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Old 29th August 2010, 02:19   #16
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It looks odd to me; Obama sitting on Red chilli showroom at TDPA & next to my Son who's sleeping . Requires lots of patience in using the magic wand tool in PS; as I told before, I've very less patience & I'm trying to complete this log by tomorrow & get my RX also serviced, because from Monday, we're going to play throwing daggers in office
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Old 29th August 2010, 08:48   #17
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Default Day 3 - Aug 23 continued...

After crossing the huge queuing area, we finally reached near the holy 18 steps. We aren't going to take 18 steps this time because we haven't carried the lord Ayyappa's favorite coconuts filled with ghee nor the turmeric which is Maaligapurathu amma's offering.

We take steps on the side way & reach the top of the temple & since its Onam time we see the beautiful decoration of flowers. We see the cops doing their faithful job only with shooing off people. I approach a cop & request him if I could take the pic of the flowers & after lot of hesitation & two of them standing at either of my side they allow take only one pic.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-323.jpg

Now we move towards left side taking the stairs & gradually I pull out my camera to take the pic of the temple.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-325.jpg

Finally after 30 long minutes, we had an excellent darshan of lord Ayyappa as usual. Due to onam time, we'd the privilege of sweet porridge as prasadam; finally we also get to meet Thanthri to take his blessings & then we're out.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-327.jpg

By now the time is 8:15 & we were in a dilemma if we should do some shopping, kill some time & make way to the annadanam at 11:30 AM. The free lunch at temple is one of the best & not to be missed. However, this time we decided to miss due to shortage of time & we were deciding to get down to holy Pampa.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-329.jpg

Few other views at top of the hill
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-330.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-331.jpg

The temple kodi maram (not sure what to call in English)
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-336.jpg

Frontal view of the temple with holy 18 steps
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-337.jpg

If there's a visit to Sabarimalai temple, the prasadam appam & aravana are not to be missed; though it has become way too expensive (compared to what it was), we buy few, actually quite a lot for us, friends & other relatives for distribution.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-340.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-342.jpg
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Old 29th August 2010, 09:06   #18
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Default Day 3 - Aug 23 continued...

Few more pics from the view of holy 18 steps at Sabarimalai
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-351.jpg

A rusted information bulletin board
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-352.jpg

Now we start to descend;
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-358.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-361.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-362.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-364.jpg

Notice the concrete laid out in the form of steps as well as the steep path; and also how wide they are
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-365.jpg

Some scenic views while taking rest during descending
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-367.jpg

Facility to have some drink during short break; prices are slightly on the higher side owing to the fact on bring it to the hill. But they're no way near to exorbitant.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-370.jpg

Then we continue further
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-373.jpg
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Old 29th August 2010, 09:27   #19
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Default Day 3 - Aug 23 continued...

Several years ago, there was no facility for people who're old & yet want to see the lord as they couldn't be able to walk all way upto the top. But with this facility, anyone can make it. Every time we see this group of four men carrying people, we used to wonder at their stamina. I'm damn sure none of these men would suffer from diseases w.r.t heart or lungs. Hats off to those men
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-376.jpg

A facility at mid way to check blood pressure & heart beat & take necessary medical advice.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-378.jpg

And then we start descending further
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-381.jpg

Can anyone guess what this pic is all about?
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-386.jpg

Thank God I didn't take my son who's one of his customers
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-388.jpg

Finally we've made it to the foot hills
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-390.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-393.jpg

One of the facility at the foot hills
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-394.jpg

This is the place dedicated to offer coconuts to lord Ganesha
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-395.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-396.jpg
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Old 29th August 2010, 09:53   #20
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Default Day 3 - Aug 23 continued

I missed posting this pic in my previous post. I noticed this iron lady who was gasping breath for every foot she took, yet she was determined to get down. At that age, her speed & determination is mind blowing. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it even next year. Hats off to her effort.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-380.jpg

Some random shots at foot hills
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-406.jpg

So beautiful decoration, but with salt
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-409.jpg

Typical view of pollution at tourist spots
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-410.jpg

If there's a vacant land in KL, CPI/Marxists prefer giving speech than occupying the land
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-411.jpg

Some random shots on holy river Pampa
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-412.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-422.jpg

Finally we hit the road getting back to MVPA
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-426.jpg

KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) provides services everyday to Sabarimalai from nearby places like Erumeli.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-429.jpg
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Old 29th August 2010, 10:05   #21
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Hi Aargee

Since childhood, i have been seening people planning to go to Sabarimala, wear a particular attire, grow beards, etc etc. I was also told that the journey to Sabarimal was a very tedious one, there are lot many rules, women are not allowed to go beyond certain points etc etc.

Can you demystify Sabarimala for me and people like me

1. Where exactly is Sabarimala, can you share the nearby route map
2. What are the rules one has to follow when being there, especially for the women
3. What are the timings of the temple, how much time is needed to get a comprehensive experience
4. Any specific rituals that need to be followed
5. Facilities there for the pilgrims
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Old 29th August 2010, 10:13   #22
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Lovely captions and pics Aargee, it was almost like making the trek to Sabarimala myself ! Waiting for more and trust you made the trip with your car insurance papers !
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Old 29th August 2010, 11:29   #23
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Wonderful narration, @aargee! Am calling you even while hitting 'post'
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Old 29th August 2010, 11:48   #24
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Hi this is something new for me as its the first time I am seeing the Sabarimala pics. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 29th August 2010, 12:08   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kannan666 View Post
Lovely captions and pics Aargee, it was almost like making the trek to Sabarimala myself ! Waiting for more and trust you made the trip with your car insurance papers !
Oh!!! Yes, I made the trip with the insurance papers - all in original; thanks for asking - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/2035736-post.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by sami316 View Post
Hi this is something new for me as its the first time I am seeing the Sabarimala pics. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by ph03n!x View Post
Wonderful narration, @aargee! Am calling you even while hitting 'post'
Thanks & Congratulations

Quote:
Originally Posted by StarVegaBond
Can you demystify Sabarimala for me and people like me
Yes, I'll share my entire knowledge on this in a short while; like sides of coin, I'll also post some ugly sides along with God's miracles. Though I'm not regular, my cousins are more regular. We're the 4th generation in our family who've been visiting Sabarimalai regularly & without much interruption. I'll also shed some of the experiences & the rituals that were followed in my family in the past & how it gradually changed to what it is today.

Last edited by aargee : 29th August 2010 at 12:20.
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Old 29th August 2010, 12:34   #26
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Default Day 3 - aug 23 continued

Some more random shots on our way back to MVPA until I took over the steering.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-433.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-430.jpg
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-445.jpg
The below picture is from a place called Nelackal which is located about 10 Kms from Pampa where the pilgrims are dropped off. During Dec-Jan, it becomes so crowded that the vehicles are allotted parking lots over here; so they drop off the pilgrims at hold river Pampa & come back here for parking. Yes 10 Kms off from holy river Pampa!!! Entering from Nelackal, one has to pay a toll fee of Rs 30 for car & jeeps. I guess Rs 50 for bus. We'd experienced this once.
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-sb1-441.jpg

Last edited by aargee : 29th August 2010 at 12:38.
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Old 29th August 2010, 12:55   #27
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Default Short break on the trip to pen down few words on Sabarimalai for SVB

The legend of how little Manikandan turns to Lord Ayyappa can be found here - Ayyappan.info:: The Legend

This is one of the Hindu temple that is open to all caste of people with only condition that girl child less than 11 years & ladies more than 60 years are allowed inside the temple. Sabarimalai is located in Pathanamthitta district next to Idukki district.

The best way, atleast for starters, can follow the Kanjirapally-Erumeli route. One thing for sure is, everyone has to go to Erumeli & then go to Sabarimalai. Looking at the history of Lord Ayyappa, God himself has befriended with Islam relegion.
Some interesting reads would be
1. The Stories of Kadutha and Vavar
2. Vavar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I'll be narrating from what I've been hearing from my childhood on visits to Sabarimala temple; through this one can understand how the rituals have been bent for convenience over the years as technology advances.

During the 60's, getting to Sabarimalai was a real tough task to carry out & takes a minimum of 3-4 days effort. This means, if the gents leave by Friday, they would turn back home only by Monday ot Tuesday. In the past, we used to hire 2 Amby's that crawls through the hills & takes more than 5-6 hours to reach a mere destination of 130 Kms. No wonder it still takes about 3 hours on modern day cars. Since the entire region from Erumeli to Pampa is forest region, most of them used to halt at Erumeli.

Now Erumeli's halt was reknowned for several things.
1. Visit Vavarsamy temple
2. Good break after long journey

During these times, no one dared to enter after Erumeli without a company fearing the wild elephants & I've been told that my great Grandfathers have witnessed few wild animals from cat family. May be Cheetah or Leopard not sure though. But mostly its wild Elephants as I've wintnessed their traces even during my last visit.

In the past, when people travelled, they also carried food stocked for 3-4 days along with drinking water. Erumeli served as good place to wait for company as well as make a open kitchen. Once they form a company of 4-5 cars (unbelievable) they start traveling in groups towards Pampa.

Last edited by aargee : 29th August 2010 at 12:56.
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Old 29th August 2010, 13:15   #28
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Default Day 4 - Aug 24

We reached home around 14:30 previous day; we'd done about 270 odd Kms round trip for Rs 1000 as fuel; not bad for 4 people.

Its very sacred to visit 3 of lord Shiva's temple - Ettumanur, Kaduthuruthy (Thali) & Vaikom on a single day. So we decided to visit these 3 temples, but we also wanted to visit Chotanikkara Bhagawathi & Malliyoor Ganesha temple. So we drafted a plan initially like this...

MVPA - Ettumanoor - Mallioyoor - Kaduthuruthy - Vaikom - Chottanikkara

Again like the title says, there was a twist after visiting Ettumanoor temple. We couldn't make it up to Chotanikkara & instead we made it to another temple at Panachikaadu that is dedicated to lord Saraswati or also known as Dakshina Mookambika. So we accepted the fact that God still wanted us to visit Moogambika, but instead it was Dakshina Mookambiga. Here's the route we followed...
My trip to Sabarimalai and other temples in Kerala-m1.jpg
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Old 29th August 2010, 14:06   #29
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@aargee:
First of all thank you for this interesting and well written travelogue. And ,oh, as you had mentioned in one of your earlier posts, the NH 47 is in a real bad condition , esp form Harippad to Alappuzha to thrissur! Full of potholes. Extreme care should be taken while driving in this route.
BTW " Swaamiye Sharanamayyappa! "

cheers!
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Old 29th August 2010, 14:31   #30
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Hi SVB - some answers to your queries in bold. This is with my experience of having gone there a few times.

Hope this helps. Happy to clarify more if need be, to the best of my knowledge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StarVegabond View Post
Can you demystify Sabarimala for me and people like me

1. Where exactly is Sabarimala, can you share the nearby route map
AARGEE has put in the route and maps. Hope its clear.

2. What are the rules one has to follow when being there, especially for the women
WOMEN between ages 11 thru 60 are not allowed. Basically, women have to visit the temple before they attain their puberty. Else, they have to be aged beyond 60.

3. What are the timings of the temple, how much time is needed to get a comprehensive experience

DARSHAN is free all the time. The temple is open for a few days for each month. Its open typically during the beginning of the Malayalam calendar each month.
During the time of mid december till mid Jan, the temple is open all days

4. Any specific rituals that need to be followed
Having darshan of lord Ayyappa after climbing the 18 sacred steps is what people look for. Climbing the 18 steps is allowed if and only if the pilgrim carried offerrings to Lory Ayyappa. The offering typically is carried on ones head, wrapped in a bag. This bag is called " Irumudi". This will typically carry a coconut filled with Ghee, sacred ash, sandal, agarbatthi, kunkum etc.. Its said that one should spend atleast 45 days of a simpleton life before you carry the irumudi on the head. One meal a day, no liquor, no smoking, chanting the god's name all the time, taking bath twice a day etc..These days, not many people follow this ritual.

If you dont carry the irumudi, you can still have darshan, but by climbing the stairs on another side of the temple. You can have as many darshan as you want in this temple.

There are two ways in which pilgrims start their journey. They either drive all the way to Pampa and climb the Neelimalai. This is a 2 hour climb , if you are fit. The climb is pretty steep ( as can be seen in Aargee's photos")
The other route is to walk from a place called "Erumeli". This is a good 50+ KM's walk and may take anywhere between 12 to 24 hours walk, depending on how fit one is.

5. Facilities there for the pilgrims
The facilities that you find here are at best ordinary. Its advisable to plan this in a fashion where you climb the hills, have darshan, and climb down on the same day.

Last edited by jkrishnakj : 29th August 2010 at 14:32.
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