Location: Guruvayur, Thrissur District, Kerala
Dedicated to: Lord Krishna
Significance: An ancient temple that is considered as the southern Dwarka
How to reach: One can easily reach Guruvayur Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring Taxis from anywhere in Kerala
Guruvayur Temple is an important and popular pilgrimage in Kerala. Located in Guruvayur town of Thrissur district, Guruvayur Temple is easily accessible by regular bus services that are available throughout the state of Kerala. The nearest airport is sited as Kochi that lies at a distance of 90 kms from Guruvayoor. Thrissur comprises the nearest railway station at a run of 29 kms from the temple.
Guruvayur Temple is supposed to have been 5,000 years old. In those times, it was known as "Bhooloka Vaikunta" (Abode of God on Earth). The term 'Guruvayur' is said to have been derived from two words, 'Guru' (preceptor of the gods) and 'Vayu' (god of winds). The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, who is also known by the name of Guruvayoorappan. Due to its reverence, Guruvayur Temple is also known as 'Dakshina Dwaraka' (Southern Dwarka).
The presiding deity is Lord Krishna is the form of Maha Vishnu (Lord Krishna is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu). The image is depicted in a standing posture, which has four hands holding Shankh (conch), Sudarshana Chakra (a serrated disk), Lotus and Mace. The image is worshipped as Balakrishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is carved out of a rare stone named Patala Anjana. The walls of the main shrine are festooned with beautiful mural paintings and intricate carvings.
Festivals like Ulsavam, Vishu, Ashtami Rohini, Mandalam, Ekadasi, Ashtami Rohini, Kuchela's Day, Chembai Music Festival and Narayaneeyam day are the major occasions that observe special celebrations at Guruvayur Temple. On special events, the sacred images are brought out to take in a procession in Guruvayur town. At the time of festivals, the entire is decorated with inestimable butter lamps, which truly recreates the impression of the former age.
The Legend says that when the temple of Dwarka was submerged under the sea, Guru and Vayu were assigned the job to discover an equally holy place for a fresh temple. Ultimately, when they discovered the site, the place came to be known as Guruvayur and the deity, Guruvayurappan. The main idol is said to have got installed by Brihaspati (Guru) and Vayu, by the blessings of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
The oldest mention of Guruvayur is traceable in 'Kokasandesam', a fourteenth century Tamil work. In this scripture, it is stated as Kuruvayur. Guruvayoor has scores of references in the works of 16th century. The temple actually got famous with Melpathur's 'Narayaniyam'. At this abode of Lord, maximum number of marriages is observed every year.
The structure of the temple gives the hints of typical Kerala temple architecture. The temple is believed to have been designed by the divine architect, Vishwakarma. The temple is erected in such a way that Sun God (Surya) himself pays homage to Vishnu on Vishu day. At this juncture, the first rays of Sun descend directly at the feet of Vishnu. The main doorway to the shrine is from the eastern side. Form the main doorway; one can observe the idol of the Lord.
In the temple, the 'Chuttambalam' is a gold-plated 'dhwajastambham' or flag-mast, which extends to the height of 33.5 meters. The ''dipastambham' or pillar of lamps, is another attraction that looks fascinating when lightened in the evenings. The doorway to inner sanctum is sited just ahead of this pillar. On two raised plinths, there are ten beautifully carved pillars on the either side of the passage. It was here the golden slokas of 'Narayaniyam' were written, in the praise of Lord Guruvayur.