Mukkuzhi (28)

27/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

Now the pilgrim has to climb down a steep mountain slope that ends in a valley called Mukkuzhi, another ideal resting place and for the right stay. At Mukkuzhi there is a temple of Sri Ganesa and Divine Mother.


There is now an 11- kms. trek through thick foot-hill forests to reach the lofty mountain, Karimala. On the way there are a few places for rest and some temporary catering sheds where Kanji, the rice gruel, boiled tapioca with salad, tea, etc., will be available. These deep forests are ordinarily the regions where the denizens of the wilderness freely roam about, but they discreetly keep away when man dominates their havens once in a year for a few days. The pilgrim can see the droppings of wild elephants and other animals on the way. The blooming forests are a feast to the eyes.

Eventually the pilgrim reaches the banks of the stream Kariyilaamthodu in the valley of the mountain Karimala. If he had started from Azhutha about 7 a.m. he would be reaching Kariyilaamthodu by 1 p.m. There are temporary sheds where the pilgrims can take rest. Many of them take bath in the forest stream, cook food or have it from the catering sheds.

Then the pilgrim crosses Kariyilaamthodu and walks about 3 kms through dense forests of the valley of Karimala. Then starts one of the most arduous climbs of the pilgrimage to reach the mountain top. While the Azhuthamedu involves almost one straight stretch of climb, the mountain of Karimala has to be climbed in seven stages and at every stage the pilgrim is likely to assume that he has reached the top, very much like what happens in the adventurous process of gaining knowledge, mundane or spiritual, when one often tends to make the mistake of thinking that he has known all that is there to be known, while there is still much left unknown.

It is said in the Ayyappa lore that atop Karimala there was a formidable fort of the brigand chief Udayanan and by conquering the fort and destroying Udayanan and his hordes, the ultimate aim of Ayyappa’s expedition was achieved – the liberation of the temple of Sri Dharma Sastha of Sabarimala. In Karimala, there are places for the worship of the Deities Vana Durga, Karimalanaathan and Kochu Kadutha, who was one of the chieftains of Ayyappa. There are two ancient wells on the top of Karimala. It is believed that Ayyapppa and his soldiers quenched their thirst from these wells.

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