At a distance of 158 km from Kochi and 178 km from Trivandrum, Sabarimala Ayyappa temple is one of the oldest temples in India, with history of more than 5000 years old. The temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappan here is situated in the midst of 18 hills, at an altitude of about 3000 feet. It is believed that Lord Parasurama installed the idol of Ayyappa at Sabarimala.
The pilgrimage season begins in the month of November and ends in January (the temple remains closed during rest of the year except for the first five days of each Malayalam month). The devotees following Ayyappa Vratam (Ayyappa Maala - a 41 days Vratam with strict restrictions) carry Irumudi Kettu containing traditional offerings to the Lord. Mandalapooja (Nov17th) and Makaravilakku (Jan 14th) are the important events of the temple. Makara Jyothi (a celestial star) appeared on Jan 14th is the most crowded occasion of this temple.
Sabarimala temple has no restrictions of caste and religion. The temple is open to males of all age groups, but women between 10-50 years age group are NOT allowed into the temple. Sabarimala can be reached by 8 KMs trek from Pamba, which is the nearest road point to the temple.
Temple Opening dates for 2015:
Makaravilakku season - 30/12/2015 to 20/01/2016
Makaravilakku Day - 15/01/2016
Feb 2016 - 13/02/2016 to 18/02/2016
Mar 2016 - 13/03/2016 to 18/03/2016 (Pooja), 13/03/2016 to 23/03/2016 (Utsavam)
Apr 2016 - 10/04/2016 to 18/04/2016
May 2016 - 14/05/2016 to 19/05/2016
Jun 2016 - 13/06/2016 to 19/06/2016
Jul 2016 - 15/07/2016 to 20/07/2016
Aug 2016 - 16/08/2016 to 21/08/2016
Sep 2016 - 13/09/2016 to 16/09/2016 (Onam), 16/09/2016 to 21/09/2016 (Monthly Pooja)
Oct 2016 - 16/10/2016 to 21/10/2016 (Monthly Pooja), 29/10/2016 to 30/10/2016 (Sree Chithra Atta Thirunal)
Nov 2016 & Dec 2016 - 15/11/2016 to 26/12/2016 (Mandala Pooja Mahotsavam)
Makara Vilakku Mahotsavam - 30/12/2016 20/01/2017
Nov to Jan : 4 AM to 1:30 PM & 4 PM to 11 PM
Other months: 5 PM to 10 PM