The Bhuloka Vaikunta
|Type of Tourism||: Pilgrimage|
|Population||: 21,187 (As per Indian census- 2001)|
|Altitude||: 2.83 meters|
|Best Tourist Season||: All round the year|
|Clothing recommended||: Light cotton in summer, light woolen in winter.|
|Languages spoken||: Malayalam, English|
|Telephone Code||: India (0487), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 680101|
|Dress code inside the Temple||: For men: ‘Mundu’ at the bottom, ‘Veshthi’ at the top. |
For Women: Sari, Long Skirts and Blouses, Churidar Pyjamas.
|What to buy||: Traditional Puja items like flowers, coconuts, incense sticks, idols and images of Guruvayurappan, rings & lockets with the image of Lord Krishna, devotional music records and audio/video cds, Rudraksha beads, religious books, paintings, souvenirs, lamps, brassware, antiques, bell metals, Kerala handicrafts, South Indian garments, traditional Kerala saris, dress materials, jewelry, toys, electronic items, etc.|
|Food Specialties||: Guruvayoor Padappadams, Murukkus, Sweets, Ghee Roast Dosa, Idly, Appam, Uttappam, Medu Vada, Sambhar, other Kerala Cuisines, tender coconut water (Karikku), etc.|
|Local transportation||: By foot, taxis and auto rickshaws|
Guruvayoor, also spelt as ‘Guruvayur’ and ‘Gurupavanapuri’ is a municipality in the Thrissur district of the state of Kerala. This precinct has earned the stature of prestige on the international front as a leading pilgrim destination due to its immensely aggrandized ‘Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple’. Often accredited with the laurel ‘Bhuloka Vaikunta’ meaning ‘The Vaikunta on the Earth’, Guruvayoor is also frequently referred to as the ‘Dwarka of South’. Eminently worshipped by the devotees as ‘Krishna Guruvayoorappan’, the temple of Guruvayoor is highly esteemed in Southern India in the lines of Tirupati and Sabarimala Shrines. This temple of Lord Vishnu is honored to be the forth biggest pilgrim destinations in India in terms of its daily intake of the pilgrims.
Positioned about 28 kilometers to the northwest of Thrissur; the cultural capital of Kerala, this bustling ethereal abode of Lord Vishnu is also praised for its breathtaking scenic beauty, coastal proximity and serene milieu. This small township of ‘God’s Own Country’ is believed to be christened after the names of the celestial ‘Guru’ i.e. the teacher of the Gods – ‘Lord Brihaspati’ and the Wind God i.e. ‘Lord Vayoo’. As the legend goes, Lord Guru and Lord Vayoo were instructed by Lord Krishna to retrieve an idol of Lord Vishnu that was worshipped by Him during His lifetime from the anticipated flood at Dwarka after His demise. Guru and Vayoo following the command of Lord Krishna brought the idol from Dwarka to this place in Kerala via sea route and enshrined it here. Thus this province came to be known as ‘Guruvayoor’ i.e. ‘belonging to Guru and Vayoo’.
Guruvayoor; the blessed domicile of Lord Krishna is also famous in Kerala as a felicitous wedding venue and beginning your new life under the grace of Guruvayoorappan is considered to be extremely auspicious and fortunate. Aside from its religious magnitude, Guruvayoor is also reckoned far and wide as the popular center of Carnatic Music and traditional Indian dance forms. ‘Krishnattam Kali’ is a folk dance of Kerala that was originated in the Krishna Temple of Guruvayoor. One of the most noteworthy attractions of the city is its ten days long annual ‘Guruvayoor Utsavam’ celebrated in the month of February or March. Except for the world famous Guruvayoor Temple, Guruvayoor, bequeathed with other sightseeing places including other temples, palaces, museums, elephant sanctuary, and so on, has also made its mark as one of the flourishing tourist destinations of the Indian peninsula.
History Of Guruvayoor
The mythological background of Guruvayoor leads us back to the period of ‘Dwaparyuga’ when after the annihilation of Lord Krishna and extinction of His capital Dwarka, the idol of Lord Vishnu worshipped by Lord Krishna during his lifetime was reinstalled here by Lord ‘Guru’ Brihaspati and the Wind God ‘Vayoo’. Lured by the magnetism of Lord Krishna Guruvayoorappan, Adi Shankara who never approved of idol worship was forced to pay homage at the Guruvayoor Temple where he also composed the famous ‘Govindashtakam’; a stotra with eight verses praising the Lord Krishna. Later, he established the daily routine of the Poojas to be offered at the temple which is practiced even today. Thus, the original Guruvayoor Temple and the idol of Lord Vishnu are believed to be dating back to more than 5000 years, even though no authentic testimonials in the support of this pronouncement have been discovered yet.
A Tamil literary work ‘Kokasandesam’ dated back to 14th century AD referred to a place named ‘Kuruvayur’ while again, in 16th century AD Kuruvayur found citation in several other literary compositions. In ancient Dravidic languages the term ‘Kuruvai’ meant sea, thus ‘Kuruvayur’ means a village set up on the sea coast. As deduced by an eminent professor of history Sir K. V. Krishna Iyer, the Brahmin tribes had already started settling at Kodungallur; another municipality of Thrissur during the governance of Chandra Gupta Maurya who reigned between 321 and 297 BC. The Guruvayoor Temple grew famous all over the country through Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri’s literary work ‘Narayaniyam’.
It is assumed that some 500 years ago certain Pandya King had renovated the Guruvayoor Temple. During the ascendancy of the King Zamorin of Calicut (Kozhikode), the Guruvayoor Temple was one of the royal temples functioning under the patronage of the throne and by the end of 16th century Guruvayoor had burgeoned into a thriving pilgrim destination of Kerala. The central shrine of the temple was rebuilt in 1638 AD. In early 18th century Dutch armies raided Guruvayoor, looted immense temple treasure and set the Western Gopuram on fire, which was later restored in 1747 AD. Guruvayoor remained the subordinate shrine of Trikkunavay Shiva Temple till 1755 when it was also destroyed during the Dutch assaults. Post 1755, Zamorin became the trustee and the ‘Melkoyma’ (the Sovereign Protector) of Guruvayoor and Trikkunavay.
In 1766 AD when Hyder Ali conquered Guruvayoor, he spared the Krishna Temple against the compensation of 10,000 Fanams. Again in 1789 AD when Tippu Sultan attacked this province, the idol of Lord Guruvayoorappan was hidden underground foreseeing the devastation. Tippu did destroy several smaller shrines around the main temple and set the temple complex on fire, though the timely rain saved the temple from being eradicated. After the defeat of Tippu Sultan, the hidden idol was reinstalled in the temple in 1792 AD. In 19th and 20th century the Guruvayoor Temple was extensively refurbished and expanded by several rulers and donators. Around 1930s, for certain period of time the Guruvayoor temple was closed due to the conflicts created by the orthodox and cruel discrimination based on cast and creed.
On 30th November 1970 a great fire broke out in the Guruvayoor Temple which engulfed most of the temple except for the Sreekovil (sanctum), the main Vigraha idol, the flagstaff and several sub shrines of Lord Ayyappa, Lord Ganesh and Goddess Bhagavathy. The present day Guruvayoorappan Temple was reinstated to its existing shape post 1971 AD.