Sabarimala Sree DharmaSastha Temple is a Hindu Pilgrimage temple in Sabarimala hills in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala state, India. The temple’s name has been changed to Sri Ayyappa Swamy Temple in November 2016.
Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple is one of the most visited religious places in the world, with 40 million to 50 million people visiting the shrine every year.
Sabarimala Sree DharmaSastha Temple is believed to be the place where the Lord Ayyappa or Lord Ayyappan meditated after killing the powerful demoness, Mahishi.
Sabarimala Sree DharmaSastha Appyappa Temple is situated amid-st 18 hills. Sabarimala Dharma Sastha Temple is at a height of 1535 feet above sea level in the midst of think forests and mountains. The Holy River Pampa originates in Sabarmala.
Sabarimala Sree DharmaSastha Temple devotees have a dress code which is either black or blue. Some devotees wear saffron colored dresses. Men are allowed inside the temple irrespective of age. Women between 10 and 50 age group are not allowed.
The main festival of the Saraimala temple is called ‘Makkaravilakku’, which is normally on January 14th (or 15th). Makkaravilakku is seeing ‘Makarajyothi’ on the faraway hills, opposite to the temple.
Sabarimala Sri Dharma Sastha Temple is open during ‘Mandalapooja/ Makaravilakku season’ (and also for 6 days during each Malayalam calender month begging) which normally falls in between Mid November to Mid January every year. Sabarimala temple used to be closed for almost a week till a few years back, during the year end holidays time, i.e. during the last week of the December. Now for the last few years, Sabarimala Sree DharmaSastha Temple is closed only for 3 days during the last week of December.
The golden attire (called ‘Thanka Anki‘ in Malayalam) of Lord Aiyappan are kept at Aranmula Dewasam Board office, which is in front of the centuries old Aranmula Parthasarathy temple. Aranmula Parthasarathy temple is among one of the oldest (more than 800 year old) and most important Krishna temples in Kerala, on your way to Sabarimala from Chenganoor railway station. It is believed that Lord Aiyappan carried the tiger’s milk for his sick mother, as per his father’s request and landed here in Aranmula. Lord Aiyappan traveled from Sabrimala on a 6 bamboo tied ferry through the holy river Pamaba and landed at the back-side of the Aranmula Parthasarathy temple. “Aru” in many south Indian languages mean River and “mula” means Bamboo. Thus Aranmula got its name.
Aranmula is home Geo-indicated Aranmula metal mirror (‘Aranmula Kannadi‘ as is known locally), a special hand made mirror. Aranmula is famous for the Aranmula snake boat race , which is conducted during the Indian holidays of Onam Festival.
On the Makkaravilakku day, Lord Aiyappa is decorated with gold ornaments brought from Pandalam Palace (where Lord Aiyappa was born) and special Poojas are conducted. Devotees rush to see the fully decorated Lord Aiyappan at this time. The ornaments are called ‘Thiruvabharam’ which is brought by walk every year from Pandalam Palace, accompanied by “Pandlathu Thampuran” (Representative of the ‘Pandalam Palace’) and thousands of Aiyappa devotees with Police escort, which takes 3 days to reach Sabarimala temple from Pandalam.
Ayyappa devotees has to strictly undertake 41 fays of ‘Vritham’ (penance) and then only they are expected to visit the temple, by climbing the 18 steps. On these penance days, devotees are not expected to eat non-vegetarian food, consume alcohol or tobacco, engage in sexual thinking or activities, nor allowed to shave or cut hair. They are expected to visit nearby temple every day morning and evening and take bath early in the morning and evening.
How Do I Go to Sri Ayyappa Swamy Temple, previously known as Sabarimala Sree DharmaSastha Temple?
Sri Ayyappa Swamy Temple which was previously known as Sabarimala Sri Dharma Sastha Temple can be reached by road up-to Pamba from where one is expected to walk. Those unable to walk can be carried in ‘dolly’, paying necessary charges.
The nearest railway station is Chenganoor at around 75 km away. Kerala State Government buses are available right inside the Chenganoor railway station premises. The railway station code for Chenganoor railway station, to book train tickets at the Indian Railway’s online booking systems, is CNGR.
Those interested to take rest or stay overnight, can stay at home-stay facilities available at Aranmula or Pathanamthitta, both enroute to Sabarimala. Chenganoor Homestay or Kozhencherry homestay is also available.
Many devotees prefer Kottayam railway station, which is also a convenient station for Sabrimala pilgrimage with Kerala state government buses available right inside the railway station premises. Not much of distance is there between Kottayam and Chenganoor (35 minutes journey with 2 railway stations, Chenganachery and Tiruvalla, in between. Another small railway station, Chingavanam, is there in between Kottayam and Chenganacherry; where none of the long distance trains stops.) Ettumanoor Mahadevar temple at Ettumanoor is a famous temple very near to Kottayam.
Punalur railway station is at around 100 kilometers from Sabarimala temple.
Nedumbrassery International Airport (Cochin airport) is the nearest airport. Thiruvananthapuram International airport at the capital city of Kerala state is also at the same distance from the world famous Sabarimala Temple.