Kerala has been high on my list of places to visit but somehow I was not able to travel. Once I booked the air tickets but have to cancel because the group leader canceled the trip. It was a few years back. This time I planned my trip on my own and I persuaded my parents to travel with me. At times they are reluctant travelers but since it was Kerala they agreed to travel. We have traveled from New Delhi to Cochin by air and from Cochin to Guruvayur by taxi.
The Delhi to Cochin flight takes 3.15 Hours and from Cochin airport to Guruvayur is another 2.15 Hours journey.
Also read My Kerala Itineray
Whenever I traveled with my parents I plan and book everything in advance. Infect when I travel alone or with friends I book almost everything in advance, I am sort of organized traveler. When I travel with my parents, I also make sure that they get the unique experience and feel comfortable.
I advance booked a cab for traveling from Cochin to Guruvayur with the owner of a homestay where I planned to stay during our trip. It is always convenient and time saving if a cab is waiting for you at the airport for pickup.
Cochin airport is not a fancy airport but it is the world’s first airport, which operates on solar power. It is the best example of the Go Green initiative. It is a feel-good factor when I arrived at Cochin airport.
Cochin to Guruvayur
Cochin airport to Guruvayur is 85 Km and without wasting time we started for Guruvayur. It was 12.00 Noon by the time we started from Cochin and a bit early for lunch. But after having a clumsy breakfast at the airport, we were feeling hungry. We decided to have an early lunch on the way and stopped at a South Indian restaurant before Thrissur highway. Thankfully, we got a simple yet flavorful meal.
The highway from Cochin to Thrissur was in good condition and we soon reached the Thrissur. It is one of the busiest towns in Kerala and has a great cultural feel. We did stop for some time but started for Guruvayur as my parents were feeling tired.
The roads from Thrissur to Guruvayur are comparatively narrower in comparison to the main highway but nonetheless were in good conditions. We soon reached Guruvayur and I realized that the town is built around the main temple of Guruvayur. I have pre-booked a hotel near Guruvayur temple so that it will be convenient for us to visit the temple, which was the main reason for the visit.
We decided to visit the Guruvayur temple in the evening around aarti time. Guruvayur is one of the most famous temples in Kerala and visited by thousands of people every year. During the festivals like Pooram, thousands of people visit the temple within a few days.
Guruvayur Temple of Lord Guruvayurappan
The temple is dedicated to Lord Guruvayurappan or Sri Krishna, who is considered as a form of Lord Vishnu. This temple is also referred as Holy Adobe of Lord Vishnu on Earth. The image in the main sanctum represents the majestic form of Lord Vishnu, which was revealed to Vasudev and Devaki when he born as baby Krishna to them. This is the reason Lord Vishnu is worshipped in the baby form of Krishna here.
We reached the temple complex, there are shops near the entry point. These shops are selling clothes, souvenir, and flowers. They have made broad walking area and covered it with the shed so that people can wait here if its raining and also protects from the sunlight.
My Mom had a walking issue and she can’t stand for the long duration, our taxi driver noticed this. He advised that instead of the going to the queue at the entry gate we should approach the person standing at the main gate. He told that they allow elderly people from the main gate and they don’t have to stand in long queues.
By the time we reached the main gate, our driver also arrived, he helped us locate the right person. The gentleman on the gate told us that they allow elderly people to enter from the main gate directly instead of waiting in a long queue. He opened the barricade and my parents enter directly. I insisted that I come through the queue but he said its better if I go with them.
The main sanctum is in front of the main door but to manage the crowd they restrict the entry from this door during rush hours. At that time entry is from the side gate, where I noticed a long queue of people. We had a quick darshan and no one asked us to offer any money at any place in the temple, which is a good practice.
It was evening aarti time and that’s why more people. After the aarti, temple elephant started ringing the big bell with his trunk. There was a small crowd gathered to see this act but the crowd was well behaved and there was no mismanagement. Elephant went away after ringing the bell a few times.
They light thousands of small oil lamps on the outer walls of the main sanctum and it is a beautiful sight. But unfortunately, I could not click this because they don’t allow clicking pictures inside the temple.
Next morning I visited the temple again around 5.30 AM. There were very few people at that time of the day so we had a quick darshan.
Guruvayur temple is the most sought-after place for getting married in Kerala. Most of the people in Kerala prefer to get married here. It is believed to be the most auspicious temple for getting married. If anyone reading this post and planning to get married in the Guruvayur temple, please send me an invite because I love to experience a wedding ceremony here.
Food in Guruvayur
There is a mega kitchen in the temple compound. The food is served from here every morning around 11.00 AM and it is open for all. Many people visit here to take some food as prasad.
There are restaurants in every big hotel. Other than that there are some basic places for breakfast. We decided to go to a basic restaurant and had one of the best breakfasts of our trip to Kerala. The food was fresh, tasty and very economical.
Guruvayur Elephant Camp also known as Punnathurkotta
Before returning to Cochin, we decided to visit Punnathurkotta, which is also known as Guruvayur Elephant Camp. This elephant camp is 3 km from Guruvayur temple and has around 60 Elephants. The camp belongs to Guruvayur temple. The elephants kept here were donated by people to the temple. There are mostly male tuskers as people donate them as the male gets big tusk.
I entered the park and after walking for 50 meters, I saw elephants everywhere. Some were standing, others were bathing or carrying leaves etc. As I walked around, I noticed that the elephants were following the instruction of Mahaut (The instructor/caretaker). It was overwhelming walking around as I have to watch my front, back, and sides because an elephant can appear from any direction-carrying load of green tree branches. If an elephant is walking on the road then I have to clear the path and stand on the side because I am not supposed to disturb them while observing.
I have been told that they don’t treat elephants badly. They give them rice, jaggery and other food items that people donate to the temple for the elephants. They have vets visiting to treat old and ill elephants. Yes, they do keep the elephants with care but how can an elephant be happy in captivity. Some of the elephants have shackles in their feet and I came to know that those elephants in “Heat” phase. The shackles were to keep them under control.
I had very conflicting emotions when I visited this place. Still, I think we should visit this kind of places because if people visit then they will maintain the standards. If we notice something bad and write about it then it will increase the awareness among devotees who donate these animals. These type of places are almost impossible to close because of the faith of people and cultural sensitivity. We can stress that they should not add more animals in this park and whatever animals they have should live in good conditions.
Thankfully people are not allowed to ride them for fun, they are only allowed to see them. Another visitor has told me that people can take permission and throw the water on elephants with buckets for bathing purpose but no physical contact.
Things to know before visiting Guruvayur Temple
Dress code for Guruvayur Temple
There is a dress code for people visiting the temple like most of the temples in the South of India.
* Men should wear a dhoti (Mundu) and should not wear anything on top, they can take use a small cloth to cover the chest that comes with the dhoti.
* Women should wear sari or ankle length skirt or Indian salwar or pajama suit, tight fitted leggings are not allowed.
Few other points to Know while visiting Guruvayur temple
* There is no special entry ticket and neither there is any advance booking.
* There is a separate line for senior citizens.
* Mobile and camera phones are not allowed inside the temple.
* Put the money only in donation boxes inside the temple.
* If you want to donate something extra for meals or support then it is better to contact temple management’s office across the temple complex.
Guruvayur Temple Timing
Every morning temple opens at 03.00 AM
It remains closed between 01.30 PM to 04.30 PM
Every evening it opens at 04.30 PM and closes for the day at 09.15 PM