Guruvayur Temple in Kerala – Guide To This Hindu Holy Site


Located in the province of Kerala, India, the Guruvayur temple has stood for many centuries. It is considered to be an incredibly holy site in the Hindu religion, seen as one of the most important places of worship in the world. You’ll soon see why in this Guruvayoor travel guide to the mystic site.

The temple sees many religious visitors throughout the year seeking blessings, enlightenment, or both. The region of Kerala and its surrounds are peppered with temples, statues of deities, and sacred sites. Many locals and foreigners alike praise the area for its beauty.

Tip: To add to your itinerary, here are several more historical places in India that you should visit.

Image of a temple nestled

Guruvayoor City Guide

This Guruvayoor trip guide will teach you everything you need to know about Guruvayur (also known as “Guruvayoor”). Hindu devotees go to this tiny picturesque village to worship at the town’s eponymous Guruvayur Temple.

What Is The Guruvayoor Temple?

The temple itself is dedicated to the deity Guruvayyurappan. This specific deity is a variation of the Hindu god Vishnu, with four arms instead of two. There are many legends and myths surrounding this holy site, the most famous of which is that the idol worshipped within is more than 5000 years old!

It is important to keep in mind that Guruvayur Temple entry is only permitted to devotees of the Hindu religion. This applies to both the temple grounds and the inner complex.

Devotees gathered at the Guruvayur Devaswom.

Where Is Guruvayur Temple Located?

You can find the Guruvayoorappan Temple in Guruvayur Devaswom, East Nada, Guruvayur, Kerala 680101, India. It’s situated within the Thrissur revenue district.

Guruvayur Temple Dress Code

It should also be noted that there is a very strict temple dress code for those seeking to enter it. Men are required to wear a mundu around their waist, which is a loose robe-like garment very similar to a sarong.

Women are also required to wear a sari, which is a traditional garment with a drape over the shoulder. In more recent times, however, the Guruvayur dress code for women has become less stringent, and they are permitted to wear other items of clothing such as the salwar kameez, a comfortable garment that is easy to move around in.

The Guruvayoor temple dress code extends to children too. Boys can wear shorts, but they mustn’t cover their upper bodies. On the other hand, girls are required to wear blouses and long skirts.

Image of Hindu devotees on dark grey rocks with white cloud streams in the sky.

Guruvayurappan Temple Timings

The Guruvayurappan temple timings are specific and precise. The routines that the chief priest and other priests follow are always at the same time throughout the day. The temple itself is managed by the Guruvayur Devaswom.

Devaswom are basically socio-religious trusts and organisations in India that are made up of members of both the communities and government officials. Officials from both of these bodies work together in order to ensure the smooth operation of the Hindu temples throughout the country whilst still following traditional customs.

It’s critical to follow the Guruvayur Temple’s timings and dress code as the Guruvayur Temple is very conservative and strict with its schedule.

Beautiful green fields and trees in Thrissur, Kerala.

The History Of The Guruvayurappan Temple

The Guruvayurappan temple in Kerala has stood for many centuries, attracting religious visitors from all around the world. The region in which the temple is found has had a fairly tumultuous history, and the central shrine is said to have been constructed somewhere around the early 1600s.

There was, however, a prolonged war between the people living in the region at that time. As the years passed, though, more locals became devout followers of Guruvayur. Thus, putting a stop to most of the battles as there were no longer differing beliefs between the people settled in the region.

Image of Vishnu carved into structure.

Sadly, in the early years of the colonial era and throughout the 18th century, many Dutch explorers looted and pillaged the temple for all its gold and wealth. Many other temples were destroyed throughout this terrible time, but the Guruvayur temple luckily withstood the onslaught.

The massive Guruvayur Temple fire in 1970 threatened to destroy this ancient site. Luckily, many of the locals banded together to combat the blaze, bringing buckets of water to snuff the fire. They succeeded with the help of authorities and firefighters.

Since then, the temple has been at peace, and there have been no major occurrences in the Guruvayur Temple’s history.

Close up image of a brass Kindi in Kerala.

Udupi Sri Krishna Temple

There is also a smaller temple dedicated to Krishna in Kerala; however, the most famous of the temples dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna is the Udupi Sri Krishna Matha. This temple complex is located in the province of Karnataka, which is found just north of Kerala.

The area surrounding this temple has been said to be that of an ashram or living monastery. It is said by the locals that the area is incredibly holy and that one can find peace there. Many of the temples that surround the Udupi temple itself are ancient, some even older than a millennium.

The deity that this temple is devoted to is known as Krishna. He is the Hindu god of love, compassion, and tenderness, often depicted with a flute in hand and at peace with his surroundings. The Udupi temple is open from 05h30 all the way through to late noon.

Image of Krishna god statue.

Udupi Krishna Temple Dress Code

The dress code in the Udupi Temple is similar to that of the Guruvayur temple. It’s important to note that only Hindu followers are permitted to enter the temple.

Devotees are required to dress as follows before entering the temple: male devotees are not allowed to wear shirts and vests but mundus instead, and female devotees are expected to dress in traditional attire, such as saris or salwar kameezes.

Legend About The Guruvayur Temple, Kerala

The Statue of Lord Guruvayurappen Maraprabhu has a rather interesting and touching myth behind it.

The Statue Of Lord Guruvayurappan Maraprabhu in Guruvayur

Located in a large guest house close to the Guruvayur temple in Kerala is a statue of Guruvayur Maraprabhu. The addition of Maraprabhu to the name translates literally to “the Lord of the tree”.

Image of an Aghori monk of Varanasi, India.

There is a well-known Guruvayur Temple story that surrounds the founding of this particular variation of the deity’s name. It is said that there was once a devotee of Guruvayur who accidentally recited a prayer wrong, saying Maraprabhu instead of following the original script. Another man laughed at the devotee’s mistake, which was seen as an insult.

The story continues by stating that Guruvayur was touched by the devotee’s humility after reciting the prayer incorrectly. The god decided to come to his aid, appearing as a voice that stated “I am also Maraprabhu”. Thus, giving rise to the name Guruvayur Maraprabhu.

Many Hindus believe that the Guruvayur temple statue radiates powerful energy due to the nature of its creation and see it as a holy icon.

Image of male devotees at a procession.

Final Thoughts On The Guruvayur Temple

This temple is a truly spectacular place, attracting attention from many people across the world. It is a place of holy learning and introspection for Hindus. Even though the temple complex is reserved for followers of the religion, the outside view is magnificent, with intertwining arches and beautiful architecture. Standing for hundreds of years, this temple has proved time and again that it will stand the test of time.

For those interested in learning about the area or visiting to take in the sites, there are many temples spread throughout the province of Kerala that can be entered without being a devotee of Hinduism. Alternatively, you can always take a look at visiting Goa if you’re looking for something a little more high-energy.

Always remember, it’s highly important to respect the customs and beliefs of the local people, and in return, you shall be greeted with warmth, kindness, and understanding.

Matt Davison
Matt has done marketing for travel and tourism for over a decade. His first love is SEO, with entrepreneurship hotter on its heels than a girlfriend. When he is not looking up flights back to his next destination, you can find him in the garden, making excuses to walk Rusty, strategizing with the team and tinkering on sites until the early morning.