Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple Darshan
Featured image of Sabarimal Sree Dharma Sastha Temple

A visit to the Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple in Kerala is considered a massive blessing by the devotees of Swami Ayyappa! The Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple is one of the wealthiest and most significant Sastha temples in Kerala.

The Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple stands atop a hill at an altitude of 3000 feet above sea level in Pathanamthitta district and welcomes people of all religions. The temple of Malikapurathamma, equally important as Lord Ayyappa, is located a few yards from the Sannidhanam. The 18 sacred steps or the Pathinettu thripadikal is the main stairway to the temple. To the east of Sannidhanam (the main temple of Lord Ayyappa) is a Mosque, the Vavar Nada which dedicated to Vavar, a close friend of Lord Ayyappa. The Vavaru Nada, a symbol of religious harmony. 

Before going to Sabarimala temple, the devotees have to observe celibacy for 41 days known as Vratham. Pilgrims often take the arduous traditional forest routes to reach the Sannidhanam from Pamba as well as the one which is less physically challenging to reach the temple.

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Temple Opening & Closing Dates

The Sabarimala Ayyappa temple will be open for only a few days of the year starting from November to January, and six days every month. It begins with Mandala Pooja in November. The Mandalam season comes to an end on the Makara Jyothi day in January. On some special festival days like Onam, Vishu & for the Thulam Pooja, Kanni Monthly Pooja, Monthly poojas like Karkkidam, Midhunam etc. the Ayyappa Temple remains open.

Image of Lord Ayyappan
Photo Credits: Bhagya

Sabarimala Ayyappa Mandala Vratham

The Mandala Vratham is started by wearing a Thulasi or a Rudraksha mala. After wearing the mala, the male pilgrim and the female pilgrim (aged 1-12 and after 55) are called Ayyapan/Swamy and Maalikapuram respectively till they complete the Sabarimala pilgrimage. The devotees wear only black coloured clothing during the Mandala Vratham.

During the Mandala Vratham, the devotees observe specific rules like:

  1.  Practice simple living and absolute cleanliness.
  2. Total abstinence from Alcohol, Tobacco, chewing Betel leaves and non-vegetarian food.
  3. Not trimming or cutting their hair on any parts of their body and not cutting their nails as well.
  4. Daily bathing twice, if possible, thrice daily and performing pooja by chanting 108 Ayyappa Saranam. Continuously chanting Saranam Ayyappa in mind, both at work and home.
  5. Not hurt anybody verbally or physically.
  6. Treating all co-devotees as Lord Ayyappa himself & serving them humbly.
  7. Not feel arrogant because of the respect and privileges one gets when wearing the holy mala.
  8. Not causing inconvenience to family members on account of observing the Vratham.
  9. Following all the rules of the Vratham strictly as in the first time, every year
  10. Strictly following brahmacharya (continence), refraining from sex, thinking of sex and treating all women with respect.
  11. Not apply oil to the hair and not taking a bath with oil-smeared over the body.
  12. Not attending any social function like birthdays, engagement, and wedding, etc. Not feasting in anyone’s home who have not undertaken the Vratham.
  13. Avoid being in the proximity of the dead body and not eating anything until bathing is done.
  14. Carrying a tulsi leaf with self to prevent evil feeling.
  15. Not sleeping on bed but the floor without using a pillow but a wooden block.
  16. Walking with bare feet and not using an umbrella.
  17. Surrendering oneself to Lord Ayyappa completely.

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Image of Sree Dharma Sastha temle
Photo Credits: Vinay

Sabarimala Online Ticket Booking

Long queues are formed right from Pampa to the Sannidhanam during the Sabarimala season. Devotees can reach the  Sannidhanam without waiting in the long queue with the Sabarimala VirtualQ – the Sabari Online Booking Portal to book a slot on the separate line maintained by Kerala Police. This system for every hour generates a fixed number of coupons. This helps devotees to plan to reach Pampa on the specified time, and enter the queue without any waiting. The Sabarimala VirtualQ is manned by Kerala Police exclusively for those coming with the VirtualQ coupon. The Kerala Police verifies the coupons and ID card before allowing devotees to enter the queue.

Devotees from all over the world who propose to visit Sabarimala would benefit from this portal. With multi-language support, the portal contains information and guidelines as well as Sabarimala news which are very useful for the Sabarimala Pilgrims.

How to book Sabarimala darshan online?

The Virtual-Q-Coupon facility is a digital initiative of Kerala Police as part of Crowd Management which in turn saves precious time for the Pilgrims. As it is funded by the advertisement revenue as permitted by the Govt. of Kerala, the VirtualQ is a free facility. Pilgrims can use the conventional queue without the Virtual-Q-Coupon as in the previous years. Pilgrims coming through the Virtual-Q System join the mainline at the Sannidhanam Nadapanthal.

Booking in the Virtual-Q system in every season starts from the first week of October. Pilgrims can book their slots 6 to 8 weeks in advance. At the time of registration, the pilgrims have to fill in details like their name, age, address, photo identity card details etc. along with their photograph. The pilgrim can select the date and time of darshan as per the availability of hourly slots. 

After registration, pilgrims can save /download and print their coupons. You can view the date & time of darshan, name and photograph of the pilgrim, barcode, etc. in the Virtual-Q coupon. When at the Sannidhanam, the pilgrims have to carry these coupons and the photo identity card used for registration. The Pilgrims should produce the Coupon and Photo Identity Card at the Queue Coupon Verification Counters.  A Virtual Entry card will be given to the pilgrim along with verified coupon after proper verification. Only those pilgrims who carry ‘Verified” coupons with Virtual Entry Cards can access the facilities of Virtual-Q system.

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image of Sree Dharma sastha temple
Photo Credits: vijeesh

Steps for Booking Virtual Q Ticket

  1. Visit the official website
  2. Check out the Member Login or Register option.
  3. Devotees who have already registered can go to the Member Login link and enter User Name and Password to log in to the website.
  4. New devotees can go through the sign-up process. Click on the Register icon and provide the required details.
  5. Give your First name and last name in the fields; email address, mobile number, ID proof, and ID Number and upload your photo from your computer.
  6. Type the username and give your address and assign a password for the login page.
  7. After successful completion of the sign-up process, an OTP will be sent to the registered mobile no. After entering OTP, registration is completed.
  8. A User Name and Password will be generated & the devotee will receive Username and Password through email or registered mobile number.
  9. Login with the Username & Password to enter the portal.
  10. Click on the VirtualQ icon.
  11. If you are planning to go as a group, select the group icon. You can add any number of people to your group using the Add Pilgrim icon. All details of each pilgrim like date of birth, address etc. should be entered accurately along with the photo.
  12. Select a date and time as per the calendar in the portal and click the Add to wishlist icon.
  13. Facilities for paying for the ticket and Devaswom services like Appam, Aravana, Abhishekam etc. are also available here. You can select and add to your wishlist.
  14. The SwamiQ coupon or the Virtual Q coupon with personal details will be generated after clicking the wishlist icon. You can save it and take printouts of the Virtual Q coupon.
  15. A confirmation message on completion of registration will be sent to the registered mobile number.
  16. The coupon can be printed from the MyProfile. You can view the transaction history Pilgrim list etc. in the portal.
  17. If in the coupon the date and time are not given, you should select once again and add to the wishlist.

The VirtualQ can be done free of cost at The Kerala Police Helpline No. +91 7025800100

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image of sabarimala temple
Photo Credits: Krishna

Frequently asked questions

Where is Sabarimala Swamy Ayyappa temple located?

The Sabarimala Swamy Ayyappa temple is situated at Sabarimala inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve Forest in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala, India. The temple surrounded by mountains and dense forests is located on a hilltop amidst eighteen hills at the height of 480 m above sea level.

How old is Sabarimala temple?

The ancient temple of Sabarimala is believed to have been constructed during the10th -11th century. It was one of the five temples founded by Lord Parashurama.

How do I get to Ayyappa Temple?

Pilgrims to Sabarimala can reach Kottayam or Chengannur Railway station and then hire a taxi or go by bus to Pampa. By air, pilgrims can deboard at the Thiruvananthapuram or Kochi Airports and from there proceed to Pampa by rail/road. There are KSRTC bus services from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh to Pampa for Sabarimala pilgrims. There is a chain service also between Pampa and Nilackal base camps.

How far is Sabarimala from Pamba?

The Sabarimala to Pamba distance is 5 km and can be reached by walking through the forest.

How to go from Pamba to Sannidhanam?

No transport vehicles are allowed near the Sannidhanam, and the distance can be covered by walking. For the aged and disabled people, Dollies are available to carry them to the main temple.

Which district is Erumeli?

Erumeli is a village and town located in the southeast part of Kottayam, Kerala, India.

Where is Vavar Palli?

A Mosque dedicated to Vavaruswami, an ardent devotee of Swami Ayyappa, is situated at Erumeli near the Ayyappa temple. The Islamic Masjid Vavar Palli stands as a symbol of communal harmony and equality. All Ayyappa devotees visit it on their way to the Sabarimala shrine. As in the Ayyappa Pilgrimage, highlights the communal harmony in kerala.

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image of Sabarimal Sree Dharma Sastha Temple
Photo Credits: Akshay

Which is the nearest railway station to Sabarimala?

The nearest railway stations are Kottayam, Thiruvalla and Chengannur at a distance of 90 km from Sabarimala. To reach Sabarimala, you have to book a cab or go by bus from there.

Which is the nearest airport to Sabarimala?

Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi International Airports are the nearest Airports to Sabarimala. Trivandrum Airport is 267 km away, and the Kochi Airport is 110 km away from Sabarimala. You can hire taxis from both Airports to reach Sabarimala.

When will Sabarimala virtual Queue open?

Every year on the first week of October booking in the Virtual- Q system starts. For hassle-free booking through the Virtual-Q, devotees can book their slots for darshan about 6 to 8 weeks in advance.

Can we visit Sabarimala without Irumudi?

You can visit Sabarimala without having Irumudi Kettu. But you won’t be able to climb the holy 18 steps without it. In the virtual queue, there are no such restrictions.

What is Ayyappa Deeksha?

It is a religious observance for 41 days by the devotees of Lord Ayyappa before visiting the Sabarimala temple. The devotees sport a beard, wear the Rudraksha or Tulsi Mala, black clothes, walk barefooted, chant hymns, observe chastity and regularly visit temples before visiting the Sabarimala temple.

How many days Vratham is there for Sabarimala?

Before going for the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple, the Vratham has to be observed 41 days. The Mandala Kalam is considered auspicious to observe the Sabarimala Vratham starting from Vrishchikam 1st and ends on 11th or 12th of Dhanu in the Malayalam Calendar.

Which are the major temples en route Pamba?

The main temples en route to Pamba are the Chottanikkara, Vaikom, Ettumanoor &  Kaduthuruthy temples.

Which are the major temples to be visited for Sabarimala pilgrimage?

A Sabarimala temple pilgrimage primarily consists of visiting the Guruvayur, Vadakkumnathan, Chottanikkara, Vaikom, Ettumanoor, Kadathuruthy & Padmanabhaswamy Temples.

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