temple is located at a height of 950m in the forested mountain
range of Sahyadri. The idol of the deity is about one and a half
feet tall and is constituted of an alloy of five metals. The present
temple was built in 1951 after the original temple was devastated
in a fire. It is open for all, irrespective of religion, caste
or creed. But young girls and women between 15 and 50 are not
supposed to visit the temple as Ayappa is a celibate.
are 18 steps that lead to the temple. They are believed to be
the steps to the heaven. Pilgrims have to observe strict vows
for a certain period (generally 41 days) before taking these 18
steps to the temple. The vows include dressing in black, blue
or ochre, wearing a rudraksha or tulsi garland, remaining a celibate,
eating only vegetarian food.
is the most visited temple in India though the temple is open
only during certain times of the year. The temple is opened for
41 days from mid-November to the end of December, during Makara
Sankranti (mid-Jan), Vishu (mid-April), Pratishtha Day (May-June),
and during the Onam festival (August-September).
60km from Idukki
is renowned for the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The wildlife sanctuary
with its pleasant landscape, cool climate and a wide variety of
flora and fauna is very popular among the tourists. Nature is
at its best near the Periyar Lake. Boating in the lake is the
best way to see animals in their natural habitat. Along the lake,
several picnic spots have been developed, some of which are Edappalayam,
Manakudi and Thannikudi. Tourist bungalows, rest houses, trenches
and watchtowers have been constructed at these places for the
benefit of visitors.