Sabarimala is a pilgrim centre in Kerala in the Western
Ghat mountain ranges of India. Lord Ayyappan's temple
is situated here in the midst of 18 hills. The area
is in the Sahya hilly regions of Kerala bordering Tamil
Nadu. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude
of 1260 m/4135 ft. above mean sea level, and is surrounded
by mountains and dense forests. Temples existed in each
of the hills surrounding Sabarimala. While functional
and intact temples exist at many places in the surrounding
areas like Nilackal, Kalaketi, and Karimala, remnants
of old temples are visible in the remaining hills. Sabarimala
is believed to be the place where Ayyappan meditated
after killing the powerful demon, Mahishi.Sabarimala
is one of the most visited piligrim centres in the world
with crores of devotees coming every year. The world's
second largest annual pilgrimage, after Haj in Mecca,
is reported to be to Sabarimala.
The pilgrimage to Sabarimala is a singular example
of one where pilgrims, without consideration of caste,
creed, position or social status, go with one mind and
one `mantra' dreaming constantly of the darshan of the
presiding deity at the Holy Sannidhanam. Vehicles can
go up to Pampa. Thereafter, pilgrims have to follow
a path approximately four kilometres up a steep hill.
The path, now fully cemented, with shops and medical
aid by the sides, used to be a mere trail through dense
There is a place near the temple (east of Sannidhanam),
dedicated to the Vavar, a Muslim who was the associate
of Ayyappan, called "Vavarunada". The temple
is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja
(November 15 to December 26), Makaravilakku (January
15) and Vishu (April 14), and the beginning of every
month in the Malayalam calendar.
The Travancore Devaswom Board is an autonomous body
constituted under the Travancore Cochin Religious Institutions
Act XV of 1950. It is entrusted with the task of administering
1208 temples. The Board comprises of the President and
The term of the President and Members is four years.
It has a Secretariat and the Secretary to the Board,heads
its headquarters at Nanthancode, Thiruvananthapuram.
The Devaswom Commissioner is the Chief Executive and
Head of the Department.
Out of the 1208 Temples under the administration of
the Board, 224 temples are Major Temples. In all these
temples there are more than three poojas daily and the
Temples are open in the morning and evening. There are
457 minor temples, which are open in the morning and
evening, and 467 Petty Temples which are being opened
only once a day. There are 59 P.D (Personal Deposit)
Temples also under the Board.
The important pilgrimage to Sabarimala starts from
the first of Vruchika (usually on 16th or 17th of November).
Mandalam means 41 days. This season of 41 days is known
as the Mandala period and the Mandalapooja is on the
last day of this period. The Sabarimala temple opens
on the first of Vrischika.
Devotees irrespective of religion, cast, creed, nationality
or social status are equals in His abode and are all
addressed by His own name, namely 'Ayyappa'. In fact,
the pilgrimage includes worship at Vavar temples at
Erumeli and Sannidhanam, managed by Muslims. This stands
as a glittering example of Hindu-Muslim unity. However,
women in the age group 10-50 shall not go to Sabarimala.
Other women devotees are permitted to trek the hill
and are called as 'Malikappurams'.