Guruvayur Temple or Guruvayoor Temple is one of the most famous Lord Krishna temples in India, situated in the town of Guruvayur, in Thrissur District of Kerala. Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple enshrines Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, as the presiding deity. Shri Krishna is known here by different names such as Unnikannan (Baby Krishna), Unnikrishnan, Kannan, Balakrishna, and Guruvayoorappan. The idol was once worshiped by the Lord Mahavishnu himself in Vaikunta and hence Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple is known as Bhooloka Vaikunta - The Heaven on Earth. Sri Guruvayoorappan Temple is also renowned as the Dakshina Dwaraka (Dwaraka of South).
Guruvayur Temple is said to be built by Guru (preceptor of Gods) and Vayu (God of winds), and hence the place came to be known as Guruvayurpura and later reduced as Guruvayur. Guruvayur has become the most famous pilgrimage center in Kerala mainly due to the five devotees, namely - Poonthanam, Melpattur, Vilvamangalam, Kururamma and the Prince Manadevan (Zamorin). This important and famous pilgrimage for Hindus is about 29 km north-west of Thrissur.
The unique feature of the idol of Sree Guruvayoorappan is that it is built out of a rare stone called Patala Anjana. The Lord is seen in the standing posture with four hands (Chaturbahu) carrying the Sankhu (conch), the Sudarshana Chakram (a serrated disk), the lotus and the mace. Legends say that the idol is more than 5000 years old. The idol was once worshipped by Mahavishnu and then handed it over to Lord Brahma.
Other Special Features of Guruvayur Temple
It is here that the Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri composed his Sanskrit devotional poem called Narayaneeyam. The temple is well-known for its healing powers and is the site for Annaprasanam, the first rice-giving ceremony of a child. Every year, the 28th of Malayalam month Vrischikam is celebrated as Narayaneeyam Day. This year, Narayaniyam Day is on 13 December 2016.
Devotees conduct Tulabharam where a devotee is weighed against his choice of material. Some of the common items used for Thulabharam include banana, sugar, jaggery, coconut, or gold. Besides Tulabharam, elephants are also offered to the Lord. The feeding of these elephants is called Anayoottu. Other offerings include Prasadaootu, Alroopams, Picking up Kunnikkuru and Sayanapradakshina.
Ekadasi which falls on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight is of special significance in Guruvayur Shri Krishna Temple. The Ekadasi which falls on the Malayalam month of Vrischika is known as Guruvayur Ekadasi and special poojas are conducted at the temple on this occassion.
Guruvayur Utsavam or Guruvayoor Annual Festival is held for ten days. It begins on the day of Punartham Nakshatra (Pushya star - the 8th asterism) in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February - March) and ends after the Guruvayoorappan Aarattu on the 10th day.
Other important festivals celebrated here are Mandalam, Poonthanam Day festival, 11 days Chembai Sangeetha Mela (Chembai Music Festival), Narayaneeyam Day, Vaishka (April - May), Ashtami Rohini (July - August) and Kuchela’s Day (held on the first Wednesday of Malayalam month of Dhanu (December - January).
Opening and Closing Timings of Guruvayur Temple
Guruvayur Temple opens daily at 03:00 AM with Nirmalya Darshan and will be closed at 12:30 PM. The temple reopens at 4:30 PM and closed at 09:15 PM.
Please note that the Temple timings may change on certain special occasions and also if there is any Udayasthamana pooja.
The elephant sanctuary at Punnathur Kotta which is 3 km from Guruvayur is worth visiting. This is the largest elephant sanctuary and the elephants were offered by the devotees of the Lord. Gajapooja and Anayoottu (elephant feeding) are conducted here.
How to reach Sree Krishna Temple, Guruvayur
Guruvayur Railway Station is on the east of the temple which is connected to the Chennai - Mangalore main line at Thrissur. Thrissur Railway Station is the nearest major railway station about 29 km from Guruvayoor.
Guruvayoor is well connected with other parts of the country by road transport. Both KSRTC and private bus services offers interstate bus services to almost all major cities in south India including Palani, Madurai, Mookambika, Ooty, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Salem, Mysore, Chennai, Mangalore, and Udupi. National Highway 17 (NH 17) passes through Kunnamkulam about 8 km away from Guruvayur.
Kochi International Airport (Nedumbassery Airpot) is the nearest airport, which is about 80 km from Guruvayur. Calicut International Airport (Karipur Airport) is another nearest airport around 100 km from Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple.
Places to Visit Near Guruvayur Temple
Being an important Hindu pilgrimage center, Guruvayur is home for some of the famous temples in Kerala. Some of the famous temples located near by include Mammiyoor Temple, Parthasarathi Temple, Narayanamkulangara Bhagavati Temple, Tiruvenkatam Temple, and Sreekandapuram Vishnu Temple.