Guruvayur, according to the legends may be 5,000 years old as the Guruvayur temple idol is. There are no historical records to establish it. It is also believed that Lord Krishna, asked 2 sages to take the idol from his temple in Dwarka while the city was being destroyed and establish it in Kerala. The idol of lord krishna was brought by Vayu deva and brhaspathi and was placed in guruvayur. The name guruvayur is a merge of both their names ("guru" brahaspathi and "vayu' deva. In the 14th century, Tamil literature 'Kokasandesam', references about a place called Kuruvayur is made. As early as the 16th century, many references are seen about Kuruvayur. In ancient Dravidic, Kuruvai means sea, hence the village on the coast may be called Kuruvayur. According to eminent historian Professor K. V. Krishna Iyer, the Brahmins had begun to come and settle at Kodungallur during the period of Chandra Gupta Maurya (321-297 BC).
Guruvayur was a subordinate shrine of Trikkunavay Shiva temple before the latter was destroyed by the Dutch in 1755. Trikkunavay in the Guruvayur documents is the same as Thrikkanamathilakam or Mathilakam mentioned in the Dutch and British records. And this place was in between Guruvayur and Kodungallur. The story of Pandyan King building a shrine here may be a reference to the Azhavars, but they are all silent in their writing about Guruvayur. It was Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri's Narayaniyam through which the Guruvayur temple got famous all over India.
As of the Indian census of 2001, Guruvayur had a population of 21,187. Males constitute 46% of the population and females 54%. Guruvayur has an average literacy rate of 85%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 86%, and female literacy is 85%. In Guruvayoor, 10% of the population is under 10 years of age.
Guruvayoor Township was formed on January 26, 1962 with four electoral wards with an area of 6.49 km2. Later the wards were increased to 10 and in 1994 to 20 when the township was upgraded to Municipality status with an area of 29.66 km2. In 2010, the electoral wards were increased to 43. Guruvayoor is a Grade-1 Municipality. The Municipality has a total population of 20,216 with a population density of 31, 14 per km2. Guruvayoor assembly constituency is part of Trichur (Lok Sabha constituency).
Ekadasi, the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight, is very auspicious to the Hindus. Of the 24 Ekadasis in a year, the Vrishchika Ekadasi (Sukla paksha) has got special significance in Guruvayur temple. A memorial honour for Gajarajan Kesavan is conducted in Guruvayur. The Karanavar or head of the elephant family places a wreath at the statue of Kesavan in front of Sreevalsam guest house and all the other elephants stand around and pay obeisance. On Ekadasi day, the Udayasthamana Pooja (dawn to dusk pooja) is conducted by the Devaswom itself . After the morning seeveli, on Ekadasi there is a grand elephant procession to the Parthasarathi temple since it is regarded as Geethopadesam Day also. On Ekadasi after night pooja, the famous Ekadasi Vilakku with elephant procession takes place and provides a fitting finale to the festival..
Chembai Sangeetholsavam is an annual Carnatic music festival held in Guruvayur by the Guruvayur Devaswom as a kind of homage to Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, one of the titans of Carnatic Classical Music. Chembai had conducted the festival in the temple town on his own for about 60 years. He used to invite all the great Carnatic Musicians to perform in the temple town and in course of time, the scale of the festival rivalled the Thyagaraja Aradhana at Thiruvaiyaru, which is recognised as one of the most important festivals of homage paid to Saint Thyagaraja.
The Guruvayur Devaswom decided to take charge after his death in 1974, and renamed it as Chembai Sangeetholsavam in his memory. About 2000-2500 musicians participate in this festival every year, and it is held for about 12–15 days culminating on the Guruvayur Ekadasi day, when all the musicians sing 5 favourite songs of Chembai and also the Pancharatna Kritis of Thyagaraja.
The Guruvayur Temple is a famous ￼￼Vishnu temple and is one of the most important places of worship for Hindus and is often referred to as "Bhooloka Vaikuntam" which translates to the holy abode of Vishnu on Earth. The divine idol installed here represents the
enchanting form of ￼￼Bhagvan Vishnu endowed with the four lustrous arms carrying the conch Panchajanya, the discus Sudarshana Chakra, the mace Kaumodaki and the lotus. Adorned with the divine Tulasi garland the idol represents the majestic form of Maha Vishnu as revealed to Vasudeva and Devaki at the time of Krishna Avatar. The presiding deity in the sanctum-sanctorum is Mahavishnu. He faces east and his idol is 4 ft tall. Even though this is not a much small idol, devotees consider him as Little Krishna. He has 4 hands : The upper right hand holding chakra, lower right hand holding lotus, upper left hand holding shankha and lower left hand holding gada. He is worshipped according to the pooja routines laid down by Adi Sankaracharya and later written formally in the Tantric way by Chennas Narayanan Namboodiri (born in 1427). The Chennas Namboodiris are the hereditary Tantris of the Guruvayur temple. The temple/pooja routines are strictly followed without any compromise. The Tantri is available full-time at the Temple to ensure this. The Melsanti (Chief Priest) enters the Sri Kovil (sanctum sanctorum) at 2:30 AM and does not drink even a glass of water up to the completion of noon poojas at 12:30 PM. The vedic traditions being followed here with absolute perfection and sincerity is the hallmark of the Guruvayur temple. It is important to note here that, even though the shrine is considered to be one of the holiest spots for Vaishnavites, the temple is not a part of the 108 Divya Desams.Punnathur Kotta Elephant sanctuary
Perumthatta Shiva Kshetram (listed in 108 Siva Temples)
Thirumangalam Temple (listed in 108 swayambhu siva temple)
Guruvayur can be accessed from Kochi city by National Highway NH 66, which starts from Edapally in Kochi and interchange from Chavakkad. Guruvayur can be accessed from Thrissur city by state highway 49, which starts from Guruvayur and ends in state highway 69 at choondal. Guruvayur can be accessed from Kozhikkode city by Chamravattom, interchange from Chavakkad. From city there are regular private and State-owned Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses. There is a private and a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus stand in Guruvayur which run inter-state, inter-district and city services. There are good frequency of buses from Palakkad, Calicut also
The main rail transport system in Guruvayur is operated by the Southern Railway Zone of Indian Railways. Guruvayur Railway Station lies in the Thrissur-Guruvayur Section. It is the last station in this section. There are two passenger trains operating from Guruvayur Railway Station to Ernakulam Junction and another two passenger trains to Thrissur Railway Station every day. An overnight express train to Chennai Egmore via Ernakulam Junction, Kollam Junction, Thiruvananthapuram, Madurai, Trichy is also running from Guruvayur Railway Station every day. Thrissur Railway Station is the major rail head near to Guruvayur from where you can get all South Indian and North Indian trains.
Cochin International Airport is the nearest airport, which is 87 km from Guruvayur. All international, domestic and chartered flights are available here. Calicut International Airport at Karipur is about 100 km away.Sree Krishna College, Guruvayur
Little Flower College, Guruvayoor
Sree Krishna Higher Secondary School, Guruvayur
Guruvayur Devaswom English Medium School, Guruvayoor
Sree Gokulam Public School, Chittattukara
Little Flower Convent Girls Higher Secondary School, Guruvayoor