Total Pageviews

Thursday, August 25, 2011

GURUVAYUR – Sri Krishna Temple "Dwarka of the South"

Guruvayur, near Thrissur in South Kerala, is one of the most popular Hindu pilgrim centres in India. It has the famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Known as ‘Dwaraka of the South’, Guruvayur temple has very interesting traditions around it. The presiding deity in the sanctum- sanctorum is Maha Vishnu. Idol of Vishnu at Guruvayur is believed to be an ancient one, which was being worshiped by Krishna himself at Dwaraka.

The Guruvayur Temple is unique, as it is not built in the typical South Indian style of temple architecture. For example, its architecture is not massive or grand but simple in keeping with the style of Kerala houses. Its four gateways lead to the main gopuram (where the idol is installed), protected by a slopping terracotta roof made of Mangalore tiles. Again, in true Kerala style, the temple owns 36 mighty elephants that live at Punnathur Fort, 4 km north of the temple.


After the pilgrim city of Dwaraka became submerged in the sea, Sri Krishna decided to leave His mortal body at Prabhasa Kshetra in Sourashtra for His heavenly abode. According to tradition, it is believed that Sri Krishna Himself gave this idol which was at Dwaraka, to His foremost disciple and devotee, Uddhava and instructed him to entrust Brihaspathi (the Guru of the Devas) with the task of taking the idol to a suitable location. Uddhava was plunged in grief thinking of the fate that would befall the world in Kaliyuga during his absence. The Lord pacified Uddhava and promised him that he himself would manifest in the idol and shower his blessings on the devotees who take refuge in him. Hence the idols worshiped as Krishna even though it’s Vishnu’s Idol. 

Guru and Vayu went around the world in search of an ideal place. At last they entered Kerala through the Palakkad gap where they met Parasurama who was going to Dwaraka in search of the very idol they were bringing. Parasurama led Guru and Vayu to a lush green spot with a beautiful lotus lake where they felt the presence of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva along with Parvathi welcomed them and told them that this would be the ideal spot for installing the deity. Shiva permitted Guru and Vayu to perform the consecration rites and blessed them that henceforth this place would be known as Guruvayur (since the installation was done by Guru and Vayu). Shiva with Parvathi then left to the opposite bank to Mammiyur. 

It is in memory of this incident that a pilgrimage to Guruvayur is said to be complete only with a worship of Mammiyur Shiva temple. It is said that Vishwakarma, the divine architect built this temple. He made it in such a way that on the day of Vishu (Summer equinox) the first rays of the sun fall straight on to the Lord's feet. The deity was installed in the solar month of Kumbha (February - March) and the ceremony was begun on the seventh asterism of Pooyam and completed on the day of Anizham.

Dress Code

Strict dress code exists for devotees who wish to enter the temple. Men are to wear Mundu around their waist with a small piece of cloth (Veshthi). Boys are allowed to wear shorts, but they are also prohibited from wearing a shirt. Girls and women are not supposed to wear any trouser like dresses or short skirts. Women are expected to wear Sari and young girls are to wear long skirt and blouses.


Some of the festivals celebrated at Guruvayur temple are Vishu, Ashtami Rohini, Mandalam, Ekadasi, Ashtami Rohini, Kuchela's Day, Chembai music festival and Narayaneeyam day. Ulsavam is the main festival of Guruvayur temple. Ulsavam takes place in the month of February and March and is a 10 day long festival. The festival begins with the hoisting of the flag on Dwajastambham and an elephant race. Pilgrims can witness the procession of the elephants throughout six continuous days. Various cultural programs are also held during this time. Oblations are offered on the 8th day to the Lord’s lieutenants during Utsavabali. It symbolizes the destruction of desire and anger from our lives. Many devotees take a dip in the temple pond to wash off their sins. The Lord after 11 days returns to his holy place and the flag is also lowered at the end of the festival.

How to Reach Guruvayur:

By RoadGuruvayoor is well connected with the other parts of the country by road and rail. The National highway 17 is passing through Kunnamkulam which is just 8 kms away from Guruvayoor. The private bus stand is towards the south of the temple, near Manjulal (the banyan tree). It is half an hour drive by car from Thrissur and buses ply every 5 minutes from Thrissur to Guruvayoor. 
Kerala state Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) runs bus services from all major locations of the state and few inter-state services to Gurvuvayoor. The bus stand is 200 meters to the south of the temple. Both KSRTC and private buses offer interstate services to all major South Indian cities like Madras, Madurai, Palani, Selam, Coimbatore, Thiruchandoor, Mysore, Mangalore, Uduppi, Mookambika etc.

By Rail - Guruvayoor has got a Railway Station towards the east of the temple which is connected to the Madras-Mangalore main line at Thrissur. It has got computerised ticket booking facility and tickets can be booked to any location from here. One from the Mangalore side can get down at the Kuttippuram station. Regular bus services are available from there to Guruvayoor. Those from the Madras/Trivandrum side can get down at Thrissur.

By Air - Kochi International Airport (Nedumbassery) is 80 kms from Guruvayoor and the Calicut Airport is 100 kms away. All major international flight services are operated from these Airports.

Like us on Facebook


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks for sharing above information... I am very impressed with this blog... Hope for more updates soon. Astro guru provides travel astrology predictions online. You can have a look on astrology site. I would be waiting for your valuable response. Thanks in advance.

  4. I have a doubt about the temple legend. In an extended version of the legend, it says that Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi themselves created and worshipped this idol. But, the idol which we worship now at Guruvayoor is of Lord Vishnu himself, completely in his usually depicted form. Does it mean that we worship ourselves while worshipping God, as we are all the amsas of the divine soul?

  5. I read your articles. It is simple but very accurate info… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    Online Pet Shop