Category Archives: Guruvayur

How to Reach Sree Krishna Temple, Guruvayur

How to Reach Sree Krishna Temple, Guruvayur

Railway Station
Guruvayur Railway Station is on the east of the temple which is connected to the Chennai – Mangalore main line at Thrissur. Thrissur Railway Station is the nearest major railway station, about 29 km from Guruvayoor.

By Road
Guruvayoor is well connected with other parts of the country by road. Both KSRTC and private bus services offer interstate bus services to almost all major cities in south India, including Palani, Madurai, Mookambika, Ooty, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Salem, Mysore, Chennai, Mangalore, and Udupi. National Highway 17 (NH 17) passes through Kunnamkulam about 8 km from Guruvayoor.

Kochi International Airport (NedumbasseryAirpot) is the nearest airport, about 80 km from Guruvayoor. Calicut International Airport (Karipur Airport) is around 100 km from Guruvayoor Sri Krishna Temple

Daily Worship

Daily Worship

The system of rites conducted here is traceable to Sri Adi Sankaracharya.There are in all, 12 ‘darshan’  that can be had by a devotee on a given day. The timings mentioned are rough and based on a pamphlet published by the GuruvayurDevaswam (the body that administers the temple) for the guidance of the devotees.

The NIRMALYA DARSHAN (3 A.M to 3.20 A.M) is the first of the day. The Lord now is still adorned with the flowers and garlands of the previous night. It is believed that after the night pooja (worship), when the doors are closed, the devas (gods) come and worship the deity. A darshan of the Lord who has just been worshipped by the devas themselves is considered highly auspicious. Amidst the lit lamps, the chiming bells and the conch, the spontaneous cries of the devotees shouting out “Narayana”,”Guruvayurappa”,”Govinda”,etc., the innermost recesses of your mind will be lifted to the heights of devotion.

THE THAILABHISHEKAM, VAKACHARTH & SANKABHISHEKAM (3.20 A.M TO 3.30 A.M): The rite of bathing the deity with gingely oil takes place after removing the adornments of the previous day. Then comes Vakacharth i.e. sprinkling the deity with the vaka powder. The cork tree called vaka, is powdered and used. After this is performed, the abhishekam (rite of bathing the deity) with water sanctified in a sankhu (conch) is carried out.

ALANKARAM & MALAR NIVEDYAM (3.30 A.M TO 4.15 A.M)  After the bath the Deity is wiped with a thin cloth ,then adorned with garlands, ear ornaments, Kasthuritilaka and a red loincloth. Butter in hand and playing the flute, the Lord here appears as Unnikrishna (child Krishna), reminiscent of His playful days at Gokul.  After the alankaram (adornment or decoration),the malar naivedyami.emalar (puffed rice), plantain and jaggery are offered to the Lord.

USHA NAIVEDYAM & USHA POOJA (4.15 AM TO 4.30 AM)  Offerings of cooked rice and naipayasam (rice cooked in jaggery constitute the ushanaivedyam (morning offering). The UshaPooja (morning worship) is also conducted at this time.

ETHIRETTU POOJA (4.30 AM to 6.15 AM)  Now the Lord and the Sun are facing each other and pooja is performed by offering vellanaivadyam (white offering i.e. of cooked rice); simultaneously, the other deities in the temple are attended by associate priests. Ganapathyhomais performed in the temple kitchen.

SIVELI (6.15 AM to 7.00AM) The Srikovil (Sanctum sanctorum) opens allowing  the  devotees to have their darshan. The deity is then taken out for the Siveli (procession). The utsavavigraha (processional deity) is mounted in an elephant and taken round the temple thrice. Believably, the Lord want this exercise to be done so that He himself can ascertain if His cetestialattendents are keeping well.

It is here that the MelpathurNarayanaBhattathiri composed his Sanskrit devotional poem called Narayaneeyam. The temple is well-known for its healing powers and is the site for Annaprasanam, the first rice-giving ceremony of a child. Every year, the 28th of Malayalam month Vrischikam is celebrated as Narayaneeyam Day. In 2010, Narayaniyam Day is on 14th December 2010.


Devotees conduct Tulabharam where a devotee is weighed against his choice of material. Some of the common items used for Thulabharam include banana, sugar, jaggery, coconut, or gold. Besides Tulabharam, elephants are also offered to the Lord. The feeding of these elephants is called Anayoottu. Other offerings include Prasadaootu, Alroopams, Picking up Kunnikkuru and Sayanapradakshina.

Opening and Closing Timings of Guruvayur Temple

Guruvayur Temple opens daily at 03:00 AM with NirmalyaDarshan and will be closed at 12:30 PM. The temple reopens at 4:30 PM and closed at 09:15 PM.

Please note that the Temple timings may change on certain special occasions and also if there is any Udayasthamanapooja.

For stories of personal experiences in Guruvayurpls visit

Elephant Sanctuary

The elephant sanctuary at PunnathurKotta which is 3 km from Guruvayur is worth visiting. This is the largest elephant sanctuary and the elephants were offered by the devotees of the Lord. Gajapooja and Anayoottu (elephant feeding) are conducted here.

·Dress code for entering the temple

Strict dress code exists for people who wish to enter the Guruvayur Temple. Men are to wear mundu around their waist, without any dress covering their chest. But it is allowed to cover the chest region 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 allowed to wear any trouser like dresses or short skirts. Women are allowed to wear sari and girls are to wear long skirt and blouses. Presently the dress code for women have been relaxed with shalwarkameez (churidarpyjamas) being allowed.[12] Unlike in northern India, in Kerala and other southern Indian states Hindu women do not cover their heads in temples. Like all other temples in India, footwear is strictly prohibited. Security restrictions prevent carrying of mobile phones or cameras into the temple.

The Fire and Renovation

The Fire and Renovation

On November 30, 1970, a massive fire broke out in the temple. It began from the western chuttambalam and raged for five hours. But the Sreekovil (Altar), the Vigraha deity of Guruvayoor, sub-shrines of Ganapathy, Sastha, Bhagavathy and flag-staff remained unaffected. People from all walks of life, irrespective of age, caste, creed and religion fought the fire, setting a glorious example of humanity. Later, the temple was rebuilt.

The incident took place on November 29 during the season of Ekadasivilakku. On this day, Vilakku was celebrated on a grand scale and all the lamps in the Vilakkumatam were lit. After the Seeveli procession, the function came to an end and the gates of the Gopuram were closed. Around 1.00am, somebody who lived near the western chuttambalam saw a blaze within the Temple. As word spread, a huge crowds of people, regardless of religious differences rushed to douse the fire. Later, fire tenders arrived. The conflagration was controlled only by 5.30 am.

Authorities had already removed valuables from the Altar. The Ganapathy deity, Sastha deity and the main deity of Lord Guruvayurappan were shifted to Koothambalam and then to a safer place, residence of the Tantri priest. The fire gutted the whole chuttambalam, the entire Vilakkumatam on the west, south and north. The Chuttambalam was only three yards off, but still the fire did not even touch dry flower garlands, which hung on the corner of the Sreekovil altar.

Two committees were formed to undertake renovation work. One was headed by the Devaswom Minister, Govt. of Kerala and the other was a technical committee to advice on renovation. It comprised eminent engineers, astrologers and Tantrics. The committee arrived at some general decisions

a) To attract more devotees, alterations were made to remove inconveniences as permitted by tantric principles.

b) To increase space for worshippers by reducing the height of Chuttambalam basement. To provide granite pillars instead of wooden.

c) To put granite wall against the Vilakkumatam.

d) To provide a passage around the Ganapathy shrine to eliminate congestion.

e) To reconstruct the Ganapathy temple in granite.

f) To put granite engraved "Ananthasayanam" in place of the old "Ananthasayanam" (Mahavishnu lying over serpent) painting which was lost in fire

g) To widen the gates at the north and east entrances.

h) To reduce the size of the Nivedyathara at the south of the Mandapam.

Eminent astrologers of Kerala were requested to attend the meeting and decide on the Lord's approval for above mentioned changes. Except the widening of two doors, everything else was approved. The foundation stone for the renovation was laid by His Holiness Jagatguru Kanchi Kamakoti Matadhipathy Jayendra Saraswathy Swamikal. The 10 round pillars in the two Vathilmatam were magnificently carved. The eastern pillar on the southern Vathilmatam, at the foot of which Melpathur meditated and wrote the Narayaneeyam was not removed. After the great fire, the temple was reopened on April 14, 1973 (Vishu – Malayali New year).

Kesavan – Gajaraj : The Elephant Devotee of Lord Guruvayur

The Elephant Devotee of Lord Guruvayur

One of the most famous elephant serving Lord Guruvayurwas Keshavan, also know as Gajaräja, or “king of the elephants.”

In January 1922, Valiya Raja (King) of Nilambur offered one of his twelve elephants to Lord Guruvayurappa, as a fulfillment of his vow when he got back his entire property intact at the time of the Malabar Mutiny. Aged 10 years, Elephant was named Keshavan. He was noble and kind, yet mischievous and stupid. To remove his lunacy, he was given butter to eat which was first sanctified (made holy) by the Melshanti (Head Priest) – believed to be an effective treatment for stupidity, and then made to perform bhajan by attending all the three siveli (temple functions). All this transformed him into an ideal Deity elephant.

He would bend his front legs only before those who held the Lord’s thidambu (Deity) to enable them to climb on him.  Others who held the umbrella, alavattam etc. had to climb by his behind legs. Very compassionate, he never harmed anybody.  Even when he was inside and outside Guruvayur, he was not destructive; He would proceed to the temple, take a round and occupy his place.

Once he was hurrying to the temple, disobeying the mahouts.  Everybody in the area fled  for fear of being trembled  by it.  Except a poor, helpless leper who could not run away & remained helpless on the path.  As the people watched with fear, they were astonished when they saw that Kesavan had actually lifted the leper with his trunk, placed him safely in a corner, and proceeded straight to the temple.

In 1973, Kesavan was honored with the title of “Gajarajan”(King of elephants) when the temple was for the first time, celebrating the golden Jubilee of the services of an elephant. Keshavan’s unique devotion for his service at Guruvayur will not be forgotten. When Keshavan became the leading elephant in the temple herd, he would no longer tolerate another elephant’s carrying the Deity. Once, when another elephant was selected to carry the Deity in procession, Keshavan became so disturbed that he attacked the other elephant and chased him away. Whenever Keshavan was to carry the Deity, he would demonstrate his great eagerness to perform his service by pulling at the chains that bound his feet.

For more than fifty years Keshavan served Lord Krishna at Guruvayur. During one festival,(On the fateful day December 2nd, 1976 on the famous  GuruvayurEkadasi day)  however, he became ill, just at the time of the Deity procession. His huge body began to tremble, and he was removed from the procession and taken to a nearby stable, where he fasted throughout the night. The next evening, when the conchshell blew to announce the appearance of the Deity, Keshavan bowed before the temple, and amid thousands of devotees chanting and playing on musical instruments, his soul departed from his body to attain the eternal realm of Vaikuntha.

A 12 – feet high concrete statue of the elephant Kesavan has been executed by the temple members at the spot in front of the Panchajanyam Rest House – a fitting memorial indeed for a unique devotee

When pilgrims arrive at Guruvayur, they are reminded of Keshavan by his tusks and portrait displayed above the main entrance to the Deity chamber. And throughout the city many shops sell colorful paintings of Keshavan.


At Guruvayur, whether on the days of great festivals or in the moments before the evening procession, when ten thousand oil lamps are being lit, or while hearing about Keshavan, the king of the elephants, the pilgrim naturally feels a growing desire to glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.