It has been some time since me & Deepak were thinking of taking a long trip, first there was the plan to Rameshwaram and then another trip close to Bangalore, Finally it was the trip to Shabarimala. Though we did not get a chance to drive (which was our wish). But as they say something is better than nothing and what transpired during the journey was really amazing.
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 Metre/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. From the international airport of Thiruvanathapuram (erstwhile Trivandrum), Sabarimala is located at 010 degrees/115 Kms. Similarly, from the international airport at Kochi (erstwhile Cochin) it is located at 118 degrees/106 Kms. These distances are `direct air distances or distances `As the crow flies'. The pilgrimage to Sabarimala is the only one pilgrimage where pilgrims, without consideration of caste, creed, position or superiority, go with one mind and one `mantra' dreaming constantly of the darshan of the presiding deity a the Holy Sannidhanam.
The First Leg of our Journey was from Bengaluru to Eranakulam by Train.
We (Me, Deepak and my brother) boarded the train from Bengaluru Cantonment at 6:25 am, on the Bangalore Eranakulam Inter City Express. We found ourselves sleeping till mid day when the heat started getting to us. We had light refershments as our breakfast - biscuits and Tea. We had lunch from Coimbatore courtesy IRCTC :). I would advice we carry food next time, because the quality of lunch was NOT that good. We arrived at Eranakulam around 5:30pm & moved to Deepak's in-law's flat in the "South" of Eranakulam.
Deepak Taking a Glimse of the country side
Bharathapuzha (longest river in Kerala)
View from the Flat in Eranakulam.
We did the Irumudi ceremony at Ayyappa Temple at Palarivattom. While we were doing the Irumudi, hyms Lord Ayyappa were sung in the background. After a light food, we took irumudi, with Sharanam Vili, we started our journey. We were on our way to Shabarimala at 8:45pm. Our Driver was "Eldo". All the way we were joking about the Eldo and Ethapan ashan in Mannar Mathai speaking! (Movie in Malayalam). We took the route via pala and pampa valley and Eldo was sure we will reach Pampa before 1 am.
We took a couple of breaks during the journey at Pala & Erumeli. We reached Pampa at 12:30am. We started the ascend immediately. At Pampa Ganapathi we prayed and started the uphill climb. It is about 5 km long and by 2:30am we were on the Top.
It was crowded as it was the start of the Season. The temple opens at around 4am and we had Darshan at around 5am. Since me and Deepak took Irumudi, we took the 18 steps route and Jithu waited for us at the Kizhakke Nada. Afterwards we proceeded to have Darshan. We took out the Irumudi and put the Ghee in the "Ney Thoni", All the offerings of the lord we put in the container kept there and then at Malikapuram we gave the Manjal and Kumum. It was amazing to see such a huge crowd at Sannidhanam. The que for Aravnana payasam and Appam was not that big, just a couple of people in front of us and we were done, We put the Coconut in the Big Fire (part of the rituals) and prayed to the lord. Due to the Terrorist threats, there was a lot of Police presence in the area. Police was scanning in and out and noticing for any suspicious things.
By 6am we started the descend to Pampa. As we walked down, we had a good view of the Sunrise at Shabarimala. By 730am we were at Pampa and we started back to Eranakulam.
Climba Down from Neelimala & Sunrise at Shabarimala
Deepak by the side of the Car and "Eldo" has the door open
The Palarivattom Temple.
By 12 Noon we arrived at Palarivatoom Temple. We removed Mala and prayed to God & we proceeded to the Flat.
Overall it was a heartening feeling to have the Darshan and an enjoyable journey. Especially moving away from the hustle and bustle of Bangalore city, it was a real nice feeling. I believe the Vrutham gave me strength from the inside. "Sharanam Ayyappa", let me have the previlage to visit you next year as well.
Courtesy : MapmyIndia.com,saranamayyappa.org,sabarimala.org
More to come : Trip to Fort Kochi!!!