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A Spiritual Journey to Sabarimala in Photos

By Anusha

Kerala is one of the most beautiful states in India and attracts many thousand travellers every year from both outside the country and within. Among the many places to visit in Kerala are its beautiful temples. But there is one key temple experience in Kerala that every Indian must experience; the journey of self realisation at Sabarimala. This important pilgrimage attracts millions of devotees every year. It is about spirituality, about self decipline and an immense cultural experience. Those wishing to follow the traditional format of the journey, need to fast for 48 days, wherein you cannot smoke, eat meat or consume alcohol. The people who follow this rigorous approach usually dress in black or blue for the mentioned duration and are respectfully referred to as 'Swamy' or' Ayyappa'.

 

The temple located in the Western Ghats see a steady flow of devotees, especially during the peak season of November to January. Girl children are allowed only up to the age of 10 and women allowed only after the age of 60. The reason behind this being that Lord Ayyappa is celibate. The fascinating part of the journey begins well ahead of the actual trip, with the many rituals. Finally, the ritual of 'Iru Mudi' or 'Two Knots' is done where the family heads to a nearby Ayyappa temple and following prayers is given his share of offerings to the lord to be carried on the head. The cotton parcel typically contains; coconut, rice, ghee, etc. It is mandatory to carry the parcel on the head for the journey on foot from Pamba to the temple. Let us take a look at this life-changing journey in photos.

Sabarimala - A Path Towards the Lord, Towards the Self

The Holy Lands of Pamba

The Holy Lands of Pamba

Devotees from various parts of the country come by various transport means to the holy Pamba. All vehicles for such journey are decorated with garlands.

Photo Courtesy:Yedhu Krishnan

 

 

The Most Important Walk

The Most Important Walk

Devotees prepare for the most important part of the journey; the walk from Pamba uphill to the Ayyappa temple. 

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

Entire Journey on Foot
 

Entire Journey on Foot

As seen here, many people from neighbouring parts do the entire journey on foot and reach Pamba by walking.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

The Holy Pamba River

The Holy Pamba River

The Pamba River is the third longest in Southern India and one of the most revered. Devotees are seen stopping at the river for a quick bath.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

Revered Cleansing

Revered Cleansing

The Pamba River is sacred and considered to be the Ganges of Southern India. A bath here is equivalent of bathing in the Ganga and your sins are said to be washed away.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

Pamba

Pamba

At Pamba you can avail various facilities such as accommodation, locker rooms, etc an prepare yourself for the final lap of the journey, the climb to Sabarimala.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

The Walk Uphill Starts

The Walk Uphill Starts

Devotees set their 'Iru Mudi' on their head and start the uphill climb to Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple. The walk will take about 4 hours.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

Chanting Prayers All The Way

Chanting Prayers All The Way

The mood is kept upbeat through the entire duration of the climb with hypnotic chants in praise of Lord Ayyappa. Enroute the first timers should mark their attendance with an arrow like stick, kept in a particular tree's grooves.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

Entering the Temple Complex

Entering the Temple Complex

Devotees enter the temple complex, late in the evening and may rest for the night, before queuing up for the morning 'Darshan'.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

Devotees Taking a Break

Devotees Taking a Break

The temple authorities offer rooms that have to be booked well in advance. However, during the peak season it is hard to get availability and devotees can be seen sleeping in the walkways and halls.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

So Close Yet So Far

So Close Yet So Far

The devotees queue up for the final walk up the stairs to the temple's sanctum. The fervent  prayers will echo in your ears long after the journey.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

Sweet Taste of Realisation

Sweet Taste of Realisation

The entire journey is spent in seeking, as devotees complete the final climb of the 18 holy stairs, they see the Lord and attain peace and fulfillment.

Photo Courtesy: Yedhu Krishnan

Read more about: sabarimala kerala pamba
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