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November 17,2011
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Ayyappa bhakthas start their sabarimala yatra after wearing mala and observing the vratha (austerity). To have a darshan of sabarimalai ayyappan,and to go to sabarimala the only route available was the dense forest route commencing from Erumeli.

For worshipping Ayyappa to go through this route was considered proper once upon time. The 56 km route starting from Erumeli upto sabarimala is known as Peru vazhi pathai. If once goes through this peru vazhi pathai, one’s body and mind gets purified. This is the route followed by Pandala Raja to see Ayyappa.

Erumeli: All Ayyappa bhakthas going to sabarimala gather together here first. Here there is a temple for Dharma sasthabuilt by Pandala Raja Rajasekara Pandiyan. Dharma sastha appear here with bow and arrow in his hands as if he is ready to go for hunting.
Vabar temple: Opposite to Erumeli Pettai Sastha temple the Pallivasal(mosque) of Vabar the friend of ayyappa is situated.Ayyappa bhakthas visit this pallivasal, offer prayers to Vabar and receive vibhuthi {sacred ash) prasadam.
Pettai thullal:  This is the place where ayyappa killed the buffaloe headMahishi (demon).Known as Erumai koli(place where bafallow was killed) later becme known as Erumeli. After killing MahishiManikandan danced on her dead body. Pettai thullal is a formof ritual conducted here by bhakthas in memoy of this incident. Smearing various colour paste all over the body, bhathas wear leaves of various plants, carrying a small wodden plankaccompanied by beating of drums,and singing the lines swami thinthakathom, ayyappa thinthakathom repeatedly, go around the sannidhi of Vabar and then proceed to Pettai dharma sastha, break a cocanut, show karpoora (camphor) arathi, and commence the peruvazhi route yatra.

Perur thodu: The first place one comes across in the peru vazhi route is Perur thodu. This is a small riverlet. It is situated at a distance of3 km east of erumeli. Bhathas can take a bath in this riverlet, take a small rest and then continue their journey.

Kalai katti: Climbing a small hillock, getting down thereafter, pass through a amall forest area, one reaches a beautiful garden known as kalai katti. Lord Shiva who came here to bless his son manikandan in appreciation of his act of killing mahishi, tied his bull in this placeand hence the name kalai katti. There is a small temple for lord shiva. Walking one and half miles from this place one will the reach the banks Azhutha river. Thrown by Maniandan, it is believed that the deady body of Mahishi fell on the banks of this river. Puranas say so.

Azhutha river: As soon as the arrow fell on mahishi’s body all her bad qualities changed and she got good qualities. She cried overwhelmingly and seek the pardon of ayyappa. The tears that rolled down from her eyes, it is belived is the azhutha river. After taking a refreshing a bath, one should carry a small stone. Walking 2 miles from there one should a small hillock known as azhutha medu. One will reach a place called Injiparai kottai. There after a place called kallidum kundru comes. Ayyappa has buried the dead body of mahishi here, and placed several big stones here. On the basis of this act of Ayyappa, bhakthas keep the stone they carried from azhutha river here. While placing the stone here bhakthas pray that all their own sins are absolved. Mahishi is a symbol sin. Stone carried from azhutha river is placed here with the thought that the buried symbol of sin should not raise its head again.

Kavalar ayyappan: At the of of azhutha hillock is situated Injiparaikottai. In the temple lord ayyappa appears as “devan Vyakrapathan” and offers his blessings. Vykram means tiger.By keeping the tigers under his control, he remains a protector of bhakthas who visit him.On a philosophical note we can get a different meaning. Man considers the pleasures he gets in this world as a big one. To enjoy the pleasures arising out og women, wealth,dwelling, he is prepared to commit sins.These sins are compared to tigers. If one keeps these tigers{sins}are kept under control, good thoughts wll emerge out of the mind and man will folloe bhathi marga. After worshiping the ayyappa hereand walk further one will come to a place known as Mukkuzhi. Goddess Mariamman is residing here. After worshiping this godess and walk further one will reach a place known as Karivalmthodu. This place is evenly paced. One can stay here, take rest, partake food, and proceeding further one has to cross Puducherry.

Karimalai: After karivalam thodu one will reach karimalai bottom. While climbing this hillock one feel the power one’s brahmacharya vratha. Bhathas will climbe this ascending slope and will get a feeling “is there no other hillock in this world than this difficult hillock?”  The soil of this hillock is black. Hence the name Karumalai [black mountain] which later came tobe known as karimalai. In tamil kari means elephant. People say that this strenuous hill is fully infested with wild forest elephants. At the top of the mountain an idol of karimalainathar is consecrated. There is a very small pond with sweet tastey water. It is said that ayyappa has made this pond with his arrow. Bhakthas drink this sweet water and take rest.

One should walk very carefully in this mountain. Only a very small sized route will appear before. On one side a very steep slope and on the other side protrouding rocks. One should climbe very carefully. The descending also will be as difficult as ascending. Bhakthas will be put into touble and feel very tiresome and their legs will ache. Still ayyappa will help bhakthas pass this route with HIS mercy. By reciting ayyappa saranams Bhakthas will climb this mountain. Sice lot of medicinal plants (moolgai chedi) are in this route, people say that as one passes through route even noncurable diseas will get cured.

Periyanai vattam: After karimala one will enter into a evenly leveled surface. This place is known as Peryanai vattam. Lot of elephants are there in this area and hence this name. Here Pamba river passes as as a small riverlut. One can see the Makara Jothi even from this place is a special information. From here at a distance 1km comes a small area called Siriyanai vattam. One can see Pamba river flowing widely. By walking a small distance one can reach Pamba river.
Pamba river:  Bhakthas coming through Peru vazhi and bhakthas coming through Chalakkayamroute converse here at Pamba river bed. This river is as sacred as Ganges river. Lord Rama performed Pithur tharpanam for his deceased father Dasaratha. On the basis of this information some bhakthas near the first bridge of this river known as triveni sangamam(confluence}, take holy bath and perform pithur tharpanam. Other Bhathas take bath and remove their tiredness having walked a long distane sofar.

Ayyappa sathya: Pamba river bed is the place where Dharma sastha appeared as Manikandan in this world. Hence Bhakthas stay here for one night and pray swami by lighting Pamba vilakku {light} in this river. Therafter by removing the back portion of Irumudi , take the cooking items kept in it, and cook food. Then perform Neivethyam (offering to God) to God and to distribute it as feast (sathya) to fellow ayyappa bhakthas. To entertain thefellow bhakthas with food is entertainingAyyappa himself. It is believed that Ayyappa under the disguise of bhatha takes food. This pooja is called Pamba satthi or satthi pooja.The ash collected from the burner is called Pamba basmam (pamba sacred ash).Bhahthas carry this basmam to their homes.

Pamba Ganapathi: Thereafter pray at the shrines of Pamba ganapathi, Ramar, Hanumar situated on the bank of Pamba river. Give dakshina (money offerings) to the descentants of Pandala kingdom. They receive sacred ash from them,apply it on the forehead and start climbing Neeli malai.Women are not allowed to climb and go beyond this place.

Neeli malai: Climbing this mountain is as difficult as climbing kari malai. Though climbing is difficult the mere thought that we are nearing Lord ayyappa shrine will remove the tiresome feeling from our minds. To ward off tiredness bhathas shout sarana ghosham loudly. To climb Neelimalai steps made rock stones are there.Mathanga maharishi (saint) performed tapas with along with his daughter Neeli towards Lord Shiva and hence this mountain is known as Neeli malai. There is a separate road at the beginning towards the right side and this path is cslled Subramaniam pathai (road). Through this items required for the ayyappa temple is carried on the back of donkeys. While ascending Nellimalai one will reach a evenly leveled portion clled Appachi Medu and Ippachi Kuzhi. First visitor of sabarimalai called Kanni sami througe balls made from raw rice flour here. This act is considered to propitiate Vana davadais(eorest goddess).

Sabari Peetam: Sabari peetam is situated at the top of Neela malai. In this place onlySabari matha(sabari mother) resided and hence this place in known in her name. This old lady was a ardent devotee of Lord Rama. In all other incarnations It is Bhaktha who wnt in search of God, but By self imposing 14 years of vanavasam (remaining incognito) incarnation is Rama avatharam. In that aspect, Lord did seva to Vishwamithra maharishi by keeping Vashita maharishi as his guru. He met several other rishis and got their blessings. Sabari mother has more power more than those maharishis. She was waiting in this mountain for the darshan of Rama. Do you know what she did?  She picked up Ilantham fruits available in the forest, bite them and collected sweet fruits out of them. Ilantham fruits can be eaten even in their dry state. She made an offering of all those dry sweet Ilantham fruits to Rama when HE came there. Though each fruit was bit by her already, Rama saw her love behind this act of biting each fruit to test their sweetness and accepted her offering of Ilantham fruits. She gave her Moksha (no further rebirth for her).This place was therafter known after her name. One should break cocanut, light camphor and offer prayers. From here the path is evenly laid and can walk very leisurely.

Yanai pathai: (elephant route) The path from sabari peetam to sannidhanam is divides here inti two paths. Left side path is called Yanai pathai.But bhakthas prefer the right side route only to reach Saram Kutthi.

Saram Kutthi:This place is considered as sacred place for ayyappa bhakthas. Here kanni samis throw the wodden stick they carry aft er performing pettai thullal,and offer prayers.It is said that ayyappa has promised Maligaipurathu amman that he will marry her in that year when no kannisamivisit sabarimala. It is said every year ammanvisit s this place whether any kannisami has visited. From here after walking a short distance one can reach Ayyappas sacred shrine.

Basma kulam: This tank in which bhakthas take bath is situated at the back of ayyappa shrine. Ayyappa Bhakthas destroy their acquired known and unknown sinsBy bathing in this tank. Now that this tank has becomes dirty, they take bath in pipes through which this tank water is carried.

After leaving saramkotthi one will get the view of golden tower of Ayyappa shrine.As one near the sannidhanam the swamiye saranam ayyappa saranam shouting reverberates on all sides including the sky.

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