Guruvayur is a pilgrim center which has its own glory and greatness, mainly because of the divinity enshrined in the Sanctum - Sanctorum (central shrine) of the temple and the unique charm of the idol installed in it.. Guruvayur is called BHOO LOKA VAIKUNDHAM.Because idol of Lord which, He himself worshiped is installed.
According to the legends, the idol worshipped here is more than 5000 years old. But according to Prof. K V Krishna Iyer (eminent historian), the Brahmins had begun to come and settle at Kodungalloor during the period of Chandra Gupta Maurya ( 321-297 BC). Trikkunavay in the Guruvayur documents is the same as Thrikkanamathilakam or Mathilakam mentioned in the Dutch and British records. And this place was in between Guruvayur and Kodungalloor. Guruvayur was Trikkunavay's subordinate shrine since they were destroyed by the Dutch in 1755. That way Guruvayur must have come into existence before 52 AD. The story of Pandyan King building a shrine here may be a reference to the Azhavars , but they are all silent in their writing about Guruvayur.
Ref From - guruvayurdevaswom
Guruvayoor Sthala Puranam:
According to legends Lord Vishnu himself had worshipped the idol that we see now at Guruvayur, before donating it to Brahma. Prajapati Sutapa and his wife Prsni prayed to Brahma, and pleased at their devotion Brahma gave them this idol. Sutapa and his wife Prsni worshipped the idol with such devotion that Mahavishnu Himself appeared before them for granting a boon. In their over enthusiasm they asked thrice "We need a son equivalent to thou" . Mahavishnu told them that he himself would take birth as their son in three different janmas (births) and in all those three janmas they would get the vigraha given to them by Brahma.
In the first janma in the Satya Yuga, Mahavishnu was born as Prsnigarbha, as son of Sutapa and Prsni. Prsnigarbha instructed the world the importance of Brahmacharya to the world.
In the second janma, Sutapa and his wife Prsni were born as Kashyapa and Aditi and Mahavishnu was born as Vamana. In the Dwapara Yuga, Krishna was born to Vasudeva and Devaki.. This idol was given to them by Daumya for worship. From his father Vasudeva, Sri Krishna got it and it was installed and worshipped at Dwaraka. Sri Krishna established a big temple at Dwaraka and installed this idol there.Before the conclusion of His incarnation as Krishna,the Lord told his minister and devotee,Uddhava that this image would come floating in the seathat would engulf Dwaraka.
Uddhava was instructed to request Brihaspati,the Deva-Guru to install the image at a suitable place so that it would help the spiritual upliftand salvation to people suffering from thebad effects of the coming Kaliyuga .Accordingly, Guru collected this divine image and along with Vayu, the Wind God went all around the world to select a suitable spot,and finally at the direction of Lord Siva,installed it at a place 25 Km to the northwest of Trichur in Kerala.
Guru and Vayu installed the image together.Hence the place came to be known as Guruvayoor. According to this story told in the Guruvayupura Mahatmyam ,this temple of Guruvayoor had thus its originate the beginning of Kali Yuga and is about 5,100 years old by now.
King Janamejaya, the grandson of the Pandavaswas afflicted by leprosy as a result of the curse of the serpents.It is said that he got his disease cured afterlong years of worship of the Lord of Guruvayoor as advised by Sage Atreya. Later a Pandya king built a good templefor the Lord of Guruvayoor as he escapeddeath by a snake's bite as foretold byastrologers during his pilgrimage to Guruvayoor. Historically, the temple dates only from the 17th century,by which time the temple came into great prominence.
The shrine, as it stands today, was constructed during the 16th and 17th century A.D.The elaborate rituals performed here are said to have been prescribed by Adi Sankaracharya , the philosopher saint of Kerala.
One Ekadesi day, Sri Adi Shankara and Narada were travelling in space above the temple of Guruvayur. Narada told the Acharya that he was descending at Guruvayur. Acharya disdainfully told Narada that idol worship and chanting of the Lord's name repeatedly was for the ignorant and not for a Gyani like him and continued his journey in space. A moment later, he tripped and fell prostrate on the earth by the northern side of the temple, where the Lord's Sriveli had reached. The Acharya realised his error and begged the Lord for forgiveness. The Lord told him that temple worship, repetition of the Lord's name and listening to religious discourses were all ways of expressing devotion and were all dear to him. He then asked Sri Shankara to organise the daily worship in the temple, which he did. He decided to stay in the temple for few days and engage in the worship of the Supreme Lord and attentively instructed the priests of the temple in the correct rituals from the scriptures to be offered to the Lord, which is believed These rituals to be followed as it is even today. Every day, the temple opens at 3 a.m. and the Lord is awakened from his sleep with the melodious notes of nadaswaram. The Lord is adorned with flowers of the previous day. This is known as Nirmalya Darshanam. It is believed that celestial beings come and worship the Lord after the temple is closed.
The presiding deity in the Garbhagraha (central shrine) is Mahavishnu, worshipped according to the pooja routines laid down by Adi Sankaracharya and later written in to the Tantrasamuchaya by Chennas Narayanan Namboodiri (born in 1427). The Chennas Namboodiris are the hereditary Tantri of Guruvayur temple.
The temple of Guruvayoor came into limelight mainly due to five great saintly devotees.Their mystic experiences began to evoke the faith and devotion of many devotees.These five great names, who lived in the16 /17th centuries were Vilwamangalam Swami,Kurur Amma, Poonthanam Namboodiri,Manavikrama Raja, and Narayana Bhattathiri.Of all these, Narayana Bhattatiri,by his great poetical hymn, The NARAYANEEYAMand his remarkable recovery from a crippling paralysishas immortalized the temple of Guruvayoor.
Seeking His blessings...Ohm Namo Narayana!!