The history of the Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple is rich and deeply rooted in Hindu mythology and tradition. The temple is one of the most renowned and sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus, particularly devotees of Lord Krishna. Here is an overview of the historical background of the Guruvayur Temple:
Ancient Legends: According to local legends and beliefs, the idol of Lord Krishna worshipped at Guruvayur was originally worshipped by Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe. The idol is said to have been made by Lord Vishwakarma, the divine architect. It was later given to Guru (teacher) Brihaspati, who performed intense penance before installing the idol at its current location in Guruvayur. The name “Guruvayur” is derived from the words “Guru” (teacher) and “Vayu” (Wind God, referring to Lord Krishna as the charioteer of Arjuna in the Mahabharata).
Historical Records: While the temple’s ancient history is steeped in legend, historical records and inscriptions provide insights into its evolution. The earliest reference to the temple can be found in the 14th-century literary work “Unnuneeli Sandesam,” written by the poet Unnuneeli. This work describes the idol of Guruvayur as “Unnikannan” (Infant Krishna) and narrates the journey of a Brahmin who visits the temple.
Temple Construction: The temple complex as it exists today is believed to have been constructed in the 16th century. The exact date of its construction is debated, but it is commonly associated with the reign of Kulasekhara Perumals, who were rulers of the Chera dynasty. The temple’s architecture reflects the traditional Kerala style, characterized by woodwork, murals, and intricate carvings.
Travancore Kings’ Patronage: The temple received significant patronage and support from the Travancore royal family, particularly King Marthanda Varma and his successors. The king donated substantial wealth and property to the temple, which helped in its development and maintenance.
Devaswom Board: The Guruvayur Devaswom Board was officially established in 1970 to manage and administer the temple’s affairs. The board oversees the temple’s daily operations, rituals, festivals, and various activities.
Festivals and Traditions: Guruvayur Temple is known for its numerous festivals and traditions, including Guruvayur Ekadasi, the annual Utsavam (festival), and other celebrations based on the Hindu calendar. These festivals attract millions of devotees from across India.
Pilgrimage and Devotion: Throughout its history, the Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple has been a center of pilgrimage, drawing devotees seeking the blessings of Lord Krishna. The temple’s serene ambiance, rich rituals, and deep spiritual significance continue to make it a revered destination for devotees.
The history of Guruvayur Temple is a blend of mythology, legend, historical records, and religious devotion, contributing to its enduring importance as a sacred and cultural landmark in India.