Guruvayur diaries : A Holy Leisure Trip
Since before the Covid pandemic my parents and Laya have been telling me that we should visit Guruvayur Temple. But one thing after the other the trip kept getting postponed. Finally, our short trip was finalised. Since Guruvayur is around 100 kms from our home at Ernakulam we decided to stay overnight at Guruvayur. So we booked rooms before hand as weekends can get extremely busy at Guruvayur. We wanted to make the trip a bit fun for Zavi too, so we decided to explore the Marine World, which was only a few kilometres from Guruvayur.
We started off our trip with a visit to a nearby temple. Our journey was quite uneventful. Our plan was to check in to our hotel, have lunch, freshen up and then proceed to Marine World. We had booked our stay at Krishnavalsam Regency at Guruvayur. We reached the hotel by afternoon, had lunch, unloaded our luggage and set off for Marine World Public Aquarium.
Marine World Public Aquarium
Marine World Public Aquarium was just around 11 kms from Guruvayur. It is situated at Panchavadi Beach, Edakkazhiyur. Zavi was really looking forward to the aquarium trip. We reached the aquarium premises by around 2:30 in the afternoon. In spite of it being a pretty hot summer afternoon, the premises of Marine World was swarming with people. As we made our way towards the entrance, there were a couple of private parking lots, but we just continued further and thankfully got a parking space pretty close by. There was a nominal parking fee that had to be paid. All of us trooped out of the car and proceeded to the Aquarium. Although I had read quite a few positive reviews in Google Reviews, I was still not sure how good this place would be, considering the fact that the entrance fee is almost Rs 350 per adult and Rs 250 for kids. We got our tickets and entered the actual aquarium, and the first thought that hit me was, thank god the place had centralised air conditioning especially since it was too hot outside. We were greeted by a staff member and she informed us not to take any photos with the flash on. We entered a very dark hall and I was totally blown away with the beauty of the multicoloured tiny fishes in huge tanks that were set like they were from the Aztec times. The fishes were in colours that I had never seen, I mean imagine seeing fishes in florescent pink, yellow, purple, blue and even green. They had even converted a Fiat Premier Padmini into an aquarium with these colourful fishes. The first impression of this place was spot on. We moved forward and there were different types of fishes on both our sides. The sun catfish, caught my attention because as the name suggests, they were all aligned towards the sunlight. Information about the fishes were also given close to their respective spaces. The next attraction was a small walk on a glass bridge. We had to remove our shoes and walk on this glass bridge. While walking on this bridge one can see big fishes which are at least 4 ft in size swimming below. After the bridge we walked into an open area. This area had a cafeteria in the centre and fish displays on all sides. Also in here, there was a fish spa, as they called it. There was a canal kind of set off around this big hall. We can just sit and put out leg inside the water and fishes would come and peck our legs. I did not bother to sit down but Laya immediately went and sat down and put her legs into the water. I think she might have sat there for a minute or two and she came back. She said she got a bit paranoid whether some bigger fishes may come and bite her. We walked around this hall viewing all the fishes on display and here in particular there was a photo spot, a circular fish tank into which one could crawl into and take pictures. We then walked into the next section. This place was set up like we had entered the Artic region. Here there were no tanks, rather the fishes were in pretty shallow water. Here we saw Koi and some rays. The next section again was filled with fishes of different shapes and sizes and some variations of shrimps and lobsters too. We walked on and reached a rainforest section. This place had a small pond with red slider turtles and then again some big fishes against a rainforest set up. The next section had small tanks with extremely pretty tiny and unique sea creatures like star fish and the like. Zavi got excited seeing the lion fish, stone fish and the sharks too. The last section of the aquarium was a tunnel with fishes swimming all around us. In this tunnel, there were fishes which were at least 5ft in size. We even saw a person inside the tunnel cleaning the place. The tunnel aquarium is definitively a crowd puller. And finally at the end of around 2 hours we had finished our aquarium visit. What I really liked about the place was the the way the different sections were set up. It is not just the fishes, but even the backdrop is set finely. As we made our way out, we noticed that there was a kids play area with inflatables. Also there were areas where kids can do fish feeding and fish catching, all for a small extra fee. As we made our way outside the main entrance, I saw there was a horse driven cart ready to take anyone interested for a ride. Also there were many vendors directing us towards the beach. I wanted to visit the beach too, but since out main aim was temple visit, we decided to head back to our car.
Guruvayur Temple is a very important place of worship for Hindus in Kerala and it’s neighbouring states. The main deity at Guruvayur Temple is Sri Guruvayurappan which is Lord Sri Krishna ( an incarnation of Lord Vishnu). It had almost been ten years since I had last visited Guruvayur Temple. I don’t really enjoy standing the extremely long queues. The last time we stood in the queue, it took almost took three hours to enter the temple. But this time, with my elderly parents and little son, it would be a little difficult. That is when we came to know that there is special ghee lamp offering ticket. We can take this ticket and enter the inner premises of the temple without standing in the queue.
After getting back from the aquarium, all of us bathed and changed to fresh clothes for our temple visit. Zavi and myself had to strictly wear dhoti as pants and shorts are not allowed. Women are now allowed to wear salwars and kurtas. Krishnavalsam Regency was situated at the North Gate of Guruvayur Temple. We just had to cross the road and enter the temple premises. Once inside, we are no allowed to take our phones r any electronic gadgets inside. All electronic gadgets including smart phones and smart watches are to deposited at the cloakroom along with our footwear. After offering our prayers to Lord Guruvayurappan, we decided to do a ‘Thulabaram’ for Zavi, as it was his first visit to the temple. ‘Thulabaram’ is a Hindu ritual, where the devotee sits on one side of a weighing scale and an item equivalent or more that than weight of the devotee is offered to the lord. Usually at temples, we have to buy the item we are going to do the Thulabaram with and it is offered at the temple itself. Here at Guruvayur, since there is a huge rush of devotees, the items are kept there itself. I was amazed with the list of items that they had provided for doing Thulabaram. This included different kinds of bananas, mustard, rice, sugar, different vegetables, jaggery and even new notebooks, newspaper, bronze and even silver. We opted for sugar. Sitting on the weighing scale was like a different kind of adventure for Zavi. He was only too happy to take part in the Thulabaram.
We stepped out of the main temple premises with our minds happy and peaceful. We collected our items deposited at the cloakroom and walked towards the East side of the temple. The east side is the actual entrance side of the temple. There was a stage here with classical dance happening. We watched for a while and then walked on. The east side of the temple has plenty of shops selling toys, imitation jewellery, brass items, traditional Kerala handloom garments, bakeries and the like. I always remember that this was the favourite part of my Guruvayur visit when I was a kid. We bought some small toys, Laya got some jewellery and some knick knacks. The place was really live and bustling with people. We decided to have our dinner from Hotel Elite. This was the place where we used to always stay when I was younger. Hotel Elite looked and felt just the same and I was hit by a wave of nostalgia.
Punathur Kotta- Anakottil
A visit to Guruvayur Temple is never complete without visiting the Mammiyur Siva Temple. So the next day after breakfast we visited Mammiyur Siva Temple. A word about our stay, Krishnavalsam Residency was pretty good and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the temple. Also they offered breakfast, which offered uppuma, idli, battoora, appam, bread-jam-butter and cornflakes along with tea or coffee and fresh fruit juices. The breakfast was delicious. We checked out of the hotel after we got back from Mammiyur Temple and our next agenda was the Punathur Kotta or Annakotta, which is an elephant camp. This is a place where all the elephants offered to Guruvayur Temple are housed. The elephant camp is only 2-3 kilometres from Guruvayur Temple. Even at the elephant camp, there was an extremely long queue at the ticket counter. The elephant camp presently has over 50 elephants. This place actually has the largest number of male captive Asian elephants. My memories of visiting the elephant camp was kind of hazy but I clearly remember that it was not very clean earlier. Now the place was very clean and also all the elephants looked very well taken care off. There were boards kept in front of some elephants to be careful as elephant behaviour is unpredictable. The irony was that these boards itself were bend and twisted. After a walk around the elephant camp, we made our way out and back to our car.
Tariff : Guruvayur Devaswon Punnathur Kotta
Adults : INR 20
Children : INR 10 ( Below 10 years )
Mobile Phone Camera : INR 25
Still Camera / Video Camera ( SLR / Mirrorless ) : INR 100
Professional Video Camera : INR 1500
Entry Timing : 08:00 AM IST to 06:00 PM IST
So what had started out as a religious trip, turned into a quick weekend getaway. Our Guruvayur trip was a heart and soul fulfilling one, peppered with entertainment spots enjoyed by young and the elderly alike.
Fun Fact : All images were shot using Apple iPhone 11 (2019) 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2.55", 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS12 MP, f/2.4, 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/3.6"
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We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.