Kerala is known as “God’s own country”. As we all know, Kerala is very famous for nice greenery, backwaters, boating, houseboats etc., it is also a place where there are many hindu temples. One will definitely feel the inner peace after visiting a temple in Kerala. Lighting of deepams, silence maintained inside the temple, traditional wear by all devotees are some of the traditions followed in temples in Kerala.
Guruvayoor Sri Krishna temple is one such temple in the Kerala state. Guruvayoor is a municipal town of Thrissur District in Kerala state. As per the online reports, this is 4th largest temples of India in terms of the number of visitors per day. Guruvayoor visit can be of both spiritual (by visiting many other temples along with the Sri Krishna temple) and joyful ( By visiting to bach, backwater boating etc.)
How to reach
By Air: Cochin is the nearest airport which is around 90KM to Guruvayoor. Prepaid cabs can be booked to Guruvayoor from the Airport. It may be a 2hr journey to Guruvayur where one can stop for nice tender coconuts and snacks on the way.
By Train: Guruvayoor has a railway station and number of trains stop at the Guruvayur station.
By Road: Kerala state transportation buses are available from all nearest major locations such as Thrissur, Ernakulam, Cochin etc.
Where to stay
There are many variety of hotels based on the quality and price range. There are many hotels close to the Srikrishna temple. I advise choosing the nearest hotel to the temple. Online bookings are allowed for many hotels such as Kanoos residency, Hotel Devaragam etc.
Visit to SriKrishna (Guruvayurappan) temple
As per the details given by temple authorities, the temple opens daily at 3:00AM in the morning and closes at 1:30 PM in the afternoon. And, again temple is open at 4:30PM and closes at 9:15PM. Timings given are approximate and darshan timings are based on the daily poojas and sevas. For example to say, Darshan is not allowed between 11:30 AM TO 12:30 PM for the Ucha Pooja.
Here, Garbhalayam, where SriKrishna idol is located, is surrounded by two prakarams (Walls). There are two gates to enter inside the temple. The regular/main entrance leads the que to the Garbhalayam, where devotees can have darshan of the Guruvayurappan. Another entrance, located on the right side of the main entrance, will lead the devotees to enter the outer prakaram of the temple where Dwajasthambam is located. Inside prakaram contains ganapathy temple, Padmnabhaswamy Idol, Anjaneyar Idol. So, one who is entering from main entrance can have darshan of Srikrishna, Ganapathy, Padmanabhaswamy, and Anjaneyar. Outside prakaram contains Thulabharam room, temple authorities office, Bhagavathy temple.
Que system is very much different here as one need not go round and rounds. Instead, ques are released for darshan one after the other. Temple staff are serving water to devotees waiting in the que. Special darshan available for sabarimala pilgrims.
Devotees to be in traditional indian wear such as saree, chudidhar, veshti (Without shirt). There is a cloakroom available, on the right side to the main temple, to store luggage, mobile phones at very minimal prices. Cheppal stand is available just beside cloak room.
Along with the regular darshan, there is an option to pay Rs. 4500/- for 5 persons(Kind of sreegra darshan) (Ticket can be bought from temple office on the backside of the temple) and have the darshan without waiting in the que outside the temple.
After, Darshan of the Srikrishna, devotees can spend time inside the temple. Each pillar has different and wonderful sculptures from our puranas such as Bhagavatham. And, the paintings on the garbhalayam illustrates the life story of SriKrishna in a beautiful way. After spending some time, devotees can come out to the outside prakaram and spend ample time. Pradakshina can be done here in the outside prakaram.
Elephant procession takes place every day during 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM in the temple. This is a must watch activity organised by the temple devaswom. Temple premises is lit with deepams completely during this time and this is an awesome experience to spend time in the temple during the procession. Any devotee can lite deepams.
Other places of interest in the temple premises
- There is a big open theatre in the temple complex where all cultural programs takes place.
- Information centre is available in front of the temple. And, Devaswom (Devasthanam) bookstall is located opposite to the information centre.
- Souvenir shopping can be done in the temple complex as there are plenty of shops and items are available at cheaper price.
- Kalyana mandapas are also located in the temple complex.
- Daily annadanam is being conducted by temple Devaswom.
Tourist attractions in and around the Guruvayur town
- Elephant park (Anakotta): Elephants belongs to Guruvayur temple are kept in a 10 acre plot near Mamiyoor, which is 3-4KM from guruvayur town. Walking alongside of 50 to 80 elephants is a good experience. Kids really enjoy watching elephants so closely.
- Palayoor church: The church was built by St.Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, is just 2KM away from the Guruvayur town.
- Chettuva backwater: Chettuva is more than a wonderful mix of canals, coconuts and mangroves. Broadened backwater stretches into the ocean about a kilometre past the chettuva bridge. This is just getting famous for boating but this is a wonderful boating experience one should not miss. There is an ayurvedic resort in the Island. Houseboats are also available.
- Balangad beach: This is near to chettuva boating centre and will be a good experience, if visited in the evening. One can watch beautiful sunset and returning fishermen from sea.
- Children park: There is a small but very nice children park in the town. Kids enjoy playing in the park. Check for the timings of the park. As per my understanding, park opens at 4PM in the evening. Not very sure about timings in the morning.
- Other temples in Guruvayur: There are many other temples in Guruvayur and Mamiyur mahadeva temple (Shiva temple) best to visit. Ladies have to wear saree to enter the temple. Further, there are chamundeswari temple, Venkitachalapathy temple etc. But, every temple is unique and a must visit.
- It is also advised to visit Thrissur (30 min by road) for temple visits such as Vadkanadhar temple (Listed as one of world heritage sites),etc.
Food to eat
South indian and north indian food is available in guruvayur. However, most of the restaurants serve vegetarian food. One can try having local snack items such as Banana fry, Jackfruit chips, Banana chips, Nethram phalam (Kerala banana).
- While booking hotel, check for any maintenance activity such as painting etc. going on in the hotel. Better to avoid such hotel as it may be inconvenient to stay.
- When travelling with kids, check for king size bed in hotels for comfort stay. Also, enquire about check-in and check-out timings. Most of the hotels in guruvayur are having 3PM-2PM.
- Better not to visit the temple during 11AM-12:00PM (Uchakala pooja) as waiting time is more.
- Toilets are on the right side to cheppal counter.
- Do not miss watching nice sculptures (Such as little krishna) on the pillars inside the temple.
- Can shop for authentic kerala saree in the shops in temple complex.
- Bags are scanned before entry into the temple. Devotees with kids can take food inside the temple. Mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple.
- Auto rides are cheaper and no need to book a cab for any visits inside the town. Autos are frequently available.