Sabarimala is the most famous and well reputed Hindus pilgrimage in Kerala. Every year it is visited by many devotees of Lord Ayyappa. Sabarimala is a temple town, proudly stands as a symbol of religious devotion, love and equality. The sacred temple town is grandly located on the banks of holy River Pampa in Pathanamthitta at the height of Sahyadri mountains. It is famed for housing an important and most popular Ayyappa temple on the mountain called Sabari.
Devotees are taking an challenging trek to reach this temple. The lush green forest, gurling streams, undulated hilly terrains, chirping birds and rich flora is assuring pleasant and enthralling trip to visitors. The Sabarimala season starts in the month of October and ends in January. Mandalapooja is the famous festival celebrated for 41 days which makes one Mandalam. The sacred temple is thronged by millions of pilgrims irrespective of race, religion and caste. There are certain customs followed by the devotees very strictly to make a trek.
The devotees are expected to follow a Vratham (41 days) prior to the pilgrimage. This begins with wearing of a special Mala (a garland made of Rudraksha or Tulasi beads). In general from then they are to refrain from non-vegetarian food, alcohol, tobacco, engaging in sex, using foul language, hair-cut, shaving and even trimming the nails. They are expected to bath twice in a day and visit the local temples regularly and only wear plain black colored traditional clothing. The devotee who perform Vratham is called as 'Swamy' and enchant 'Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa' all the time.
Hundreds of devotees still follow the traditional mountainous forest path (approximately 61 km) from Erumely. This route starts from Erumely to Aludha river, then crosses the Aludha mountain to reach Karivilam thodu. Now comes the sacred Karimala crossing, from there to Cheriyanavattom, Valliyanavattom and finally Pamba River. Then they have to climb neelimala and enter into the ganesh bettam, shreerama betta padam. Then comes the Aranmula kottaram, which is one of the halt places of holy journey 'Thiruvabharana Ghoshayatra'.
These days people use vehicles to reach the Pamba River by road. From Pamba, all the pilgrims begin trekking the stepped mountain path of Neeli Mala till Sabari Mala. This route now has emergency shops and supporting aid is provided to the pilgrims while climbing a mere trail through dense jungle.
Legend / Sthala Purana
Legend has it that the temple at Sabarimala was built by Parasurama, the warrior-sage who reclaimed the Land of Kerala from the sea. Sabarimala is one of the five 'panchashastha' temples erected by the powerful yogi to protect Kerala from destructive elements, the others being Kulathuppuzha, Aryankavu, Achankovil and Erumeli. At Kulathuppuzha, the Lord is worshipped as an infant boy, at Aryankavu as an adolescent on the verge of matrimony and at Achankovil, he is depicted as a 'Grihasthashrami' with his wives, Poorna and Pushkala.
However, on Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa or Dharmashastha is a brahmachari in a state of eternal bliss or Samadhi, holding 'chinmudra'. It is said that the lord sought this solitary abode to meditate soon after vanquishing the demon, Mahishi in a ferocious battle.
A most important pilgrim site in the Western Ghats
The lush green forest, gurling streams, chirping birds and rich flora
The presiding deity is Ayyappa / Dharma Sastha / Ayyanaar / Ayyappan
Largest annual pilgrimages in the world, visited by 1 million devotees every year
The devotees follow Vratham with divine rules, wearing of a special Mala
Pilgrimage to Sabarimala with Irumudi (Head bag) by devotees to complete the Vratham
It is believed that Vratham gives a pure and clean mind and the divinity reflects
Holy bath in Pampa river
The Sacred 18 steps to enter into the temple
Where is Sabarimala
Sabarimala is located in Ranni Taluk in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala state, India - 689713.
How to Reach
Nearest Town: Erumeli - 45km
Distance From: Kochi (Cochin) - 160 km, Tiruvananthapuram - 170 km, Madhurai - 244 km, Coimbatore - 310 km
Nearest Airport: Cochin, Trivandrum
Nearest Bus Station: Pamba
Nearest Railway Station: Chengannur - 90km
Transport: The vehicles bearing Ayyappas from various parts of the country are pooled at Erumeli. Erumeli to Sabarimala (via) Kalaketty, Azhutha, Inchippara, Karimala, Pampa - 45 km. Vehicles cannot proceed further beyond Pampa which is located in the Pampa river valley. The final 5kms are best covered by trekking, but for the aged and handicapped, porters and chairs are available.
Where to Stay
Many guest houses for rent available at Sabarimala for pilgrims stay.
Festivals / Events
Makarajyothi: The Sirius Star
Makaravilakku: 7 day festival - The Arathi that performed by The tribes and later continued by The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) - 14 January (Makar Sankranti).
Neyyabhishekam: Significant ritual involves pouring sacred ghee brought by pilgrims in their Pallikettu or Irumudi
Worship & Darshan Timings
04.05am to 04.15pm Nirmalya Darshanam
04.15am to 12.00pm Neyyabhishekam
01.30pm to 04.00pm Break
04.15am Ganapati Homam
07.30am Usha Pooja
01.00pm Ucha Pooja
10.30pm Athazha Pooja
Harivarasanam is a lulluby song recited before closing the temple door every night.
Things to Take Care
The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja (approximately 15 November to 26 December), Makaravilakku or Makar Sankranti (14 January) and Maha Vishuva Sankranti (14 April), and the first five days of each Malayalam month
Don't miss to buy the tastiest prasadam
Females who menstruate (usually between the ages of approximately 12 and 50) are not allowed to enter the temple