Sabarimala is a fascinating phenomenon. It has surpassed all the accepted definitions of a pilgrim centre. The geographical, ecological and ritualistic uniqueness gives Sabarimala entirely different dimensions in comparison with other pilgrim centres.
The famous Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala is thronged by multitudes for nearly two and a half months every year. The devotees go for pilgrimage to Sabarimala after a period of penance.Taking a holy dip in the sacred river Pampa and having a darshan of Lord Ayyappa at the hill top temple is the fulfillment of Life’s ambition for crores of people. The temple is situated at a height of about 914 m. above the sea level in the dense forest, forming a part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. It is located in Perinadu village of Ranni taluk in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala.
Motor vehicles are allowed only up to Pampa and there after the devotees have to climb the 4 km. long steep stretch to reach the temple. Therefore, Pampa has become a base station for the pilgrimage. Sabarimala temple is at present kept open for darsan during the first 5 days of every Malayalam month and for about two and a half months every year during the festival season covering the ‘Mandala Pooja’ and ‘Makara Vilakku’. Festival season starts from the first of Malayalam month ‘Vrichikam’ (November) and ends on the first of ‘Makaram’ (January).
In addition to this, the temple will open during other popular festivals of Kerala like Onam and Vishu and also for Atta Chithira, Nira puthari and Painkuni Uthram. Large number of pilgrims visits the Sabarimala temple during the Mandala Pooja and Makara Vilakku festival season. Devotees from all over India and abroad, without any discrimination on caste, creed and religion visits the temple. The only restriction is for females aged between 10 and 50 years. The unique feature of this shrine is that it is a symbol of communal amity where in Lord Ayyappa and Vavaru Swami a muslim warrior, who is believed to have been the friend of Lord Ayyappa are both worshiped by all devotees. The temple is a unique example of the secular face of our great country.