Guruvayur houses the renowned Sree Krishna Temple, often referred to as the Dwaraka of the South, which holds immense significance and attracts a large number of pilgrims in Kerala and throughout India. The main temple is said to have been reconstructed in 1638 C.E., and its architectural design and intricate details within the shrine serve as exquisite reflections of the region’s rich history.
Guruvayur Temple – Dedicated to Lord Sree Krishna
Situated in the town of Guruvayur, Kerala, India, the Guruvayur Temple stands as a significant Hindu place of worship devoted to Guruvayurappan, a manifestation of Lord Krishna. Revered by Hindus from all over the world, this temple is often hailed as Bhuloka Vaikuntha, signifying a divine abode on earth.
The main deity at Guruvayur Temple is a standing four-armed Vishnu, holding the conch Panchajanya, the discus Sudarshana, the mace Kaumodaki, and a lotus adorned with a tulasi garland. This representation embodies the form of Vishnu that was revealed to Krishna’s parents, Vasudeva and Devaki, during his birth.
Worship rituals at the temple follow established routines prescribed by Adi Shankara and later formalized in the Tantric tradition by Chennas Narayanan Nambudiri, as part of the inter-religious spiritual movement that emerged in medieval India. The Chennas Nambudiris holds the esteemed position of hereditary tantris, serving as the high priests of the Guruvayur Temple.
Guruvayoor Temple Legend
Legend has it that King Janamejaya orchestrated a sacrificial ritual to eradicate all snakes, including Takshaka, the one responsible for his father’s demise. While numerous snakes perished in the flames, a Brahmin named Astika intervened and halted the sacrifice just before Takshaka’s demise. Unfortunately, Janamejaya was inflicted with leprosy as a consequence of his actions. Sage Atreya advised him to seek solace under the feet of Krishna at Guruvayur, where the presence and blessings of Lord Vishnu were believed to be most potent. Complying with the sage’s counsel, Janamejaya ardently worshipped at the Guruvayur temple for ten months, leading to a miraculous recovery. This transformative event deepened his appreciation for the temple’s significance, motivating him to construct a proper shrine at Guruvayur.
As time passed, the Guruvayur temple faced challenges and financial hardship during the rule of the Perumals, who favored Shiva temples over Vaishnavite shrines. The Mammiyur Shiva temple garnered royal patronage, resulting in a shift in devotees’ allegiance. Consequently, the Guruvayur temple struggled with economic difficulties. However, a turning point occurred when a holy man sought assistance from the Mammiyur temple but was turned away and directed to Guruvayur instead. There, he received a warm reception from a Brahmin boy who provided him with nourishment and hospitality. Grateful for the kindness he encountered, the holy man bestowed a blessing upon the Guruvayur temple. As a result, the fortunes of the Guruvayur Vishnu temple flourished, while the Mammiyur Siva temple began to wane.
Timings and Pooja Schedule at Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple
The Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple has specific timings for visitors and a well-structured schedule for pooja rituals throughout the day. The temple opens its doors from 3:00 AM to 12:30 PM and again from 4:30 PM to 9:15 PM, remaining open on all days. Visitors can allocate approximately 1-2 hours for their visit. Entry to the temple is free of charge.
The pooja timings at Guruvayur Temple are as follows:
- Nirmalyam: 3:00 AM to 3:30 AM
- Neyyabhishekam, Vakacharthu, Sankhabhishekam: 3:20 AM to 3:30 AM
- Malar Nivedyam, Alankaram: 3:30 AM to 4:15 AM
- Usha Nivedyam: 4:15 AM to 4:30 AM
- Ethirettu Pooja followed by Usha Pooja: 4:30 AM to 6:15 AM
- Seeveli, Palabhishekam, Navakabhishekam, Pantheeradi Nivedyam, and Pooja: 7:15 AM to 9:00 AM
- Ucha Pooja: 11:30 AM to 12.30 PM (noon pooja)
During the afternoon, the temple remains closed between 1:30 PM and 4:30 PM. In the evening, the pooja schedule resumes with:
- Seeveli: 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM
- Deeparadhana: 6:00 PM to 6:45 PM
- Athazha Pooja Nivedyam: 7:30 PM to 7:45 PM
- Athazha Pooja: 7:45 PM to 8:15 PM
- Athazha Seeveli: 8:45 PM to 9:00 PM
- Thrippuka, Olavayana: 9:00 PM to 9:15 PM
The temple concludes its daily activities at 9:15 PM. Visitors can plan their visit accordingly to witness the various pooja rituals and immerse themselves in the divine ambience of the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple.
Guruvayur Temple Governing Body
Guruvayur Devaswom, under the control of the Government of Kerala, manages the temple. The temple hosts several significant festivals, including the 10-day festival in the month of Kumbham, marked by flag hoisting on the Pooyam star. Krishna Janmashtami, celebrating Krishna’s birthday, is observed in the month of Chingam. The Guruvayur Ekadasi, which falls on the 11th day of the bright fortnight in the month of Vrischikam, is also widely celebrated.
Additionally, Vishu, a harvest festival, is commemorated on the first day of the month of Medam. The temple’s sub-deities include Ganapati, Ayyappan, and Bhagavati, with separate sub-temples dedicated to Ganapati and Nagadevata nearby. A replica of the temple, known as Uttara Guruvayurappan Temple, can be found in Mayur Vihar, Delhi. This revered temple is dedicated to Guruvayurappan, an incarnation of Krishna, and holds great significance for both Malayalis and Tamilians.
History of Guruvayur Temple
During the 14th and 16th centuries, the village of Kuruvayur in Kerala gained mention in Tamil literature, possibly named after the Old Tamil word for “sea.” The earliest temple records date back to the 17th century, with references to important Vishnu temples by the Tamil poet-saints, the Alvars. By the late 16th century, Guruvayur had become the most popular pilgrimage center in Kerala.
In the colonial era, Guruvayur faced several challenges. The Dutch raided the temple in 1716, looting treasures and setting fire to the Western Gopuram, but it was later rebuilt. In 1755, the Trikkunavay temple was destroyed by the Dutch, causing Brahmins to flee the area. In 1766, Hyder Ali of Mysore captured Guruvayur and demanded a ransom for sparing the temple. Despite paying the ransom, security concerns led to a decline in pilgrim visits. In 1789, Tipu Sultan invaded the province, attempting to set fire to the temple but was thwarted by timely rain. Tipu was ultimately defeated in 1792, resulting in the re-installation of the hidden idol. From 1825 to 1900, the Ullanad Panikkars took care of the temple, and renovations occurred in the late 19th century. In 1900, administrator Konti Menon introduced worship schedules and cleanliness initiatives. In 1928, the administration of Guruvayur returned to Kozhikode.