Sabarimala: The sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple opened its doors on Monday evening, signalling the commencement of welcoming devotees from early Tuesday.
It coincides with the first day of the Malayalam month of "Vrishickam".
As always, the prime festival season comes to a close on the first day of the Malayalam month in January.
Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea-level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometres uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, around 100 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.
The practise among many pilgrims before setting off for the holy shrine is to undertakes an intense 41-day penance where they do not wear sandals, wear a black dhoti and eat only vegetarian food.
Each pilgrim carries a kit (lrumudi) that contains coconuts broken just before climbing the 18 steps. A pilgrim carries it on his head during the pilgrimage and without it, nobody is allowed to step onto the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam.