The glory of Guruvayur was revealed by sage Dattatreya to King Janamejaya , the son of Parikshit. According to the sage, the image of Guruvayur was originally worshipped by Narayana.
“Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya”
The Guruvayur temple is known as “Bhooloka Vaikunta”,believed to be at least 5,000 years old and the main idol is believed to have been installed by Brihaspati and Vayu, and to have been blessed by Shiva and Parvati. The temple was built by Vishwakarma the divine architect. Over the years, Guruvayur increased in popularity, especially after 16th century when it became one of the most popular pilgrimage centres in Kerala.
Early History :
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.
But according to Prof. K V Krishna Iyer (eminent historian), the Brahmins had begun to come and settle at Kodungalloor during the period of Chandra Gupta Maurya ( 321-297 BC). Trikkunavay in the Guruvayur documents is the same as Thrikkanamathilakam or Mathilakam mentioned in the Dutch and British records. And this place was in between Guruvayur and Kodungalloor. Guruvayur was Trikkunavay’s subordinate shrine since they were destroyed by the Dutch in 1755. That way Guruvayur must have come into existence before 52 AD. The story of Pandyan King building a shrine here may be a reference to the Azhavars , but they are all silent in their writing about Guruvayur.
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 fire and renovation
On November 30,1970,a massive fire broke out in the temple. It begin from the western chuttambalam and raged all around for five hours, but the Sreekovil , the Vigraha, 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 to set a glorious example. Later, the temple was once again built to the glory of the Lord.
This shocking incidence of fire took place on 29th November during the season of Ekadasivilakku . On this day Vilakku was celebrated on a grand scale and all the lamps in the Vilakkumatam were lighted. After the Seeveli procession, the function came to an end and the gates of Gopuram were closed. Around 1.00 am, somebody in the immediate neighborhood near the western chuttambalam saw a blaze from within the Temple. Roused by the news, the whole lot of people, irrespective of caste, colour or creed rushed to the Temple and joined in fighting the fire with water and sand. Later, the fire force units of Ponnani,Trichur and FACT arrived and started fighting the fire which seems to have started from the western Vilakkumatam. It was brought under control by 5.30 am.
Seeing the uncontrollable fire , the authorities had already removed the valuables from the Sreekovil. The Ganapathy idol, Sastha idol and the main idol of Lord Guruvayurappan were shifted to the Koothambalam and then to a more safer place, the residence of the Tantri. The fire gutted the whole of chuttambalam, the entire Vilakkumatam on the west, south and north sides. The Chuttambalam was only 3 yards off, but still the fierce fire did not touch even the dry flower garlands, which hung on the corner of the Sreekovil.
Two committees were formed to undertake the renovation work. One committee was headed by the Devaswom Minister, Govt. of Kerala and another technical committee to advice on the renovation work. It had eminent engineers, astrologers and the Tantri as the members. The committee arrived at some general decisions.
- To attract more devotees, all possible alterations to remove inconveniences which are permitted according to tantric principles.
- To increase the moving space for worshippers by reducing the height of Chuttambalam basement. To provide granite pillars instead of wooden.
- To put granite wall against the Vilakkumatam.
- To provide a passage around the Ganapathy shrine to eliminate congestion.
- To reconstruct the Ganapathy temple in granite.
- To put a granite engraved “Ananthasayanam” in place of the old “Ananthasayanam” (Mahavishnu lying over serpent) painting which was lost in fire.
- To widen the gates at the north and east entrances.
- 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 about the Lord’s approval for above mentioned changes. Except the widening of two doors everything else were approved. The foundation stone for the renovation was laid by His Holiness Jagatguru Kanchi Kamakoti Matadhipathy Jayendra Saraswathy Swamikal. The ten 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 Vilakkumatam, for the first time, was lighted on the Vishu day,14th April, 1973.
Offerings at Guruvayur Temple
At all times one finds devotees making several types of offerings. ‘Thulabharam’ is the most popular mode of offering by pilgrims. The devotee chooses an item like sugar, coconut, jiggery, bananas or even silver. He or she then donates an amount equivalent to his or her weight.
At the entrance to the sanctum is a large Uruli the heavy broad vessel, full of red ‘manjadikuru seeds’. Devotees get small children to take a handful of seeds and fling it back in the Uruli, thrice praying to the Lord who was himself a naughty child, to discipline the children.
Weddings are also solemnized at Guruvayur temple, close to a hundred a day. ‘Annaprasanam’ is an important function held in the temple where babies are fed for the first time with rice. Several other ‘Vazhipadus’ or offerings are carried out between 10pm and 3am every night.
Mammiyur Shiva Temple
The origins of this temple can be traced back to a well known legend. In the Dwaparayuga, during the great Deluge, Lord Krishna was found playfully floating in the Waters. Vayu the Wind God and Guru were sent to look for a place on earth to consecrate and build a temple for him. They found lord Shiva in deep meditation on the banks of the beautiful Rudratheertha River and offered to vacate the place for a temple to be built for Lord Krishna and also offered to move to a nearby place.
The temple for Lord Shiva is just a kilometer away at a place called Mammiyur. Mammiyur actually is a distorted version of the actual name Mahimaiyur , relating to the “Mahima” of Lord Shiva offering the place for the Guruvayur temple to be built. While circumambulating the temple, around the walls one can find 5 diff trees all of them sacred and of medicinal value. It is said that the gentle breeze wafting from these trees is of very great value for health.
Guruvayur Temple, Website