Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple is a famous Hindu pilgrimage centre dedicated to Lord Sree Dharma Sastha, located at Pathanamthitta district in Kerala. The estimation is that 45 to 50 million pilgrims visiting here every year. Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple and surroundings is a part of Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges. The dense forest around the temple is known as the Poonkavanam of Lord Ayyappa. Usually devotees take 41 days of Vratham (41-day austerity period) prior to the time of pilgrimage. During the period of Vratham, devotee have to strictly follow lacto-vegetarian diet. Brahmacharya is an another important thing. Wearing Black or blue colored cloths and of Rudraksha or Tulasi beads are also a part of traditional ritual during the time of Vratha. Usually vratha starts from 1st of Vrischika, the Malayalam month. Tantri is the main priest and head of the temple.
18 sacred steps – Pathinettu thripadikal (in local language) is the main stairway to enter the main temple. As per the custom , pilgrim without “Irumudikkettu” doesn’t allow to climb the 18 sacred steps. Makaravilakku or “Makara Sankranti” is the important occasion during the pilgrim season. Makaravoilakku usually falls in the middile of January. The main prasadas are Aravana payasam and Appam , prepared by using rice, ghee, sugar and jiggery. Malikappurathamma temple, Pampa ganapathy temple and Vavar swami temple are the other important temples related to Sabarimala pilgrimage. Harivarasanam prayer is the Urakkupattu of Lord Ayyappa. Reciting Harivarasanam every day before closing the temple is another important ritual. Neyyabhishekham is considered as the most favourate offering for Lord Ayyappa. The Administration of the temple is managed by Travancore Devasvom Board, an affiliate authority for temples under Government of Kerala.
Nearest airports are Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (170 kilometres) and Cochin International Airport (160 kilometres ). The nearest railway stations are Chengannur and Kottayam. During the pilgrimage season, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation will operate frequent bus services to Pampa. Pampa is the last point to reach by Vehicles.