- Guruvayoor - Enjoy a spiritual holiday with a difference
Guruvayur Temple is one of the most famous temples of Lord
Guruvayoorappan, one of the enchanting incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Located in the cultural capital of Trissur District, Guruvayur is a
humming religious centre in Kerala that draws pilgrims from all over the
world all round the year. Guruvayur temple, dedicated to Balagopalan,
the child form of Lord Krishna is many centuries old. Legends say that
Guru who found a Krishna Statue floating in a river at the start of
Kaliyuga installed this idol with the help of Vayu at this spot, which
derived its name Guru (Brihaspathi), Vayu (Wind God) and Oor (Land)
Guruvayur or Guruvayoor, popularly called the Dwarka of the South, is one of the most important pilgrimage centers for Hindus in India as this idol is said to have been worshipped by Lord Brahma himself. Only Hindus are allowed in this temple, which is well known for its unique customs and temple art forms that are well preserved even today.
Guruvayoor Tours will enable you to know more about the temple customs that date back to the reign of Samuthiri Kings who ruled this part of Kerala. At night various traditional temple art forms like Krishnattam Kali, Ottan thullal and harikatha are conducted in the premises of the temple. The famous Chembai music festival that is conducted every year brings some of the best exponents of Carnatic music from India and abroad to the temple town.
The ten day long annual festival is one of the busiest periods here during which the whole place gets decked up with colorful festoons and decorative arches and illumination. Elephant race is probably the most interesting feature of the festival, where the temple elephants run round the temple eleven times and people cheer them and often run with them in frenzy.
The temple is particularly popular for conducting weddings, naming ceremonies of babies and many other rituals. Guruvayur temple is not only famous for it grandeur and divinity but for its well acclaimed temple elephants, which are housed in an elephant sanctuary at Punnathoorkotta, 3 kilometers away from the temple. These elephants were offered to the temple by the ardent devotees of Lord Krishna. This elephant shelter has over 65 elephants owned by Guruvayoor Sri Krishna temple devaswom and is considered the single largest group of domesticated elephants in the world It is open to the public where they can watch these jumbos being fed and bathed.
Guruvayur travel is easy and hassle free as it is easily accessible by road and rail. The nearest airport is Cochin International airport, which is 90km away. There are many accommodation facilities around to cater to the needs of the visitors. Those who are hard pressed on time would find the package Guruvayur tours convenient. There are also many tourist attractions nearby including the fabled Chavakkad beach and the mausoleum of the lieutenant of Haider Ali of Mysore.
So, in case you are looking for a spiritual holiday with a difference, then do not look beyond Guruvayur.
- Tourism Attractions
Guruvayoor temple (Sree Krishna Temple) :
A huge statue of the Garuda, (the winged God) welcomes visitors to the temple. The statue stands by a towering banyan tree, called Manjulal, in memory of an ardent devotee- a young girl called Manjula. The main sanctum of the temple which houses the idol of Lord Krishna, is called Shri Kovil. The idol is made of a rare stone called Patala Anjanam. The deity is in a standing position, holding the conch, the Sudarshana Chakram (the serrated discus) the lotus and a mace each in its four hands. The walls of the Shri Kovil are covered with beautiful murals depicting stories from the Krishnaleela.
The temple as such is believed to be thousands of years old, although it achieved its iconic status only in the last 30 years or so. The original temple is believed to have been built by the divine architect, Vishwakarma. The architecture is such that the rays of the morning sun fall directly at the feet of the idol of Vishnu.
The Nalambalam, the inner hall is covered completely with lamps on the outside. The Dwajasthambha is a 33 meter high flag post located in front of the temple. The Deepasthambha is a lamp built of stone in a series of 13 circular structures with wicks which taper towards the top. The Tantrimadham is the quarters of the Tantri or the highest priest of the temple.
The temple is also a centre of arts and culture; dance, music and other performances have been held here since time immemorial. The Koothambalam, an imposing structure with a distinctive architectural style, is made use of for conducting the performances.
The mornings here are filled up back-to-back with weddings, the time allotted to each couple to perform the ceremonies is as little as 5 minutes. Quite a few people also conduct their childrens Annaprasanam (feeding of rice to the child for the first time) and the Vidayarambham (the initiation of the child into learning) at Guruvayoor. It is also considered auspicious to conduct the arangettam (the first stage performance of an artist) in Guruvayoor.
Non-Hindus are not permitted within the temple.
Punnathur Kotta :
The Punnathur Kotta is a standing emblem of the love and care with which Malayalees treat their elephants. The Kotta, located at Kottapadi, is a shelter and resting place for the elephants of the Guruvayoor temple, numbering to around 60, mostly donated by devotees. The pachyderms are trained for the various festivals and temple rituals here and are left free on the grounds shaded by trees the rest of the time. The Punnathur Kotta has housed several famous elephants, the Guruvayoor Kesavan, known as Gajarajan (king of elephants) being one of them.
Mammiyoor Temple :
Most visitors to Guruvayoor also pay a visit to the Mammiyoor temple, situated half a km from here. The story goes that Shiva and Parvathi were witnesses to the installation of the idol at Guruvayoor. Since there wasnt enough space for them there, they moved a little further away, to Mammiyoor and gave their blessings from there. The Mammiyoor temple was built on the spot.
Thrissur town is less than an hour s drive from Guruvayoor. The religiously inclined have a lot to do in Thrissur as well. The Vadakkumnathan temple, situated right at the midst of the city, is much older and architecturally superior to the Guruvayoor temple. The Thiruvambady and the Paramekkkavu are the other two reputed temples here. Thrissur also has a zoo, a museum and childrens park, all within a 2 km radius. The Sakthan Thampuran palace is also a major attraction of Thrissur.
Chavakkad beach :
If you dont mind a bit of fun amidst all the piety and prayers, pay a visit to the Chavakkad beach. Unadulterated by commercial tourism and crowds, the Chavakkad beach is an ideal spot for rest and relaxation. Flat sands stretch endlessly while the blue waters lap the coast. Fishing is still very much practiced here and you can find a row of boats on the beach anytime of the day.
The Thulabharam is an offering made by devotees whereby a person, mostly a child, is weighed against a particular object of the same weight - bananas, sugar, jaggery, coconut, sometimes butter and even gold and silver. The equivalent weight of the object is then donated to the temple.
Other smaller offerings can also be made in the temple, beginning from a simple Archana, a flower offering.
Classical Dance Performances :
Every evening, a variety of classical dance performances are held in the temple compound, which go on till the wee hours of the morning. Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Krishnanattom etc. are some of the usual performances.
- Things To Do
Most people who visit Guruvayoor stay in the premises the previous night
to attend the Nirmalya Darshan (the first viewing of the deity) at 3 AM
which is considered to be very auspicious. The deity is then bathed in
a ceremony called Abhisheka. The worship and darshans continue till 10
at night when the deity is put to rest for the day.
The most popular Guruvayoor souvenirs can be bought from the shops along
the East and West Nada itself - images and framed pictures of the Lord
besides rings or lockets with the image embedded on them. You can also
buy tapes of Narayaneeyam, lamps made of bell metal, dhotis, Kerala
saris, childrens dresses etc. made of off-white handloom cloth. Devotees
also buy Rudraksha beads, religious books, booklets about the temple
etc. which are available at the Devaswom bookshops itself.
- Moving Around
Auto and taxi services are available in plenty from the rail and bus
stations to the Guruvayoor temple. You can also rent a private car if
you want to travel more comfortably.
- Best Time To Visit
Best Time To Visit The best time to visit would be between November and February. The Guruvayoor Ekadasi is held in November-December while the Guruvayoor Utsavam takes place in February-March.
- How to Reach
By Flight :
Kochi international airport (Nedumbassery) is 80 kms from Guruvayoor and the Calicut airport is 100 kms away.
By Rail :
Guruvayoor has got a railway station towards the east of the temple which is connected to the Madras-Mangalore main line at Thrissur. It is 30 Km away from Thrissur town.
By Road :
The National highway is passing through Kunnamkulam which is just 8 kms away from Guruvayoor. It is 30 Km away from Thrissur town.