Sabarimala Places of Interest
 

sabarimala glance

The Sannidhanam (The Temple) :

Sabarimala is a pilgrim centre in Kerala in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of India. Lord Ayyappan’s temple is situated here in the midst of 18 hills. The area is in the Sahya hilly regions of Kerala in Pathanamthitta District. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 1260 m/4135 ft. above mean sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. Temples existed in each of the hills surrounding Sabarimala. While functional and intact temples exist at many places in the surrounding areas like Nilackal, Kalaketi, and Karimala, remnants of old temples are visible in the remaining hills. Sabarimala is believed to be the place where Ayyappan meditated after killing the powerful demon, Mahishi.Sabarimala is one of the most visited piligrim centres in the world with an estimated 4.5 - 5 crores devotees coming every year. The world’s second largest annual pilgrimage, after Haj in Mecca. The pilgrimage to Sabarimala is a singular example of one where pilgrims, wit hout consideration of caste, creed, position or social status, go with one mind and one ‘mantra’ dreaming constantly of the darshan of the presiding deity at the Holy Sannidhanam. Vehicles can go up to Pampa. Thereafter, pilgrims have to follow a path approximately four kilometers up a steep hill. The path, now fully cemented, with shops and medical aid by the sides, used to be a mere trail through dense forest. There is a place near the temple (east of Sannidhanam), dedicated to the Vavar, a Muslim who was the disciple of Ayyappan, called “Vavarunada”. The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja (Nov 15 to Dec 26), Makaravilakku (Jan 15) and Vishu (Apr 14), and the beginning of every month in the Malayalam calendar.

 

Lord Ayyappan : Ayyappan, a Hindu deity. The worship of this deity is largely confined to South India. Lord Ayyappan is worshipped in a number of shrines across India: at Kulathupuzha, in Kerala, he is worshipped as a child; at Achenkovil in conjunction with his consorts, Pushkala and Poorna; and at Sabarimala as an ascetic - a celibate meditating in solitude for the benefit of all mankind. The name “Ayyappan” is used as a respectful form of address in Malayalam, and the famous mantra ‘Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa’ can be directly translated as Give me shelter, Lord Ayyappa! The most famous Ayyappa shrine in India is the one at Sabarimala with over 50 million devotees visiting it every year.

 

The Shrine of Lord Ganapati:

 To the south-west of the main temple is the shrine of Lord Ganapati, known as Kannimula Ganapati. The special offering to this deity is Ganapati homan.

Bhasma Kulam :

 About a 100 metres away is the shrine of Malikappurathamma. En route to the shrine is the temple tank, Bhasma Kulam, in which hundreds of devotees take a holy bath in memory of the tapaswini Sabari who entered a fire to end her mortal life. It is after her that the peak is named Sabarimala. On account of the number of people who bathe in the tank, the water is frequently drained out and refilled with fresh water.

 

Neyyabhishekam (Irumudi) : This significant ritual involves pouring sacred ghee brought by pilgrims in their Pallikattu (Irumudi) on the idol of Lord Ayyappa. It symbolically means the merging of Jeevatma with the Paramatma.

 

Malikappurathamma :

Situated on a small hillock, the Malikappurathamma temple houses the shrines of the Devi and Kaduthaswamy. Devotees also worship a trident and lamp here, and offer coconuts. The coconuts are not broken, however, but are just rolled on the ground. To the left of this temple are the shrines of the snake god and goddess, Nagaraja and Nagayakshi. Here, tribals beat on drums, play stringed instruments and sing sarppa pattu to protect devotees and their progeny from the harmful effects of snakebites.

Makara Jothi :

 Makarajyoti is the celestial star which is worshipped by the pilgrims. The main worshipping rituals are performed at the day of Makara Sankaranthi (every 14 January) day. It draws the second largest number of pilgrims in the country. The devotees believe that witnessing the light brings them good luck and divine blessings. The Makara Jyothi marks the climax of the Makaravilakku season of Sabarimala pilgrimage lasting 41 days.


Harivarasanam :

Harivarasanam is recited before closing the temple door at night. Harivarasanam song, which is sung today at Sabarimala as the Lullaby at night (Urakkupattu) was composed by Sri Kambakkudi Kulathur Srinivasa Iyer. It is said that Srinivasa Iyer used to recite the composition, after the Athazha Pooja, standing in front of Lord Ayyappa at the main temple. With the efforts of Swami Vimochanananda, it came to be accepted as the lullaby by the Thantri and Melsanti. The composition has 352 letters, 108 words in 32 lines (8 stanzas).

Homakunda :

Erimemadi

There used to be a large homakunda in front of the shrine, which burned constantly, fed by the coconut shells thrown by the devotees, after offering the ghee. As the coconut shells gets consumed by the fire, the sins of the devotees are believed to be cleansed. Due to the growing crowds in the temple, the homakunda has now been shifted to a location below the temple.

Shrines of Kaduthaswamy and Karuppaswamy:

 At the foot of the Patinettampadi are the two shrines of Kaduthaswamy and Karuppaswamy, who stand like dwarapalakas or guardians of the holy steps, to ensure that they are not polluted by those who tread on them without fulfilling the rigid austerities required of them. They are also believed to protect the devotees from the evil spirits of the forests. According to legend, Kadutha was a great warrior who helped the Pandalam king defeat the armies of Udayanan and other enemies. When the king came to Sabarimalai to reconstruct the temple, Kadutha came with him to protect him. Ultimately, he became so attached to Ayyappa that he decided to spend the rest of his days with his Lord. Also near the Patinettampadi is the shrine of the Muslim Vavurswami. While there are several accounts of identity of Vavur, it is generally believed that he was a warrior who was defeated and subdued by Ayyappa, and later became a close associate.

 

Pathanamthitta Pathanamthitta : It is a town situated in the very heart of the Central Travancore region of Kerala State, India. It is the administrative capital of The Pathanamthitta District. The town has a population of 38,000. It is known as the ‘Pilgrim Capital of Kerala’. Pathanamthitta is a fast-developing town and business center. It is the main transport hub to the famous Hindu pilgrim center of Sabarimala. The main trunk road to Sabarimala is from Pathanamthitta. The Main Eastern Highway (Punalur-Pathanamthitta-Muvattupuzha Road/SH-08) and T.K.Road (Thiruvalla-Pathanamthitta-Kumbazha Road/SH-07) pass through Pathanamthitta. Pathanamthitta is a cosmopolitan town, with people of different faiths like Hindus, Christians, and Muslims live in harmony. Pathanamthitta District has a communal break up of Hindus 55.58%, Christians 40.35%, Muslims 4.03%.

 

Nilackal Mahadevar Temple :

This is an important Temple enroute to Sabarimala and located between Plappally and Pampa. This is an intermediate halting area (with parking facilities).

Erumeli Sastha Temple :

Erumeli Sastha Temple, an important meeting place in the pilgrimage trip to Sabarimala is famous on many counts. There is also a Muslim Temple very near to the Sastha Temple. Ayyappans go to Sabarimala after worshipping at these two temples, that symbolise the Hindu-Muslim unity. The pilgrims go to Sabarimala after ‘Pettathullal’ at Erumeli. Pilgrimage to Sabarimala without Pettathullal and worship at the above mentioned temples is against the traditional dogmas. Erumeli Temple is at a distance of 38 Kms from Kottayam. Nearest Railway station is Kottayam.

Erumeli Sastha temple

Pandalam Valiyakoyickal Temple :

 According to legend Ayyaappa as a babe was found lying on the banks of the river Pampa, by the Raja of Pandalam. The Raja had no issue and the child was considered as a God-given gift. It was therefore brought up in court with all regal honours. Ayyappan grew up endowed with heavenly splendour, super human wisdom and physical powers. Sree Dharmaa Sastha of Pandalam Valiyakoyickal Temple is Dharma Deva to King to Pandalam. One of the Major events associated with the Makaravilakku Festival is the procession of the Thiruvabharanam of Lord Ayyappa from this Temple. The nearest town and railway station is Chengannoor-12 Kms away.

Kulathupuzha Sastha Temple :

 The Sastha Temple at Kulathupuzha is a very ancient one. The idol at Kulathupuzha is called ‘Manikantan’. It is believed that the Temple was constructed by the Raja of Pandalam. But the idol was discovered by a Brahmin from Kottarakkara after several years and he started pooja there. The King of Kottarakkara heard about this and he constructed the present temple. Feeding the fishes in the nearby river is an important vazhipadu in the Temple.

Achankoil Sastha Temple :

ErumeliPettaiAchankoil Sastha (Arachan) temple is a sacred place of worship where pilgrims from Kerala and Tamilnadu come in groups through out the year. According to a legend the God gave ‘Darshan’ to a worshipper who had undertaken long term penance at Kandamala, where the the present temple stands. The main festival season here comes during the Mandalam puja. The nearest town and railway station is Shenkottah-Tamil Nadu.

Arayankavu Sastha Temple :

 The legend behind the Ayyappa of Aryankavu is similar to that of Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha. The only difference between the two is that Sastha was brough up by the Pandi Raja of Madura and not the Raja of Pandalam. The temple is constructed about 35 feet below the road level. It is at a distance of 2 kms from the majestic Pallaruvi waterfalls located in the deep dense forests. It is believed that Ayyappa had relationship with Sourashtrans while living in the palace of Raja of Madura. Even now Sourashtrans reach here in groups during the time of Mandalapooja. The temple rests 86 Kms away from Thiruvananthapuram.

 

Ayyappa VilakkuMakara Vilakku festival: After the jothi, that night Malikappurathuamma, mounted on an elephant comes in a procession to the Patinettampadi (18 steps) and returns back to her abode. This is the beginning of the Makara Vilakku festival. This festival lasts for seven days. Many pilgrims stay back till this festival is over and Kuruthi pooja (offering of water mixed with chunnambu and turmeric powder to the forest deities) is performed. Even some who leave Sabarimala after witnessing the Jothi observe fasting till the Makara Villaku and Kuruthi pooja is complete at Sabarimala.

Other festivals : Onam, Mandalapooja, Pankuni Uthram (Lord Birthday) and Vishu are the other festivals celebrated at Sabarimala with pomp and glory.

 

 

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