The Little Temples of Guruvayur

  • By S M Iyer
  • June 9, 2023
Left to right temples Parthasarathi, Venkatachalapathi & Mammiyoor
  • Know about three small but important temples of Guruvayur.

Zip into Guruvayur town, check into some hotel near the Guruvayur temple and off to pray to Guruvayurappan! But how many of us even know that Guruvayur has numerous other temples too like the Narayanam Kulangara Bhagavathy Kshetram, Parthasarathi temple and Thiruvenkitachalapathi temple, not to mention Mammiyoor temple, all within a 5 kms radius of the Guruvayur Kshetram!


Each of these temples has its own story relating to its divinity. Since they are out of the radius of the Guruvayurappan temple, not many are even aware of them, forget about visiting them. So, these temples maintain their sanctity and serenity and allow the devotees to have a darshan of the deity without any of the hustle and bustle at Guruvayurappan temple.


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal.

Mammiyoor temple.

The Mammiyoor temple has a direct link to the Guruvayurappan temple. Legend has it that during the final phase of the Dwapara yuga, the great deluge happened and Dwarka was about to be submerged. Lord Krishna handed over the idol of the Supreme Lord that he himself had been worshipping at Dwaraka, to Devaguru Brihaspati and the Wind God Vayu so as to consecrate it at an appropriate place on Earth.


Guru Brihaspati and Vayu descended on the banks of Lake Rudratheertham to consecrate the idol. Fortunately or unfortunately, Lord Shiva had been doing penance there for ages. Realising the importance of the consecration, Lord Shiva volunteered to move to a nearby location on the other side of the Rudratheertham. The place where Guru Brihaspati and Vayu consecrated the idol of Lord Krishna became Guruvayur and the site which Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati chose for themselves became Mammiyoor, due to the mahima (glory) of the Lord in relinquishing his abode to accommodate Lord Krishna.


That is why, all devotees who come to Guruvayur face towards Mammiyoor and pray to the Mammiyoor Mahadeva.


The deity worshipped at Mammiyoor is Uma Maheshwara, the form of Mahadeva with Goddess Parvati on his left. The striking feature of most of the temples in Kerala is the atmosphere of silence and the Mammiyoor temple is no exception. In spite of the crowd of devotees, the place is quiet and has a calming effect.


Next is the Narayanam Kulangara Bhagavathy Kshetram. A quaint countryside temple, just stepping into it inspires awe for the Amman (Mother). It is supposed to be closely associated with the now extinct Jameliyur Illam, the family that enjoyed the right to offer paddy when the procession proceeded to Guruvayur for the Meenam pooram, which was ostensibly stopped during Tipu Sultan’s invasion. An enchanting temple tank adds serenity to an already sacred atmosphere.

Parthasarathi temple. 

The sanctum sanctorum of the Parthasarathi temple is actually built on a chariot as befits ‘Parthasarathi’—Lord Krishna on the chariot as Sarathi (charioteer) to Arjuna. 


It is believed that the temple is located at the place where Lord Krishna appeared before Narada and Adi Shankara and that the deity was installed by Adi Shankara.


There is also a shrine for Adi Shankara here. People offer five trays heaped with jaggery, poha, arai, paddy and rice in the belief that their lives will be filled with prosperity with this practice. The attractive frescoes on the temple walls depict the Mahabharata scene where Krishna is on the chariot as Arjuna’s Sarathi, as also Adi Shankara with various deities.


The Thiru Venkatachalapathi temple is a captivating small temple set in the countryside that invokes memories of the Tirupathi temple sans the mad crowd! Legend has it that a sage from Tirumala temple came to Guruvayur and wished to establish a temple for Venkatachalapathi there as the place already had a temple for Lord Krishna. He sat by the tank near the present temple and prayed for permission to build such a temple. Once he obtained the Lord’s permission, he brought an idol over from Tirupathi and Venkatachalapathi temple built a temple there.


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, 31 May 2023 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share. Do subscribe to the Bhavan’s Journal – it is very good.

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