Sabarimala: The sacred mountain shrine


Location : 72 km north-east of Pathanamthitta district.
Altitude : 914 metres above sea level.
Pilgrim season : November - mid-January.

Amidst the virgin forest wilderness of the Western Ghats lies the sacred mountain 'Sabarimala', a major pilgrim centre in India. The landscape has vast unending stretches of forests, rivers and plantations. Evergreen and moist deciduous forest cover half the total district area. The holy Pamba river formed by the confluence of five smaller rivers, descends from the Sabarimala. The sanctum sanctorum nestles 914 metres above sea level.

The shrine is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa who is believed to have been born from the union of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, and Lord Siva, the Destroyer. No woman devotee in the fertility age group is allowed to proceed beyond Pamba. Devotees undertake rigorous penance, ritualistic vows and fasts for 41 days before they visit the temple. The main festivals are the Mandala pooja, theMakara vilakku in December-January and the Vishu vilakkuin April. Millions of devotees, irrespective of caste, creed and colour, from all over the country, climb the 18 sacred steps to the sanctum sanctorum for a glimpse of Lord Ayyappa.

Getting there:
Inaccessible by road or rail, one has to trek a distance of 4 km to reach the shrine. Transportation is available only upto Pamba, which is 66 km from Pathanamthitta.
Nearest railway station: Chengannur, about 28 km from Pathanamthitta
Nearest airports:  Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 119  km from Pathanamthitta; Cochin International Airport,  about 133 km from Pathanamthitta

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