Thiruvananthapuram: The sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple will open its door early Saturday on the first day of the Malayalam month of `Vrishickam`, heralding the beginning of the two-month long Sabarimala pilgrimage season.
Located in the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four km uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, which is around 100 km from the capital city.
It is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrim centres in India. The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.
Though the temple is now open on the first few days of every month of the Malayalam calendar, the peak pilgrimage season begins on the first day of the Malayalam month in November and closes on the first day of the Malayalam month in January.
"All arrangements are in place and we have had several rounds of discussions to see that the pilgrims get the best of all when they come here. We are leaving nothing to chance," said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
The more serious pilgrims, before setting off to the holy shrine, normally undertake an intense 41-day penance, not wear sandals or any footwear, use a black dhoti, and stick to a strict vegetarian diet.
"I am not sure if all pilgrims practice this routine, but many who come from neighbouring states are particular of following a near-strict regime of penance. The religious fervour of yesteryears is perhaps not there. But what has not changed is those who have been there once, want to visit again and again," said K. Ajith Kumar, a contractor and a devout Sabarimala devotee.
Those pilgrims who wish to book `darshan` at the temple can do so by obtaining an advance coupon and can log on to the website http://www.sabarimalaq.com .