Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Guruvayur Temple, offers 'Thulabharam' with 111 kg lotus flowers: Know about the Guruvayur Sri Krishna temple that is known as "Vaikunta on Earth"

Guruvayur Temple
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Kochi on Friday night to take darshan at the famous Guruvayur Sri Krishna temple in Thrissur, which is also known as Bhuloka Vaikunta, "Vaikunta on Earth". He reached the temple and took darshan of Lord Sri Krishnan (Guruvayurappan) on Saturday morning.

Prime Minister Modi offered Thulabharam ritual (a special offering where the devotee is weighed against an offering of his choice) with 111 kg lotus flowers at the temple after taking darshan. The temple administration has already arranged 112 kilograms of lotus flowers from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu, for the purpose.

Shri Narendra Modi offering Thulabharam with lotus flowers in 2008, when he was Gujarat CM
The visit of the Prime Minister, an ardent devotee of Lord Sri Krishna, draws media attention as it is believed that he is going to pay his obeisance for the spectacular victory in the Lok Sabha elections. Security has been beefed up in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts in connection with the Prime Minister's visit. The Prime Minister will also address an 'Abhinandan Sabha' organised by BJP at the Sri Krishna High School grounds at 11 am after his temple visit.

This is not the first time Shri Narendra Modi is visiting the temple. He had taken darshan of Lord Sri Krishna at Guruvayur when he was chief minister of Gujarat in 2008 and had also offered Thulabharam with lotus flowers.
The Legend of the Guruvayur Temple

Sri Naradiya Purana mentions how Janamejaya was cured of leprosy by taking refuge under the feet of Guruvayuruppan. The Pandavas handed over the kingdom to their grandson Parikshit, and left for the forest to spend their last days. Parikshit died of the curse of a saint, who cursed that Parikshit will die of snake bite by Takshaka, the king of serpents. After the death of Parikshit, he was succeeded by his son Janamejaya. Janamejaya conducted a sacrifice to destroy all the snakes of the world including Takshaka, who was the cause of his father's death. Hundreds of thousands of snakes fell into the sacrificial fire and were killed, but the sacrifice was stopped by a Brahmin called Astika, before Takshaka was killed.
Since Janamejaya was responsible for the death of millions of snakes, he was afflicted with leprosy. He lost all hope of a cure. One day Sage Atreya (son of Atri) came before Janamejaya and told him to take refuge under the feet of Krishna at Guruvayoor. Atreya told him that in the temple at Guruvayur the effulgence of Sri Hari is at its best and Vishnu showers his blessings on all devotees. He immediately rushed there and spent the next ten months worshipping God at Guruvayur. At the end of ten months, he returned home hale and hearty and took the astrologer to task for making a false prediction. The astrologer told him that he would find the mark of a snakebite on his left leg. He had escaped death only because he was at that time in a temple where Anantha (the emperor of serpents) was present and Anantha was the brother to the God at Guruvayur where he had finished worshipping.
The king being convinced of the astrologer's verdict decided to build a full-fledged temple at Guruvayur. In course of time, this temple came to be downgraded and reduced to poverty during the days when Kerala was ruled by the Perumals. The Perumal rulers were mostly Shaivites and did not extend their patronage to Vaishnavite shrines. The Shiva temple at Mammiyur received their patronage and with the shift of royal patronage, the worshippers also swung more to the Shiva temple. The Guruvayur temple was thus reduced to utmost poverty, without even means to light the temple lamp. However, one day, a holy man went to the Mammiyur temple for food and hospitality for the night. Though the temple was affluent, the temple authorities pretended they had nothing and scornfully directed him to the neighbouring Guruvayur temple knowing fully well that the temple was in destitute conditions. When the holy man entered the precincts of that temple, he was courteously received by a brahmin boy and sumptuously fed. The holy man was very much pleased and he pronounced a blessing. "I came here from Mammiyur temple, because they said there is nothing there," he said."They told me also that there is plenty here. Well, hereafter it will be exactly like that!" It is said from that day, Mammiyur Siva temple began to decline, and the fortunes of Guruvayur Vishnu temple progressed from strength to strength. But now, Mammiyur is also progressing by the number of devotees. (Source: Narayaneeyam, translated by Swami Tapasyananda, Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math)
When the President Giani Zail Singh was denied entry to the Guruvayur Temple

Giani Zail Singh, Former President of India 
Hindu temples in Kerala are best known for the strictest rules and practices, their complexities often leave devotees from other parts of the country perplexed.
Unlike most temples in the northern part of the Bharat, the Kerala temples follow Tantra Shastra, in which puja is based on Tantras, Āgamas or Samhitās. Like the majority of other Kerala temples, devotees are strictly advised to maintain a proper dress code inside the Guruvayur temple premises. Meanwhile, the men cannot enter the temple wearing shirt, banyan, pyjama, lungi, chequered clothes, etc.
The 5000-year-old temple of Lord Sri Krishna temple has denied entry to several 'VIP visitors’ as the customs and practices of the temple are strict, perhaps the strictest in Bharat. Around three decades ago, the temple had denied entry to none other than, the then president of India, Giani Zail Singh as he refused to adhere to the customs of the temple! According to the temple customs, a devotee shall not wear turban or headgear, as covering head before the deity or king is considered as utter disrespect as per traditions! There is also a strict rule is that non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple.
The lord of 60 tuskers!

Anakkotta (Elephant Fort) 
Offering elephants to Lord Guruvayurappa was a famous ritual of the temple. There were more than 86 elephants at the elephant yard of the temple, Anakkotta (Elephant Fort), at a time. At present, there are about 60 elephants. Anakkotta, which is about 2km far from the temple, is home to the largest population of captive male Asian elephants in the world.

An elephant, carrying the idol of Lord Krishna, along with devotees paying homage to the statue of Guruvayur Keshavan on his death anniversary
Among all elephants of Lord Krishna, a legendary tusker namely Gajarajan Guruvayur Keshavan is still the most famous. Keshavan, which died on 2 December 1976, is perhaps the most famous and celebrated temple elephant in the world as he is still remembered by devotees and elephant lovers, even four decades after his demise. He passed away on the auspicious day of Guruvayur Ekadasi. Every year on his death anniversary, people in large number throng the temple premises to pay homage to his life-sized statue. A grand feast to the elephants is also conducted on the day. Gajarajan Guruvayur Keshavan’s life was the subject of the 1977 Malayalam feature film Guruvayur Kesavan, which was released a year after his death.