Guruvayur Temple

Sri Krishna temple, in Guruvayur, is one of the most popular temples in south.  It is second only to Sri Venkateswara temple in Tirumala, in terms of income.
According to the sthala purana, Shiva meditated on Maha Vishnu for year under the waters of the Rudratheertham, the sacred tank to the north to the north of the temple.  Rudratheertham, in fact, gets its name from Rudhra, another name for Shiva, and is said to have extended up to Mammiyur , a distance of one kilometre.  The sthala purana says that Vishnu handed over the idol to Brahma for worship. Brahma, in turn, gave the idol to Prajapati Sutapa and his wife, Prsni.  The couple were sodevoted to Vishnu that He appeared before them, and granted them a boon.  "We want you to be born as our son," they requested, thrice, in their enthusiasm.  Accordingly, Vishnu was born as their son in three different births.  In their last birth, in the Dwapara Yuga, as Vasudeva and Devaki, Vishnu was born to them as Lord Krishna.  Lord Krisha installed this idol at a big temple in Dwaraka.  At the time of his leaving this earth (with Dwaraka on the verge of destruction), Sri Krishna instructed his devote, Udhava, to install the idol at a sacred place with the help of Brihaspati, the guru of the Gods, and Vayu, the Wind God..  Guru and Vayu then installed the deity here, in the presence of Parasurama.

Since Guru and Vayu installed the idoll here, the place came to be known as Guruvayur (Guru-Vayu-ur or oor:place) and the deity as Sri Guruvayurappan.  It is said that the temple was built by Viswakarma, the celestial architect. He built it in such a way that on the day of Vishnu (the Malayalam New Year), the first rays of the sun fall at the Lord's feet, symbolic of the sun himself paying obeisance.  Maha Vishnu has been worshipped here as Sri Guruvayurappan, for the past 5,000 years, though the first historical mention of Kuruvayur occurs only in the 14th century.  The beautiful Krishna idol is made of a rare stone,  Patala Anjanam, and is said to possess healing qualities.  The great 16th century poet, Narayana Bhattathiri, composed his masterpiece, Narayaneeyam, in honour of the presiding deity.  Bhattathiri is said to have been cured of his rheumatic pains after composing Narayaneeyam.  Conversely, it is said, that Narayaneeyam brought fame to the Guruvayur temple.  Much before this, Adi Sankara is said to have visited this temple and composed eight shlokas in praise of the Lord, known as the Govinda Ashtakam. In fact, Sri Guruvayurappan is worshipped now according to the pooja routines laid down by Sri Sankara.

By the end of the 16th century, the temple was the most popular place of pilgrimage on the West Coast.  Later, in 1638, the temple was said to have been completely rebuilt.  Tragedy, however, struck in 1716, when the Dutch raided the temple, looted its treasures, stripped the flag staff of its gold content, and set fire to the western gopuram.  The tower was rebuilt in 1747.  Tragedy struck again in the second half of the 18th century, when Tipu Sultan captured Guruvayur twice.  On the first occasion, in 1766, he retreated after a tribute was paid by the temple authorities.  On the eve of his second invasion, in 1789, the main deity was hidden underground, while the utsava moorthy was taken away to Sri Krishna temple, Ambalapuzha, for safekeeping.  Enraged, the set fire to the temple.  The smaller shrines were destroyed, through the main portion was saved by timely rain.  But the pooja and other daily routines were badly affected.  The main deity and the utsava moorthy were installed in September 1792, after Tipu's defeated at the hands of the English.

The mandapam, facing the sanctum sanctorum, is adorned with exquisite sculptures.  Murals on the temple walls depict the childhood pranks of Lord Krishna.  The temple is a popular venue for weddings,and annaprasna, when the child is given its first solid food.  The temple is also famous for its Thulabharam ritual, when devoteed offer bananas or rice, etc., equal o their weight.

How to get there

Guruvayur is 29km from Thrissur.  The chennai-Guruvayur Express goes directly to Guruvayur.  There are other passenger trains between Thrissur and Guruvayur as well.  But buses connect the two places with much greater frequency. Kochi (80km) is the nearest international airport, while Kozhikode is 100kms away.

Accommodation

The Devasthanam offers both reserved and unreserved accommodation, AC as well as Non-AC.  Private lodges are also aplenty.

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