Sabarimala is a Hindu pilgrimage centre located at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District, in Kerala (India). Sabarimala Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is the most famous temples in Kerala, India. The temple is situated on a hilltop (about 4,133 feet above sea level) named Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta district. It is one of the oldest existing temples in India. The temple is at least 4000-4250 years old. It is one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world, with an estimated over 100 million devotees visiting every year, Sabarimala temple is open to all religion. There is a place near the temple; east to Sannidhanam, dedicated to the Vavar (a sufi and friend of Lord Ayyappa) Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple is not open throughout the year. It is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja,(approximately 15 November to 26 December) April 14 and the first five days of each Malayalam month. It is said that the pilgrims have to follow fasting for 41 days to cleanse their minds before going.
This pilgrims can be identified easily, as they wear black or blue dress. They do not shave until the completion of the pilgrimage, and smear Vibhuti or sandal paste on their forehead.The devotees follow only a lacto-vegetarianism diet, follow celibacy, follow teetotalism, not use any profanity, allow the hair. They must try their maximum to help others, and see everything around them as lord Ayyappa. The journey to the temple is to be taken through difficult paths in the forest as the vehicles can go only up to Pampa. From Pamba,all the pilgrims begin trekking the steep mountain path of mountains till Sabarimala. This forest route is now highly developed, with emergency shops and medical aid by the sides, and supporting aid is provided to the pilgrims while climbing the steep slope, which used to be a mere trail through dense jungle. The elderly pilgrims are lifted by men on bamboo chairs till the top, on being paid. Dolly service is available from Pamba to Sannidhanam for those who are unable to walk the heights. Cigeratte smoking, Alcholic drinks and plastic goods are strictly banned at Pamba and Sabarimala. As Sabarimala Ayyappa is ‘Nithya Brahmachari’ (celibate) women between the 10-50 age group are not allowed to enter Sabarimala. Such women who try to enter Sabarimala will be prevented by Temple authorities. Only pilgrims who have obsered Vrutham alone are allowed entry through the holly Pathinettampadi. They have to carry Irumudikettu (Pallikettu)also. How to reach Sabarimala Temple? The nearest airports are the international airports in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. Pilgrims reaching Kochi by air will have to travel about 160 km by road and those flying in to Thiruvananthapuram will have to travel about 170 km by road in order to reach the Sabarimala temple.