Built on a plateau
about 40 feet high, the Ayyappan temple commands a lofty view
of the mountains and valleys all around. The ancient temple
has been rebuilt after a fire in 1950, consisting of a sanctum
sanctorum with a copper-plated roof and four golden finials
at the top, two mandapams, the belikalpura which
houses the altar,
and the flag-staff
Replacing the earlier stone image of the deity is a beautiful
idol of Ayyappa in panchaloha, an alloy of five metals,
about one and a half feet tall.
are several explanations regarding the significance of the
Patinettampadi, but in all of them, the emphasis is on the
number 18. One popular belief is that the first 5 steps signify
the five indriyas or senses, the next 8 the ragas,
the next 3 the gunas, followed by vidya and
avidya. Crossing these would take the devotee closer
it was granite stone of 5 to 6 feet wide. Now it is covered
by panchloha in the year 1985. The steep steps are so important
and holy, no one can climb them without fasting for 41 days
and carrying the holy irrumudi on head.
There are many mythology associated with the holy Patinettampadi.
Some believe the eighteen steps denotes the 18 puranas.
Some say that 18 weapons with which Lord Ayyappa destroyed
the evil denotes the 18 steps. Others are of the belief
that the first five steps denotes the indriyas (eyes, ears,
nose, tongue and skin). The next eight steps signifies the
ragas (tatwa, kama, krodha,
lobha, madha, matsraya, and ahamkara. The next three steps
signifies the gunas (satwa, rajas and thamas). The seventeenth
and the eighteenth denotes vidhya and ignorance.
The Patinettampadi can be used only twice - once for ascending
the temple and once for descending below leaving the hill.
Before ascending or descending the steps, pilgrims break
coconut as an offering to the steps. One needs to have the
sacre Irumudi on head
while going up or down the 18 steps. While descending the
steps the devotees climb down backwards facing the sanctum
One who climbs the Patinettampadi for 18 times shall plant
a sapling of coconut in Sabarimala.