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Guruvayur, the abode of Lord Sree Guruvayurappan, is located 29 kms north west to the cultural capital of the 'God's own country', Kerala.
According to the legends, the idol worshipped here is more than 5000 years old. But there are no historical records to establish it. In the 14th century Tamil literature 'Kokasandesam', references about a place called Kuruvayur is made. As early as 16th century (50 years after the Narayaneeyam was composed) many references are seen about Kuruvayur. In ancient Dravidic, Kuruvai means sea, hence the village on the coast may be called Kuruvayur.
It was Melpathur's Narayaneeyam through which the Temple got publicity. The concept of Unnikrishna popularised by Poonthanam , Kururamma , and Villwamangalam brought more and more devotees to Guruvayur.
The idol of Guruvayur temple is unique, since it is carved out of "Pathalanjana Sila", and is considered extremely sacred. This idol was once worshipped by Mahavishnu in Vaikunta. Vishnu handed it over to Brahma. King Suthapas and his wife who worshipped Bhrama for a child received this idol from Brahma. He advised them to start worshipping the idol. Once Lord Vishnu appeared before them and blessed them that he himself will be born as their child in their three re-births in three different forms and in three different situations. Thus they got the good fortune to worship the same deity in all three rebirths. They gave birth to Prasnigarbhan who gave to the world the practice of Brahmacharya Vratha (Celibacy) . In their next birth, Suthapas and his wife were born as Kashyapa and Adithi . Their son in that birth was Vamana. The third rebirth was as Vasudeva and Devaki. The Lord Krishna was born as their eighth son. In the long run , the Lord Krishna himself installed this idol in Dwaraka and worshipped
From Mahavishnu the sacred idol has passed through the hands of Brahma, Suthapas, Kasyapa, Vasudeva, Sree Krishna and finally at the time of Krishna's ascension to Vaikunta, he instructed Udhava to entrust Brahaspathi (the Guru of Devas) with the task of taking the idol to a suitable place where people could worship it, so as to get salvation in Kaliyuga. A deluge had closed in on Dwaraka, but Guru salvaged the idol with the help of his prime disciple, Vayu. Guru and Vayu went around the world in search of an ideal place. They met Parasurama who lead them to a lush green spot with a beautiful lotus tank where they felt the presence of Lord Siva. Lord Siva along with Parvathy welcomed them and said , "This is the same spot you are looking for, here it was, I imparted the Rudrageetham to the Prechethas" .The idol was installed there. Siva with Parvathy left to the opposite bank, at Mammiyur. Siva permitted Guru and Vayu to perform the consecration rites and blessed them that henceforth this place would be known as GURUVAYUR (since the installation was done by Guru and Vayu)
Vishwakarma, the divine architect was requested to built a Temple , which he made in such a way that on the day of Vishu (Summer equinox), the sun himself makes his obeisance . His first rays on that day fall straight on the Lord's feet. The idol was installed in the solar month of Kumbha. (February - March). The ceremony was begun on the seventh asterism of Pooyam (Puozhya) and completed on the day of Anizham (Anuradha)
As the idol was once worshiped by the Lord Mahavishnu himself in Vaikunta, Guruvayur is considered to be " Bhooloka Vaikunta " - the heaven on earth.
Guruvayur Ekadesi Festival
Ekadasi, the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight, is very auspicious to the Hindus. Of the 24 Ekadasis in an year, the Vrishchika Ekadasi (Suklapaksha) has got special significance in Guruvayur. It falls in the Mandala season. The Navami (9th day) and Dasami (10th day) are also very important. Ekadasi Vilakku starts a month before the Ekadasi day as offerings by different persons, families and organisations. On Navami day, the Vilakku is lit with ghee as an offering by Kolady family. The Dasami Vilakku which used to be an offering of Zamorin Raja, is now conducted by Guruvayurappan Sankeerthana Trust. After the temple is open on this day for Nirmalya darshan ( 3.00AM ), it is closed only at 9.00 am on Dwadasi Day (12th day), thus allowing continues darshan for devotees throughout Dasami and Ekadasi Days. Until the temple entry for all Hindus in 1947, Avarnas (lower caste) were allowed to come up to Thiyyarambalam on Dasami day (in between Manjulal and Eastern Gopuram). On Dwadasi day there is a custom of offering a token amount called Dwadasi Panam in Koothambalam for the welfare of the family.
HOW TO REACH GURUVAYUR
Guruvayur is well connected with the other parts of the country by road and rail. The National highway is passing through Kunnamkulam which is just 8 kms away from Guruvayur. The private bus stand is towards the east of the temple, near Manjulal (the banyan tree). It is half an hour drive by car from Thrissur and busses ply every 5 minutes from Thrissur to Guruvayur.
Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) runs bus services from all major locations of the state and few inter-state services. The bus stand is 500 meters to the west of the temple. Both KSRTC and private busses offer interstate services to all major South Indian cities like Madras, Madurai, Palani, Salem, Coimbatore, Thiruchandoor, Mysore, Mangalore, Uduppi, Mookambika etc.
Kochi international airport (Nedumbassery) is 80 kms from Guruvayur and the Calicut airport is 100 kms away. All major international flight services are operated from these airports.
( Courtesy: Guruvayoor temple)