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Old 3rd December 2019, 16:56   #1
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Default Here are some tips if you plan to drive to Sabarimala

I thought of this thread since it is the Sabarimala pilgrimage season and the number of people driving to Sabarimala is increasing every year.

It is a collation of my experience and not in any particular order, hope this comes handy for fellow BHPians who plan to drive down.

Please feel free to add your tips to the list

Parking in Sabarimala - I started visiting Sabarimala from school days, and I remember the challenge those days (and till last few years) was to find a safe parking while you are away for a day or more. Parking used to be at the parking place near pampa and road side unless you have connects in Govt Departments who got an office/guesthouse in Pampa and availability was very limited. We used to be worried about getting a parking and safety of the vehicles. Things are better and streamlined now, parking is allowed only in Nilakkal parking ground and there is enough place to accommodate even the peak rush and is supposedly safe since there are numerous vehicles and drivers around.

Kerala Transport Corporation runs buses (both AC and non AC) from Nilakkal to Pumpa every few minutes. This is the best and the only option to cover the last leg of 17 kms to Pampa.

Drop/Pickup in Pampa is permitted if you have a driver to get the vehicle to Nilakkal from Pampa, and again parking has to be strictly in Nilakkal parking lot. This gives the flexibility to contact your driver over mobile and have the vehicle waiting at Pampa while you return (yes - there is no restriction on mobiles in Sabarimala except for photography in Sannidhanam )

Roads – Kerala roads are narrow and got only single lane once you leave the NH, and traffic is very heavy during the Sabarimala season. Roads surface will be generally excellent, and you will find directions to Sabarimala written in multiple languages. It is very unlikely that you may ask for directions even without Google maps. You will encounter ghat section near Sabarimala, but nothing to be concerned about due to the good quality roads and prominent signboard and road markings.

Night Driving – Avoid if you have an option since there will be heavy traffic during the pilgrimage season even during the night . Most of the roads are single lane and the glaring headlights are always a challenge to tackle. On the other side, it is safe to travel during the night since streets are active with lot of shops and police presence.

Help on-route – There are police aid posts running round the clock. Sabarimala pilgrims are treated with respect by the Cops and local folks, and it is easy to get support even at the middle of the night.

Rains – Expect rains in Kerala during Dec, Kerala rains can be light to very heavy and go on endless. Ensure your vehicle is rain ready withgood wiper blades, tyres, brakes etc. Get your windshields thoroughly cleaned before the tips if you plan to drive during night.

Food – There are lot of vegetarian hotels and makeshift places that opens during the Sabarimala season, and most of them stay open 24 hours. Stick to basic food and you won’t have an issue with quality and hygiene. Rice porridge or Kanji with Tapioca (Kappa) is popular in the hotels around Sabarimala and is very refreshing and filling dish (can feel sleepy if you overindulge in this heavy meal). Prices are moderate in most of the places, price for all items are approved by the authorities and displayed promptly in and around Sabarimala.

Toll Roads – There aren’t many in Kerala, having a Fastag makes it faster on NH tolls if you are coming down from Palakkad direction. There is no entry and parking fees to Sabarimala area

Wildlife - Though it is not common to encounter elephants and even a tiger on the roads near Sabarimala during the pilgrim season, there have been instances of wildlife encounters in the past. Look around while driving the forest stretch, don't stop in isolated spots and drive slow in areas where there are elephant crossing boards.


Wearing Seat belts, driving within speed limits, having necessary documents etc goes without saying.

Below list is general any may not be linked to driving

It is not a bad idea to prominently display that you are on Sabarimala pilgrimage (Ayappa photo, garlands, black dress), this will ensure you get the right treatment for a pilgrim.

Use the online option to book the virtual queue . This will help to quicken your approach to the sannidhanam on a crowded day. Make sure every member carries the ID mentioned while booking the virtual queue. You have to produce the booking printout and ID at Pampa Ganapathi and get the entry token printed.

Guesthouses in Sabarimala can be booked through, you can try your luck directly walking in if you need only for few hours to take rest . Rooms are in range of INR 1500 per day.

Please don't carry plastic to Sabarimala, this includes mineral water bottles, RO water is available everywhere through vending machines free of cost. This is in addition to the hot medicinal water supply points run by Ayappa Seva Sangham.

Toilets at Pampa were found neat with plenty of water available. Bio toilets and urinals are placed in every possible places and are well maintained

Hotels around Sabarimala has an approved and published price list and are not expensive. Quality of food was good and tasty.

Don't litter the place, don't discard your clothes and mala in Pampa, obey the does and donts and maintain the serenity of the place

Wish you all a good trip and Darshanam. Swami Saranam
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Old 5th December 2019, 09:57   #2
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Default Re: Here are some tips if you plan to drive to Sabarimala

Update from today's (5th Dec,19) news is

1. Sabarimala prasadam (Aravana and Appam) will be available for purchase in Pampa. This will save the trouble of carrying the Prasadam boxes by foot from Sabarimala to Pampa

2. Mobile phone usage is banned in Sannidhanam. You can carry your mobile, but don't use it at top of the temple shrine
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