Ayyappa Swamy Temple Image Gallery
LORD AYYAPPA, the presiding supreme deity of Sabari Hills is worshipped by millions of devotees. Ayyappan is a Hindu deity worshiped in a number of shrines across India. Ayyappan is believed to be an incarnation of Dharma Sastha, who is the son of Shiva and Vishnu (as Mohini). The most famous Ayyappa shrine in India is the one at Sabarimala, Kerala with over 30 million devotees visiting it every year. Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Temple is one of the most ancient and prominent Sastha temples in the country. Located in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala.
Sabarimala Sri Dharmasastha Temple is one of the few Hindu temples in India that is open to all faiths. Sabarimala (0929 North 7706 East) is situated in the midst of 18 hills, in a bowl of land blessed with a small rivulet named `Urakuzhi Theertham'. The area is in the hilly regions east of Kerala bordering Tamilnadu. Elevation above mean sea level is approximately 1260 Metres/4135 Ft. Temples existed in each of the hills surrounding Sabarimala. While functional (and intact temples) exist at many places in surrounding areas like Nilackal, Kalaketi, Inchiparakotta and Karimala, remnants of old temples are visible in the remaining hills.
The shrine of Sabarimala is one of the most remote shrines in southern India yet it still draws three to four million pilgrims each year. Surrounded by mountains and dense forest Sabarimala is believed to be the place where Ayyappan meditated. Perhaps the best known pilgrimage destination in Kerala is Sabarimala. Sabarimala Sri Dharmasastha Temple is the most famous and prominent among all the Sastha Temples. It is believed that "Parasurama Maharshi" who retrieved Kerala from the sea by throwing his axe, installed the idol of Ayyappa at Sabarimala to worship Lord Ayyappa.
Sabarimala pilgrimage begins in the month of November and ends in January.Ayyappa temple attracts pilgrims not only from the southern states of India, but also from other country and abroad. The shrine gets thronged with devotees especially during the main pilgrim season from November to January. Mandala pooja and Makaravilakku are the two main events of the pilgrim season. The temple stays closed during the rest of the year except for the first five days of every Malayalam month and during Vishu .
Ayyappa is known as "Harihara sudhan" because he is the son of Hari (Vishnu) the Saviour and Haran (Shiva) the destroyer. His most common name is Manikanta because when the king of Pandalam found him, there was a mani tied around his neck. As Dharma Sastha, some consider him to be born out of the union between Mohini (an Avatar of Vishnu), and Shiva. On the day King Rajasekara went for hunting in the forest, Ayyappan took the form of a baby with a golden chain and bell around his neck and placed himself near the Pamba river.
Lord Ayyappan is a incarnation of Lord Sree Dharma Sastha and Lord Ayyappan is a visible embodiment of their essential identity. Sri Ayyappa belongs to Pandya Royal Community. He was the head of a clan. It is believed Sri Ayyappa merged to sri dharma sastha. Lord Vishnu gifted the new-born deity with a little bejeweled bell necklace, so this god is called Manikanthan Swamy. He is also called as Shasthappan by most South Indian communities. Ayyappa lived in the Pandalam Palace as the son / savior of the King. He protected the King and the kingdom from the attacks of enemies.
Certain customs are to be strictly observed if one has to undertake a pilgrimage to Sabarimala. A pilgrim attending the Mandalapooja should observe austerities for 41 days. During this period, the pilgrim should abstain himself from non vegetarian food and carnal pleasures. Pilgrims set out in groups under a leader, and each carry a cloth bundle called Irumudi kettu containing traditional offerings. Unlike certain Hindu temples, Sabarimala temple has no restrictions of caste or creed.
Lakhs and lakhs of Tamilian Ayyappan devotees called the "Ayyappans" - come to Sabarimala every year to worship Tamil origin "VELLALAR KULA JHATHAN AYYAN AYYAPPAN". The easiest route is via Chalakkayam, by which one can reach the banks of the river Pamba by vehicle. Pamba is the main halting point on the way to Sabarimala. Dhananjyan Namboothiri was selected as the 'melsanthi' of Malikappuram Devi temple attached to the hill shrine complex, in a draw of lots held at the temple.
The most important event at Sabarimala is the Makara Jyothi(Jan 14th). Thiruvabharanam or the sacred jewels of the Lord (presented by the Pandalam king) arrives at Sabarimala in three boxes. 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.