I had been to Guruvayur on 31st Jan, a Sunday. Guruvayur is about 28km from Thrissur. We reached the Guruvayur Shri Krishna (Guruvayurappan) temple at around 4:25 pm. The temple is usually closed from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. So, almost half the queue complex outside the temple was already full by the time we reached. There is no concept of buying tickets and getting a special darshan here either. If one doesn’t want to go to the inner sanctum of Guruvayurappan, then there is another entrance through which one can go near the dhwajastambham of the temple alone. The temple has a tank called rudra tIrtam, which is next to this entrance.
As soon as the temple opened and people were let in, there was no pushing and shoving and people were, surprisingly, moving at a leisurely pace. This made the wait also less tiring since one didn’t have to stand in the same place for more than 5 minutes. Also, there was a dance arangETram happening on the stage outside the temple with a variety of dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam and others.
It took us about an hour to reach the entrance of the temple. The single line queue suddenly wasn’t there anymore and that’s when all the pushing started!
Right outside the entrance of the temple is a typical Kerala lamp which has a sculpture of tortoise on its base, over which is a pole which has rows of lamps branching out from it. The outer walls of the temple have some paintings and the pillars in front of those have some sculptures. A pillar on either of the side of the entrance has a sculpture of kALinga nardana Krishna on them. The nelai paDi /entrance gateway has sculptures of the ashTa Lakshmis carved on it. The two wooden doors of the temple have sculptures of the dasAvatArams of Vishnu, with five avatArams carved on each door.
Once you enter the temple, the pillars in the mandapam in this prAkAram too have some sculptures. Instead of walking straight to the inner prAkAram, one has to climb a steel staircase, then walk on a mini-steel bridge kind of thing and walk down the stairs to the other end of this prAkAram. It seems it’s there to not stop the queue from moving when the temple elephant goes round the temple! The chaotic queue continued all through the steel staircase too till the entrance to the inner sanctum.
A dhwajastambham and a couple of lamps with Tortoise base similar to the one outside the temple are there near the entrance to the inner prAkAram. A pillar near this entrance has a sculpture of a snake. Two ivory tusks and a picture of the famous elephant Kesavan are there above the entrance. The walls on both sides of the entrance have sculptures of the ashTa Lakshmis. The walls have rows and rows of lamps. By the time we reached this entrance, all the lamps on the walls were lighted and it presented a beautiful sight.
The beautiful main idol of Shri Guruvayurappan is clearly visible from this entrance. A small 4-pillared mandapam is there in front of the Guruvayurappan sannidhi. One has to go around it to go near the sannidhi. This mandapam has a very beautiful sculpture of Radha & Krishna on at least two of its pillars. Thanks to the crowd, I couldn’t see if the same sculptures were there on the other two pillars also. The outer walls of the sanctum sanctorum housing Guruvayurappan have colourful paintings. I remember seeing a painting of Goddess Saraswati in a standing pose.
Surrounding the Guruvayurappan sannidhi are sannidhis of Vinayaka, Murugan, Adisesha Ranganatha Perumal and Iyyappan. The Vinayaka sannidhi has a small sculpture of Gajalakshmi above the entrance to it. The pillars in the prAkAram housing all these sannidhis have lots of beautiful sculptures including an avatAram of Vishnu each on a row of 10 pillars, Hanuman, navanIta Krishnan with 2 pots, Rama with Sita, Lakshmana & Hanuman, etc.
Back on the outer prAkaram, there are pillars adorned with bronze vaazhaitthaar with vaazhaipoo. There are pillars having sculptures of Kathakali-modeled sculptures of dasAvataram, Adi Shankara, etc. These seem to be recent ones.
There is also a shrine of Bhagavati amman. There is a board near the sannidhi which mentions that the darshan of Guruvayurappan is complete only after worshipping the Shivan at Mammiyoor which is located in the north-western direction from that point and one can offer prayers to the Shiva from there itself.
But we weren’t satisfied with the virtual worshipping of Mammiyoor Shivan. 😉 So, our next destination was Mammiyoor itself, which is just a few minutes drive away from Guruvayurappan temple.
Mammiyoor Mahadeva Temple
The first thing that strikes you as enter the temple is that only a few people visit this temple, unlike the Guruvayurappan temple.
A big idol of Vinayaka is there outside the temple. As you enter the temple, there is another idol of Vinayaka under a tree. After that is the dhwajastambham, near which is a board narrating the legend of Guruvayur.
The legend goes that in dwApara yugam, an idol of mahA Vishnu which was worshipped by Lord Krishna in Dwaraka was washed away by flood. Brhaspati & Vayu through their gnAna drishti saw where the idol was. When they approached Lord Shiva who was doing penance at rudra tIrta (the current tank of Guruvayur temple), he asked them to place the idol in the place where he was and he shifted to another place. The original place where Shiva was doing penance is now the Guruvayur temple and the place where Shiva moved to came to be known as Mahimayoor, pointing out Shiva’s Mahima. This later became Mammiyoor.
There are paintings on the outer walls of the sannidhi of the main Shiva lingam, similar to those on the outer walls of Guruvayurappan sannidhi. There are also sanctums of Vishnu, Iyyappan, Bhagavati. There are sculptures of nAgam under a tree and also a Siva lingam. This temple too has a tank.