Friday Jun 14, 2024

Sabarimala Sri Dharma Sastha Temple- Kerala


Sabarimala Sri Dharma Sastha Temple- Swamy Ayyappan Rd, Sannidhanam, Sabarimala, Kerala 689662




Sabarimala Sri Dharma Sastha 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.

Puranic Significance

The Sannidhanam (main temple) is built on a plateau about 40 feet high. The temple was rebuilt after arson and vandalism in 1950, and the earlier stone image of the deity was replaced by a panchaloha (an alloy from five metals) idol, about 1 and half feet. The temple consists of a sanctum sanctorum with a gold-plated roof and four golden finials at the top, two mandapams, the balikalpura which houses the altar. In 1969, the flag staff (dhwajam) was installed The shrine of Kannimoola ganapathi prathishta is south-west to The Sreekovil of the Sannidhanam. Devotees offer part of the broken coconut (Neythenga) to the fireplace (Azhi). Ganapathi homam is the main offering. The temples of Lord Ayyappan’s trusted lieutenants Karuppu Sami and Kadutha Sami are positioned as his guards (kaval) at the foot of the holy 18 sacred steps. The temple of Maalikapurathamma, whose importance is almost in par with Lord Ayyappa, is located few yards from Sannidhanam. It is believed that the Lord Ayyapan had specific instructions that he wanted Malikappurath Amma, on his left side. Prior to the fire disaster, there was only a Peeda Prathishta (holy seat) at Malikappuram. The idol of Malikappurath Amma was installed by Brahmasree Kandararu Maheswararu Thanthri. The Devi at Malikappuram holds a Sankh, Chakram and Varada Abhya Mudra. Now the idol is covered with a gold Golaka. The temple also was reconstructed in the last decade and now the conical roof and sopanam is covered with gold. It is believed that Maalikapurathamma worshipped is the daughter of Cheerappanchira panicker who taught Kalaripayattu to Lord Ayyappa.Lord Ayyappa stayed in Cheerappanchira for a long time and during his training, he fell in love with the daughter of his guru Cheerappanchira panicker called Subhadra (Poongudi). Some unknown tragedy happened to both of them and she is now worshipped as Malikapurathamma. Cheerappanchira, which is situated about 100 km from Sabarimala holds many rights in Sabarimala, such as to conduct fireworks at Sabarimala, to light Nilavilak and ceremonial lamps at the shrine of Malikapurathamma at Sabarimala, collect half the coconuts given by devotees at Malikapurathamma shrine at Sabarimala. There is also a Mukkalvetti Ayyappa temple at Cheerappanchira which hold 3/4 power of Lord Ayyappa and rest in Sabarimala. The shrine of the Lord of snakes, Nagarajav is placed adjacent to the malikappuram temple. Pilgrims after the Darsan of Ayyappa and Kannimoola Ganapathi, make their darsan and give offerings to Nagarajav. Manimandapam, is the place where Ayyappan Jeeva samadhi [Arya kerala jeevasamadhi]. The Sabarimala temple complex includes Pampa Ganapathi temple, Nilakal Mahadeva temple and Palliyara Bhagavathi temple. The Nilakal Mahadeva temple and Palliyara Bhagavathi temple is as old as the Shasta temple and the deities are worshiped as the parents of Lord Ayyappa. Ganapathi temple at Pampa has Pampa Maha Ganapathi and Athi Ganapathi (lit. old ganapathy), sreekovil where the idol from the first Ganapathy temple is worshiped. Sabari Peedam has a temple of Rama and Hanuman also.


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. 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.

Special Features

The worship of Shasta forms part of the ancient history of south India. At Sabarimala, the deity is worshiped as Ayyappan. The shrine of Sabarimala is an ancient temple. It is believed that the prince of Pandalam dynasty, an avatar of Shasta, meditated at Sabarimala temple and became one with the divine. The place where the prince meditated is the Manimandapam. There are many Shasta temples in South India and across the globe. As per tradition, the Shasta temple at Sabarimala is one of the five Shasta temples founded by Lord Parasurama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. The customs of the pilgrims to Sabarimala are based on five worshipping methods; those of Shaivites, Shaktists and Vaishnavites. At first, there were three sections of devotees – the devotees of Shakti who used meet to worship their deity the devotees of Vishnu who followed the strict penance and continence, and the devotees of Shiva who partly followed these two methods. Another name of Ayyappa is Shasta. All these can be seen merged into the beliefs of pilgrims to Sabarimala. The chain the pilgrims wear comes from the Rudraksha chain of the Shaivites. The strict fasting, penance and continence is taken out of the beliefs of the Vaishnavites. The offering of tobacco to Kaduthaswamy can be considered to be taken from the Shaktists. Temple management puts religious restriction against entry of women of age 10 to 50. This is based on tradition of the temple to respect the celibate nature of the deity, similar restrictions are present against entry of men in other Hindu temples such as the Pushkar Brahma Temple, and the Kamakhya Temple in Visakhapatnam. ‘Vavar Thara’ is located close to the Shri Dharma Sastha temple. Legend has it that Vavar, a sufi saint, was close to Swami Ayyappa. Location of ‘Vavar Nada’ in the premises of Sree Dharma Sastha 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).


• Mandala Kalam marks the beginning of pilgrimage to the hill shrine from the first day of the Vrishchikam month and ends on the eleventh day of the Dhanu month as per the traditional Malayalam calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, this time corresponds to the months of December-January. Mandala Kalam lasts for a period of 41 days when millions of devotees from all corners of the world, throng the Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple. Guruvayur Ekadashi • → Mandala Puja • → Sabarimala Makaravilakku are the festivals celebrated here.


5000 Years old

Managed By

Travancore Devaswom Board.

Nearest Bus Station


Nearest Railway Station


Nearest Airport

Cochin, Thiruvanathapuram

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