A pilgrimage is a divine experience. The journey to Sabarimala is a sublime phenomenon. It entails many other specialties in addition to celebrating the divine. It is enlisted as one of the world’s largest gatherings of people. From around 5000 persons who visited Sabarimala 50 years ago, now around 50 million pilgrims visit the holy hills.
The temple is located in a deep dense forest within the Periyar Tiger reserve, high up in the Sahyadri Mountains of the Western Ghats, at an elevation of 941 meters above mean sea level. Dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, the shrine is located on the banks of the river Pamba, ensconced in the `poonkavanam' of Lord Ayyappa, which is rich in diverse flora and fauna. It’s most noteworthy that the temple and its surroundings constitute the largest sacred landscape in the world.
As per tradition, pilgrimage to the hilltop shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala is not complete without paying respects to his friend, the Muslim saint Vavar. Sabarimala is truly the epitome of friendship and harmony and may be the only Hindu shrine in the world where large crowds of Ayyappa devotees enter a mosque while chanting the names of Ayyappa as well as Vavar. This is the most beautiful testament to the fact that we are all ONE!
A pilgrimage to Sabarimala is sacred in more ways than one: it’s a journey to worship in nature’s own shrine, an occasion to honour the glory of the great Pampa river, and celebrate the Ayyappa-Vavar friendship. It is our responsibility to protect the rich forests and preserve the deep values of faith traditions of Sabarimala pilgrimage.