Pilgrim Pleasures at the Sabarimala Temple

Asia | | April 9, 2012 at 1:38 am


While in India, temples are a must see in travel destinations. There are many delights here in travels which provide the best experiences and give the tourist ideal travel luxury. If the tourist is in a pilgrim locale then the pleasures of travels are doubled.

Amongst the many temple destinations in India, Sabarimala in the state of Kerala is a sure sight for all the pilgrims. As the most sought after pilgrim destination, the Sabarimala temple is situated in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of the district of Pathanamthitta in the state of Kerala. This is the largest pilgrimage that is held annually in the world and has around 45 to 50 million devotees coming here each year. It is believed that this is the place where the Hindu God Ayappan performed meditation after he killed Mahishi the demons. The temple that is found in Sabarimala is the Ayappa temple and this is located here amidst the hills that are found here. There are eighteen of them. Located on a hilltop at a height of around 468 m, this has dense forests and mountains. Sabarimala is a land of temples and forest land. So the area is surrounded by temples like Kalaketi, Nilackal, Karimala and many other important temples. In fact Sabarimala has some of the remains of temples of the past here. These are found in the hills that are found in this temple region.

Sabarimala Temple
All Hindus normally undertake the pilgrimage to Sabarimala and it is mainly a pilgrimage observed by the men. Women who are in the ages of 10 and 50 are not permitted here in the temple. The story goes that Ayappa prohibited the entry of women in this age group. Ayappa is a celibate and so the temple does not permit women to worship here. It is open during the days from November 15 to December 26. January 14 is called the Makaravillakku and this is also celebrated as Makara Sankranti across the Indian subcontinent. April 14 is Vishu or the Malayalam New Year. The temple is open during Vishu and also the first six days of the Malayalam month.

All devotees coming to Sabarimala take a vratham or fast which is observed for around 41 days before the pilgrimage. This normally starts with wearing a garland that is made of tulsi or the holy Rudraksha. They refrain from tobacco, non vegetarian food and also alcohol during this time. The Sabarimala visit is said to make the Shani planet better for the lifespan.

There is a forest path that is traversed through to complete the journey to this temple. This is normally taken from Erumely and this was the path that was taken by Lord Ayappa himself. The path starts from Erumely to the River Aludha and then passes the Aludha Mountain and then crosses the karivalam thodu. Then the Karimala is crossed and then the river Pamba. The path is filled with forests that dominate the region and they are around 9 kilometres up a steep hill and the devotees have a lot of religious fervour and devotion when they come here. The temple land is a lovely destination and a totally memorable experience for all.

Lord Ayappa River Pamba

As the devotees climb the eighteen steps to the temple they go in a religious frenzy. The eighteen steps are the mainstay of the temple and then the sight of the flagstaff here in the middle of the temple courtyard is a great landmark.

The Prasad at the temple is the Aravana kheer and the appam. This is prepared by mixing ghee, sugar and rice. The rice is given from the Chettikulangara Devi temple. This is the second largest temple in the Travancore Devaswom board.

Chettikulangara Devi temple
Harivarasanam is a hymn that is changed before the temple closes every night. This is sung at the Sabarimala as a lullaby for the Lord at night and is called the Urakkapattu. It was Sri Kambangudi Kulathur Srinivasa Iyer who composed this famous Ayappa hymn.

The Sabarimala temple is one of the most popular pilgrim destinations in the state of Kerala in India and Lord Ayappa is surely a favourite of many Indians.

Sabarimala Temple

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