Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple is one of the famous temples in South India. This makes Guruvayur a major tourist destination in the Thrissur district. A large share of tourists who reach the temple town are pilgrims. So, there’s always a rush inside the temple. Whenever we think of our past Guruvayur temple visits, the first few images that come to our mind are the long queue and rush inside the temple that lasts for hours. This is tiring for people. But you can make your tiring Guruvayur temple visit much more interesting by exploring some of these magnificent sights.
If you are a die-hard elephant lover and you wish to visit an elephant world, Punnathurkotta also known as Aanakotta (elephant fort) is the best place to go to in Kerala. This exclusive elephant place, located at a distance of 3 km from the temple is currently home to more than 60 elephants. This place is one of the largest elephant “sanctuaries” in India. As the name Punnathurkotta suggests, this place was formerly the palace of the local ruler. You’ll see the palace Naalukettu in the compound and it is a must-visit place for people who love traditional architecture. Another interesting story behind Punnathurkotta is that the famous Malayalam classic movie “Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha” was shot here. If you have already been to Guruvayur and have not visited Punnathoorkotta yet, don’t forget to visit it next time.
Guruvayur Devaswom Museum
Are you one of those people who has visited Guruvayur numerous times and is still not aware of the astonishing Guruvayur Devaswom Museum? Fret not! Many visitors do not know of this museum. The Guruvayur Devaswom Museum situated near the east gate of the temple, behind the Melpathur auditorium, is a storehouse of various precious antique items. These are gifts given to the Guruvayoor temple by devotees. The list of items that you can see in the museum consists of antique jewels, musical instruments, mural paintings, temple materials, ornaments and costumes of Krishnanattam, etc. The museum is the best place for people to explore the history of the Guruvayur temple.
Institute of Mural Painting
Another place of historical significance is the Institute of Mural Painting. Mammiyoor Krishnankutty, regarded as one of the fathers of modern mural art in Kerala, established the institute in 1989. The institute located at the east gate of the temple provides coaching to students in the traditional Gurukula Pattern. You’ll love this place if you’re into traditional mural paintings and art.
Also Read: History of Mural Art in Kerala
Statues of Maraprabhu and Guruvayur Kesavan
The sight of two giant statues – Maraprabhu and Guruvayur Kesavan – is always a treat to the eyes. These statues are located in the Sreevalsam guest house complex at the east gate of Guruvayur temple. Guruvayur Kesavan is known as the elephant king of Guruvayur. The statue of Kesavan amazes visitors. The statue of Maraprabhu is another attraction in Guruvayur. It is the creative articulation of Lord Krishna depicted on the trunk of a banyan tree.
If you’re interested in traditional classical art forms of Kerala, Krishnanattam is one that you must watch. Krishnanattam is a dance drama that presents the story of Lord Krishna in a series of eight plays. The Guruvayur temple has its Krishnanattam troupe, maintained by the Guruvayur Devaswom. Krishnanattam is performed in the inner corridors of Guruvayur temple at night. The performance of artists wearing elegant costumes and makeup under the bright light of temple lamps is a visual treat for anyone who enjoys the arts.
Kalaripayattu is popularly known as the “grandfather of martial arts”. There are many prominent Kalaripayattu institutions in Kerala, but Vallabhatta Kalari is one of the best. This ancient martial centre can trace its history back a few generations, and it is a delight to watch its students perform deadly but elegant moves. Vallabhatta Kalari is located at a distance of 4 km from Guruvayur town. If you want to feel the ambience of traditional Kalari rooms and Kalari weapons, you must include Vallabhatta Kalari in your itinerary.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed after visiting the list of historical and traditional places around Guruvayur, Chavakkad beach where you can go to get some fresh air. Chavakkad Beach is situated 5 km away from Guruvayur temple and can be included on the day you visit Vallabhatta Kalari as they fall on the same route. Visitors can re-energize themselves in the evening at Chavakkad beach. You can fly kites or take a dip in the water. The attraction of the beach is its estuary where the river meets the sea.
So from now, don’t think of your Guruvayur visits as only for standing in the long queue at the temple and having a tiring day. Make your journey to Guruvayur more interesting by visiting these places.