Guruvayoor Kshetram.

There are some places in our Country, by mentioning the very name of them will evoke inexplicable ecstasy of reverence in mind. One of them certainly is Guruvayur in Kerala. I wish to share my experience of our pilgrimage to this holy abode of Sree Krishna with our family. After visiting the Temples at Kodungallur and Triprayar we drove to Guruvayur Kshetram. It happened to be an Ekadasi Day( Eleventh day of the lunar fortnight of the month), considered auspicious for Dharshan of Sree Krishna, that too at Guruvayur Kshetram. My wife who was observing strict fasting on Ekadasi days, since long time, felt thrilled to know that she was in Gurvayur Kshetram this time on the Ekadasi day to have the Dharshan and blessings of the Lord. Incidentally, one of the most important festivals in this Temple is " Ekadasi Festival" that is celebrated in Nov-Dec - Vrischika, suklapaksha Ekadasi, more commonly known as " Guruvayur Ekadasi".

By the time we reached Guruvayur it was about 7.30 PM. We were lucky to get comfortable accommodation in "Panchajanyam Rest House" run by Dewosvam. After having a wash we rushed to the Temple to stand in the queue for Dharshan after the evening Pooja. We had gone two times before to this holy place. Last time we were lucky to have the Dharshan in "Udhayasthamana pooja"(continuous Pooja from dawn to dusk) of Sree Guruvayurappan. We were told this most coveted and dearest of all the poojas to the Lord has been booked upto the year 2047 ! We were in the queue for about 45 minutes before we were able to enter the main door leading to Srikovil. This gave me time to see the surroundings in detail. Srikovil is surrounded by the outer walls of wooden trellis with array of about 8000 brass lamps, which are lit on special occasions. The 60ft Dwajasthambam (Flag post) fully covered by plated gold stands majestically before the entrance. Two Deepastambams of 24 ft tall with 13 discs of lamps adorn both sides of the flag post.

The doors of Srikovil opened after the evening Pooja and the queue moved slowly. When we entered the main entrance of the inner courtyard we passed through two large platforms on both sides of entrance to Srikovil. It is said, previously these places were used by the Brahmins to recite holy scriptures. True, 62 years ago when I visited this Temple for the first time, I had seen Namboothri Brahmins reciting holy scriptures from this place. It is believed that the famous Melpathur Narayana Bhattathripad composed his magnum opus "Narayaneeyam" sitting in the southern part of this platform.

As we went further we came to "Namaskara Mandapam", in front of Srikovil, this Mandapam is covered by Gold plated copper roofing, supported by granite pillars on four sides. Here itself we had the first Dharshan of the Lord Guruvayurappan in traditional form of Sri Maha Vishnu, with four arms holding Sankha, Chakra, Gadha, Padmam fully decorated with flowers and jewellery. Enhanced by surrounding soft light of numourous oil lamps lit around. It was a divine sight for the devout. In the midst of continuous chanting of the name of the Lord by the devotees slowly wading towards the Srikovil entrance to have a few seconds of Dharshan of Guruvayurappan, in my mind I felt that I am alone with him taking his blessings. Before Him we close our eyes to take the moment of ecstasy fully inside. This is a spiritual experience, that cannot be defined by any of our senses.

The Moorthy is made of "Pathalanjana shila" considered extremely sacred. All the pooja vessels and articles are made of Gold.

The outer walls of the square shaped Srikovil are embellished with mural paintings. We went round the Srikoil and came out of the northern doorway to the "Prakaram" and saw the Six Temple Elephants tied there. The Children enjoyed the sight of Elephants more than us. Behind them was the hall where the Prasadam Counters were distributing the Prasadams to public. My wife was particular to take the Prasadam to break her fasting on the Ekadasi day at Guruvayur.

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Early morning next day my wife had the "Nirmalya Dharshan" of the Lord . I and other members of the family followed it by 5.00 AM only. It was indeed an experience that will stay with us forever.

Next as planned we visited Mammiyur and other Temples in and around Guruvayur and had Dharshan there. Then we proceeded to Punnathoorkotta to see the Temple Elephants.(about which I will write separately) After lunch we started off to Palakkad for the night stay on our way to Ooty.