Sabarimala is one of the most popular pilgrim centers in Kerala. Located in Pathanamthitta, Sabarimala is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The pilgrimage site is located on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats. It is accessible only by foot from Pamba, which is located 4 km from the temple. The pilgrimage of Sabarimala is devoted to Lord Sree Ayyappa, who once meditated at this place after slaughtering the mighty demoness Mahishi. This temple is located in remote surroundings among mountains and dense forests, but still it is probably the best known pilgrimage in Kerala.
As per the Hindu mythology, Lord Parasurama is considered the creator of Kerala. He installed the idol of Ayyappa at Sabarimala, to worship Lord Ayyappa. There are two major annual festivals celebrated here with great pomp and show. These are Mandalapooja and, which fall during the months of November-December and January, respectively. Except for these festivals, the first five days of every Malayalam month and the festival of Vishu, the doors of Sabarimala Temple remain closed to the public.
Sabarimala Temple is considered to be an ideal pilgrimage site. Here, male devotees from different walks of life come to offer their prayers. Without consideration of caste, creed, position or social status, the pilgrims go with the same thought of offering prayers to the presiding deity at the temple. The devotees, who want to take a part in this pilgrimage, are expected to follow a 41 day fast prior to the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage begins with wearing of a special Mala. From that point of time, they ought to refrain from meat, fish, alcohol, tobacco, hair-cuts and shaving and are also refrained from using abusive words.
After 41 days of stringent fasting, the devotees are supposed pursue a 44km long strenuous mountain terrain from Erumeli. Each pilgrim is supposed to bring a cloth bundle ‘Irumudi Kettu’. The bundle should contain traditional offerings of ghee kept inside a coconut for the Abhishek of Lord Ayyappa the presiding deity of Sabarimala Temple. Though the temple is open to all caste and classes that is there is a special rule for women who visit the temple. Only the girls who are below the age of puberty are allowed inside the temple premises. It is said that the pilgrimage has such charm that if a devotee visits this pilgrimage once, he keeps on returning year after year in search of spiritual solace.