According to folklore, Lord Krishna knew that after his time on earth, Dwaraka will be submerged under the sea. He however wanted his Vishnu idol to be worshipped by others. Hence he instructed Deva Guru and Vayu Deva to take his Vishnu idol to someplace safe and allow devotees to worship it, before Dwaraka is submerged. Deva Guru and Vayu Deva on their part found the ideal resting place for the Vishnu idol. Unfortunately, there was a Shiva idol already in that place. Deva Guru however prayed to Lord Shiva, who obliged to move his own idol to a different location – now known as Mammiyur, a kilometer away from this temple. The temple town thus got its name from Deva Guru and Vayu Deva.
But it has not been so smooth sailing for the temple. It was time and again plundered by different rulers and fire mishaps. In 1716 AD The Dutch had plundered and set fire to this shrine. In 1766 AD Haider Ali captured Calicut. But the temple was spared after a huge ransom was paid to the ruler. In 1789 his son Tipu Sultan set fire to the temple. But before he could do that the main idol was hidden underground and the procession idol shifted to Ambalapuzha. During the time of the British, the idols were reinstalled and the temple started to prosper. In 1970 a fire broke out in the temple, causing quite some damage.
The temple unfortunately is under the control of very Orthodox Brahmins. It was only in 1930 that untouchables were allowed into the temple. But non-Hindus, to this date are not allowed into the temple. The most glaring irony is that, despite the temple opening its doors with the melodious voice of KJ Yesudas’ devotional renderings, he has been denied entry into the temple on multiple occasions for being a Christian. It’s a sad state of affairs, this partisan treatment of devotees by the temple authorities.
This temple is also the most-sought-after location to get married. The number of weddings happening here in a day during peak seasons is mind-boggling. The crowds are so huge in numbers that there were occasions when grooms and brides were mistakenly exchanged.
Getting-there: Guruvayoor is about 30kms from Thrissur Railway Station. From Thrissur you can either go by road or rail.
Must-Do: There’s very strict dress codes for men and women. Men must wear mundus (white or saffron only). Pants and shorts not allowed. Men must be bare-chested. Women must wear saris, salwars and chudidhars only. Until recently only saris were allowed.
Must-Don’t: Consume Alcohol. Strictly no-alcohol area.
Caution: Maddening crowds during festivals and marriage seasons.
My Rating: 6/10