Azhutha (26)

26/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

Azhutha, which is on the bank of a river known by the same name, about 2½ kms. from Kalaketti, is another major resting place of the pilgrims. From Kalaketti to Azhutha it is a mid-forest village scene and between the two places there is a tarred road instead of the usual rugged forest path. The river, Azhutha is a tributary of the river Pampa. Many of the pilgrims camp at this place during night, and there are a number of temporary sheds that provide accommodation. In Azhutha there is a temple complex of various Deities. A special ritualistic ceremony performed here is Aazhi-pooja, which is a prayerful walking around a huge pile of fire, chanting aloud “Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa.”

During the Makara-samkrama season, especially after the 1st January, Azhutha and surrounding areas become a scene of constant movement of millions of pilgrims. Here there is an office of the Akhila Thiruvithamcore Mala Araya Mahasabha, an organisation of a mountain-inhabiting community, who manage the temples at Kalaketti, Azhutha, Inchippara, Mukkhuzhi, etc. At Azhutha there is a camp office of Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham, rendering service to the pilgrims.

The holy bath in the river Azhutha is a part of the pilgrimage. While making a dip, the pilgrim, as a ritualistic custom, takes a pebble from the river which he later drops on reaching a place called Kallidumkunnu, which literally means the hill where the stone is dropped, on the top of a mountain to which the pilgrim climbs next.

Wading through the rather shallow river, the pilgrim reaches the other side and makes about a 3-kms climb of a mountain side called Azhuthamedu. This is one of the three major steep climbs of the pilgrimage. (Moving from the banks of Azhutha to reach the banks of Pampa, a distance of about 37 kms, the pilgrim pass through dense forests and two mountain peaks, Inchippara and Karimala. The pilgrims climb two mountain slopes to reach these peaks. Another climb on the way to Sabarimala is the slope of the Neelimala peak, which is beyond the river Pampa.)

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