perform austerities and penance. Devotees wear black ‘dhotis’ and are bare-chested as they prepare for the pilgrimage to Sabarimala. The temple is at the top of the Neeli hills and the devotees have to climb the treacherous route carrying their meager provision in a bundle called ‘Iru Mudi’ meaning in ‘two folds’.
Sri Chottanikkara temple – Located near Ernakulam enshrines Bhagawati – the mother Goddess, is one of the most popular deities in Kerala. On way is the Poornatrayesa temple at Tripunittura. The goddess is worshipped along with Lord Vishnu. People who have mental illness seek refuge in the divine mother, who graciously cures all her devotees. Goddess Rajarajeswari is the presiding deity.This deity is worshipped in three different forms – as Saraswati in the morning – draped in white, as Bhadrakali at noon draped in crimson, and as Durga in the evening decked in blue. The image in the shrine is not fixed to the ground and is mounted on loose sand. Water offered during ablution ceremonies percolates underground.
Sri Padmanabh Swamy Temple – A famous pilgrimage centre and one of the major attractions in Thiruvananthapuram city, the Maharaja of Travancore built this famous temple with its seven-storey carved gopuram in the Dravidian style in 1733. There are innumerable pillars, intricate carvings and mural paintings of natural pigments. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu who reclines on the sacred serpent Ananda. The image of Vishnu is 18 feet long and a lotus grows from Vishnu’s navel and Brahma is seen in the lotus. Several arts forms like Krishnanattam, Koodiyattom, Pavakkoothu, Nokkuvidya, Velakali, Kathakali and others thrived under the patronage of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
Vadukkumnathan Temple – The Vadakkunnathan Temple at Thrissur is one of the famous temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the largest temples in Kerala. Adi Sankaracharya is supposed to have spent his last days in this temple. This temple is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture. The shrines and the Koothambalam (Temple theatre), display exquisite vignettes carved in wood. Legend says that Parasurama built this temple. This temple is famous for its Pooram Festival, which includes colorful and magnificent processions, brightly decorated elephants and fireworks.
Getting there and Around
By Air – Guruvayoor is situated at a distance of 80 km from the Kochi international airport (Nedumbassery) and 100 km from the Calicut (Kozhikode) airport. All major international flight services operate from these airports.
By Rail – The Guruvayoor Railway Station is connected to the Madras-Mangalore main line at Thrissur. Those coming from the Madras/Thiruvananthapuram side can get down at Thrissur. From Thrissur Railway Station, there are regular bus services to Guruvayoor.
By Road – Guruvayoor is well connected with the other parts of the country by road. Both the KSRTC bus stand and Private Bus stand are about 500metres from the temple. Several state owned and private buses, as well as taxis and other vehicles regularly ply between Trichur and Guruvayoor.
The Guruvayur Devaswom board provides accommodation for pilgrims, both AC or non AC rooms and dorms close to the temple. You can book in advance and the full room rent and reservation charges should be sent to The Administrator, Guruvayur Devaswom, Guruvayur – 68010, Kerala by Demand Draft or Money Order. There are thousands of Hotels and Rest houses too.