Located at a height of almost 1000 meters above sea level on the Sahyadri ranges in Western Ghats, lies one of the most important shrines of India known by the name of Sabarimala. The Sabarimala temple of Kerala is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, who is said to have meditated here after killing the demon Mahishi. Some legends also say that Parashuram, who created Kerala, installed the idol of Lord Ayyappa and worshipped him. The Sabarimala pilgrimage attracts thousands of devotees from all over India during the peak season of November to January.
Not everyone can take a tour to Sabarimala Kerala. One needs to observe strict discipline like abstinence from alcohol, smoking and other comforts of life. You are supposed to lead life like an ascetic for 41 days before embarking on the journey to Sabarimala. Women between the ages of 10-50 are not allowed to go on this pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is open to all irrespective of caste, creed and religion. It sets a perfect example of harmonious co-existence of different religions and sects. Everyone is a devotee of the Lord, not Hindu, Muslim or Christian. Before reaching the temple, everyone is supposed to worship a shrine that is dedicated to a Muslim saint.
The temple is reached by climbing a flight of 18 steps covered in gold. These 18 steps signify different aspects of human nature like intelligence, anger, the 5 senses, etc. One who crosses these 18 steps is said to have attained “Punyadarshanam”. In January every year, thousands of devotees gather at Sabarimala to view the “Makaravilaku” or divine flame that is visible during one particular day of the Makara star. When dusk falls, a small flame arises in a distance, between two hills just opposite the temple. The temple comes alive with the praises of the Lord filling the air.
How to Reach Sabarimala, Kerala
There are two airports that are near this pilgrimage at Trivandrum (170 kilometers) and Cochin (200 kilometers).
The nearest railway station is at Kottayam and Chengannur.
The pilgrimage is well connected to Kerala by a wide network of roads.