Guruvayoor elephant sanctuary and Temple Darshan
The Guruvayoor temple maintains a unique elephant sanctuary, the only one of its kind in the World. It has 68 elephants now. These jumbos are the offerings of the devotees to the Lord. A large number of pilgrims and tourists visit this fascinating spot every day. In this vast compound, there are road facilities for pilgrims and tourists to go around. The present elephant sanctuary is in Punnathur Kotta about 3 kms north of Guruvayur temple.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit would be between November and February. The Guruvayoor Ekadasi is held in November-December while the Guruvayoor Utsavam takes place in February-March.
How to Reach: Air
Guruvayoor is 80 km away from the Cochin International Airport .
Things To Do
Most people who visit Guruvayoor stay in the premises the previous night to attend the Nirmalya Darshan (the first viewing of the deity) at 3 AM which is considered to be very auspicious. The deity is then bathed in a ceremony called ‘Abhisheka’. The worship and darshans continue till 10 at night when the deity is put to rest for the day.
There would be some festival or the other everyday at Guruvayoor. Every Hindu festival and ritual is celebrated to some degree here. There are also certain festivals which are exclusive to Guruvayoor.
The Ekadasi is celebrated during the months of November-December. A festival of lights begins a month in advance; where all the oil lamps of the Nalambalam (inner temple area) are lit. Together with the lighted Deepasthambham, the sight is quite spectacular. Another feature of the festival is the memorial service of Guruvayoor Kesavan, one of the head elephants of the temple earlier. All the elephants of the temple are fed a sumptuous feast on the day. The festival culminates with a procession of elephants around the temple.
The Chembai music festival is also held as part of the Ekadasi festival. Reputed vocalists and instrumentalists from all over South India participate in the 11 day festival.