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The idol of the Sri Krishna Temple is said to have been worshipped by Lord Brahma himself at Dwaraka and gifted to Vishnu in his Krishnavataram. After Lord Krishna left this earth for his heavenly abode, and the holy city of Dwaraka was to be submerged, 'Guru', the preceptor of the Devas and 'Vayu', Lord of the winds were entrusted with the job of finding an equally holy spot for the idol. At the end of a long quest for an appropriate site they entered Kerala and met Parasurama, legendary creator of Kerala.
He led them to a beautiful lake full of lotuses, the present temple tank, 'Rudratirtha', beside which Shiva and Parvati waited to welcome them. The idol was duly installed at this spot and lovingly called Guruvauurappan, or the Lord of Guruvayur. Since the installation was done by Guru and Vayu the place was named as Guruvayurappa and later on as Guruvayur. Shiva and Parvathi installed themselves in Mammiyur temple at the opposite bank of the lake. Guruvayur temple is linked with Melpattur Narayana Bhattathiri, the author of 'Narayaneeyam' (16th century) a Sanskrit work comprising 1000 slokas (couplets) of inimitable beauty which is believed to have been composed in front of the deity here.
Precious materials are everywhere, as in a golden flagstaff and flimsy replicas of the arms, legs, ears and other affected parts of worshippers that are given as offerings. The temple faces east with two gopurams (gateways) one on the east and the other in the west. The Eastern 'gopuram' (Kizhakkenada) of the Sri Krishna temple, also known as Bhooloka Vaikuntam, is the main entrance to the shrine. In the centre of the inner courtyard stands a pillared hall known as the 'Nalambalam' or 'Chutambalam' with scores of oil lambs fixed on its walls. Inside the Chutambalam or outer enclosure is the square two-storeyed Sreekovil (main shrine) with three rooms, the innermost of which is the sacred sanctum sanctorum housing the main deity and can be viewed from the temple entrance.
idol of Vishnu, with four arms carrying the conch, the discus, the mace
and the lotus, and adorned with a thulasi garland and pearl necklaces,
is made of a particular stone called 'patala anjanam'. The walls of the
main shrine are filled with beautiful 17th century paintings depicting
the stories from the life of Krishna and the roof and the two doors inside
are covered by gold. In the eastern side in front of the Chutambalam stands
the tall 33.5 mt high gold plated Dwajasthambam (flag post) and adjacent
to it is a 7mt high Dipastambham (pillar of lamps) whose thirteen circular
receptacles provide a truly gorgeous spectacle when lit. The western gopuram
(Padinjarenada) is flanked by two dipastambhams. There are also shrines
Durga (Edathidettukkaavu Bhagawati) in the north,
Lord Ayyappan on the south side of Chutambalam here. Only
Hindus are allowed inside the temple.
The festival in this temple is held in Feb/march which continuous for 10 days. The festivities start with an elephant race and performances of Krishnattam dance drama. Festivals at Gurvayoor Temple include Utsavam (February/March) for 10 days, Vishukkani (April), Ashtami Rohini (August/September), Ekadasi, one of the important festivals (November/December) is celebrated for 30 days and a part of the festival Chembai Sangeetha Mela in honour of the famous music artist Sri Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar is held for 11days.
Presently, the administration of the temple is maintained
by the Guruvayoor Devaswom Committee nominated by the Government of Kerala. The
temple is popular for conducting marriages
and 'annaprasanam', or the first feeding ceremony of a child. The temple
maintains an elephant sanctuary comprising of more than fifty elephants
given as offerings to the lord by devotees at Punnathur Kotta about 3
kms north of the temple.