Sabarimala - Temple Details :
Sabarimala is the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centre in Kerala and India. At a distance of 63 Kms from Pathanamthitta, this temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. It is one of the most visited pilgrim centers in the world with an estimated 45 - 50 million devotees every year.
At a distance of 146 Kms from Kochi and 159 Kms from Trivandrum, this temple is one of the oldest temples in India, with history of more than 5000 years old. The temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappan here is situated in the midst of 18 hills, at an altitude of about 3000 feet. It is believed that Lord Parasurama installed the idol of Ayyappa at Sabarimala.
The pilgrimage season begins in the month of November and ends in January (the temple remains closed during rest of the year except for the first five days of each Malayalam month). The devotees following Ayyappa Vratam (Ayyappa Maala - a 41 days Vratam with strict restrictions) carry Irumudi Kettu containing traditional offerings to the Lord. Mandalapooja (Nov17th) and Makaravilakku (Jan 14th) are the important events of the temple. Makara Jyothi (a celestial star) appeared on Jan 14th is the most crowded occasion of this temple.
Sabarimala temple has no restrictions of caste and religion. The temple is open to males of all age groups, but women between 10-50 years age group are NOT allowed into the temple. Sabarimala can be reached by 8 KMs trek from Pamba, which is the nearest road point to the temple.
Importance of Sabarimala Divine 18 Steps
SABARIMALA- Importance of 18 Divine Steps are called as 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 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.
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