Area: 2731 sq. km. Population: 1,186,628 Altitude: 500-1000 mt. above sea level
Pathanamthitta, a hilly terrain of pristine beauty is popular as the headquarters of pilgrim worship in Kerala. More than 50% of the total area of this simple land of temples, rivers, mountain ranges and coconut groves covered by forest, this little district is frequented by visitors from India & abroad often for its water fiestas, religious shrines and cultural training centre. Pathanamthitta is boarded by the Western Ghats on the east, Kollam district in the south and Kottayam & Idukki districts in the north.
One of the most famous pilgrim centers in India, Sabarimala is situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 m above sea level and is accessible only by foot from Pamba (4 Km). November to mid January is the season which is called as “Mandalakalam”. Mandalapooja & Makara Vilakku are the two main events of the pilgrim season. The temple stays closed during the rest of the year except for the first five days of every Malayalam month and during Vishu (April). Nearest railway station is Thiruvalla (102 Km).
People of all castes and creeds are permitted into the temple. However entry is not allowed to women between 10 and 50 years of age. Pilgrims will go with their “Erimudikettu” which contains ghee filled coconuts. “Neyyabhishekam” is the main offering.
This is where Veluthampi Dalawa, the renowned freedom fighter of Travancore, spend his last days. The ancient Bhagavathy Temple here has some exquisite stone sculptures. The annual festival is held in February/March. The Kerala institute of Folklore and Folk Arts functions here.
As a holy town, Pandalam is perhaps second only to Sabarimala. Sree Ayyappa the presiding deity of Sabarimala had his human solourn here as the son of the Raja of Pandalam. The Valiyakoikal temple near the palace on the banks of river Achankovil was modeled on the Sabarimala Shrine. Pilgrims usually stop here to worship before proceeding to Sabarimala. Three days prior to the Makara Vilakku festival, the sacred ornaments of Sree Ayyappa are taken in a procession from Pandalam to Sabarimala.
The Rock Cut Cave Temple :
The Rock Cut Siva temple, is of great archeological significance. Dating back to the 8th century AD, this temple bears close resemblance to the Pallava style of architecture. The stone engravings here are among the earliest specimens of stone sculpture in Kerala.
Situated near Kozhencherry, Maramon is the venue of a mammoth religious convention of Christians from all over the world. It is attended by people from all communities. The convention which is usually held in February is addressed by religious thinkers and Christian scholars from all over the world. This is perhaps the largest Christian convention in Asia.