- Ayyappa Temple
Ayyappa Temple, Sabarimala Overview
The Sabarimala Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is one of the most renowned and prominent temples of all the Sastha temples. This temple is significant not only for its religious elements but also because of the cultural, societal and cultural elements attached to it. This is perhaps why this is one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world; which attracts over 100 million devotees each year.
The temple is unique in the sense that it follows a liberal approach, allowing entry to devotees of all castes and religions. Every pilgrim is given the status of “Ayyappa” which maintains the actual spirit of “Tattvamasi” or “That is you”. It means that the devotees are forms of God themselves.
Located in the Western Ghats of the Pathanamthitta District in Kerala, the Sabarimala Temple is situated on a hilltop, amongst 18 other hills, at the height of about 4,000 feet above sea level. To the left of this temple is a place dedicated to the Vavar, who was a Sufi and friend of Lord Ayyappa. This place is called ‘Vavarunada’ and is considered to be the epitome of religious harmony. The devotees begin their trek to the revered temple with utmost dedication and sincerity at the dawn of the Vrichikam month. Those who have undertaken the journey would avow that the pilgrimage to Sabarimala requires mind power, physical stamina, devotion and determination and is indeed a tricky one taken through trying and testing paths.
Makaravilakku, Sabarimala Overview
Makaravilakku, an annual festival in Kerala, is celebrated on the day of Makar Sankranti which falls in January. This festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm on a remarkable level at the Sabarimala Temple in Gods Own Country, the South-Indian state of Kerala. The major attraction of the festival is the grand Thiruvabharanam procession which is the procession of the sacred ornaments of the Hindu God of Growth, Shri Ayappan. This procession is then followed by a religious congregation at the Sabarimala Shrine on the hilltop. One must visit this shrine to experience the divine vibe of Shri Ayappan and seek his blessings. It is estimated that approx one million believers come from all over the world to seek blessings on the auspicious day of Makaravilakku in Sabarimala.
One of the most important rituals of the Makarvilakku festival is the lighting of the lamp at Ponnambalamedu which is located 4 kilometres from the Sabarimala Ayappan Temple in the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats. It is referred as the Hill of the Golden Temple and lighting the lamp commemorates the religious festival of Makaravilakku in Sabarimala.
Makaravilakku marks the end of the Sabarimala pilgrimage which begins in mid-November, or the month of Vruchikam. Sabarimala pilgrimage is also considered as the second most important pilgrimage in India and people from all over the world flock the venue to witness the divine powers of Sri Ayappan.
3. Malikkappuram Devi Temple
Malikkappuram Devi Temple, Sabarimala Overview
On the left side of the Ayyappa temple on a hillock lays the Malikappurathamma temple symbolic of the relationship between Lord Ayappan & Devi Malikapurathamma.
4. Vavar Shrine
Vavar Shrine, Sabarimala Overview
Dedicated to a Muslim saint Vavaru Swamy, this shrine at Sabrimala has an interesting tale to tell. It is believed that Vavaru Swamy was once a pirate defeated by Lord Ayyappa and later became his ardent devotee.
People say that Lord Ayyappa himself instructed the King of Pandala Desam to build a mosque for Vavar at Erumeliin Kottayam District and a shrine at Sabarimala.
5. Pampa Ganapathy Temple
Pampa Ganapathy Temple, Sabarimala Overview
Located on the route leading to Sannidanam on the banks of River Pampa, Pampa Ganapathy Temple is a shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha. It often serves as a pit stop for trekkers exploring Sannidanam and for the devotees on the Sabarimala pilgrimage before they climb the hills.
Erumeli, Sabarimala Overview
An important resting point for Sabarimala pilgrims, Erumeli is a beautiful town majorly associated with the legends of Lord Ayyappa. It is famous for River Manimala, the Mosque of Vavar and the Sastha Shrine where pilgrims often offer prayers before proceeding to Sabarimala.