Things to do in Sabarimala Temple – A Complete Travel Guide

Sabarimala temple travel guide

Sabarimala Temple is a Hindu pilgrimage site located in the Periyar Tiger Reserve of Kerala, India. It is one of the most renowned and sacred temples in India, attracting millions of devotees every year. It is one of the six abodes of Lord Ayyappa, known as Arupadai Veedu. These sacred pilgrimage sites are dedicated to the divine deity and hold unique significance in the Ayyappa tradition. Apart from Sabarimala Temple, the other Ayyappan Temples are Pandalam, Erumeli, Kulathupuzha, Achankovil, and Malikappuram. Sabarimala Temple is famous for its unique customs and traditions, and a pilgrimage period that occurs from November to January. Are you thinking of planning a trip to Sabarimala? Booking a cab from Kochi is a convenient option to get to this spiritual sanctuary.

Things to do in Sabarimala Temple

Table of Contents

About Sabarimala temple

Nestled amidst the lush Western Ghats of Kerala, Sabarimala Temple holds a mystical aura and deep spiritual significance, attracting seekers from far and wide. Notably, a historic Supreme Court ruling in 2018 opened the temple doors to women of all ages, fostering inclusivity and unity among devotees. Additionally, the rigorous 41-day penance, known as “vratham,” undertaken by pilgrims before their visit, serves as a transformative journey of self-discipline, purifying their minds, bodies, and souls for a profound encounter with Lord Ayyappa. Ascending the sacred 18 steps further illuminates the pilgrims’ path, representing virtues and guiding them towards self-realization and spiritual enlightenment.

Deity of Sabarimala temple  

The temple has a significant place in Hindu mythology and fascinating legends and stories shroud it, adding to its mystique. According to the legends, Lord Ayyappa is the offspring of Lord Shiva and the enchantress Mohini, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The story unfolds with the demoness Mahishi wreaking havoc on the world, rendering even the Devas helpless. It was then that Lord Shiva, along with other deities, combined their divine energies to create Lord Ayyappa to vanquish Mahishi and restore peace.

Where is Sabarimala temple located? 

Sabarimala Temple is located in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, India. The temple sits on a hilltop, and reaching it requires devotees to go on foot. A total of 18 steps, which symbolize the 18 Puranas or Hindu mythological texts, must be climbed, as it is an essential part of the temple visit. Dense forests envelop the temple, and it stands at an altitude of 914 meters above sea level.

History of Sabarimala temple

Sabarimala Temple has a rich history that dates back to the 12th century. The temple is believed to have been constructed by the Pandalam dynasty, who were the rulers of the area during that time. It is said that Lord Ayyappa was born to King Rajashekara Pandian and his queen, who were childless for many years. The king found the baby in the forest and brought him to the palace. Lord Ayyappa grew up in the palace and later went on to become a powerful and just ruler.

Best time to visit Sabarimala temple 

Sabarimala temple views

The best time to visit Sabarimala Temple is during the winter months, from November to January. During this time, the weather is pleasant, and the hill is covered with mist and fog, which adds to the spiritual experience for the devotees. The temple is also open during April and May for the Vishu festival.

Interesting facts about Sabarimala temple

Many families visit the Sabarimala Temple every year, as it holds great respect. The temple recently made headlines due to its ban on the entry of women, which was later resolved. It is also renowned for its 41-day long fast (vratham), which has numerous strict rules and is considered one of the toughest in the country.

Here are some other lesser-known facts about Sabarimala Temple

  • Sabarimala Temple is one of the few temples in India where women between the ages of 10 and 50 were not allowed to enter until recently.
  • The Temple has no other restrictions based on caste, creed, or religion.
  • The temple is open for worship from mid-November to mid-January, during the Mandalakala season. 
  • The temple is surrounded by 18 hills, which are believed to represent the 18 Puranas or Hindu mythological texts.
  • The Temple is believed to be the place where Lord Ayyappa meditated after defeating the demon Mahishi.
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Sabarimala temple darshan timings

Sabarimala Temple, one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in India, is open to devotees only during specific times of the year. Find the Darshan timings in the table below. The temple is also open during the first five days of every Malayalam month. During this time, the Darshan timings are from 4:00 am to 11:00 pm. The ticket price for the Darshan is INR 50, and it can be booked online or purchased at the temple

Sabarimala Temple offers different types of darshan facilities to devotees, such as Nirmalya Darshan, Neyyabhishekam, and Vazhipadu. Here’s a guide to understanding and choosing the best-suited darshan for you: 

Darshan Type Details Timing Entry Fees
Nirmalya Darshan This is the first darshan of the day, which is the most auspicious. Devotees can have the darshan of Lord Ayyappa as soon as the temple opens in the early morning. During this time, the deity is adorned with fresh flowers and jewellery. Devotees can have a close and clear view of the deity during this darshan 4.00 am Rs. 50
Neyyabhishekam: Neyyabhishekam is a unique ritual performed at Sabarimala Temple where the idol of Lord Ayyappa is bathed with ghee (clarified butter) instead of water. Neyyabhishekam is a highly auspicious and powerful ritual that signifies the purification of the soul. Devotees can participate in Neyyabhishekam and offer ghee to Lord Ayyappa. 8:30 – 11:00 am Rs 50
Vazhipadu Vazhipadu is the third darshan facility available at Sabarimala Temple. It refers to various offerings and poojas that devotees can perform as per their wishes and requirements. There are different types of Vazhipadu that devotees can opt for, such as Annadanam (donation of food), Palpayasam (offering of sweet milk), Pushpanjali (offering of flowers), and so on. The price of Vazhipadu varies based on the type of pooja or offering chosen by the devotee. 11:00 am Rs. 50

Sabarimala temple dress code

The Sabarimala Temple has a strict dress code that devotees must follow. Men must wear a black or blue dhoti, while women must wear a saree or a salwar kameez. Following the dress code ensures that the sanctity of the temple is maintained. The temple authorities provide clothes for men who do not have a dhoti and women who do not have a saree or a salwar kameez.

Sevas and poojas at Sabarimala temple

Sabarimala Temple is famous for its unique rituals and customs. The main pooja at the temple is the Neyyabhishekam, which is performed with ghee. The pooja is done to appease Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of the temple. The temple also offers various sevas and poojas, such as the Ashtabhishekam, Udayasthamana Pooja, and Kalabhabhishekam. Devotees can perform these sevas and poojas by booking them online or at the temple.

Sabarimala temple entry fee and pooja charges

Temples in Kerala

Entry to Sabarimala Temple is free of cost. However, there are charges for performing various sevas and poojas at the temple. 

  • The fee for the Neyyabhishekam pooja is INR 10
  • The Ashtabhishekam pooja fee is INR 5000. 
  • The Udayasthamana Pooja fee is INR 40000
  • The Kalabhabhishekam pooja fee is INR 10000. 
  • Kettunira fee is INR 250

Devotees can also perform the Thulabharam pooja by donating rice, sugar, or jaggery, according to their weight.

Aravana Payasam – A divine delicacy

Aravana Payasam is not just a prasadam but an integral part of the worship at Sabarimala Temple. Made from a special kind of rice, jaggery, ghee, and cardamom, this sweet dish is offered to Lord Ayyappa and then distributed to the devotees. What makes it special is the unique method of preparation and the traditional recipe followed, which is believed to be pleasing to the deity.

Devotees can purchase Aravana Payasam from the counters available within the temple complex. This delicacy is renowned across India for its divine taste and unique preparation, making it a must-have for visitors to Sabarimala. It’s often brought back home as a sacred souvenir from the pilgrimage, cherished by devotees nationwide. The payasam is packed securely, making it easy for pilgrims to carry it back, even on long journeys.

Things to do in Sabarimala temple

Sabarimala Temple is not just a destination for religious devotees but also a haven for those seeking solace in nature’s lap. Beyond the spiritual aspects, the temple offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and tranquillity. Here we will explore some of the remarkable things to do within the Sabarimala Temple complex, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in a profound spiritual experience while embracing the surroundings.

  • The primary purpose of visiting the temple is to seek the blessings of Lord Ayyappa. The location of the main shrine is on a hilltop. This is where the deity is worshipped. Climb the sacred Pathinettam Padi (18 holy steps) leading to the sanctum sanctorum, as each step symbolizes a unique spiritual significance. Experience the divinity as you offer prayers and witness the magnificent rituals conducted by the temple priests.
  • One of the most vibrant and significant festivals celebrated at the temple is the Makaravilakku Festival. Held annually in January, it attracts devotees from far and wide. The highlight of the festival is the divine appearance of the celestial Makaravilakku (divine flame) atop Ponnambalamedu hill. Witness the captivating sight of the Makara Jyothi and partake in the festive spirit that engulfs the temple complex during this auspicious time.
  • Visit the Vavar Shrine. The Vavar Shrine is located near the temple complex, and it is dedicated to Vavar, a Muslim saint who is believed to have been a friend of Lord Ayyappan. Pilgrims can visit the shrine to pay their respects to Vavar.
  • Adjacent to the temple complex lies the Malikappuram Devi Temple, dedicated to the goddess Bhagavathy. Pay a visit to this ancient shrine to seek the blessings of the divine goddess. The temple has its own unique rituals and traditions, and devotees often include it as part of their Sabarimala pilgrimage. Immerse yourself in the spiritual vibrations and admire the architectural beauty of this sacred temple.

Sabarimala temple festivals

Sabarimala Temple celebrates various festivals throughout the year. The most important festival is the Makaravilakku, which is celebrated in January every year. It marks the end of the pilgrimage season. During this festival, the Makara Jyothi, a celestial light, is seen on the horizon. Other major festivals celebrated at Sabarimala Temple include Vishu, Onam, and Chithira Attathirunal.

Savaari customers verified other attractions near Sabarimala temple 

Apart from Sabarimala Temple, there are several other places to explore in the nearby area. Some of the popular attractions include:

  • Pampa Ganapathi temple: This temple is situated at the base of Sabarimala Hill and is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. It is believed that Lord Ayyappa visited this temple before proceeding to Sabarimala.
  • Perunad temple: Perunad temple is located about 10 km from the location. It is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is believed to have been built during the 8th century AD.
  • Erumeli: Erumeli is a small town located about 40 km from Sabarimala. It is a popular pilgrimage destination and is home to the famous Pettathullal festival.
  • Pandalam: Pandalam is located about 20 km from Sabarimala and is famous for its rich cultural heritage. It is the birthplace of Lord Ayyappa and is home to the Pandalam Royal Family.
  • Pathanamthitta: Pathanamthitta town near Sabarimala is famous for its adventure activities such as river rafting and tubbing. It is an excellent activity to add some adventure to your trip after the holy experience. 

In addition to these places, the surrounding forests offer opportunities for trekking and wildlife spotting. 

Places to visit near Sabarimala temple by booking a Savaari taxi

Sabarimala Temple is surrounded by scenic beauty, lush green forests, and stunning landscapes. Kerala is called God’s own country, and there is always a lot to explore. Depending upon how far you are willing to travel, the state has beautiful backwaters, waterfalls rivers and lakes. It has an abundance of flora and fauna that you can explore. But wondering how to cover all of this. You can access it all by simply booking a Savaari cab in Sabarimala. Here are some of the top tourist destinations you can visit near Sabarimala Temple.

Periyar national park, Kerala
  • Periyar National Park: Periyar National Park is a nature reserve located in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala. This wildlife sanctuary is home to several species of flora and fauna, including elephants, tigers, gaurs, and sambar deer. The park offers various activities like jungle safari, trekking, and boat rides.
    • Entry Fees: Rs 50 for Indians and Rs. 450 for Foreigners
    • Timing: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Pamba River: The Pamba River is a popular tourist spot located near Sabarimala Temple. The river is known for its clear water and serene surroundings. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming in the river. There is no entry fee to visit the Pamba River, and it is open 24 hours.
    • Entry Fees: No entry Fees
    • Timing: Open 24/7
  • Vagamon: Vagamon is a hill station located in the Idukki district of Kerala. It is known for its natural beauty, lush greenery, and meadows. Visitors can enjoy activities like trekking, paragliding, and rock climbing. The entry fee for Vagamon is INR 20 for adults and INR 10 for children. It is open throughout the year.
    • Entry Fees: Rs. 20 for Adults and Rs. 10 for Children
    • Timing: Open 24/7
  • Gavi: Is a village located near Sabarimala Temple, known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. The place is popular for its trekking trails, wildlife watching, and boating.
    • Entry Fees: Rs. 25
    • Timings: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
  • Perunthenaruvi Waterfalls: Located about 45 km away from the pilgrimage site, this waterfall is a popular tourist attraction in the region. It is a serene landscape and is perfect for picnics and an evening out. Entry fee Rs. 20 
    • Timing: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm 

Savaari customers verified places to eat in Sabarimala  

Sabarimala has a lot of different options to eat, especially if you are looking for lip-smacking vegetarian South Indian food then you will be spoilt for options. Here are a few famous restaurants in the area.

  • Hotel Saravana Bhavan, Sabarimala packing ground  – Located near the bus stand, this restaurant is famous for its South Indian dishes like idli, dosa, vada, and sambar. This chain of restaurants is internationally recognised. 
  • Annalakshmi Restaurant, foothills of Sabarimala – This vegetarian restaurant serves authentic Kerala cuisine like avial, thoran, and rasam. If you are looking to try something different and local, this is your place to go
  • Hotel Udupi Bhavan, Sabarimala main road – It is famous for its delicious north Indian dishes like butter naan, paneer butter masala, and dal makhani.When here do try their paneer makhani and butter roti. 
  • Harishree Bakery, Chavara, Kerala- A perfect spot for breakfast, this bakery serves a variety of freshly baked cakes, pastries, and bread, along with tea and coffee.
  • Chaitanya Cafe, Pamba – This cosy little cafe located serves excellent filter coffee, sandwiches, and fresh fruit juices. It is the perfect place to get some evening snacks and refresh for the night. 
  • Hotel Ganga, near Sabarimala Temple – Hotel Ganga is a famous lunch and dinner spot and serves a variety of Indian vegetarian dishes like biryani, roti, and curries.
  • Ambadi Restaurant, near Sabarimala Temple – This place serves a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes like fried rice, noodles, and chicken curry, making it a perfect spot for a quick meal. It is one of the few places for non-vegetarian options. 

How to plan a trip to Sabarimala temple 

Kerala temple

When planning a trip to Sabarimala Temple, consider several factors need, including transportation, accommodation, food, and the best time to visit. The temple is accessible via road, rail, and air, and there are numerous options for lodging, including lodges, guesthouses, and hotels. Food options are also available near the temple, but carrying snacks and water bottles is advisable. The best time to visit is during the winter months from November to January, and it is recommended to avoid the monsoon season due to heavy rainfall. By keeping these factors in mind, one can plan a hassle-free trip to the temple and enjoy their pilgrimage experience.

How to reach Sabarimala temple

Sabarimala is connected by all means of transport and is fairly easy to reach depending upon the mode of transport you choose. Being a popular temple in the southern part of India, the place sees many visitors in the functional months and hence public transport is easily available. However, for people travelling from outside the state, language can pose a problem for communication. It is advised to hire a private car with a local driver who can assist you with the right places to visit and provide all the correct information and updates about the temple if any.

By train

Sabarimala Temple is accessible by rail to different parts of the country. The nearest railway station to the site is Kottayam, which is around 123 km away. From there, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the temple. Other nearby railway stations include Chengannur, Thiruvalla, and Pathanamthitta. Looking to book a cab from the station to Sabarimala? travel hassle-free with Savaari car rentals. 

By road

Sabarimala is accessible by road to major cities in Kerala and other neighbouring states. You can travel by bus or hire a private car to reach the temple. Choosing to travel to Sabarimala Temple by road is a truly enchanting experience. The road leading to Sabarimala town is beautiful and tourists often stop to relish local food and other snacks. The location, on top of a hill, provides ideal weather throughout the year for a road trip filled with scenic views.

KSRTC (the state transport in Kerala) also operates regular buses from cities like Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kottayam to Sabarimala. However, hiring a car is one of the most convenient ways to reach the temple as it involves a lot of walking, and a hassle-free car journey can ensure that you do not get exhausted from the trip. Would you like to book a trip to Sabarimala by car? Explore all the options on our App

By flight 

The nearest airport to Sabarimala is Cochin International Airport, which is around 160 km away. From there, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the temple. Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is another option, which is around 170 km away. You can also book a Savaari cab from the Kochi airport to Sabarimala to have a serene travel experience and enjoy the beauty of god’s own country.

Hotels and resorts near Sabarimala temple

Sabarimala has a lot of options that vary in the price range. You can book these hotels and resorts online or directly at the temple counters. However, it is advisable to book in advance during the peak pilgrimage season to avoid any inconvenience.

Hotel Name Address Phone Number
Hotel Sabarimala Near Private Bus Stand, Sabarimala. Approx. 05.m from the city centre +91 94473 23046
Hotel Panchami Near Old Bus Stand, Sabarimala. Approx 0.3m from city centre +91 4812 367 017
Hotel Saranam Near Pampa River, Sabarimala. Approx. 0.5m from the city centre +91 94959 65083
Hotel Triveni Near Sabarimala Temple, Sabarimala. Approx. 0.5 from the city centre. +91 94460 65077
KTDC Tamarind Nilayam Pamba, Sabarimala. Approx. 0.3 from the city centre. +91 97450 88000

Nearby road trips from Sabarimala temple

Sabarimala Temple, situated amidst the lush Western Ghats of Kerala, not only holds immense religious significance but also provides an ideal starting point for captivating road trips to nearby destinations. These trips traverse you through winding roads that offer breathtaking views of tea plantations, mist-covered valleys, and cascading waterfalls or lush paddy fields, coconut groves, and tranquil canals. Here are some highly-rated road trips:

Location Distance (Approx.) Duration (Approx.)
Sabarimala Temple to Munnar 170 km 4 hours
Sabarimala Temple to Alappuzha 130 km 3 hours
Sabarimala Temple to Kottayam 100 km 2.5 hours
Sabarimala Temple to Kollam 110 km 2.5 hours

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, put on comfortable shoes and venture out to Sabarimala Temple. Let the serene atmosphere of this holy place envelope you in its divine aura. With every step that you take towards the temple, feel yourself getting closer to Lord Ayyappa and his blessings. As you stand at the top of those 18 golden steps leading up to the sanctum sanctorum, let all your worries fade away and immerse yourself in a spiritual experience like no other. The journey might be tough, but it’s worth it as every hardship that we endure only makes us stronger – both physically and spiritually. So go ahead, and embark on this journey of self-discovery and faith with an open heart and mind!

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by V Subhadra

A quick summary
Journey to Ayyappa's Abode - Things to do at Sabarimala
Article Name
Journey to Ayyappa's Abode - Things to do at Sabarimala
Experience the divine tranquility of Sabarimala temple, where devotees seek solace. Discover top things to do, find entry timings and fees.
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About the author

A celebration of his love for India's cultural diversity, Pavitr's travels unfold new chapters of exploration with each destination. His stories are a vibrant collage of festivals, traditions, and human connections, reflecting the rich tapestry of India. Step into his narrative to experience the diverse heartbeat of India's cultures.

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