Sabarimala is one of the most important pilgrim centers of the State. The holy shrine nestles at an altitude of 914 meters in the rugged terrains of the Western Ghats, surrounded by dense forests teeming with exotic wildlife species. It is regarded as the third richest temple in India and considering the number of days it is open in a year, the shrine is perhaps the richest. The temple stays open from November to mid – January, in April and during the first five days of each month of the Malayalam calendar. Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity is known as Sastha in the Puranas and is also referred as Harihara Puthran, as he is believed to be the son of Mohini (the female form of Lord Vishnu) and Lord Siva. Devotees of all religious faiths can worship here, but entry to the shrine is restricted for women between the ages of 10 and 50 years. Traditionally, the devotees who wish to undertake a holy pilgrimage to Sabarimala observe 41 days of penance, following strict celibacy. Morning and evening ablutions, growing of beard accompanied by daily prayers. The final 18 steps leading to the main sanctum are sheathed in panchaloha, an alloy of five metals. Each step represents a sin that a devotee renounces on setting a foot on it. Millions of pilgrims assemble here during the most arduous festivals called as ‘Vishu Vilakku’ in April, ‘Mandalapooja’, in the months of Vrichikam Dhanu (November – December) and ‘Makaravilakku’ in mid-January, coinciding with Sankramam.
Sabarimala lies in Pathanamthitta district. The traditional route is from Erumeli (40 kms,) in Kottayam district. It is 51 kms. walk from Erumeli to Pampa. From Pampa, the trekking route goes via Neelimala, Appachimedu, and Sabaripeedom to Sannidhanam, the abode of Ayyapa. Other routes are from Vandiperiyar, Uppupara, and Chalakkayam via Plappally. These routes are famous for there scenic splendor and mythological value. Vehicular traffic is only up to Pampa, located 7 km. from the holy shrine. Pampa is 210 kms. from Kochi and 235 kms. from Thiruvananthapuram.