Guruvayur is a famous town in the Thrissur district, home to one of the most famous temples of India: the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple. It is noted as the fourth biggest temple in regard to devotees visiting in a day.
Dating back more than 5000 years, the Guruvayur temple was an accompanying shrine in the Trikkunavay Shiva temple till the shiva temple was torn down by the Dutch in 1755
Origin and Legend
Amongst several temple festival and events is the most exciting one of all, the ‘Anaottam’ or the elephant race. Myth has it that before the destruction of the Trikkunavay temple, elephants for the temple festival were usually sent from the Trikkunavay temple to the Guruvayur temple whose festival commenced two days after the Trikkunavay temple festival. Once, on delayed payment, the elephants were not sent to Guruvayur; following which the elephants are said to have broken chains and run off to Guruvayur without their mahouts.
This incident made way through time to form what is today known as the famous ‘Anaottam’ of the Guruvayur temple which marks the beginning of the Guruvayur temple festival. The
The race begins from Manjulal, a banyan tree at half a kilometre away from the eastern entrance to the temple where after the elephants enter the temple, take 7 rounds and touch the flagstaff in the end. The first elephant to touch the flagstaff is given regal treatment during the festival in addition to the privilege of bearing the Lord’s representation for the procession.
A large throng of people gather to witness and add on to the intense and exciting atmosphere of the race. Tightened security by the Temple board is remarkable during this event as all measures are taken to prevent and prepare for accidents the accompany such events.
During this occasion, a ritual called the ‘Seeveli’ is also performed serving as a reminiscence of the years when the temple did not have an elephant.
The main event is accompanied by the rhythmic percussions and flying energy and exhilaration.
How To Reach
Guruvayoor is well connected with the other parts of the country by road and rail. The National highway is passing through Kunnamkulam which is just 8 kms away from Guruvayoor. The private bus stand is towards the east of the temple, near Manjulal (the banyan tree). It is half an hour drive by car from Thrissur and busses ply every 5 minutes from Thrissur to Guruvayoor.
Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) runs bus services from all major locations of the state and few inter-state services. The bus stand is 500 meters to the west of the temple. Both KSRTC and private busses offer interstate services to all major South Indian cities like Madras, Madurai, Palani, Salem, Coimbatore, Thiruchandoor, Mysore, Mangalore, Uduppi, Mookambika etc.
Guruvayoor has got a railway station towards the east of the temple which is connected to the Madras-Mangalore main line at Thrissur. It has got computerised ticket booking facility and tickets can be booked to any locations from here. One from the Mangalore side can get down at the Kuttippram station. Regular bus services are available from there to Guruvayoor. Those from the Madras/Trivandrum side can get down at Thrissur.
Kochi international airport (Nedumbassery) is 80 kms from Guruvayoor and the Calicut airport is 100 kms away. All major international flight services are operated from these airports.
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