() is a Hindu pilgrimage
center located in the Western Ghat
mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District
. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in India with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting every year. Sabarimala is believed to be the place where the Hindu God Ayyappan
meditated after killing the powerful demoness, Mahishi. Ayyappan
's temple is situated here amidst 18 hills. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 468 m above mean sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. Temples exist 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 survive to this day on remaining hills.
Sabarimala is linked to Hindu pilgrimage, predominantly for men of all ages. Women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter the temple, since the story attributed to Ayyappa prohibits the entry of the women in the menstrual
age group. This is because Ayyappan is a Bramachari (Celibate
). The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja (approximately November 15 to December 26), Makaravilakku (January 14- "Makara Sankranti") and Vishu (April 14), and the first six days of each Malayalam month.
The devotees are expected to follow a vratham
(41-day penance) prior to the pilgrimage. This begins with... Read More