Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple, in Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple:-

Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala takes its name from the presiding deity of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, who is also known as Anantha (one who reclines on the Serpent Ananatha). The word 'Thiruvananthapuram' literally means - the land of Sree Anantha Padmanabhaswamy.

It is also one of the seven Parasurama temples in Kerala. Lord Vishnu is enshrined here in the Anananthasayanam posture (in eternal sleep of yognidra), lying on Sri Anantha, the hooded snake. According to traditions, Sree Padmanabhaswamy Kshetram is believed to have been worshipped by Chandra (Moon God) and Lord Indra (the head of the Devas)Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the most famous Lord Vishnu Temples in Kerala, South India.The city of Thiruvananthapuram is named after the Lord. The word Thiruvananthapuram literally means "The land of Sree Anantha Padmanabhaswamy". The temple stands close to the holy tank - Padma Theertham, which means 'lotus spring.'

The shrine is currently run by a trust headed by the erstwhile royal family of Travancore.

Importance of the Idol :-

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Worshipped through 3 Doors The idol of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is made up of 10008 salagramams that compose the reclining lord. They are special because they are from Nepal, from the banks of river Gandhaki and they were brought to the temple with all pomp and gaiety on elephant top. On top of them "Katusarkara Yogam", Navaratnams, a special Ayurvedic mix, was used to give a plaster. Followers believe that the Lord has personally come in disguise and had saved many times the Travancore Kingdom from the clutches of enemies.

According to a popular belief, the first 5 steps signify the five indriyas or the senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin), the following 8 the ragas (tatwa, kama, krodha, moha, lobha, madha, matsraya, and ahamkara), the next 3 the gunas (satwa, rajas and thamas) followed by vidya and avidya. Climbing these would take the devotee closer to self-realisation. The act of crossing the 18 steps is so sacred that nobody can mount them without undertaking the rigorous 41 day fast and carrying the irumudi. It is also widely assumed that the pathinettu padikal symbolize the 18 puranas; others believe that they connote the 18 weapons with which Lord Ayyappan obliterated evil.One needs to have the sacred Irumudi on head while going up or down the 18 steps and while descending the steps the devotees climb down backwards facing the sanctum sanctorum.

Other Deities:-


This idol in sitting posture, facing the South, is given great prominence as Vishwaksenan is Mahavishnu’s Nirmalya moorthy.

Sree Ramaswamy with His consort Seetha and brother Lakshmanan:-

We can see two sets of idols of Sree Ramaswamy with Seetha and Lakshmanan. Of these, one set of idols are in the regal style while the other represent the Lord’s tenure at Dandakaranyam(Forest). The image of Sree Hanuman is there as an orderly to Lord Rama. Idols of an eight armed Ganapathy with a Devi seated on His lap and a small Kaliyamardana Krishna are also present.

Sree Yoga Narasimha Moorthi:-

The shrine for Sree Narasimha Swamy is located to the South of the main sanctum. Sree Narasimha Moorthy is the fourth incarnation of Lord Maha Vishnu and assumes the form of Man and Lion. The image is in the ‘Ugra roopam’, hence powerful. To pacify Him, Ramayana is being recited throughout the time when the Temple doors are open. This idol, made of Panchaloham, faces the East. This is the second major deity of this Temple.

Sree Veda Vyasar and Ashwathama:-

The shrine of Sage Veda Vyasar (who gave life to the great Epic Mahabharatha and other religious texts) with Ashwathama is located on the north of the cheruchuttu. This shrine faces the West. Veda Vyasa shrines are rare in India. Both idols are made of Panchaloham.

Thiruvambadi Sreekrishnaswamy:-

The Thiruvambadi Temple enjoys the status of an independent temple within this Temple complex. This shrine has a Namaskara Mandapam with fine display of carvings in wood, a Balikkal and a silver flag pole. The image of Sree Krishna as Parthasarathy is of medium built and is in stone. He is the third major Deity of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.


The idol of Kshethrapaalakan in the sitting posture faces the East. His shrine is located on the Northern side of the Temple. Kshethrapaalakan is considered as one of the eight Bhairavas of Shiva who perform the role of protector to temples. There is also an idol of Lord Ganesha, in this shrine.

Agrashaala Ganapathi:-

This idol is installed in the cooking area of the Temple. The belief is that Lord Ganesh witnesses and oversees the Annadanam(offering of free food) organized by the Temple.
Hanuman Swamy, Ashtanaga Garuda Swamy and the Maha Meru Chakram
Near the golden flag pole we see the towering image of Sree Hanuman Swamy in full relief. To His left is Sree Ashtanaga Garuda Swamy. On the ceiling between these images is the Maha Meru Chakram complete with the Bindu or the central point which is engraved in clear focus. This cosmic wheel enhances the spiritual strength of Sree Hanuman.

Sree Dharma Sastha:-

The Swayambhu Dharma Sastha in Yogasanam or Yogic posture on the South side of the Temple is an independent shrine. This idol is made of granite and faces the East.

 Ananthasayana Mahatmyam:-

The story as narrated in the Ananthasayana Mahatmya goes as follows.
Divakara Muni was a great Vishnu Bhaktha. While at ‘Aanarthadesa’, he performed deep tapas. One day Maha Vishnu appeared before the sage as a lovely child. The charming child attracted the attention of the sage. He requested the God-child to stay with him. The child made his stay conditional. Accordingly, the Sanyasi should treat him with respect. On failing to do so, he would vanish at once. This was accepted and the child stayed with him. The hermit gave him great care and tolerated the childish pranks. One day, when the sanyasi was in deep meditation at his prayers, the chills took the ‘salagram’ which the sanyasi was using for worship and put it into his mouth and made such a nuisance of himself that Divakara Mini was greatly angered and could tolerate it no further. He thereupon chastised the child. In accordance with the earlier agreement, immediately the child ran away and disappeared from the spot. While going he said, “If you wish to see me again, you will find me again in Ananthankaadu”. It was only then that Divakara Muni realized who his erstwhile child guest had been. The hermit was stricken with inconsolable grief and for many days followed what, he believed was the route taken by the child foregoing food, rest and sleep in the process.

Finally he reached a wooded area near the sea coast, caught a glimpse of the child disappearing into a huge ‘Ilappa’ tree. Immediately the tree fell into the ground and it assumed the form of Sree Maha Vishnu. The divine form had its head at ‘Thiruvallam’(a place about 3 miles from East Fort at where the Temple of Sree Padmanabha Swamy is located) and its feet at ‘Trippapur’ (5 miles away towards the north). Overawed by the majesty and the size of the divine form, which manifested before him, the Sanyasi prayed to the Lord to condense Himself in size so that he could behold Him. There upon the image of the Lord shrank to a size, three times the length of the Sanyasy’s Yoga Dand. His prayers had been granted. He immediately offered a raw mango in a coconut shell(still this offering continues). The Lord ordained that, poojas to Him should be conducted by Tulu Brahmins. To this day half the number of poojaris(priests) in this Temple represent Tulu region.
Another generally accepted version about the origin of the Temple relates it to the famous Namboothiri sanyasi Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar, whose name is linked with the histories of several temples in Southern India. This Swamiyar was also a Vishnu bhaktha. The legend is almost identical with that of Divakara Muni referred above. It is said that, when Sree Maha Vishnu presented himself in the Ananthasayana rupa (in the form of reclining on Anantha) before the sage at Ananthankaadu, the latter had nothing worthwhile to offer Him. From a mango tree standing nearby he plucked a few unripe mangoes and placed them in a coconut shell lying there and in all humility offered it as ‘nivedyam’ to the Lord. Even today salted mango forms a major offering. The original coconut shell has been encased in gold. It has also been the practice in the Temple for the past several centuries that the morning ‘pushpanjali’ is to be performed by a Namboothiri Brahmin sanyasi (designated Pushpanjaly Swamiyar) specially commissioned for this purpose.
These traditional customs coupled with the fact that the Pushpanjali Swamiyar holds a position of importance in the ‘Ettara Yogam’ (a committee which, at one time in the distant past, was the governing body of the Temple but has, over the years, become a ceremonial and advisory panel) lend substance and some measures of credence to the theory that this Temple was founded by Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar. On the other hand the legend of the Divakara Muni can be substantiated by the presence of a large number of Tulu Brahmins. Besides being represented in the ‘Yogam’, the Namboothiri Brahmins also have a position of eminence in the rituals and ceremonies of theTtemple . The Tantries(high priests) have always been from the Tharananalloor family belonging to this community. It is also believed that the small Sree Krishna Swamy Temple, located near the Western Swamiyar Madham (residence of one of the two Pushpanjali Swamiyars of the Temple) has been built over the Samadhi of Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar.
Some historians and researchers hold the view that the Thiruvambadi shrine of Sree Krishna Swamy is older than the shrine of Sree Padmanabhaswamy. According to legend the Sree Narasimhaswamy and Sree Sastha shrines were established after the installation of the idol of Lord Sree Padmanabhaswamy. There is mention in the ‘Bhagavatha Purana’ (canto 10, chapter 79) that Sree Balarama visited “Syanandoorapuram” or “Ananthasayam” (Thiruvananthapuram) in the course of His pilgrimage. Similarly in the ‘Brahmanda Purana’ also there is a reference to “Syanandoorapura”. These references show that this Temple is of great antiquity and has been held in veneration over the centuries as an important seat of Sree Maha Vishnu. The compositions of Nammalvar, the great Vaishnavite saint, in praise of Sree Maha Vishnu of this city, prove beyond doubt that this Temple existed in the ninth century of this era. In the year 1050A.D.(225ME), the Temple was reconstructed and the management re-organized by the then ruler.
The next important recorded events relate to the period between 1335 A.D. and 1384 A.D. when Venad was ruled by a powerful and wise king named Veera Marthanda Varma. He gradually established his authority completely over the management and administration of the Temple. There are records to indicate that in the year 1375 A.D. the Alpasi Utsavam (ten days festival held in October-November) was conducted in the Temple. Some of the important events relating to the Temple which took place after the demise of this ruler until 1729 A.D. are given below.

Between 1459 A.D. and 1460 A.D. the idol of Sree Padmanabhaswamy was removed to a ‘Balalaya’ for the purpose of re-construction of the roof of the sanctum sanctorum.
In 1461 A.D. the idol was re installed and an Ottakkal Mandapam (Single granite stone slab abutting the sanctum sanctorum) was put up.
In 1566 A.D. the foundation was laid for the Gopuram (pagoda) over the main eastern entrance.
In 1686 A.D. the Temple was almost fully destroyed in a major fire accident. Work on the re- construction of the Temple was started only in 1724.
In 1728 A.D. propitiatory ceremonies, connected with the serious fire of 1686, were conducted.

It was in the year 1729 that the great ruler Marthanda Varma became the king of Travancore. He took the steps to renovate the Temple. In 1730 the idol was again moved to ‘Balalaya’ prior to the renovation and reconstruction of the sanctum sanctorum. It took two years for completion. The old wooden idol was replaced by the one that we see today. Made of highly complex amalgam known as Katusarkarayogam, it contains 12008 Salagrams within it. Most of what is seen today within the walls of the temple were constructed. It is recorded that 4000 sculptors, 6000 labourers and 100 elephants worked for a period of 6 months to finish the construction of the sreebalippura (the oblong corridor). This magnificent rectangular corridor built of solid stones protects the Deities during seeveli on rainy days. The gopuram for which the foundation had been laid in 1566, was built during this period. Similarly the flag-staff in front of the main shrine was also erected at this time. Teak wood of required size was brought from the forest for this purpose and transported to the Temple in such a way that no part of the wood touched the ground. The pole was then covered completely with gold sheets. The renovation of the Temple tank, the Padmatheertham, including the flight steps and its completion in the form we see it today was also undertaken during this great ruler’s time.
Fifth Makaram 925ME, 19th or 20th January 1750AD, stood witness to the act of a sublime dedication and the ultimate offering possible for a crowned head – the Thrippadi Danam. After the completion of certain religious ceremonies Maharaja Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma arrived in the Temple along with the male family members, his trusted Diwan and other officials. In presence of the Swamiyar, members of the Yogam and Brahmins the Maharaja submitted to Sree Padmanabha Prajapati, his entire State of Travancore along with his total right on it thereof by placing the Crown, the royal umbrella, the twin white Chauries (fans), the Manikandha – which were all symbols of royalty, along with some thulasi leaves on the Mandapam. Last but most significant, he placed his famous sword (the unquestioned insignia of sovereign authority which the King valued the most and which had lashed its unleashed velour in countless battle fields) in the steps of the Ottakkal Mandapam. Even before this, that the male members of the royal family, at the age of one, ware laid on the Ottakkal mandapam and surrendered to Sree Padmanabhaswamy as His own, gaining the supreme title ‘Sree Padmanabha Dasa’.
In 1758, during the reign of Sree Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma, the fabulous Kulasekhara Mandapam was build. It is a marvelous and fantastic architectural work on stone. It is also known as Aayiramkal Mandapam and Sapthaswara Mandapam. It is supported by 28 balustrades of pillars. The pillars on the four corners can produce musical notes when taped.
In 1820 a very big mural mirroring the Ananthasayanam, which is termed as the biggest in the temple murals of Kerala, was drawn during the period of Rani Goury Parvathi Bayi.
Among the rulers of the erstwhile Travancore Maharaja Sree Chithira Thirunal Rama Varma ranks as one among the most illustrious royal personalities, who ruled in his dual capacity as Dasa and Ruler. He ruled as a Sage among Kings. The Kshethra Praveshan Vilambram or the Temple Entry Proclamation was in 1936 which was the epoch-making event of the Maharaja’s religious and political life. This Proclamation, issued on the eve of his twenty forth birthday, has been considered by evaluators as the most socially progressive and religiously liberal ordinance enacted in India. It was a revolutionary and courageous action initiated for the first time in the country towards the eradication of untouchability. The rest of India followed his footsteps.
Both the Thrippadi Danam and the Kshethrapraveshana Vilambaram made history and stand out by themselves as lasting tributes to the vastness of heart and sublimity of conception of those who visualized them.
In 1991, after the demise of Sree Padmanabha Dasa Chithira Thirunal Rama Varma, Sree Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma assumed charge of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. In compliance with the sanction already accorded by Sree Chithira Thirunal, Sree Uthradam Thirunal conducted the Kodi Archana in the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. In 1992, Maharaja Sree Chithira Thirunal’s personal worship idols were installed inside the Temple premises.
The mass chanting of Sahasranama was newly introduced on public request. The gold covering of the main Balikkal which was started two years before was completed in 1993. Playing of the percussion instrument known as ‘Edakka’ re-introduced in 1994. Another important work of that year was the gold work in the narrow window-like part at the feet of the Lord on the northern side of the outer wall of the sanctum. The Murajapam and Lakshadeepam were also conducted in the Temple in the grand manner which occurs once in six years. The last Lakshadeepam celebrated in 2008 and the next falls on 2014.

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple architecture:-

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is renowned for its sculptural beauty. With the ancient work of art in stone and bronze, the mural paintings and wood carvings, this ancient temple is a fine specimen of the Dravidian style of architecture. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple stands majestically beside the holy tank, named Padma Theertham (meaning the lotus spring). The tower at the entrance is a seven-storey and about 35 meter (100 foot) in height. Decked with beautiful stone carvings, this tower is constructed in South Indian architecture. There is an eighty-foot flag post (Dhwaja stambha) in front of the temple which is covered with gold plated copper sheets.

Sree Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple has some interesting features such as the Bali Peeda Mandapam and Mukha Mandapam. These halls are decorated with beautiful sculptures of various Hindu deities. Another notable part is the Navagraha Mandapa whose ceiling displays the Navagrahas.

Extending from the eastern side into the sanctum sanctorum is a broad corridor which has 365 and one-quarter sculptured granite-stone pillars with beautiful carvings. The remarkable touch of the artisans is felt in a piece of carving which has the figure of an elephant on one side and that of a bull on the other. It is notable that the horns of the bull look like the tusks of the elephant when seen from the other side and the trunk of the elephant seems like the hump for the bull.

There is a ground floor under the gopuram (main entrance in the eastern side) which is known as the 'Nataka Sala'. Here the famous temple art of Kerala, the Kathakali, was staged in the night during the annual ten-day Padmanabhaswamy Temple Festival (Uthsavam), held during the Malayalam months of Meenam and Thulam.

Myths & Beliefs of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple:-

There are many legends regarding the origin of the temple. One such legend says that Vilvamangalathu Swamiyar alias Divakara Muni prayed to Krishna for his darshan. Krishna came in disguise as a small, mischievous boy. The boy swallowed the Saligrama which was kept in Puja. The Sage became enraged at this and chased the boy until the boy hid himself behind a tree. The tree fell down and became Vishnu in Anantha Shayanam (reclining posture on Anantha the serpent) --but when he did so, he was of an extraordinarily large size. The Sage, recognizing that the tree was Vishnu, pleaded that because of the huge form the lord had manifested before him he could not either have a mind fulfilling darshan or circumbulate him. He then asked the Lord to shrink to a smaller proportion - thrice the length of his staff. Immediately, the Lord Vishnu shrunk himself, and told the sage that he should be worshipped through three doors. These doors are now the doors in the temple through which the idol may be viewed. Through the first door, the worship is offered to Shiva; through the second entrance to Brahma on the Lord's lotus navel, and through the third is Vishnu's feet, which are said to lead to salvation.

There was a great fire accident in which the original Murti which was made of the wood of that tree got burned during a fire that engulfed the temple complex, was a sign of the unhappiness of the lord with the king.

Ramanuja's Visit and Absence of Garuda:-

Ramanuja made trips to Divya Desams such as Thiruvattaru and ThiruvanParisaram. From Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Garuda carried him fast that same night back to Thirukurungkudi. And to Ramanuja’s surprise, he was on top of the Thirukurungudi rock at the blink of an eye.

As a result of this event, it is believed that one does not find Garuda in the Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple.

NamAzhvaar’s Thiruvoimozhi Praise:-

In his Thiruvoimozhi verses, NamAzhvaar refers to the sleeping posture atop the Serpant Lord. He also makes a mention of this place ( Thiru Anantha Puram)  in every verse. The moment one visits the Lord who resides on Adisesha at Thiru Anantha Puram, all our problems will vanish. He goes on to praise him  saying that even Lord Yama will stay away from us.


Padmanabhaswamy Temple stands at a place considered as one of the seven Parasurama Kshetras; texts including the Puranas, particularly the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, have references to this shrine. Another story tells of a pulaya couple seeing Vishnu in the form of a child. The child took morsels of rice from the hands of the couple. Also it is believed that Divakaramuni, when he saw the deity he took the first food item he saw which was an Unripe Mango and a coconut shell as an offering plate and performed primary pooja. In memory of this legend, naivedyam or offering prepared from rice is offered to the deity here in a coconut shell.

Lord Krishna came appeared before Sage Divakara as a mischievous small boy. The boy swallowed the Saligrama that the sage had kept for his puja. The sage was enraged and chased the boy who hid himself behind a tree. This tree fell down and became Vishnu in reclining Anantha Sayanam posture.

Recognizing that the tree was Vishnu himself, the sage pleaded and begged the Lord to reduce his size. Lord Vishnu shrunk and asked the sage to worship him in three doors. Lord Shiva can be worshipped in the first door, Lord Brahma in the second and the feet of Lord Vishnu in the third, which leads one to salvation.

Guide Lines for Devotees:-

Sree Padmanabha temple has a totally diverse Pooja system and Darshana from other temples in the country and is strictly followed till date. The dress code should be strictly followed by the devotes who enter into the temple. Please do not visit the temple as a tourist or for a mere halt center for some time in the middle of a tour. This age old shrine is the most sanctified abode of the Lord who is protecting his Devotees with his perpetual power and blessings. And also a noteworthy place of cultural and heritage significance that must be viewed only with respect and tribute.

-> Enter the temple with an absolute sense of devotion.
-> Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple.
-> Do not enter the temple wearing shirt, banyan, pyjama, lungi, chequered clothes, chapels etc. -> Devotees must keep them outside the temple.
-> Wearing shirts, pants, pajamas etc inside the temple is strictly prohibited. Only Dhotis (Mundu) are permitted. For Women it is strictly recommended to wear Saress and traditional dresses as Churidars and other western dress patterns are not at all allowed. It is suggested to come with the prescribed dress format sot that the rush at the property counter can be avoided to a great extend.
-> Usage of Mobile phones, Camera, Video etc inside the temple is not permitted.
->Dont make noise inside the temple do nama japa only.
-> Do not touch the temple priests.
->Do not postrate in the Ottakkal Mandapa infront of Sreekovil. Anything fall on this manda will be considered as the wealth of Sree Padmanbha.
-> Do not touch on the altar stones (Balikkallu) by foot and hand.
->Devotees can purify themselves by washing hands and feet or by taking bath in temple pond (padma theertha)and can enter the temple preferably with wet clothes. A nominal rate is charged for using padmatheertha (this is to limit pollution ).
-> Immediately after marriage , the couples should not enter the Nalambalam.
->Do not spit in the temple premises.
->Do not retain babies and children for a long time within the Temple.
-> Put the amount you wish to offer in the Bandaram (Hundi) only and do not throw your offerings in to the Sreekovil.

Follow the temple rules and regulations, so that all can comfortably worship the Lord.

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala:-

 The Richest Hindu Temple in the World By Nandni November 13, 2013

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is the House of the Golden Treasure.

Among the thousand names given to Lord Vishnu, one is Sree-Nidhi, meaning “He in whom all wealth resides”. And therefore, it is not surprising when one of his temples becomes the richest Hindu temple in the world. Located inside the East Fort of Trivandrum, the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams or the Holy Abodes of Lord Vishnu mentioned in the works of the Tamil Saints.

The history of this temple dates back to around 8th Century, though the exact time is almost untraceable. The presiding deity, Sree Padmanabhaswamy or Lord Vishnu, is seen here as reclining on Anantha, the hooded serpent.  According to Srimad Bhagawatam, Lord Balarama had visited Thiruvananthapuram as a part of his teerth-yatra and gifted ten thousand cows to the holy men. The capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, derives its name from the name of the God of this temple. Thiruvananthpuram literally means the Holy Abode of Sree Anantha Padamanabhaswamy.

The architecture of the temple is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian style, embellished with works of stone and bronze. The interiors have some very beautiful paintings and murals of Lord Vishnu. The temple also has a Flag Post, which is covered with gold-plated copper sheets. The treasure that the temple proudly houses includes hundreds of gold jars, chairs, sacks full of gold coins, precious gems, jeweled crowns and an image of Lord Vishnu studded with 1000 diamonds. The temple is currently looked after by the Royal family of Travancore.

Witnessing the bountiful treasures of the temple, people often regard it as the heaven on earth. After its discovery, the royal treasure, which is worth one lakh crore, invoked the interest of the government. But an astrological examination which proved that the intervention will result in death due to the wrath of God, has stopped any further investigation. The royalty and sanctity of Sree Padamanbhaswamy Temple is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime.

Temple Timings:-

Morning hours:-

3:30 a.m. to 4:45 a.m.
6:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.
8.30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
10:30 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.
11:45 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

Evening hours:-

5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.
6:45 p.m. to 7:20 p.m.

The Major Festivals in Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple:-

The Thiruvananthapuram Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple several festivals are celebrated bi-annually. The Alpashy festival which falls on October/November and the Painkuni festival in March/April are held for every 10 days. All of these festivals conclude with the Aarattu (holy bath) at the Shankumugham Beach. The Sri Padmanbaswamy Temple Thiruvananthapuram is renowned for the Aarattu, which is headed by the royal family of Travancore. The word Aarattu means the ritual bathe of the deities in sea. During Aarattu, the idols of Sri Padmanabhaswamy, Krishna and Narasimha are engrossed after some rituals. The idols are then bringing back to the temple as a procession with superbly decorated elephants, which is worth seeing.

The festival is of ten days duration culminating in the spectacular Palliveta and Arat processions on the 9th and 10th days respectively. Kalasams also known as Ulsava Kalasams take place in addition to the routine rituals. Special Sreebalies (Processions) are conducted twice a day, in the evening 4.30 pm and at night 8.30pm.Exception is there on the first day when there is only night Sreebali. Once during the reign of Sree Anizhom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, an elephant ran amock. Since then, the practice of using elephants to carry the idols in the procession was given up and Vahanas (vehicles) carried on the shoulder by a number of priests came into vogue. Six different kinds of beautiful conveyances are used for these processions. They are the Simhasana Vahanam (Throne), Anantha Vahanam (Serpant), Kamala Vahanam (Lotus), Pallakku Vahanam (Palanquin), Garuda Vahanam (Garuda) and Indra Vahanam (Gopuram). Of these the Pallakku and Garuda Vahanas are repeated twice and four times respectively. The Garuda Vahanam is considered as the favorite conveyance of the Lord.

The different days on which the various Vahanams are taken out for the procession are as follows.

1st day of Utsavam Simhasana Vahanam
2nd day of Utsavam Anantha Vahanam
3rd day of Utsavam Kamala Vahanam
4th day of Utsavam Pallakku Vahanam
5th day of Utsavam Garuda Vahanam
6th day of Utsavam Indra Vahanam
7th day of Utsavam Pallakku Vahanam
8th day of Utsavam Garuda Vahanam
9th day of Utsavam Garuda Vahanam
10th day of Utsavam Garuda Vahanam
Sri Padmanabhaswamy’s Vahanam is in gold while those of Narasimha Swamy and Krishna Swamy are in silver. The Vahanams are richly decorated with colourful flowers. The eighth Utsavam has significance in the sense that ‘Valiya Kanikka’ is offered. During the night Sreebali the Swamiyar offers the first Kanikka followed by the Valia Thampuran(the eldest male member of the Royal Family). The ninth day festival is called Pallivetta. Pallivetta signifies a royal hunt. As the Ruler of the land, the Swamy ventures to hunt down and annihilate all the ills. In a temporarily erected grove, the Maharaja as the representative of the Lord, aims an arrow on a tender coconut which symbolizes evil. The Valiya Thampuran and other male members of the Royal Family array outside with swords and shields, and accompany the procession.  The difference in the Garuda Vahanam used for the Pallivetta and Aarat is that the Anki (outer covering) of the image of Lord Padmanabhaswamy holds a bow and an arrow in the hands.

On the tenth day is the Aarat. After two circumambulations, all the Vahanams are taken out through the Western entrance. The Valiya Thampuran and other male members of the Royal Family escort the Deities with drawn swords and shields. The Aarat procession slowly proceeds with pomp and pageantry, colour and music, men carrying divine emblems and insignias of royalty. History and heritage are re-lived. The procession reaches the Sanghumugham beach and the Vahanams are positioned in the Aarat Mandapam. Poojas are performed to the idols by the Tantri (Tantri is of the Tharanalloor Illam. This Illam has held the position of Tantri for centuries) and the holy immersion in the sea takes place. After this, the procession returns to the Temple.

Here are the other major festivals celebrated at Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple

1) Kalabham – 8th to 14th January – Makaraseeveli at 08:30 PM Perunthiramruthu Pooja
2) Painguni Uthsavam – March – April – 10th day Arattu
3) Vishu – 14th April – Vishu Kani Darshan at 05:00 am
4) Kalabham – 11th to 16th July - Karkkidaka Seeveli Perunthiramruthu Pooja
5) Niraputhari – July to August
6) Thiruonam – Onavillucharth (Onavillu) August – September
7) Vinayaka Chaturthi – held at Agrasala – August – September
8) Sree Krishna Jayanti – Ashtami Rohini – August – September
9) Valiya Ganapathi Homam – 12 days annually – September – October
10) Navaratri - September – October
11) Aippashi Uthsavam – October – November – 10 days Arattu
12) Swargavathil Ekadasi – December

How to Reach:-

By Road:-

Traveling to Padmanabhaswamy temple by road is a viable option, as the temple is located at a place easily accessible by public as well as private transport. The city bus station is located at walking distance from the temple.

By Air:-

Trivandrum International Airport is the nearest airport to the Padmanabhaswamy temple, which is just 7 km away from the temple. From this airport you can easily board a flight to almost all the major cities of India and abroad.

By Rail:-

The nearest railhead to Padmanabhaswamy temple is Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station which is situated just 1 km away from the temple. This is one of the main railway stations in South India and hence you can catch a train to any of the major Indian city from here.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Swamy Temple - Sabarimala

Sabarimala Sree  Ayyappa  Swamy Temple :-

LORD AYYAPPA, the presiding supreme deity of Sabari Hills is worshipped by millions of devotees.

A visit to Sabarimala brings to the devotees' contentment, spiritual upliftment, prosperity and fulfillment of devotees' desires and wishes.

The months of Kaartika / Vrishchika, Maargazhi / Dhanur (15 Nov - 15 Jan) are most auspicious for Sabarimala pilgrimage.

Lord Ayyappa had his Avataaram on Saturday, Maargazi Panchami in uttara nakshatram. Makara Jyoti appears on this day.

During Vrischika, Dhanur and Makara (Nov, Dec & 1st half of January) months, Mandala puja is celebrated on Sabari Hills.

Facing the Ayappa Idol:-

The beautiful idol of Lord Ayappa is made of Panchaloha (a five metal alloy) and is about one and a half feet high. Lord Ayappa sits in a meditative pose, with a band around the folded legs and right hand in 'chinmudra' with the forefinger touching the thumb indicating "Thou art that". Lord Ayappa grants refuge to His devotees and protects them from all evils.

To the south of the main shrine is a Ganesha idol and to the left are the idols of Subramanya and Goddess Mala. The shrine of Mallikappurathamma Devi is 100 meters away from the 'srikoil'. One can also find the shrine of Vavar, the Islamic confidant of Lord Ayappa.

Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Temple which attracts millions of devotees every year from all over the country and abroad, is one of the ancient mountain shrines situated in a deep, dense forest on the virgin hill of Sabari, in the Ranni-Perunad village of Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, in South India.
                   Surrounded by lush tropical jungles and 18 hills, the shrine is over 4000 ft above sea level. Sabarimala is part of Sahyadris (Western Ghats); remnants of ancient temples are visible in the adjoining hills and at Nilackal, Kalaketi and Karimala offerings are still made to the devis/devas.
The Temple which can be reached only on foot has been captivating devotees from ancient times. The arduous trek of nearly four kilometres through the thick jungle, after crossing River Pampa, has been a source of spiritual chastisement and cleansing for the devotees who visit the shrine every year driven by divine magnetism.
‘Vavar Thara’ is located close to the Shri Ayyappa temple. Legend has it that Vavar, a sufi saint, was close to Swami Ayyappa. Location of ‘Vavar Nada’ in the premises of Swami Ayyappa temple and the custom of Ayyappa devotees offering their prayers at the Vavar Nada are hailed as fine examples of secularism and communal harmony. Another significant aspect of Sabarimala pilgrimage is that pilgrims, irrespective of cast or religion or wealth are considered equal before Lord Ayyapa and all of them address each other as Ayyappa or Swamy (in the true spirit of the words Thatwamasi).

It is believed that the deity of the temple was consecrated by Lord Parasurama at the foot of Sabari hills, reference to this is said to have been made in Ramayana. The temple attracts pilgrims from the southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and also from the other states and from the other countries. Another mythology says that Sabarimala is the place where Lord Ayyapa meditated and became one with Lord Sastha soon after killing the powerful demon, Mahishi.

Rules & Regulations:-

 An Ayyappa pilgrim is called Ayyappa Swamy. One has to stick to a disciplined, austere life of abstinence for 41 days to proceed to the temple. Should be strictly vegetarian. No smoking. Wear a type of black cloth and a rudraksha mala. No hair cut. Go barefoot. A pilgrim carries an irumudikkettu, a cloth bag divided into two by a knot at the middle, that helps to balance the weight of pooja items he carries. They have to trek long distances in the hills.At the temple there are 18 vertical steps one has to climb for darshan of the idol. They are called Pathinettam Padi (Eighteen Step). Girls/women of 10-50 years are not allowed temple darshan.

King Rajasekara :-

The descendants of Pandya dynasty were living scattered in places like Valliyur, Tenkasi, Shengottah, Achankovil and Sivagiri and in parts of Travancore, where they were the ruling dynasty. The descendants of Pandya dynasty belonging to Chempazhanattu Kovil, living in Sivagiri were given the right to rule the country of Pandalam, by the King of Travancore eight hundreds years ago. King Rajasekara was the direct descendant of this dynasty. 

King Rajasekara was a very talented, courageous and just ruler in all his dealings. People were living happily and prosperously during his regime. However, the king was very unhappy that he had no children and his subjects were also worried that he had no heir to inherit his kingdom. As per the wish of the queen, both of them prayed to Lord Shiva for blessing them with a child.


Lord Shiva, answered Rajasekara's prayer and ordered Dharmasastha to take the avathar of Ayyappan . Ayyappan took the form of a baby with a golden chain and bell around his neck and placed himself near the Pamba river.

(Dharmasastha born to Lord Shiva and Lord Mahavishnu who was in the disguis of Mohini to get back the Amrutham from the asuras and restore to the devas.)

King Rajasekara who was returning after hunting in the forest adjoining the banks of River Pampa, along with his men, heard a child crying from somewhere in the forest. Surprised, he went round and reached the banks of River Pampa. There he saw a beautiful and divine child (i.e. Ayyappa) kicking its legs and crying out, and was in a dilemma whether to take the child to the Palace or leave it there itself.

While the King was engrossed in his thoughts, a Sanyasi (Yogi) appeared before him and told the King that he need not be afraid of the child and take him to the Palace and that the child belonged to Kshatriya dynasty capable of mitigating all sufferings. The Sanyasi further stated that since the Child had a gold bell around his neck, his name be called "MANIKANDAN" and when the child completed twelve years, the King would know his divine history. After uttering these words, the Sanyasi disappeared.

The King of Pandalam was very joyous; he took the child to his Palace and briefed the Queen about the incident. The King and the Queen, having prayed to Lord Shiva, for a child, were very happy that they had been blessed with a child. The people also felt happy that a heir to inherit the Kingdom after the King, had been found.

The Diwan :-

However, the Diwan of the Kingdom who was thinking that he would be the next crown after Rajasekara was worried.

The Study period of Ayyappan :-

He was taught all martial arts and sastras and the Guru was surprised at his brilliance and agility and the extraordinary talents. The Guru came to the conclusion that he was not an ordinary child, but a divine power. After completing his education under the Guru, Manikandan approached the Guru to offer his Guru Dakshina.

When Manikandan went to his Guru for his blessings, the Guru told him that he already knew that he was a divine power and he was blessed for having been given an opportunity to have Manikandan as a student. The Guru further told Manikandan that he had one request to make and that was that his only son who was dumb should be given the ability to speak. Manikandan called the Guru's son and put his hands on his head and immediately thereafter the Guru's son began to speak. Manikandan requested the Guru not to reveal this to anyone and went to the Palace.

Birth of RajaRajan:-

In the meanwhile, the Queen gave birth to a male child and the child was named RajaRajan.


King Rajasekara, impressed with the talents of Manikandan, decided to crown him, treating him as his eldest son. He ordered the Diwan to make arrangements for the same.

The Diwan's plot:-

The Diwan started devising plans to prevent Manikandan from being crowned to the throne and to annihilate him. He tried various methods including poisoning of food, but failed in all these. However, Manikandan's body bore an injury due to these and ordinary physicians could not cure it. Lastly, Lord Shiva disguising himself as a physician, treated Manikandan's injury and cured him.

Having failed in all his attempts to kill Manikandan, the Diwan approached the Queen and told her that as she had her own son, it was not correct to crown a person who came from the forest. He further told the Queen that since Arthasastra itself has justified any misdeed if it was done to extract a good thing, he would suggest that the Queen should pretend as if suffering from severe headache and stomach pain and he would make the physician tell that only a tigress' milk should be brought to cure the Queen and since Manikandan would only go to the forest to bring the milk, he would be in danger from the wild animals and even if Manikandan returned without bringing the tigress' milk, the King's love for him would not be as before. The Queen, became a prey to the Diwan's plot and agreed to do what he told, so that her son could succeed the King to the throne.

The queen's sickness:-

The Queen, as told by the Diwan, cried out loudly that she was suffering from severe headache and stomach pain and the King, believing this, called the Diwan to bring in the best physicians to treat her. The Physician, brought by the Diwan examined the Queen and told the King that the Queen had been suffering from a dangerous disease and it could be cured only by applying Tigress' milk .The King sent several of his men to the forest for bringing this milk. The King understood that it was an impossible task and wanted his dear Queen to be cured at any cost and offered half of his Kingdom to anybody who brought the Milk.

Manikandan's persistence :-

Manikandan asked the King to let him go to the forest promising to bring the milk. However, the King told him that he was awaiting to be crowned to the throne that he was also not of age and hence refused to let him go. Manikandan told the King, in spite of his refusal, he had to go lest he would be cursed for not curing the Queen. Since the King persisted in his refusal Manikandan wanted the King to promise to do something he wanted. The King gave the promise and asked him what he wanted and immediately Manikandan asked the King to permit him to go to the Forest. The King felt disappointed that he had been tricked and with no other alternative permitted Manikandan to go to the forest.

The arrangements:-

King Rajasekara made arrangements to send a group of his loyal men along with Manikandan, which however was refused by Manikandan on the ground that the tigress might run away seeing the crowd of soldiers.

King Rajasekara sent along with Manikandan necessary foodstuffs and coconuts with three-eyes, in remembrance of Lord Shiva. The Panchabuthas, sent by Lord Shiva, accompanied Manikandan to Forest.

Visiting Devaloka and destroying Mahishi:-

However, on his way Manikandan, came to know the atrocities of Mahishi in the Devaloka, he went there and fought a battle with Mahishi. During the conflict, Manikandan threw Mahishi down to earth from devaloka and she fell on the banks of Azhutha River. Manikandan clashed with her at Azhutha river again. At the end, of the battle between Mahishi and Manikandan at Azhutha River banks, Manikandan climbed up on her chest and danced violently. The impact of his dance was felt on the Earth and Devloka and the Devas were afraid. Mahishi knowing that the divine power dancing on her body was none other than the son of Hari and Haran, prostrated before Manikandan and died.

(Mahishi- blessed by Lord Brahma that nobody , except the son created out of the union of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Haran), would be able to kill her. She wanted to take revenge upon the devas who killed her brother)

Malikapurathu Amma:-

This dance was witnessed by Lord Shiva and Mahavishnu from a place called Kalakatti. (It is said that Leela, daughter of Kavalan, a Maharishi, due to her husband's curse,was born as daughter of Karamban, with a face of Mahishi and freed herself from the curse and obtained Moksha by the grace of Shri Dharmasastha, which is described in Sabarimala Temple as Malikapurathu Amma, by which name she has a temple there).

Comfort to the King Rajasekara:-

After killing Mahishi, Manikandan went to the forest for the tigress milk, when Lord Shiva appeared before him and told him that though he had done good for the Devas, still there was one main task and that was to give comfort to the King Rajasekara who was very concerned about him. Lord Shiva further told him that he could go to the Palace with Lord Devendran in the form of a tiger. With Manikandan on the tiger, all female devas in the disguise of a tigress and male Devas, as tigers started their journey to the Palace.

When Manikandan, with the tigers, approached the Palace, the people who ridiculed him when he started his journey to forest if he wanted a toy tigresses etc , really got panic seeing the violent bunch of animals and started running helter shelter.

Revealing of Manikandan's identity:-

Just then, the same Sanyasi who appeared before King Rajasekara when he picked up Manikandan at the forest as a baby, appeared again at the palace and told King Rajasekara the real identity of Manikandan.

Hearing this, the King stood in great surprise and silence. He saw Manikandan riding a tiger and people running away. Seeing the King, Manikandan descended from the Tiger and told him that since the tigresses were there, he could get the Queen cured with their milk. King Rajasekara, fell at his feet and asked to forgive him for whatever happened without his knowledge, and asked him to send back the tigers as the Queens ailment had been cured the moment Manikandan went to the forest. On that day Manikandan reached the age of twelve.

The Temple:-

King Rajasekara told Manikandan that the Diwan was responsible for all these things and hence he should be punished. However, Manikandan told the king that he need not punish the Diwan and all had happened only through the will of God, and he told further that time had come for him to go to Devaloka since the task for which he took avatar himself on the Earth is completed and asked the King what boon he wanted from him and he was ready to give it as he was much pleased by his devotion.

Immediately, King Rajasekara told him that they wanted to raise a temple in his memory and suggest a suitable place for the temple. Manikandan aimed an arrow which fell at a place called Sabari, where in Sri Rama's era a Sanyasini called Sabari observed Dhavam. Lord Manikandan told the King to build the temple in that place and then he disappeared.

Foundation stone for the building the Sabarimala Shrine and the purpose

As per Saint Agasthya's advise, King Rajasekara laid the foundation stone for the building the Sabarimala Shrine.

Bhagwan Manikandan, had made it clear that he would grace only those devotees who offer Dharshan after performing Vritha for fortyone days keeping themselves isolated from family desires and tastes and leading a life like Brahmacharya, thinking of good things always, and that while coming for his darshan, they shall carry the holy irumudi on their heads, as the Bhagwan did when he went to the forest to fetch tigress milk, and bathed in River Pampa raising slogans of Saranam and climb the eighteen stairs.

The completion of the temple:-

As graced by the Bhagwan King Rajasekara completed building of the temple with eighteen steps to reach it. When the King was thinking how to put Dharmasastha's figure in the temple for darshan to devotees, he recalled the words of the Bhagwan, the River Pampa was a holy river as River Ganga, Sabarimala was a holy place as Kasi. Dharmasastha sent Parasuraman to Sabarimala who carved the figure of Lord Ayyappa and installed it on the day of Makarasankranthi, the day on which the Makara Jothi appears.

Every year lakhs and lakhs of people throng to Sabarimala irrespective of caste or creed and adorn themselves with garlands and irumudis, chants slogans on Lord Ayyappa, bathe in holy river Pampa, climb up the eighteen steps and get the grace of Lord Ayyappa, the Dharmasastha.

Adorning the jewelleries on Ayyappan on the Makarasankranthi day

The Jewel Casket is carried on head from the ancestral residence of the royal family of Panthalam to the Shrine on that day. A Garuda, the Brahaman kite, follows this ornaments carrying procession, hovering about in the sky. After these ornaments are worn on the Lord the bird circles the temple in the sky three times and disappears. Excited by this sight the devotees begin to chant "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa". A Star never seen before in the sky appears on the day of Makara Jothi day before the sighting of the Jyoti. A Jyoti is seen for a little time on the hilltop showing the presence of Swamy Ayyappan gracing his devotees.


Near the Patinettampadi is the shrine of the Muslim Vavurswami. While there are several accounts of identity of Vavur, it is generally believed that he was a warrior who was defeated and subdued by Ayyappa, and later became a close associate. It is believed that Lord Ayyappa himself instructed the Pandalam king to build a mosque for Vavur at Erumeli and a shrine at Sabarimalai.

The Vavur deity is believed to be as old as the original deity of Ayyappa himself, and records show that the shrine was renovated sometime in 1905. Here, the poojas are conducted by a Muslim priest. There is no distinguishable idol, but a carved stone slab that represents the deity. A green silken cloth is hung across one wall, and there is also an old sword. The special offering here is green pepper. Many devotees also bring a goat to offer to Vavurswami, mainly in the belief that pilgrims accompanied by a goat will reach the temple safely. These goats are later auctioned by the temple authorities.

pamba river:-

The divine child Manikandan resting on the sands of the pamba river.The devotees consider the holy river as the one that can help them attain MOKSHA or salvation.The river Pamba invokes the whole holiness of Sabarimala and Swami Ayyappan among the 44rivers in Kerala Pamba is a bit smaller than many others in depth and length.The pamba river is called as South Ganga.The fame and name of the river is attributed to the legends related to Ayyappas birth.Pamba river traces its source to chenthamara kokka which is between the virigin evergreen forest and slopes lying to the east of Sabarimala.The river flows from 18 hills bordering the garden of Lord Ayyappa Nurtures pamba to make it the third river in Kerala State.After Sannidhanam and erumeli many rituals filled with faith in Ayyappa are performed on the bankes of the River.Among them are Pamba Bali and Pamba Sadhya.Ponnambalamedu,believed to be the resting place of Swami Ayyappan and the origin of pamba river fall under periyar tiger reserve.The origin of pamba is the border of Pulinchimala,Sundaramala,Nagamala.The tributaries of river pamba are Peruthodu,Azhutha and Kariyilamthodu.They are fine place in the legend of Lord Ayyappa.Another major tributary which enrich pamba is kakkad river.There are two reservoirs have been built accross pamba and kakkad.This is the holy water in which people of South can wash their sins away.The most auspicious part of Pamba is the Triveni Sangamam which is the right of pamba bridge.Two branches of the river merge and this point is called Triveni Sangamam.Triveni offers salivations to fathers Lord Rama during his stay in the forest reach Triveni and believed to have paid darpan to his father.Due to this devotees take a dip at Triveni sangamam often balidarpan to their dead fathers for the rituals of the sandy banks of the river.Triveni area known for its rich herbal wealth and flora it may be due to its Purity and medicinal wealth that augments the health of the devotees.The river pamba run through three districts flowing for a distances of 176kms and merged into the Vembanad Lake.Aaranmula Paarthasarathi Temple,Thakazhi Dharmasastra Temple are the other pilgrimage center that dot the banks of Pamba. ChakkullathKavu Devi Temple is situvated at the branch of Pamba. 

Ayyapa Vrata:-

41 days’ harsh penance or ‘vratha’
Abstain from non vegetarian food
No alcohol
No smoking, tobacco
No sharing of bed with spouse, leave alone sex
No hair cut, shaving or any kind of facial make ups
Daily two bath, one in the early morning and one in the evening
Wearing only black or blue clothing
Avoid Chappals/foot wears (so as to practice walk barefoot for 5 km long difficult trekking to the temple later)
No film watching
Visiting nearby temples at least once in a day, if twice not possible
Give food and alms to neighbors and ‘Swamees’ (Ayyappa Devotees)
Wear a Mala ( a garland made of ‘Rudraksha’ or Tulsi beads) till the pilgrim is completed
Smearing ‘Vibhuti’ (Vermilion or ‘Bhasma’) or sandal paste on the forehead.
Use only good language; avoid quarrels and bad company
Avoid rice and rice-foods as far as possible at evening
No admission for women between the age of 10 and 50 (women in the menstrual age group strictly prohibited).

Too strict, too rigorous and too tough.

Are you ready to observe all these strict disciplinarian regimen at least for a few weeks? Then you are eligible for the pilgrimage to Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple in Kerala, South India. Your eligibility is still at stake (even after observance of all these stringent practices) unless you carry an ‘Irumudikettu’ on your head or shoulder. Without ‘irumudikettu’, you can reach up to the starting point of the holy 18 steps. But to climb the most sacred 18 steps, you need to carry the cloth bundle known as ‘Irumudikettu’, which carries the worship (pooja) materials such as coconut, ghee, flowers, camphor, etc.

Sacred Golden 18 Steps:-

The Ayyappa Temple contains the 18 Golden Steps,Those are Built on a plateau about 40 feet high,the Ayyappan temple commands a lofty view of the mountains and valleys al around. The ancient temple has been rebuilt after a fire in 1950, consisting of a sanctum sanctorum with a copper-plated roof and four golden finials at the top, two mandapams, the belikalpura which houses the altar,and the flag-staff. Replacing the earlier stone image of the deity is a beautiful idol of Ayyappa in panchaloha, an alloy of five metals, about one and a half feet.
First 5 steps signify the five indriyas or the senses(eyes,nose,ears,skin and tongue).
The 8 steps are the Raagas(tatwa,Kama,Krodha,moha,lobha,madha,mastraya and ahamkara).
The Next 3 the gunas(satwa,rajas and thamas)
Last Steps are followed by Vidya and Vaydya.

          An Ayyappa devotee crosses the Pathinettaam padi only twice during his sojourn on Sabarimala - for entering the temple and to go downhill. Before ascending or descending the steps, pilgrims break coconut as an offering to the steps. One needs to have the sacred Irumudi on head while going up or down the 18 steps and while descending the steps the devotees climb down backwards facing the sanctum sanctorum.

Makara Jyothi:-

The most important event at Sabarimala is the Makara Jyothi (usually on January 14th). Thiruvabharanam or the sacred jewels of the Lord (presented by the Pandalam king) arrives at Sabarimala in three boxes. On the arrival of the jewel boxes the whole mountain reverberates to the chanting of 'Saranam Ayyappa' by millions of devotees gathered there to watch the event.

The Thiruvabharanam box - still the private property of the Pandalam royal family, starts its journey two days before Makara Jyothi day from Pandalam. The person who carries the box dances in a peculiar trance. Thiruvabharanam travels through Valiakoikkal Sastha temple at Pandalam, Ayiroor Puthia Kavu Temple, Perunattil temple, Vlakkai, Nilaikkal Siva temple, Vellachimala, Pamba and Sabari Peedam before reaching at Sannidhanam around 6.00 PM on the Makara Jyothi day. Every year a Garuda hovers and flies above the Thiruvabharanam boxes as if to guard them.

On reaching the Sannidhanam the Melshanthi and Thandhri receive the sacred jewels amidst the thundering echoes of Sarana ghosham.

The Thiruvabharanam box contains a diamond crown, golden bracelets, necklaces and a sword. The priests adorn the Lord with these and perform arathi.

At the same moment a brilliant light of amazing magnificence appears in the northeastern side to the temple at the opposite mountain in a place called Kantamala (the home of devas and rishis). It is believed that this brilliant flame of light is the arathi performed by the rishis and the devas. This event marks the culmination of the pilgrimage to Sabarimala.

Makara Vilakku festival:-

After the jyothi, that night Malikappurathuamma, mounted on an elephant comes in a procession to the Patinettampadi (18 steps ) and returns back to her abode. This is the beginning of the Makara Vilakku festival. This festival lasts for seven days. Many pilgrims stay back till this festival is over and Kuruthi pooja (offering of water mixed with chunnambu and turmeric powder to the forest deities) is performed.

Even some who leave Sabarimala after witnessing the Jothi observe fasting till the Makara Villaku and Kuruthi pooja is complete at Sabarimala.

Other festivals :-

Onam, Mandalapooja, Pankuni Uthram (Lord’s Birthday) and Vishu are the other festivals celebrated at Sabarimala with pomp and glory.


The prasadam at Sabarimala temple is Aravana payasam and Appam. These are prepared by using rice, ghee, sugar etc. The rice needed to prepare prasadam at Sabarimala is supplied by Chettikulangara Devi Temple, the second largest temple under Travancore devaswom board situated at Mavelikkara. The Chief Commissioner, Travancore Devaswom Board said that the board has appointed Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore as a consultant for providing technical guidance to ensure the quality of Aravana, Appam, and other prasadom preparations at Sabarimala.

Other Temples in Sabarimala:-

Kannimula Ganapathi Kovil:-

Lord Ganapathi sits south-west of the main temple; the Ganapathi idol at Sabarimala is commonly referred to as Kannimula Ganapathi. And one of the special offerings to this deity is 'Ganapathi homam.'


In the bygone days, a large homakundam or a sacred pit burned constantly in front of the Sannidhanam. The flames were fed by the coconuts/neithenga thrown in by pilgrims, after offering the ghee within them to Lord Ayyappan. It is held that as the coconuts burn in the sacrificial fire, the pilgrims undergo a ritualistic cleansing, both of the spirit and the body. Owing to the deluge of devotees each year, the Homakundam has been moved to a spot beneath the temple.


The shrine of Malikappurathama is about 100 metres away from the Sannidhanam. Bhasmakkulam/ Ash tank is situated between these two holy spots. Pilgrims braving the arduous trip to Sabarimala take a tip in the sacred waters of this tank for spiritual purification and also in memory of Tapaswini Sabari who entered a pyre to end her mortal life. Sabarimala is named after her. Bhasmakkulam is repeatedly drained and filled with fresh water, on account of the millions who bathe in it.


This small temple on a hillock houses the shrines of Devi (Malanada Bhagavathi) and Kaduthaswamy in addition to a trident and a lamp. Devotees offer special pujas and coconuts which contrary to common practice, are not broken, but just rolled onto the ground. The door of the shrine always remains closed and other offerings presented include betel leaves, turmeric powder, silk cloth, saffron and money. Kanikka, gun shots and lighted lamps are th he offered by the worshipper to propitiate Malanada Bhagavathi.

The shrines of Nagaraja (the king of snakes) and Nagayakshi (Snake goddess) are on the right side of the temple of Malikappurathamma. Special pujas involving sarppa paattu are offered here to appease the snakes and protect devotees from the harmful effects of snakebites.

Kaduthaswamy and Karuppaswamy:-

Kaduthaswamy and Karuppaswamy stand at the bottom of the Pathinettampadi (18 steps) and are the guardians of the Sannidhanam. They are dwarapalakas, ensuring that the holy steps are not polluted by pilgrims who do not undergo the rigors of the 41-day abstinence and celibacy. Also they safeguard the pious from the dark spirits of the surrounding forests.

It is held that Kadutha was a valiant warrior who helped Pandalamraja (Lord Ayyappa an's foster father) beat his archenemy Udayanan. Soon afterwards, Kadutha accompanied the Raja to Sabarimala to reconstruct the Ayyappa temple and eventually grew so attached to the Lord that he spent his remaining days in the temple and the adjoining woods.

Adjacent to the Pathinettupadi is the shrine of Vavurswami, who is believed to have been a close associate of Lord Ayyappan. Vavur was a Muslim and several versions of his association with Ayyappan persist. Originally a warrior, Vavur was defeated and subdued by Ayyappan; later he became of one of the closest confidants of the Lord. It is widely believed that Ayyappan himself instructed Pandalamraja to build a mosque for Vavur at Erumeli and a shrine at Sabarimala.

List of Festival/Pujas Performed :-

Sri Chithira Atta Thirunal
Mandala Pooja Mahotsavam
Mandala Pooja
Makaravilakku Festival
Monthly Pooja (Kumbham)
Monthly Pooja (Meenam)
Painguni Utsavam
Meda Vishu Festival
Meda Vishu Darshanam
Monthly Pooja (Edavam)
Prathishta Dinam
Monthly Pooja (Mithunam)
Monthly Pooja (Karkitakom)
Monthly Pooja (Chingam)
Monthly Pooja (Kanni)
Monthly Pooja (Thulam)

List Of Daily Rituals & Timings At Sabarimala:-
Nirmalyadarshanam3.05 a.m.
Neyyabhishekham3.15 a.m.
Ganapathy homam3.20 a.m.
Usha pooja7.30 a.m.
Nada Closing1.30 p.m.
Nada Opening4.00 p.m.
Deeparadhana6.15 p.m.
Athazha pooja11.00 p.m.
Harivarasanam11.45 p.m.

Please Note: Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple is open only during certain specific periods in a year. The temple usually opens at 04.00am and closes at 11.00pm. During the peak seasons like Makaravilakku Mahotsavam, the timings might altered to accommodate the large number of devotees.

How to Reach:-

By Rail :-

Chengannur (82 km) and Kottayam (120 km)

By Road:-

KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) operates adequate services from every major town of Kerala and neighboring states.

By Air:-

Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (170 km) and Nedumbassery (Kochi) International Airport (160 km).