You are herePamba to Sannidhanam
Pamba to Sannidhanam
Absolved of all sins, the pilgrims go up “Neeli Malai, climb up “Appachi Medu and reach Sabari Peetam. This was the Kota where Shri Sabari, in Sri Rama's era, performed Tapas. Pilgrims worship here by breaking coconuts, firing crackers and lighting camphor.
Half way between Sabari Peetam and Sannidhanam is Saramkuthi. Kanniswamy leave the wooden arrow they picked from Erumeli here. The first, second and third year pilgrims bringing toy arrows, toy clubs and toy swords are asked to deposit them at a place, where a huge papal tree stood. It is a good many years since the tree has fallen down. That was the tree which the Lord’s arrow struck when he shot it to show to King Rajasekhara, the spot for the construction of His shrine as He had enjoined. That place past, the pilgrims walk up to Sabarimalai, climb up the Holy Eighteen steps and reach the DIVINE PRESENCE
The holy Patinettampadi (18 steps) is 15 minute walk from Saramkuthi. The Golden steps is such a magnificent sight. Pilgrims chant saranams loudly. After breaking the coconut they climb the 18 steps to have the darshan of Lord Ayyappa.
According to legend, the temple of Sabarimala and the deity of Ayyappa have always been regarded as the Pandalam Raja's very own, and it is not considered proper to proceed to the temple without the king's knowledge and permission. To make it easy for pilgrims to obtain the necessary permission, a representative of the king sits even today, with all the royal insignia, on a raised platform at the base of the Neelimala Hill. The pilgrims offer a token amount to the royal representative, and receive vibhuti from him. This marks the beginning of the steepest climb of the pilgrimage, the 3 km trek up the majestic Neelimala Hill, atop which sits Lord Ayyappa in all his glory. The pilgrims wind their way up the difficult trail in an unending stream, the hill reverberating with the constant chanting of thousands.
At the first sight of the Patinettampadi, the holy eighteen steps, a full throated cry goes up from the devotees, "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa!" It is the realisation of a mission. Built on a plateau about 40 feet high, the Ayyappan temple commands a lofty view of the mountains and valleys all around. The ancient temple has been rebuilt after a fire in 1950, consisting of a sanctum sanctorum with a copper-plated roof and four golden finials at the top, two mandapams, the belikalpura which houses the altar, and the flag-staff. Replacing the earlier stone image of the deity is a beautiful idol of Ayyappa in panchaloha, an alloy of five metals, about one and a half feet tall.
There are several explanations regarding the significance of the Patinettampadi, but in all of them, the emphasis is on the number 18. One popular belief is that the first 5 steps signify the five indriyas or senses, the next 8 the ragas, the next 3 the gunas, followed by vidya and avidya. Crossing these would take the devotee closer to self-realisation.
Finally, at the eighteenth step, the devotee is at last face to face with the image of the Lord Ayyappa, or Dharma Sasta. A circumambulation brings him right in front of the sanctum sanctorum, and the pilgrim is filled with a sense of accomplishment and utter peace. But there is one more thing to be done - the ghee abhisheka, or bathing of the idol in ghee, which marks the culmination of the pilgrimage. The ghee-filled coconut which the pilgrim has carried in the front section of his irumudi is broken, and the ghee is offered to the deity. Another important abhisheka is of vibhuti, which is also brought by the devotee in his irumudi.