Guruvayur Temple


From the time immemorial, India has been a spiritually enlightened country consecrated by Rishis and temples of worship. Holy places like Kashi and Rameswaram have magnificent Temples which, besides their spiritual significance, are noted for their antiquity and historical importance. The artistic excellence and the architectural specialities of Konark and Khajuraho are so indescribable that they always attract not only the pilgrims from within the country but also swarms of tourists from abroad. But Guruvayur is a pilgrim center which has its own glory and greatness, mainly because of the divinity enshrined in the Sanctum – Sanctorum (central shrine) of the temple and the unique charm of the idol installed in it.
The presiding deity in the Garbhagraha (central shrine) is Mahavishnu, worshipped according to the pooja routines laid down by Adi Sankaracharya and later written in to the Tantrasamuchaya by Chennas Narayanan Namboodiri (born in 1427). The Chennas Namboodiris are the hereditary Tantri of Guruvayur temple. The people at large, however, invoke the Lord as UNNIKRISHNA or BALAKRISHNA.


Sanctity of the  Place 

Guruvayur became divine on account of the “tapas” performed by Lord Siva and later by the Prechethas (the ten sons of Pracheenabarhis and Suvarna are together called Prechethas) in the Rudratheertham – the sacred tank on the northern side of the present temple – where Lord Guruvayurappan has His Arattu (holy bath on the last day of Annual Utsavam). Siva worshipped Mahavishnu for years under the waters of the Rudratheertham ( hence the name Rudratheertham due to the presence of Rudra, Siva). Prechethas came to this place to do tapas to attain “prajapathithwam” ( king of all kings) from Lord Mahavishnu. Sensing the motive of Prechethas, Lord Siva emerged out of the Rudratheertham and revealed to them the “Rudrageetham”, a hymn in praise of Mahavishnu. Siva suggested them to chant it with all their heart to get their wishes fulfilled. The Princes won the favour of Mahavishnu after rigorous tapas for 10,000 years under the waters of Rudratheertham chanting Rudrageetham.
According to the legends, in ancient days Rudratheertham ( present Arattukulam) extended up to Mammiyur and Thamarayur (about 3.00 kms) towards north and was known for its lotus flowers. Melpathur’s Narayaneeyam refers to it as the lovely lake of lotus.


Sanctity of the idol

The idol of Guruvayur temple is unique, since it is carved out of “Paathalanjana 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 2 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 it.


Sanctity of installation

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 build 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.




Once Sankaracharya was on his aerial journey to Shringeri. While above Guruvayur he smiled at the pompousness and vividity of the procession of Sreebhootha Bali (feeding celestial attendants) and tried to pass the temple without making any obeisance to the Lord. Suddenly his forward movement stopped the procession there at the northwest corner. He soon recovered and saw the Lord in all his royalty. Realizing the cause of his fall, Sankaracharya prostrated before the Lord and tried to win the Lord’s favour by chanting 8 slokas in praise of Govinda, known as Govinda Ashtakam. The small opening in the roof over the North- West courtyard is in commemoration of this event. Sankaracharya is believed to have instituted the Mandala Vilakku (lighting of lamps for 41days).


Once Sankaracharya was on his aerial journey to Shringeri. While above Guruvayur he smiled at the pompousness and vividity of the procession of Sreebhootha Bali (feeding celestial attendants) and tried to pass the temple without making any obeisance to the Lord. Suddenly his forward movement stopped the procession there at the northwest corner. He soon recovered and saw the Lord in all his royalty. Realizing the cause of his fall, Sankaracharya prostrated before the Lord and tried to win the Lord’s favour by chanting 8 slokas in praise of Govinda, known as Govinda Ashtakam. The small opening in the roof over the North- West courtyard is in commemoration of this event. Sankaracharya is believed to have instituted the Mandala Vilakku (lighting of lamps for 41days).
She was convinced, kept the garland there and happily went home. Next day morning, the Melsanthi removed all the garlands from the idol, but one garland remained stuck on the idol. The devotees were puzzled but Poonthanam realised last night’s event. It was the garland, which Manjula had placed on the stone at the foot of the banyan tree.
Poonthanam told the story to everyone and then the garland slipped down from the idol. Devotees started chanting the name of the Lord and struggled to collect the flower from the garland. Worshipers went to the banyan tree to make their obeisance. Since then, the banyan tree came to be known as Manjulal.


Once a Nenmini Namboodiri was the priest at Guruvayur temple. There was only one priest on those days and had to go out on an urgent and unavoidable situation. He told his 12 year old son to offer the Nivedyam to the Lord and left. At the prescribed time he offered Nivedyam (cooked rice) to the Lord and thought in simplicity that the Lord will eat the rice, but the idol did not move. Unni went outside and brought some salted mangoes and curd from neighborhood in the belief that the Lord like food this way. He mixed the curd with rice and offered it again. But the idol again remained unmoved. He cajoled , requested, coaxed and in the end threatened , but idol still unmoved . He started crying on his failure and shouting towards the Lord that his 4 father would beat him. The Lord could not bear it any more, and suddenly the Nivedyam got disappeared. The boy left the place satisfactorily. The Nivedyam offered to the Lord was the Variyar’s prerequisite. On seeing the empty plate, he became very angry with the Unni, but Unni still could not understand and told Variyar that God ate up the rice with the curd and salted mangoes. The Unni’s innocent word made Variyar more furious. On santhi’s arrival, Variyar told the complaint that Unni himself had eaten the Nivedyam, and that he was making a false story. Though Unni told his version, father could not believe it. He raised his hands to beat him, but just then an asareeri (celestial voice) was heard saying, “I am the guilty, Unni is innocent”.


On Arattu day, the Utsava vigraha will be taken out and tender coconut water abhishekam (pouring of coconut water over the idol) will be done. An Ezhava family called Tampuran Patikkal brings these tender coconuts for this important rite. The legend behind this practice goes like this.Once, on the Arattu day, one Keezhsanthi went to a Kittai of Tampuran Patikkal and asked for some tender coconut to quench his thirst. Kittai was a bit slow to get the coconut and the Keezhsanthi went away in a hurry. As soon as he left, the coconuts began to fall from the trees, on their own, one after the other. The Kittai got shocked on seeing this, he took a head load full of 25 coconuts and ran to the temple. He met one of the uralars or trustees of the temple and described the whole incident. On enquiring it was found that neither of the two Keezhsanthis had gone that way. It was evident that the Keezhsanthi was none other than the Lord himself and that He wanted the fun of an abhishekam with tender coconut water. Thus started this rite of tender coconut water abhishekam on the Arattu day. The privilege of bringing the tender-coconuts was conferred on the descendants of that family.


Once Guruvayur was a Keezhedam (subordinate temple) of Thrikanamathilakam (Trikkunavay). The festival of Trikkunavay used to finish two days before the beginning of Guruvayur Utsavam . The elephants used to come from Trikkunavay for the Guruvayur utsavam. Once they refused to send their elephants to Guruvayur for not making payment in time. The elephants were chained but they broke the chain and ran to Guruvayur without the mahouts on that night. From that day onwards the elephants used to leave Trikkunavay on Punarvasu to reach Guruvayur in time for the festival. Trikkunavay was destroyed by the Dutch in 1755. To keep the reminiscence of this unusual event, the elephant race (aanayottam) is conducted every year and this marks the beginning of the Guruvayur Utsavam. The elephants run from Manjulal, (the banyan tree half a kilometer away from the eastern entrance to the temple) enter the temple, take 7 rounds and touch the flagstaff in the end. The first elephant to touch the flagstaff will be given special treatment inside the temple on the days of Utsavam and will get the privilege of carrying the Lord’s thidambu for the procession.


One day a devotee wanted a feast to be held for the Lord with a hundred measures of rice. In Guruvayur the intended offering to the Lord is to be prepared by the two Keezhsanthis. One of the Keezhsanthis was on leave due to illness. Mallisseri Namboodiri was worried and he spent a sleepless night pondering over how to make the next days’ arrangements. He could do nothing other than pray to the Lord chanting His name overnight for a solution. The next day he went to the temple, looked around, and was relieved to see the Keezhsanthi who had been on leave returned and was preparing the feast. After completion of cooking the Keezhsanthi went to Rudratheertham for a bath but not to return. He was not seen the next day also. Mallisseri sent his man to enquire about him. To his surprise he learned that the Keezhsanthi was actually bed ridden ever since he had been on leave. It was unbelievable but Mallisseri understood the whole thing. It was the Lord himself who came and helped him out of the difficulty.


Poonthanam a devout devotee of the Lord who used to walk about 100 kilometers to take darshan of Guruvayurappan every month. Once on his way, he was attacked by some robbers. Sensing the danger he closed his eyes and cried out for Lord’s help. After some time there spread a sweet scent of Vanamala, the garland worn by Sreekrishna, and he opened his eyes to see Mangattachan (the Minister of the Zamurin Raja) standing before him with his drawn sword drenched in blood and also the dead bodies of the robbers around him. Quite relieved, Poonthanam cried out “Krishna!, Krishna!, your leelas are wonderful!”. He took the ring off his finger and presented to Mangattachan.
The Melsanthi of the Guruvayur temple, the same night, heard in a dream, an Unni Namboodiri telling him “You will find a ring on the idol. give it to Poonthanam, who will come tomorrow”. Quite miraculously, he saw a ring on the idol when he opened the Sreekovil next day. Shortly Poonthanam came for darshan and started his prayers. Melsanthi came out from Sreekovil and gave Poonthanam the ring and told him what had happened. Poonthanam was flabbergasted to see that the ring was his own, which he had presented to Mangattachan, the day before!. It was Lord Guruvayurappan himself, who came to the rescue of Poonthanam as Mangattachan.


The Jnanapana (means the song of wisdom) written in simple Malayalam is Poonthanam’s greatest work. Melpathurwas the most popular Sanskrit scholar of that time. Poonthanam showed the draft of his Jnanapana to Melpathur. Malayalam was not accepted in the learned circle those days and Melpathur had contempt for Malayalam, which was not considered equal to Sanskrit. He refused to see Poonthanam’s work and told him blatantly to learn Sanskrit and then start writing. This act of Melpathur hurt Poonthanam. Melpathur was composing Narayaneeyam in those days and when he came next day to offer dasaka of ten slokas (ten stanzas) before the Lord, he could not utter a single word. A small boy in his teens, never seen before presented himself and pointed out mistakes after mistakes in the slokas composed by Melpathur. After ten mistakes in ten slokas Melpathur realised the divinity of the boy. He fell at the feet of the boy but the boy disappeared and there was an asareeri (celestial voice) saying, “Poonthanam’s Bhakthi (devotion) is more pleasing to me than Melpathur’s Vibhakthi (learning or knowledge in Sanskrit grammar)”. Melpathur realised his mistake and asked Poonthanam to pardon him and amended his arrogance by reading the works of Poonthanam.


Though Poonthanam and Melpathur were great devotees of Lord Guruvayurappan, Poonthanam, a great poet, who wrote his verses in the vernacular, was famous for his bhakthi where as Melpathur, an erudite scholar and great poet in Sanskrit was known for his vibhakthi.
The Lord was partial towards Poonthanam than Melpathur. Melpathur used to laugh at Poonthanam’s Sanskrit reading and recitation. One day Poonthanam was wrongly reciting “Padmanabho Maraprabhu”,which means Lord of trees in Malayalam. Melpathur openly laughed at Poonthanam and corrected saying, Padmanabha is not Maraprabhu (Lord of trees) but Amaraprabhu (which means Lord of immortals in Sanskrit). Immediately, there was an asareeri (celestial voice) from the inner shrine, “I am also Maraprabhu” (Lord of trees).
Now there is a statue of “Maraprabhu” in the Sreevalsam Guest house (South side of the temple) compound fully made of clay. This is the biggest idol made of clay in Asia.


Villwamangalam’s devotion and dedication towards the Lord was such that he could have visions of the Lord, independent of the image. Wherever he went, he had visions. He visualised Vishnu, Siva, and in Guruvayur it was Unnikrishna and the Lord’s other disguises. Whenever he came to Guruvayur for darshan, the Lord granted him vision from the Sanctum-Sanctorum (central shrine). One day he did not get the Lord’s vision from there. He went around the temple in search of the Lord. The sound of tinkling of bells from the northern nalambalam attracted his curiosity. He peeped in and saw Unnikrishna dancing there. From that day onwards this place came to be known as Nritham ( Nrithappura or dancing hall).
On another occasion also, he could not see the Lord’s vision in the central shrine. Later he found the Lord sitting amidst the Marar boys (drummer’s boys) and sharing feast with them, as the Lord was fond of the feast given to the Marar boys. It later became an important offering with the devotees.
A third time also, he failed to have the Lord’s vision in the central shrine. It was night time and the Krishnanattam was being staged in the courtyard. The saint ultimately found him on the stage with the ‘gopikas’. Since then, Krishnanattam came to be staged in the northern bahyankana (outer courtyard) instead of the eastern bahyankana. And it begins only when the central shrine is closed after the last pooja at night.


Kururamma was a childless widow. She adopted Unnikrishna as her son and gave Him a lot of motherly love. Villwamangalam also saw the Lord in the form of Unnikrishna but the Lord always preferred Kururamma for her devotion. Once an old Brahmin with severe stomach ache approached Villwamangalam for relief. Villwamangalam could not cure him and told that the pain is the result of his past karma. Dispirited and dejected he unknowingly reached Kururamma’s house. Kururamma thought he is hungry and offered him some food. The Brahmin said that he could not eat any food because of his stomach ache, which even Villwamangalam could not cure. After listening to his grievances, she told the Brahmin to have a bath in the tank, in the name of Lord. After his bath, he was served food. He realized that his stomach ache had disappeared. He ate the food and expressed his gratitude to Kururamma.
One day Kururamma was washing her cloths. A few drops of water unintentionally fell upon Chemmangatt Amma, another lady of the locality who had finished her bath. She felt polluted and took a second plunge in water to purify. She sarcastically told Kururamma that now she was doubly clean and stated that today Villwamangalam would be coming to her illam (house of a Brahmin) for bhiksha (alms). By this she wanted to show her acquaintance with the saint Villwamangalam. Kururamma replied that saint would only come to her illam and not in Chemmangatt’s illam. Kururamma sent a member of her family to invite the saint, but he apologetically refused since he had promised Chemmangatt earlier. After his daily worship, Villwamangalam started for Chemmangatt’s house for the bhiksha. But the pilot who was to lead his way by blowing conch to announce his presence could not produce any sound from his conch (shankh). It was a bad omen and Villwamangalam was bewildered. Then he remembered his refusal to Kururamma’s offer in the morning, and decided that it is the Lord’s wish that he should go to Kururamma’s illam. On this thought itself, the conch started functioning and filled the air with its resonant sound. The saint then turned his steps towards Kururamma’s house. The Lord was always partial to Kururamma.



In almost all Kerala temples, Ganapathy will find a place among upadevas of the main installation. Here the Ganapathy shrine is situated within the Nalambalam itself, at the south-western corner. Initially this shrine was situated in such a way that the devotees could not go around. But during the renovation work done after the fire, sufficient passage has been provided around this shrine.


At the southern side of the temple, outside the Nalambalam and just inside the pradikshinavazhy is the shrine of Sastha. This is the only shrine outside the Nalambalam. The shrine of Edatharikathu Bhagavathy is considered to be in a separate compound with a small passage separating it with the main temple. The idol made of dark granite is about a meter in height. There is a huge granite stone in front of the shrine, placed in an inclined position, for breaking coconuts, considered very dear to Sastha. A small deepasthambam is there in front of the shrine. During the mandala season, lot of devotees take darshan at this shrine. In front of the shrine arrangements are made for “malayidal” and “kettunira” for Sabarimala pilgrimage during Mandala season.

Edatharikathu Bhagavathy

The name Edatharikathu Kavu has come on account of its proximity to the main deity. The goddess here is looked upon as upadevatha (subordinate deity) of the temple. The popular belief is that the presiding deity is Vana Durga and with this belief no roof is provided for the Sreekovil. This shrine is said to be older than the main deity. This shrine is situated at the North-Eastern corner of the main temple, just outside bahyankana, on the bank of Rudratheertham. There is a pradhikshina vazhy around the shrine.
Azhal is the important offering here and like other temples of Goddess, there is a permanent oracle (Velichappad). Thalapoli is the important festival and usually unmarried girls alone will take the thalam. Two Thalapolies are celebrated here during the month of Dhanu. One by the Thalapoli sangham and the other by the Devaswom . The last ten days of Mandala season are also considered to be very holy here.

Office Ganapathy

This shrine is situated at the East nada inside the old Devaswom office compound. There is no roof for this shrine. The image here is considered to be very powerful and many people pray here to fulfill their wishes.

Unlike other Ganapathy idols, this idol has its tusk towards the left side. Daily pooja is conducted here. People break coconuts in front of the shrine as an offering. Another main offering here is ‘Ganapathy pooja’ which can be done on any day and in the month of Karkidakam, it is the most auspicious.

The Keezhedams




This shrine in Mammiyur amsom was closely associated with the extinct Jamelliyur illam.The family enjoyed the right of offering the paddy when the procession headed for Guruvayur for the meena pooram, till the pooram celebration was stopped due to Tipu’s invasion. Pana ( songs) in praise of the goddess with the Thalapoli on the last night of first 10 days of Makaram is still celebrated. Navarathri , Nira , Puthari, and mandala pooja are also celebrated. Vishu vela is celebrated on the day following Vishu.


There is a big shrine dedicated to Ayyappa which belong to the Thamarayur illam, situated 2.5 Km north of the  Guruvayur. The Vishnu temple is known as Sreekandapuram Vishnu temple. These are on the way to Punnathur Kotta. Pooram is celebrated here on the 1st day of Makaram every year.


The shrine is located at Mundur, 16kms away from Guruvayur, on the Guruvayur – Thrissur route. The presiding deity here is Ayyappa. It is believed that on theThiruvathira (Sixth asterism) day in the month of Kumbham (February – March) every year, Lord Ayyappa used to come to Guruvayur for Arattu which has stopped with the invasion of Tippu. Now there is only Niramala (adorning the whole Sreekovil with 26 flower garland) on the first nine days of Makaram and on the tenth day both Niramala and Utsavam are celebrated by the Devaswom.


Vermanur is situated at Parakkulam near Kunissery in Palakkad district. Parakkulam literally means the tank of rocks and the temple is on the eastern bank of the tank. It might have been either made over to Guruvayur Devaswom by the Zamurins or purchased by Guruvayur from him. The deity here is Shiva . Shivarathri and Prathishta Dinam (foundation day), Nira, Puthari are important festivals.


The presiding deity is Sree Krishna. The temple is in Peruvallur, in the Annakara village, about 9 kms from Guruvayur. It is in the Peruvallur-Trichur road. Ashtami Rohini is the important festival.


It is in Kunnamkulam 8 kms away from Guruvayur on the Thrissur road. The deity is Shiva. There are two shrines within the same Chuttambalam. One is Swayambhu and in the other is the Linga. The same priest worships both. Thiruvathira, Shivarathri and Prathishta Dinam are the main festivals.


These two temples are situated 3.5 kms away from Guruvayur in a place called Punnathur. Punnathur was earlier the administrative center of the Punnathur Rajas, which was later purchased by the Devaswom in 1975.
These two temples and about 10 acres of landed properties were taken from the receiver, Trichur Sub-Court. The main deities are Siva and Bhagavathy. The Siva temple is also called the Thekke Ambalam and the Bhagavathy Temple is called the Pathirikottu Kavu. In the Bhagavathy temple, Navarathri Utsavam is celebrated.


This is one among the famous 108 Durga temples in Kerala. Bhagavathy is the main deity. It is situated at Kaveed, 6 kms from Guruvayur, near to Punnathur Kotta. Prathishta Dinam is celebrated here. Karkkidaka Pooja is another important event which is celebrated for 12 days.


It is situated on the Perinthalmanna – Nilamboor route , 60 kms away from Guruvayur at Poonthanam.Vishnu is the main deity here. But it is more famous for another deity of Lord Krishna, which was once worshipped by the great poet Poonthanam himself. The successors of Poonthanam Namboodiri gave this property to Guruvayur Devaswom.
The Poonthanam Day and Navarathri are the main festivals. On the Poonthanam day, special cultural programmes and literary seminars are arranged in the Poonthanam illam. Another deity which is worshiped in the illam is the image of Thirumandamkunnu Bhagavathy.


Nenmini is about 4 kms from Guruvayur towards the east of Guruvayur temple. There are two small temples separated by 500 meters. The main deities here are Balarama and Ayyappa. These temple were under Nenmini mana which were later handed over to Devaswom..

Temple Customs

  • Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple.
  • The temple pond on the northern side is known as Rudratheertham. Devotees can purify themselves by taking bath here and can enter the temple preferably with wet clothes.
  • Follow the temple rules and regulations, so that all can comfortably worship the Lord.
  • Do not enter the temple wearing shirt, banyan, pyjama, lungi, chequered clothes, chapels etc. There are facilities to keep them outside the temple.
  • Do not enter the temple wearing shirt, banyan, pyjama, lungi, chequered clothes, chapels etc. There are facilities to keep them outside the temple.
  • Do not take video camera, mobile phone, radio, tape recorder etc. inside the temple wall.
  • Do not touch on the big altar stone (Balikkallu) by foot.
  • Immediately after marriage, the couples should not enter the Nalambalam.
  • Do not spit in the temple premises.
  • Do not retain babies and children for a long time within the Nalambalam.
  • The receipt for the remittance for offerings (Vazhipad) can be obtained from the booking counters on the ground floor of the oottupura. Be careful not to get deceived by fraud agents for such bookings.
  • Receipts obtained for the feeding of the poor etc. should be put inside the box for the purpose in front of the booking counter.
  • Such items as miniature human figures, replicas of hands, legs, eyes, abnormal body eruptions etc. made of gold and silver can be obtained from the temple official, who are available near the Kodimaram (Flag-staff. Put the amount you wish to offer in the Bandaram (Hundi).
  • Udayasthamana Pooja, Chuttuvilakku, Bhagavathy Chuttuvilakku, Namaskaram, Krishnanattam and offerings of the like, have to be booked in advance.
  • Ornaments and such other costly offerings can be put in the Bhandaram.
  • Enter the temple with an absolute sense of devotion.
  • Take special care of your valuables.
  • Offerings and the relevant letters should be sent to the Administrator, Guruvayur Devaswom, Guruvayur – 680101, Kerala. Complete information about offerings and full address of the person making the offerings in bold capital letters should be given on the money order coupon or covering letter of DD. If these are not given, the amount sent will be put in to the Bhandaram.
  • Bank drafts or Money orders should be sent well in advance to make the offerings on the desired date.

Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri (AD 1559-1632)

The most famous among the Guruvayur saints was Melpathur. He was born in Melpathur illam near Tirunavaya, famed as the theatre of the Mamankam festival. He was married to Achuta Pisharodi’s niece and settled in Thrikandiyur.
Bhattathiri was affected with rheumatism and searched for a remedy. Ezhuthachan, a well known Malayalam poet and Sanskrit scholar told him – “meen thottu koottuka” (start with fish). Bhattathiri took it in the proper sense decided to present the various incarnations of Lord Vishnu starting with the fish, as narrated in the Bhagavatham in a series of Dasakas ( Groups of ten slokas) . He reached Guruvayur and started composing one dasaka a day in the presence of the Lord. The refrain in last sloka of every dasaka is a prayer to him to remove the ailments and sufferings. He composed his work in one hundred dasakas on the Kali day. This work is known as Narayaneeyam after which he recovered fully and regained happiness.
Narayaneeyam is in praise of Lord Narayana (Vishnu) on the equation between NARA and NARAYANA.Narayaneeyam is a summary of the Bhagavatha and its parayana (reading) confers great benefits; it is an effective faith therapy. It makes one God-conscious , it concerns mainly about our present life – Aarogyam (health and freedom from diseases) and saukhyam (happiness).
To Guruvayur also, Narayaneeyam is of utmost importance. No work of this magnitude has ever been dedicated and addressed to the deity of any other temple in India. It offers to the devout devotee an opportunity to visualise and worship Mahavishnu by reading it or listening to its rendition. It will shine and conjure up at Guruvayur in the heart of posterity. The Devaswom celebrates the Narayaneeyam Day every year with great enthusiasm and splendor.

Poonthanam (AD 1547-1640)

Poonthanam and Melpathur were contemporaries. Poonthanam was the family name, his personal name is not known. He married a heiress at 20, but for a long time , they had no children. Poonthanam began to propitiate the Lord of Guruvayur. A son was born to him in 1586. He called for a celebration and everybody known was invited , but the child died an hour before the ceremony. Grief-stricken Poonthanam sought refuge at Guruvayur and started praying with the puranic story of Kumaraharanam . By this time Melpathur had also come to Guruvayur to cure his rheumatism.
Gradually Poonthanam become enlightened and realised – while little Krishna is dancing in our hearts, why do we need little ones of our own?. Poonthanam spent the rest of his life of 90 odd years reading the Bhagavatham and singing the Lord’s glories in simple Malayalam. He composed ‘Bahsakarnamritham’, a devotional work. The Anandakarnamritham (dance of ecstasy) was his last contribution to devotional literature.


Villwamangalam was Prince Manavedan’s spiritual mentor. Villwamangalam is the name of the illam in which the saint was born. He settled in Parur near Aluva. Like his ancestor, he also joined the order of the Thekkemadam at Thrissur. He was also a peripatetic religious traveler and had also the blessed gift of seeing the Lord in person as distinguished from the idol. There is hardly no temple in Kerala that has not coined some story associating with his name. Almost every one of them reflects his divine insight and special equations with the presiding deity.
He spotted Lord at many places like in Vadakkunnathan’s temple in Thrissur, Vaikom during the Ashtami festival. Ettumanoor temple was built to mark the sighting of Shiva. He sighted seven Bhagavathis near Cherthala and installed them in separate shrines of their own. Tiruvarpu Krishna temple has the story of his finding an the idol from muddy backwaters. He saw the image of Ananthasayi in the jungle near Trivandrum and as directed by him, the Raja of Travancore built a shrine to house it. This shrine is today known as Shri Padmanabha Temple. He stayed at Ambalapuzha and chief Brahmin become his disciple. At last he arrived at Guruvayur where prince Manavedan become his disciple.


Kururamma was born in 1570 in the village of Parur, near the house of Villwamangalam. Her maiden name was Dhatri . By marriage she became 24 Kururamma, the senior-most lady of the Kurur illam in the village of Adatthu near Trichur. She was a childless widow and settled in Guruvayur as a devotee. Thanks to Poonthanam, she adopted Unnikrishna of Guruvayur as her son. She lived with him, fondling him, playing with him, chiding him when he became naughty and weeping at his childish freaks. The song of “Kani kanum neram” is generally attributed to her.
Kururamma completed the mission of devotion by asserting the right of women, on her own, to spiritual evolution and eventual salvation by chanting the holy name.

Manavedan (AD1595-1658)

Prince Manavedan of Calicut was born in 1595 and had early education in Sanskrit. He wrote Purvabharatha Champu in 1643.
He might have been familiar with Melpathur and Poonthanam during his time. Later he became the disciple of Villwamangalam. With his devotion to Lord and guidance of Villwamangalam, he saw the Lord as Unnikrishna , standing under the Elajhi tree on the way from the Palace to the temple. The present Koothambalam is located at this spot. The Prince wrote a series of eight dramas for Krishnanattam . The Krishnanattam began to be staged in the temple regularly as an offering to the Lord.
Further, the Zamurins’ subjects and friends of other Principalities vied with each other to invite the troupe to their place as a mark of devotion to the Lord. Thus the dance-drama, Krishnanattam , became yet another medium to spread the fame of Guruvayur all over Kerala. There is a memorial built for Manavedan in the Panchajanyam Guest house compound.


Kunjhikkavu was known as Raman in his childhood. He learnt Puranas through his mother’s daily parayana (recitation ) of Ezhuthachan’s works and learnt Sanskrit on his own . He formerly began his puranavayana in his illam and slowly become famous as a philanthropist and mystic. He possibly followed the Chaithanya cult. Very often he forgot this real world, he looked at every women he met as a Gopi of Vrindavanam. He started circumambulating and prostrating before animals. He used to take whatever he wanted from Sreekovil. Kunjhikkavu was more famous for his puranavayana. The particular place in Guruvayur temple where he used to sit for puranavayana is still known as Kunjhikkavu’s corner.



The Sreekovil (Sanctum Sanctorum) is designed in 2 layers with copper sheet roofing plated with gold. The deity is in the traditionally orthodox form of Mahavishnu, with all the compliments – four arms each carrying sankh (conch), chakra(wheel), gadha (club) and padmam (lotus). The Moolavigraha (main idol) is made of Pathalanjana Shila and is considered extremely sacred.
There are two more idols one of silver and the other of gold of which the silver idol is more older. These are used for the seeveli and other processions. Generally the gold idol is GURUVAYUR DEVASWOMused and the silver idol which is more older is taken out only for Arattu and on a few special occasions. There is a repletion of traditional mural paintings on all the three sides, depicting sequences from puranic tales and Krishnaleela. There is amorous and erotic accent in the murals.
The old doors of Sreekovil are replaced with a new set secured with gold plated bars and embellished with golden bells. There are 101 bells, all made of silver and plated with gold.
Sopanam, the steps leading to the Sreekovil, are made of stone with carvings and designs of attractive craftsmanship.



Ankana– It is the inner courtyard around the Sreekovil (central shrine) and its passage is flanked by vathilmatam.
Vathilmatam– The two platforms on both sides of the Eastern entrance to the Sreekovil are called Vathilmatam.Melpathur meditated andcomposed his magnum opus Narayaneeyam sitting here on theeastern pillar on the southern Vathilmatam. The northern side was initially being used by the paradesaBrahmins and the southern side by the KeralaBrahmins for daily orisons.
Namaskara Mandapam-The mandapam is situated right in the center of the chuttambalam or Nalambalam and just right in front of the Sreekovil. The roof is supported by four granite pillars. The mandapam is plated with 100 kg copper and 25 kg gold
Nalambalam (Chutambalam ) – The roofed structure around the ankana is the Nalambalam. Before the 1970 fire, there was a chuttambalam (separate passage around Sreekovil between the Vathilmatam and the Vilakkumatam). Now all are made under single roof and one cannot find the chuttambalam in some places like the Ganapathy shrine. The southern side is divided in to five parts.
Titappalli is the place where the offerings to the Lord are prepared.
Patakkalam– where the pata (cooked rice) offered to the Lord is being distributed.
Turakka Ara, literally the unopened chamber, which is an under ground cell where the reserve cash, gold and silver are believed to be hidden in ancient days. It remains closed witha huge granite stone. It is widely believed that this contains rare and precious stones including the mythological “Syamanthakam”. Legend has it that the treasures inside the chamber are closely guarded by innumerable serpents.
Saraswathi Ara– where the palm leaf manuscripts are kept for worship during the Navarathri festival. Now it is shifted to the Koothambalam.
Ganapathy shrine– Where the Ganapathy is worshipped.
Western Chuttambalam– In between the Ganapathyshrine and the store room the temple priests prepare sandal paste and Variyar make garlands.
Northern Chuttambalam is towards the east of store room. It consists ofa small open hall, the chottara, where the temple servants keep the choru (cooked rice).
Chottara (Velichanna)– earlier coconut oil room [ now shifted]
Nrithapura the northern part of chottarafrom where saint Villwamangalam had the darshan of Unnikrishna dancing.
Mulayara is the place where the pots filled with earth and ritually sown with different seeds and worshipped before the beginning of the Annual Utsavam every year.
Koyma Ara, the office of the Akakoymas (in the old administrative setup), whose charge is to see that the poojas of the day areconductedproperly.
Sacred well– There is a deep well to the south of Nrithapura. Nowhere in the neighborhood, there is such clear and cool water. The water in the well maintains its level throughout the year. This water is used for the daily poojas and abhishekam inside Sreekovil.



Bhahyankanam is the outer courtyard where the procession for the Seeveli takes place. It is open both on the south and the west. The northern courtyard was in the past covered by a tiled roof ( now by a concrete roof ) with a small opening near its western end for acharyabhivandanam , in commemoration of Sankaracharya`s forced landing . Beyond the Sastha shrine and the opening on the courtyard from the opposite side are the store rooms , the quarters for the temple priests , the Patinjare Gopuram , also the aduppukalam ( big kitchen) , where the rice and other items for the feasts are prepared.
Gopurams – There are two storied Gopurams at the eastern and western entrances which house some of the rare frescos of the 16th century. These mural paintings are distinct from those found in other temples in their theme and style. Some of the paintings were damaged in the course of time and due to the fire in 1970 , and were then repainted.
The massive array of metal lamps round the Sreekovil on the outer walls of the Nalambalam. Around 8000 brass metal lamps fixed on the wooden trellis, around the temple are lighted on the festival and special days or by an offering.GURUVAYUR DEVASWOM
Nadappura – The roof expanse inside the temple between the Eastern Gopuram and the balickalpura is called Nadappura . ‘Aanappanthal’ is the northern portion of nadappura. It acquired the name from its giant size. (aana means elephant and panthal means pavilion). Here annaprasam , thulabharam etc. are being conducted . Formerly marriages were conducted under it but now marriages are shifted to the Kalyana Mandapam
Dhwajasthambam or the flag-staff rises amidst the eastern bahyankana which has a tiled roof. Dhwajasthambam is encased in plated gold at a height of 600feet. Flag is hoisted to mark the beginning of the Annual Utsavam and will be there till the Arattu day.
Valiya mani – Situated south of Kizhakke Gopuram and near the south east corner of the bahyankana, is the valiya mani (big bell), announcing the time by its hourly chiming.
Koothambalam – It is the stage or the theatre for presenting the Chakiyar koothu . Koothambalam is located in the front and to the right of the presiding deity. The pillars and the ceilings of it are profusely engraved , painted and lavishly embellished with ornamental filigrees and fittings.
Deepasthambams – Just in front of the temple there is a huge tower of light, it has thirteen discs including basement and is 24 feet in height. There are four Deepasthambams made of brass, inside the temple. One at northern wing was smashed by theGajarajan Kesavan. The eastern tower, Kizhakke Gopuram (eastern tower) is 33 feet and Patinjhare Gopuram (western tower) is 27 feet in height.



Rudratheertham – This is the tank behind the oottupura where the Lord has His annual Arattu. Siva is said to have washed and worshipped the deity when the idol was brought by Guru and Vayu for installation to Guruvayur.
Kovilakam – Towards the south from the Kizhakke Gopuram is Kovilakam, the place where Prince Manavedan had been residing during the days of composition of Krishna Geethi . This has been demolished and Sreevalsam rest house have come-up.
Athani – On the northern bank of the Rudratheertham is an Athani (porters’ rest), in memory of a Kantiyur Pattar, a trusted servant of the temple who got murdered on an Utsava day. As a mark of respect, Lord’s Arattu procession stops here for a minute.
Tantrimadam – On the north-east bank of Rudratheertham in the Inner-ring road is the tantrimadam or the official residence of the Tantri.
Kizhakke Nada – There were many residences on the right side of the street.The Pazhaya othikkans madam, the residence of the Thiyyarambalam priests, Mallisseri Malika and Chondath Malika on the Kizhakee nada are no more now. Till the temple entry of 1947, Thiyyas and other avarnas (lower cast people) were permitted to approach only up to Thiyyarambalam. About a furlong and a half from the Thiyyarambalam is Manjulal (the banyan tree). This is the starting point of the elephant race which precedes Kodiyettam (hosting of the flag) for the Annual Utsavam.



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