Sabarimala – One of Kerala's principal pilgrimage towns
Sabarimala is a very significant Hindu temple situated on top of a hill in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. The hill is surrounded by 18 other hills and is a part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This temple is dedicated to the God of growth, Ayyappa. Every year, this temple attracts many pilgrims from various states of India and even parts of the world. Most of the pilgrims would be from Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. This temple would open for worship only for the days of Mandalapooja which comes between November and December, Makara Sankranti on the 14th of January, Maha Vishuva Sankranti on the 14th of April, and for the first five days of every Malayalam month. People can purchase their tickets through the Sabarimala online tickets facility.
Address: Pathanamthitta, Kerala
Opening hours: 3 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 11 pm
Deity: Lord Ayyappa
Festivals Celebrated: Makar Sankranti, Mandalam Makaravilakku
A brief history
The popular myth of Ayyappa is connected to the royal dynasty of Pandalam. The King and Queen of this dynasty tried their best to have children. According to the story, when the King went hunting, he found a baby crying alone by the riverside in a forest. Upon inquiring, a sage advised him to take this crying baby home as his son, which the King followed. This child, Manikanda, grew up as the prince of the dynasty.When he was twelve, the Queen developed an illness and the doctor who treated the Queen advised her to drink tigress's milk to treat this illness. While no one accepted this responsibility for bringing milk from a tigress, Manikandan happily volunteered. While returning to the Kingdom, he not only brought her the milk but also rode the tigress along with her several cubs. The royal family realised that he was an extraordinary child and according to the lore, the prince is said to have expressed his desire to abandon the kingdom and become an ascetic. The King later builds an incredible shrine for the boy on top of Sabarimala, where Manikandan became Ayyappan by acquiring a divine form.
The Pilgrimage and getting there
The pilgrims who wish to see Ayyappan has to reach the temple through lots of complicated treks in the forest as there is no provision for vehicles to enter the area. They have to observe celibacy for about 41 days before going to the temple. The pilgrims are also required to strictly refrain from alcohol, follow a lacto-vegetarian diet, never use profanity, and let their nails and hair grow without clipping or cutting them off. They are also expected to visit local temples regularly and bathe twice a day. They should wear blue or black clothes, not shave until their pilgrimage is completed, and apply sandal paste or Vibhuti on the forehead. They must try their best to help others and see everyone and everything around them as Ayyappan.
Millions of people every year still follow the original route to Sabarimala temple which is through the mountainous forest path from Erumely, 8 km from Chalakayam, and 12.8 km from Vandiperiyar. The popular belief is that Ayyappa took this route himself. This route starts from Erumely to the Aludha River, and then pilgrims reach Karivalam thodu by crossing the Alutha Mountain. The sacred Karimala is the first point that's passed, followed by the Cheriyanavattom, Valiyanavattom, and the Pamba River. Pilgrims should climb the Neelimala and get into the Ganesh-Bettam and Shreerama-Betta Padam. After this comes the famous Aranmula Kottaram, one of the most popular stops during the holy journey of Thiruvabharana Ghoshayathra.
People also use the vehicles these days through an alternate route to reach the Pamba River. From there, people will have to start their trek through the mountain's steep paths of Neelimala till Sabarimala temple. People can also make use of the Sabarimala online tickets facility that's now available. The Sabarimala online ticket helps devotees get their tickets easily before visiting the Sabarimala temple.
Women and Sabarimala
For the past few months, the most famous Sabarimala news is the controversy over the entry of women, and according to the latest Sabarimala news, the larger bench of the court has to decide. This ban on women between 10-50 years for entry into Sabarimala temple has been practised for many centuries since devotees consider Lord Ayyappa to be celibate.
There are various legends as to why women are not allowed to enter the temple. The most famous legend is that Ayyappa does not receive women of reproductive age in honour of Malikapurathamma, the woman who proposed to Ayyappa after he lifted her curse of being a demon by defeating her in a battle. Women of this age also do not choose to go as it would be an insult to the love and sacrifice of Malikapurathamma. Sabarimala temple is a very popular temple, and thousands of people visit the temple every year. Visit the redBus website or download the app to plan your pilgrimage correctly! There are direct buses that go from Bangalore (Bengaluru) to Sabarimala or Chennai to Sabarimala buses that will make your trip stress-free. For reservations of the best seats in the ideal mode of transportation, you can rely on redBus. You will have a comfortable and satisfying journey to see one of the holiest places in the country with redBus!