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Sabarimala - Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa
( information about Lord Ayyappa, Sabarimala )

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Legend of Ayyappa Pathinettampadi 18 Steps   Pilgrimage guidelines

The shrine of Sabrimala dedicated to Lord Ayyappa who is believed to have been born from the union of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, and Lord Siva, the Destroyer. is one of the most remote shrines in southern India and draws three to four million pilgrims each year. Before beginning the multi-day walk through the mountain jungles to get to Sabrimala, the pilgrims prepare themselves with 41 days of rigorous fasting, celibacy, meditation and prayer.

The famous Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala is thronged by multitudes for nearly two and a half months every year. The devotees go for pilgrimage to Sabarimala after a period of penance.Taking a holy dip in the sacred river Pampa and having a darshan of Lord Ayyappa at the hill top temple is the fulfillment of Life’s ambition for crores of people. The temple is situated at a height of about  914 m. above the sea level in the dense forest, forming a part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. It is located in Perinadu village of Ranni taluk in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala.

Motor vehicles are allowed only up to Pampa and there after the devotees have to climb the 4 km. long steep stretch to reach the temple. Therefore, Pampa has become a base station for the pilgrimage.
Sabarimala temple is at present kept open for darsan during the first 5 days of every Malayalam month and for about two and a half months every year during the festival season covering the ‘Mandala Pooja’ and ‘Makara Vilakku’. Festival season starts from the first of Malayalam month ‘Vrichikam’ (November) and ends on the first of ‘Makaram’ (January).  In addition to this, the temple will   open during other popular festivals of Kerala like Onam and Vishu and also for Atta Chithira, Nira puthari and Painkuni Uthram.  Large number of pilgrims visits the Sabarimala temple during the Mandala Pooja and Makara Vilakku festival season.  Devotees from all over India and abroad, without any discrimination on caste, creed and religion visits the temple.  The only restriction is for females aged between 10 and 50 years. 
The unique feature of this shrine is that it is a symbol of communal amity where in Lord Ayyappa and Vavaru Swami a muslim warrior, who is believed to have been the friend of Lord Ayyappa are both worshiped by all devotees.  The temple is a unique example of the secular face of our great country.
Pooja Timing
The temple opens at 0400hrs and closes at 13.00 hrs and then opens again at 16.00 hrs and closes at 2300 hrs during festival season. During monthly poojas and other festive occasions, temple opens at 0500 hrs, closes at 1300 hrs and then again opens at 1600 hrs and closes at 2200 hrs.
Nirmalyam 0400 hrs during festival season.
0500 hrs during other occasions.
Neyyabhishekam 0415 hrs to 1130 hrs during festival season.
0515 hrs to 1100 hrs during other occasions.
Usha pooja 0730 hrs.  
Ucha Pooja 1300 hrs.  
Deeparadhana 1830 hrs.  
Athazha pooja 2230 hrs during festival season.
2130 hrs during other occasions.
Harivarasam 2250 hrs during festival season.
2150 hrs during other occasions.


Rules of Rituals
  • Put contents of Irumudi at the designated  areas only.
  • Break coconuts only at the allotted places. – either at the side of the pathinettampadi or the Azhi.
  • Offerings to be made only at the Mahakanikka and other Kanikka vanchies.
  • Pilgrims are not allowed to climb Pathinettampadi without Irumudi.
  • Use Vadakkenada for darshan without Irumudi.
  • Lighting of camphor to be avoided while making darshan before Lord Ayyappa and before Malikapuram Devi.
  • Females between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed to conduct pilgrimage to Sabarimala.

“Appam and Aravana” are the two major forms of prasadam that can be purchased from Sabarimala. Devotees are advised to purchase Prasadam only from the counters of the Temple and   to refrain from engaging agents or touts for this purpose.

Devotees can purchase Appam and Aravana from the counters situated on the Southern side of Lower Thirumuttam at Sannidhanam at any time during the festival season and at the time when the temple is open on other occasions.

Modakam can be purchased from the counter near the Ganapathy temple at Pampa

Tickets for Appam and Aravana can be purchased from the branches of Dhanalekshmi Bank.


Only limited number of rooms, dormitories and Viri type accommodation are available at Sabarimala.  Devotees are advised to contact the officials of Maramath department, Travancore Devaswom Board for availing accommodation, well before they leave for Sabarimala.  They are advised not to engage touts or agents for arranging accommodation. Pilgrims are advised to make their stay at Sabarimala especially at Sannidhanam as brief as possible to avoid overcrowding.

There is a Devaswom board guest house, 3 Pilgrim Centres, 7 Donor houses and 12 viri sheds, which can accommodate pilgrims.  The person to be approached for accommodation in the Guest House is the Guest House Manager and for accommodation in the Pilgrim Centres and Donor Houses, the Accommodation Manager.  Viris will be allotted at the viri locations.

Advice to Pilgrims
  • Take rest for 5 minutes after a walk of 10 minutes during the climb.
  • Use the traditional path – Marakoottam, Saramkuthy, Nadapanthal – to reach Sannidhanam.
  • Follow the queue system to reach Pathinettampadi.
  • Use the Nadapanthal fly over for return journey.
  • Use toilets and latrines for urination and bowel clearance.
  • Ascertain the prevailing crowd  situation and then only proceed to Sannidhanam  from Pampa.
  • While using Dolly, make payment only at the Devaswom counter and keep the receipt.
  • Subject yourself for security check at security check points.
  • Approach police for any help.
  • Inform police about any suspicious characters.
  • Buy edible items from licensed outlets only.
  • Keep Pampa, Sannidhanam and the trekking paths clean.
  • Park vehicles only at the allotted parkig slots.
  • Deposit waste in the waste boxes only.
  • Avail the facilities of medical centers and oxygen parlours if needed.
  • Identification cards with address and contact numbers to be hung on the neck of children, aged and malikapurams.
  • In case of isolation from groups /friends  devotees may report at police aid posts.

( Courtesy:  )

 Sabarimala information for devotees

Author: karthikeyan

Devotees visiting Sabarimala Temple should strictly adhere to the customs and traditions followed at the temple. Only those coming with IRUMUDIKETTU will be allowed to ascend the Holy PATHINETTAMPADI (Eighteen Holy Steps) leading to the Sannidhanam. Women aged between 10 years and 50 years will not be allowed to trek the Holy Hills. At the time of the Thiru Aarattu Festival, presence of women aged between 10 to 50 is not allowed at Pamba also.
In order to avoid environmental pollution on the road leading to Pampa, Sannidhanam and enroute, all items manufactured in plastic and polythene are strictly banned. Betel chewing, using pan masala and smoking are also strictly banned in the above mentioned places.
Though the Board is trying its level best to provide all amenities to the pilgrims, due to the severe rush the facilities may not be enough. Hence pilgrims are advised not to overstay at the temple premises. Since the boarding facilities at the Sannidhanam are not enough to cater to the heavy rush of pilgrims, the devotees are requested to leave Sannidhanam at the earliest, after Darshan and other rituals.
Parking of vehicles except light vehicles has been arranged at Nilakal. The heavy vehicles should drop the devoees at Pampa and go back to Nilackal, to park the same at the parking area provided by Travancore Devaswom Board. After the Darshan devotees may avail the facility of chain services arranged by KSRTC to reach Nilackal and catch their own vehicles parked at the parking area. These arrangements are to avoid the heavy rush and traffic jam at Pamba. On days having heavy rush, hevy vehicles will not be allowed beyond Nilakkal.

In order to make this annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala a grand success, Devaswom Board requests the co-operation of all devotees in this regard.

Devaswom Commissioner's Office
Travancore Devaswom Board
Thiruvananthapuram 695 003
Phone 0471- 2315156

Pilgrimage Centres

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, 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.

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.

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 (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.

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

Pathinettapadi (18 divine steps) to the sanctum sanctorium is divine in all aspects. The first three steps depict "Bhoomi, Agni, Vayoo & Akash", 6 to 9 steps for Karmendriya, 10 to 15 for Jhanandriya, 16th for mind 17th Intelligence and 18th Jeevathma Bhava. Those who cross all these steps are believed to achieve "Punyadarshan".

The steep steps are so important and holy that no one can climb them without fasting for 41 days and carrying the holy irrumudi on ones' head.There are many mythological stories associated with the holy Patinettampadi. Some believe the eighteen steps denote the 18 puranas. Some say that 18 weapons with which Lord Ayyappa destroyed the evil denotes the 18 steps. Others are of the belief that the first five steps denotes the indriyas (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin). The next eight steps signifies the ragas (tatwa, kama, krodha, moha, lobha, madha, matsraya, and ahamkara.

The next three steps signifies the gunas (satwa, rajas and thamas). The seventeenth and the eighteenth denotes vidhya and ignorance.
The Patinettampadi can be used only twice - once for ascending the temple and once for descending below leaving the hill. Before ascending or descending the steps, pilgrims break coconut as an offering to the steps. One needs to have the sacre Irumudi on head while going up or down the 18 steps. While descending the steps the devotees climb down backwards facing the sanctum sanctorum.
One who climbs the Patinettampadi for 18 times shall plant a sapling of coconut in Sabarimala.

Built on a plateau about 40 feet high, the Ayyappan temple commands a lofty view of the mountains and valleys all around. The ancient temple has been rebuilt after a fire in 1950. Within the confines of the sanctum sanctorium with a copper-plated roof and four golden finials at the top, two mandapams, the belikalpura which houses the altar, the flag-staff replacing the earlier stone image of the deity, sits a beautiful idol of Ayyappa in panchaloha, an alloy of five metals, about one and a half feet tall.

(  Article Source: - Sabarimali information for devotees )

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