is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of
Kerala, attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists from
all over the country. It is at this temple that Melpattur
Narayana Bhattathiri composed his renowned Sanskrit devotional
Guruvayoor enshrines the infant form of Krishna called
'Guruvayurappan'. The temple faces east, and the sanctum
can be viewed from the temple entrance. The annual 'mandala
ulsavam' (festival) is celebrated in the month of Kumbha
(end of each calendar year.), for a period of 41 days and
this festival concludes with an elephant race. The
temple dates back to the 16th century, and has ever since
maintained certain carved rules. For entry, women must wear
a sari and the men must wear a dothi (sarong)
without a shirt. Non Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple,
but a walk around the outskirts gives a good idea of the temple's
beauty and architecture. The temple elephants are kept at
Punnathur Kota (elephant yard), 3 kms from the temple,
and open for visitors everyday between 9 am and 5 pm.
enshrines Sastha or Ayyappan (Hariharaputra)
the son of Lord Shiva and Mohini Vishnu-maya. Located
in the forests of south-east Kerala is this famous pilgrimage
centre, Sabarimala which enshrines Ayyappan as Vanaprasthasramam.
The temple attracts thousands of devotes during the months
of December and January, the time of the 41 day pilgrimage.
Eighteen golden steps are seen leading to the sanctum, and
these steps are considered to be very sacred and only those
who have observed the 41 day penance are allowed to climb
these steps. Each step represents a different sin, as the
devotes ascend, they vow to abandon a sin, and receive the
deity's blessings. Hindus and Non-Hindus alike may visit the
temple provided they have observed the 41 day penance and
are men. Women of menstruating age are prohibited. The pilgrims
are dressed in black and the route to reach the temple used
to be accessible only on foot through forests but now it is
mostly motorable road.
Temple at Thrissur
The Vadakunnathar temple is a big temple covering a
nine acre area, with entrances on four sides. There are three
shrines in this temple - one of Shiva, the other of
Rama and the last one is of Adi Sankaranarayana.
Behind Shiva's shrine is a shrine to Parvati. There
is also a roofless shrine with a Shankh (shell) and
a Chakra (wheel) commemorating Adi Sankaracharya.
The circular sanctum is crowned with a conical vimanam.
The idol of Vadakkunnathar is worshipped in the form of a
mound of ghee or butter and this 10 feet high mound of ghee
stays solid despite the multitude of lamps in the sanctum.
Koottambalam is massive and a masterpiece structureof
the temple near the western entrance, crowned with three kalasams.
Shivaratri is a major festival celebrated in the temple.