Located 29 km north-west of Thrissur District in God’s Own Kerala, Guruvayur is one of the most important pilgrimage centers of South India. Guruvayur is also called the Bhoolokavaikunta – the heaven on Earth!
The square Sreekovil is the sacred sanctum Sanctorum of the temple, housing the main deity of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord MahaVishnu.
It is at this temple that Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri composed his well-known Sanskrit devotional poem ‘Narayaneeyam’. The temple is renowned for its healing powers. Several offerings are made to the deity here from the simple ‘Archana‘ (offering of flowers) to the expensive and elaborate ‘Udayastamana’ pooja or ‘Thulabharam’ where a devotee is weighed against offering of bananas, sugar, jaggery or coconuts.
Guruvayur is the site for weddings and Annaprasanam, the first feeding ceremony of a child. This is probably the only site for several weddings and ‘Annaprasanam’, the first feeding ceremony of child.
Within the temple, there are also the idols of Ganapathy, Sree Ayyappa and Edathedathy Kavil Bhagavathy. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. The walls of the sanctum sanctorum are inlaid with exquisite mural paintings and carvings. The eastern nada is the main entrance to the shrine. I
Just in front of the temple there is a huge tower of light, it has thirteen discs including basement and is 24 feet in height. There are four Deepasthambams made of brass, inside the temple. One at northern wing was smashed by the Gajarajan Kesavan . The eastern tower, Kizhakke Gopuram (eastern tower) is 33 feet and Patinjhare Gopuram (western tower) is 27 feet in height.
In the chuttambalam (outer enclosure) is the tall 33.5 m high gold plated wajasthambam (flag post). There is also a 7 m high dipastambham (pillar of lamps), with its thirteen circular receptacles, which provide a truly gorgeous spectacle when lit. The temple is dedicated to Krishna known here as Guruvayurappan or the Lord of Guruvayur.
In the month of Chingam (July-Aug), under the Rohini Nakshatra, on the 8th day of the waning moon of Sravana is the day of Lord Krishna’s birth i.e. Janmashtami.
A very special day in all Sree Krishna temples, Guruvayur Devaswom itself offer a niramala (full of garlands and lamps), devotees flock in with cakes of rice paste and jaggery considered the most favourite food of the Lord on that day.
Lord’s Thidambu is taken to the Rudratheertha (temple pond) for Aarattu, amidst the chanting of mantras.
The most important festival during the Mandalam period, lasting for a month. It was on the Guruvayur Ekadasi day that Lord Krishna revealed the Gita to Arjuna.
This carnatic music festival is held for 11 days in the memory of Sri Chembai Vaidyanadha Bhagavathar, as part of the Ekadasi celebrations.
This festival is conducted in the month of Kumbha, i.e., in February or March and lasts for 10 days. The hoisting of the temple flag atop the flagstaff (Dwajastambham) about 70 feet high marks the beginning of the festival. On the 1st day, an elephant race is held.
The next 6 days, devotees can witness elephant processions in the morning, afternoon and night. In the morning, there is the Sribhuta Bali (offering of oblation at various altars). Besides this there are also various cultural programs. On the 8th day, during ‘Utsavabali’ (from 10 am to 4 pm) oblations are offered to the Lord’s lieutenants. A sumptuous feast then awaits the devotees. Pallivetta or the hunting expedition of the Lord takes place on the 9th day. This hunt is symbolic of the destruction of Kama (desire), Krodha (anger) and other such evils that plague us in our life.
After that the Lord’s idol is takan to the Rudratheertha (temple pond) for Aarattu, amidst the chanting of mantras. Thousands of devotees also take the dip, chanting the Lord’s name to wash off their sins. Then noon Pooja (which takes place at night only on this day) is held at the Bhagavati shrine. Finally, the Lord returns to the sanctum sanctorum after 11 circumambulations. The temple flag is then lowered signifying the end of the festival.
By Air: Kochi international airport (Nedumbassery) is 80 kms from Guruvayur and the Calicut airport is 100 kms away.
By Rail: Guruvayur has got a railway station towards the east of the temple which is connected to the Madras-Mangalore main line at Thrissur.
By Road: The National highway is passing through Kunnamkulam which is just 8 kms away from Guruvayur.
Climate: It has tropical and humid climate. It experiences heavy monsoon rains from June to August therefore it is advisable not to visit Guruvayur during the monsoon season.
Best time to visit: March to September
Airports Nearby: Cochin International Airport