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
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.
Like most parts of Kerala, Kottayam district
has a tropical climate with high temperature
during hot season in the plains. The summer
season in Kottayam stretches from March
to May, which is followed by the south-west
monsoon from June to September. During the
post monsoon season (months of October and
November) the Monsoon retreats and the day
temperature increases and at times becomes
as intense as in summer. With the onset
of December, the weather calms down as the
temperature goes southwards. The North East
Monsoons strike the Kottayam and the surrounding
areas in the months of December to February.
Rain ceases early in January. The Kottayam
District normally gets an average rainfall
- Air: There are two
airports that are near this pilgrimage
at Trivandrum (170 kilometers) and Cochin
- Rail: The nearest railway
station is at Kottayam and Chengannur.
- Bus: The pilgrimage
is well connected to Kerala by a wide
network of roads.