Situated in the district of Thrissur in Central Kerala, this Krishna temple attracts large number of devotees every day. People from all over the country visit this famous temple which also happens to be one of the richest in the country. Various ceremonies and rituals ( vaakacharthu, uchapooja, ushapooja, sheeveli ) are conducted inside the temple throughout the day. Devotees give various forms of offerings and prayers ( thulabharam, chuttuvilakku, shayanapradhakshinam) to please the almighty. Long queues from outside the temple take you inside and then further into the inner sanctum. Even though it is hot and humid always, devotees have always been happy to undergo all the troubles to take the Almighty's blessings. The temple looks astonishingly beautiful in the evening as the place is lit up with numerous lights and various processions and rituals take center stage.
As the temple closes with the elephant procession, which is supposedly the last ritual of the day, people get ready to enjoy Krishnanattom, a play which is conducted on most days inside the temple. Though it is similar to Kathakali, this play emphasises on the various mythological stories related to Krishna. Krishnanattom goes on till wee hours of the morning and as you walk out of the temple after the play, devotees would have already queued up for the the day's first ceremony at 3 a.m.
Guruvayur also has its special days of the year ( Sreekrishna Jayanthi, Thalapoli, Aanayottam, Guruvayur ekadashi, uthradasandhya) when devotees throng into the temple and create a miniature Kumbh mela. The temple is also known to conduct numerous marriages everyday. The numbers can be quite staggering and go up to more than 100 on certain days. The Melpathur auditorium outside the temple has seen many renowned artists perform various dance forms. There are large number of shops outside the temple and they lure people with eateries, toys, paraphernalia, books, music and clothing. After the long struggle to take the blessings from the lord, most devotees end up window shopping through the alleys. This is indeed a peculiar experience that takes me down the memory lane to my childhood visits to the temple.
During my last visit to Guruvayur I also happened to visit the other near by temples, namely, Mammiyoor Shiva temple, Parthsarathy temple and Venkatachalapathy temple. I also ventured into the famous Punnathoor Kota, a few kilometers away from Guruvayur. This place is famous for elephant camps. All elephants that belong to the temple come here for their daily wash and rejuvenation. The place also has many elephants suffering from various ailments and a few that were offered to the temple by various celebrities and politicians.
Along with Mathura, Dwaraka, Udupi and many more, Guruvayur is one of the famous Krishna temples in the country where the devotees offer their prayers and take the Lord's blessings. There is strict prohibition on mobiles and cameras being taken inside the temple. Male devotees must be bare chested and should wear dhoti to enter the temple premises.
Signing Note: Undoubtedly my favourite pilgrimage centre.
Route- Cochin- Kodungallur- Chavakkad- GuruvayurDistnace- 90 kms