Sabarimala Temple

Sabarimala Temple : One of the most popular pilgrimage spots of Kerala during the festival season of November, December and January, a pilgrimage to Sabarimala involves trekking through the rocky highlands of the Western Ghats. Said to be the abode of Sastha or Aiyappan, also known as Hariharaputran, the son of Shiva and Vishnumaya, a popular deity in Kerala, the five temples dedicated to him here are considered of great prominence and enshrine Sastha in different stages of life. In Kulathuppuzha, Sastha as a child is enshrined, in Aryankaavu as a young lad, in Achan Koyil as a householder with his consorts Poorna and Pushkala and in Sabarimala as the highest yogi in his middle-age. Ponnambalam is a sacred spot on a hill here, where it is said that the Makara Jyoti (a beam of light) appears on the day of Makara Sankranti.

According to the legend, Sastha or Aiyappan, the son of Shiva and Mohini or Vishnu-maya was found by the ruler of Pandalam on the banks of river Pampa. He named the child Manikandan and brought him up as his own. However, his jealous queen plotted to kill the brave Manikandan by setting up a dangerous task for him to search for leapord’s milk as the only cure for the queen’s feigned illness. However, the divine child used the opportunity to kill the demon Mahishi in the jungle and returned to the kingdom with a herd of tigers. He, then, requested his much-pleased father to build a temple on the hill Neelimala at the site where the saint Sabari was engaged in penance. To visit the temple, one has to observe 41 days of penance, to be eligible to climb the sacred eighteen steps of the temple to reach the shrine.