Also known as the Dwaraka of South India, Guruvayoor Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, is located in Thrissur district of Kerala. It is one of the most important places of worship and is often referred to as “Bhuloka Vaikunta” which translates to the “holy abode of Vishnu on earth”.
Like Tirupati and Sabarimala, Guruvayoor has emerged as one of the most important places of worship in South India. It is believed to be the fourth biggest temple in India in terms of the number of devotees that flock to the temple daily.
The name Guruvayoor is made of three words – Guru (preceptor of the Gods), Vayu (God of the wind) and Oor (village). It is believed that Guru and Vayu found a floating Krishna statue during the start of Kaliyuga and installed it on the banks of the Rudratheertha Lake after a lot of searching. Shiva and Parvati, who were residing at the spot, agreed it was an ideal spot for installing the idol and relocated to Mammiyoor. Since then, the place is known as Guruvayoor. It is in memory of this incident that a pilgrimage to Guruvayoor is said to be complete only with a worship of Shiva at the Mammiyoor Temple.
Lord Krishna in Guruvayoor is popularly called Sri Guruvayoorappan. “Appan” which means lord, hence the title makes Krishna – the lord of Guruvayoor. The idol installed in the temple has four arms carrying the Panchajanya conch shell, Sudharshana Chakra (the magical discuss), the Kaumodaki mace and a lotus along with a garland around the neck.
Guruvayoor temple has the distinction of owning the largest number of elephants. Ritual offerings are made by devotees to Lord Krishna, by donating the elephants which are housed at the Punnathur Kotta.
Guruvayoor stands apart from other temples of Kerala and of India due its rituals which are not found anywhere else. Most prominent among the rituals is the ‘Anayottam’ or the elephant race which marks the start of the temple festival. The elephant which wins the race bags the honor of carrying the Lord’s idol for a year and the privilege of staying inside the temple complex.
Steeped in tradition, Guruvayoor is a good place to learn more about culture and arts especially the temple arts. The Chembai Music Fest, held as part of Ekadasi festival, attracts more than 2000 Carnatic musicians. Held in commemoration of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagawathar, the highlight of the Utsavam is the collective recital of Saint Thyagaraja’s Pancharatna Krithis.
Another art form associated with the temple is Krishnanattam. Based on Sanskrit treatise, the work includes eight phases of life of Lord Krishna. The rhythmic and beautiful dance is held daily except on Tuesdays (No Krishnanattam performance is held during June, July and August).
There are several accommodations in close vicinity of the temple. Budget hotels, lodges and a few luxury hotels are available.
Being a temple town, non vegetarian fare is taboo. The temple town is known for its pure vegetarian cuisine. Around the temple one can find plenty of pure vegetarian restaurants which serve only South Indian food.
The Guruvayur Temple can be visited anytime of the year.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Thrissur is as given below. The best time to visit Thrissur is also specified.