Swamy Ayyappa



The area, beyond Erumeli extending upto the banks of the Pampa river is known as Poonkavanam. It is a long stretch of impenetrable forest into which even the sun rays can hardly reach due to multitude growth of trees.

The first spot of worship during the trek through the terrain is' Kalaketti .There is a Siva Temple at Kalaketti. A coconut is broken at this altar to propitiate Mahadeva. This coconut is sanctified by dipping in the waters of the rivulet named 'Perurthodu' which the pilgrims cross before they reach 'Kalaketti '.

Not far from Kalaketti the river Alasa or Azhutha welcomes the pilgrims. They become refreshed after a dip in its cool and placid waters. While sinking in this river every devotee picks up the first piece of stone he gets hold of from the river-bed. This stone is thrown on Kallidum kunnu, where the physical remains of Mahishi was laid and covered with heap of stones. Now Kallidllm kunnu is only a rock of about four feet high.

The next part of the pilgrimage is extremely strenuous and full of hazards. The scaling of the steep Mount Azhutha is a formidable challenge. One gasps his breath and heaves long sighs every now and then. It is indeed a mystery how old men and children manage to complete the ascent successfully. Even an atheist bows down his head in reverence to the Lord, whose mercy alone helps them meet the challenge.

When the pilgrims are about to reach the summit of the Mount Azhutha they pass by the rock called 'Kallidum kunnu'. The piece of stone picked up from the river-bed of Azhutha is thrown on this rock. The ascent of Mount Azutha terminates on reaching 'Inchippara ' where there is a shrine for 'Kottayil Sastha'. The deity is worshipped by breaking coconut and burning camphor. Water is scarcely available in this place. Pilgrims exhausted after an arduous expedition naturally relax here for some time. Then they start climbing down. Descending is no less perilous than the ascent. As the route downwards is damp and slippery, any faulty step is likely to lead to a catastrophe.

This is not all. Still another challenge awaits ahead. It is climbing the Mount Karimala. The picturesque panorama of flora and fauna on either side of the mountain track is thrilling as well as awesome. The refreshing breeze blowing along the blooming plants and trees carry not only unpolluted air, but also the aroma of a variety of flowers. While the harmonious blend of the twittering of the birds, murmurings of the mountain streams and the mellifluous music of the bamboo bushes tossing in the wind, fill the ears with hitherto unheard melody, the groaning of tigers and leopards mingled with the trumpeting of tuskers send a chill down the spine. The Very name 'Karimala' suggests that it is the abode of wild elephants. ('Kari' means elephant). It is not unusual that the pilgrims come across fresh droppings of elephants on the way. The fear of the wild creatures haunts the pilgrim at every onward step. The ascent is so hard that the pilgrims inadvertently call out 'Karimala Kayattam Kadinarn Ayentayyappa' meaning climbing up the Karimala is very hard.

One of the attractions on Karimala is 'Nazhikinar', a small well within a well. This welI always contains fresh spring water. A four-feet high statue of 'Karimalanathan' never goes unnoticed during the trek through Karimala. Pilgrims pay homage to 'Karimalanarhan', sprinkling turmeric powder on the image and burning camphor in front of it. Coming down the Karimala which also is not an easy exercise, the place known as 'Anathavalam' is reached. This is believed to be the place from where the, King Rajasekhara had picked up the, infant Manikanta