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Recently I along with my family took a Pilgrimage tour to some important Temples in Kerala. Then I understood the need for help and information with regard to particulars about the places to visit, Route and road conditions, Stay, food, weather etc. This time I got valuable information from the members of a Yahoo group for Guruvayur Temple. I request the moderators of "Tamil Brahmins" to open a Forum to give and exchange information for members who wish to visit various Temples on Pilgrimage or places of interest on holidays.

Kerala - Guruvayur.

There are some places in our country, by mentioning the very name of them will evoke inexplicable ecstacy of reverence in mind, One of them certainly is Guruvayur in Kerala. We visited this holy abode of Sri Krishna some time back. It happened so the day we drove into Sri Guruvayur Kshetram, it was an Ekadasi Day, considered auspicious day for Sri Krishna. My wife who was observing stict fasting on Ekadasi days for years felt thrilled that she was at Guruvaur Kshetram on an Ekadasi day to have the Dharshan of the Lord, this time. Incidentally one of the most important festivals in this Temple celebrated on Vrischika - Sukla paksha Ekadasi, known as Guruvayur Ekadasi. (Nov-Dec).

By the time we reached Guruvayur it was 7.30 PM. We were able to get comfortable accommodation in "Panchajanyan Rest House" run by Dewosvam.
After having a wash we rushed to the Temple to stand in the queue for the Darshan of the Lord after the evening pooja. We had gone to this holy place two times before. Last time we were lucky to have "Udayasthamana Puja" - the dawn to dusk puja to the Guruvayurappan. We were told this most coveted and dearest of all the pujas of the Lord has been booked upto the year 2047 ! We were in the queue for about 45 minutes before we were able to enter the Srikovil. This gave me time to view the surroundings in detail. Srikovil is surrounded by outer walls of wodden trellies with array of about 8,000 brass lamps, which are lit on special occassions. The 60 feet golden plated Dwajastambam (flag post) stands majestically before the main entrace Two Deepastambams of 24 feet tall with 13 discs of lamps adorn both sides of Flag post.

When we entered the main entrance of the Srikovil, we passed through two large platforms on both sides. Fifty six years back when I visited this temple for the first time I had seen Brahmins reciting holy scriptures sitting on these platforms. It was claimed that the famous Melaputhur Narayana Bhattadri composed Narayaneeyam stting on the southern part of this platform.

As we moved further we came to the "Namaskara Mantapam" in front of the Srikovil. Here itself we had the first Darshan of the Lord of Guruvayur in traditional form of Sri Maha Vishnu, with four arms holding Sankha, Chakra, Gada, Padmam fully decorated with flowers and jewellery. Enhanced by soft light of surrounding numerous oil lamps lit around, it was a devine sight to the devout. In the midst of continuos chanting of the name of the Lord by the devotees slowly wading towards the Srikovil entrance to have a few seconds of Darshan of sri Guruvayurappan, in my mind I felt I am alone with Him taking his blessings. Before Him we close our eyes to take the moment of ecstacy fully inside. This indeed a spiritual experience that cannot be defined by any of our senses.

The moorthy is made of "Pathalanjana Shila" considered extemely sacred and the puja vessals are made of Gold.

The outer walls of square shaped Srikoil in embellished with Murals. When we came out of the Srikoivil by the northen doorway to the Prakaram, we saw the six Elephants tied there. Behind them Prasadams were distributed in the counters.

Early next morning my wife rushed to the Temple to have Nirmalya Dashan, we followed her after 5.oo AM to have Lords Dashan. It was an experience that will stay with us forever.

Devoswam is running four Rest houses for the stay of pilgrims. They are very comfortable and the rates are reasonable. Apart from these there are a number of Good Hotels available in Guruvayur. The Temple offers free lunch to the devotees. The Brahmana Samooham on the main Nada opposite the Temple,provides good food (Lunch only) free . You have to register before hand for this. Otherwise there are good restaurants in the Town.

The Temple is always crowded, but very clean and neat. All devotees can have Darshan without confusion.

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Kerala - Sabarimalai.

When the call comes from the Lord, every thing happens fast. On Monday (18th) we returned from Sabarimalai after having had the darshan of Lord Sri Ayyappa. It all happened so quickly I could not believe how I made it.
It all started when my brother in law informed that he would be going to Sabarimalai during the monthly opening of the temple this month, with the group of devotees who go with him regularly. He was visiting the Temple for the past 26 years. My eight year old grand daughter who was regularly watching a serial on Lord Ayyappa in TV, wanted to see the Lord in Sabarimalai. Then my son agreed to take her along with the group. This rekindled my desire to visit the Temple for the third time. But now I am 77 and have High BP. This made me apprehensive whether I would be able to climb the hills without problem. My Doctor gave the clearance and other members of my family encouraged me to take the pilgrimage.
My grand daughter, Son and I joined the group at Chennai and proceeded to Chengannur, the nearest rail head for Sabarimalai by train. After refreshing ourselves and bath, we travelled to Pampa at the base of the holy hills by a Van prearranged.
We started the climb at about 10.00 AM. The distance from Pampa to the Shrine at the top of Sabarimalai is only 4.5 KMS. But it is a 60 degree steep climb for about 2.5 KMS. with continuous steps and concrete path. The hot sun had heated up the stone steps and the concrete. After some distance I started feeling the effects of my age and the heat. In spite of the best help from my son and my brother I could not climb the steps continuously. I took rest frequently and slowly proceeded at my own speed. But my only concern was that because of me my grand daughter, son and brother were getting delayed and could not reach the Shrine before it closes at 1.00 PM.
But the intentions of the Lord was different. at about 12.45 noon, when we were just half a kilometer from the Temple, we got a phone call from my brother in law that the Temple will be closed at 2.00 PM only on that day due to an eloborate Sahasra kalasabhishekam which was being performed for the Lord. You can understand my joy, which brought tears in my eyes. Even in this Age of Kali, miracles do happen! No doubt.
We reached the Holy abode of Lord Ayyappa , and climbed the eighteen steps with the "iru mudi", and had the Darshan of the Lord of Sabarigiri at the Karpoora Harathi time. But I felt that, I was the only person who could observe the whimsical smile in the charming face of the Lord Harihara Puthran.
We enjoyed the Darshan of the Lord in the evening also. Next day early morning we witnessed the Abhishekam to the Lord arranged by our group and took His blessings, before we left for Pampa on our way home.

How true are the words of Madusudana Saraswathi who wrote the Dhyana Slokas for Bhagavad Gita who said:

"Mookam Karoti Vachalam, Pangum Langhayate Girim"
"His grace makes the dumb eloquent, and the cripple cross mountains"

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Dear Sri Brhamanyan Ji,

Vow , this is moving. Please continue to share your experiences.

Kerala - Sabarimalai

Dear "malgova.mango",

Thank you so much for your comments. It is these kind words like yours encourage people of my generation to share our experiences with others. When I look back I understand every event in our life is pre-destined by the Lord for some reason that HE alone knows.

Yes. I shall continue to post some useful information for those who would like to take Pilgrimages to holy places that I had visited.

May the blessings of the Lord be with you,
Dear Sir Brhamanyan Ji,

Namaskarams, Thanks for your blessings. Would like to hear your experiences with God.

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