This will be an useful read if you are planning for your travel to Sabarimala.
Journey to Sabarimala starts after you have completed your vidha kaalam (Do's and dont's during the viradha kaalam). Before you leave to the place where you are getting your iru mudi kattu, you announce that you are leaving your house and you ask your family deity to taking care of your family. You break a coconut outside the entrance of your house to offer to your family deity.
Your journey stars after you take your iru mudi kattu/kattu nerai (Click here to read about Iru mudi kattu/Kattu nerai) on your head which your guru swamy prepares.
Even until 50 years ago, very few would know the path to Sabari malai through the dense forest. The forest filled with wild animals. The viradha kaalam is the time period to prepare one for this journey; body and mind. Less than 5000 people would take this journey and few might not return while taking this treacherous journey. With better road systems and modes of transportation these days about 4 crore (40 million) devotes visit Sabari malai, just during the mandala-makaravilaku season alone
Coordinates for Sabarimala - 9.4353888,77.0802164,17.28
These are the routes taken these days to reach Sabarimala:
Route# 1: Madurai - Thiruchendur - Kanyakumari - Susindram - Nagercoil - Ambasamuthiram - Sengottai/Courtallam - Achankovil - Aryankavu - Kulathupuzha - Erumeli (629 KM)
Route# 2: Madurai - Thiruchendur - Kanyakumari - Susindram - Nagercoil- Thiruvananthapuram -Varkala - Kottarakkara - Pandalam - Erumeli (540 km)
Route# 3: Madurai - Sengottai - Courtallam- Achankovil - Aryankavu - Kulathupuzha - Erumeli (368 km)
Route# 4: Madurai - Palani - Pollachi - Kollankodu - Nemmara - Trichur - Kalladi - Muvattupuzha - Vaikom - Kaduthuruthy - Ettumanoor - Palai - Erumeli (570km)
Route# 5: Madurai - Palani - Cumbum - Kumili - Vandiperiyar - Kanjirapally - Erumeli (381 km)
Route# 6: Ernakulam - Thrippunithura - Chottanikkara - Vaikom - Pala - Ponkunnam - Erumeli (121 KM)
Route# 7: Punalur - Chalakayam* (98 KM)
[*Chalakayam is not available on Google Map. If anyone is aware of this place, please add it to Google map. Click here for the instructions]
Route# 8: Thiruvananthapuram- Chalakayam* (172 KM)
Route# 9: Thiruvananthapuram - Erumel (137 KM)
Route# 10: Kollam - Oachira - Chengannur - Erumeli (108 KM)
Route# 11: Kollam - Kunnicode - Erumeli (99 KM)
Route# 12: Kottayam - Manimala - Erumeli (51 KM)
There are three routes to Sabarimala
1. The Erumeli route
2. The Vandiperiyar route
3. The Chalakayam route.
Erumeli route is the traditional route that has been taken for centuries. This route has all the important points to cover during the Sabarimala trip. This is also the starting point for the periya padhai (Open only during Mandalam) from where Sabarimala is 61 KM by foot. This is also the route taken to bring the Thiruvabharanam petty from Pandalam Palace to Sabari Malai.
The Vandiperiyar route starts around the 94km mark on the Kotayam - Kumili road. The Sannidhanam is about 12.8 km from here. The Chalakayam route is the easiest of all. Chalakayam is near Pampa river. Sannidhanam is 8 km from here this is also called the Chinna Padhai, which is the last leg of the Periya padhai.
The route covered by Periya padhai by foot are as follows. The people had to walk from Erumeli - Peroorthodu - Kottapadi - Kaalaketti - Azhhuthamedu - Kallidaamkunnu - Inchipaarakotta - Karimala - Valiyaanavattam - Cheriyaanavattam - Pamapa (Starting of Chinna Padhai) - Neelimala - Appachimedu - Sabareepeedom -Saramkuthi - Sannadhi.
From Pamba there is also another route to Sannadhi through paved road used to carry goods to Sabarimalai by tractors (earlier using donkeys) this path is called the Kazhudhai padhai. This route does not have steps as with the other route but tar road with equal amount of inclination.
For people who would not be able to walk from Pamba, you can ask for a Doli (Pallaku) which is a chair tied on two poles carried by 4 men.
Another lesser used route will be Kumili - Changara Estate - Uppupaara and Paandithavalam
If I have missed any routes, please let me know through the comments. I will add it to the blog. I hope you find this useful.
You can read about important points from Erumeli to Sannadhi in this blog.