The second largest shrine is located in the 18 hills of the Western Ghat ranges of Pathanamthitta District. Ayyappa is believed to be the son of Vishnu (as Mohini) and Shiva.
The temple follows the rule of celibacy for the last 1500 years. Women between the age of 10 and 50 cannot enter the shrine.
The temple is located at the spot where Ayyappa killed demoness Mahishi. She was the sister of Mahishasura and had a buffalo's head.
The first 5 steps represent senses, the next 8 steps- bad qualities, the next 3- Three Gunas, last 2 steps- knowledge & ignorance. People will be detached from worldly desires.
One must visit this Sufi Shrine before proceeding to the temple. It symbolises friendship between Muslim saint Vavar and Lord Ayyappa.
The hill is named after Sabari, who was a big devotee of Lord Ram. She used to live here among the 18 hills.
One should not trim their hair or nails, live a celibate life, consume only vegetarian food, and sleep on the floor. In addition, they ought to put on a blue or black dress.
The prasadam that is served to the devotees is Aravana payasam and Uniyappam.
Devotees observing 41-day fast should wear black shirts and mundu (dhoti), walk barefoot and adorn the holy mala. They should live a life of celibacy and are addressed as 'Swami'.