Neellimala

The last lap of the trek is climbing up Neelimala. The abode of the young and ascetic God is atop this mountain. The holy flight of eighteen steps leading to Sannidhanam, the seat of Dhannasastha is about 6 kilometers away from the valley of Pampa. Neelimala is loftier and steeper. The track to be trodden is slippery too. But the awareness of being nearer to the final goal mitigates the strain and sufferings to a very great extent. The pilgrims steadily move on unceasingly calling out the Lord's names as a source of solace.

On the festive occasion of Makara Vilakku the representative off the King of Pandalam will be present on a platform at the foot off Neelimala with all royal insignia. Pilgrims pay homage to him presenting 'Kanikka' (some amount of money) and receive bibhoothy as 'prasadam'.


On both sides off the long-winding mountainous track, the green valleys and lofty mountains present a marvelous panorama; but just contrary to this scene of floral excellence, the appalling sight of wretchedness and distress cannot go unnoticed. The wailings and groaning of a host of ill-fated fellow men crippled or maimed or victims of incurable and dreadful diseases thronging on either side of the route evoke pity and tenderness. Of course, offering relief to all those who sue assistance stretching out their arms for alms is impossible. But one can hardly pass by these unfortunate brothers without extending some helping hand in accordance with his capacity.


The ascent terminates at the next landmark namely 'Appachimedu '. The onward journey thereafter is more or less through level ground. Appachimedu is a grassy meadow with dark and deep ravines on either side. These ravines are named Appachikuzhi and Ippachikuzhi. Kanni Ayyappans are expected to throw sweetened rice balls into these dismal pits to appease evil spirits who are supposed to be hovering around.


The next station of attention is Sabaripeettam, a flat rock. It is said to be the place where the ascetic Sabari, whose devotion to Sri Ramachandma is too well known, did penance and attained God-realization at the hands of Dharma Sastha. As a mark of respect and devotion to the exalted soul, pilgrims break coconuts and burn camphor at this place. The distance from Sabaripeettam to the foot of Pathinettampadi (the flight of eighteen steps) is just 1.6 Kms. Between these two places is Saramkuthi (the place where the arrow struck). It was here where Manikanta's arrow' struck to mark the location for the erection of the temple. Coconuts are broken here too. The first-timers who had picked up arrow-like roads from Erumeli leave them here.


To the excitement of the pilgrims, the sound of the gunshots fired at the foot of Pathinettampadi is heard. Their spirits soar higher, their paces turn wider and their chants of Saranamamthra grows louder. Within ten minutes they are face to face with the "golden flight of eighteen sreps". With throbbing hearts and tears of joy welling in their eyes they prostrate at the base of the flight.