I wanted to make a visit to Sabarimala in the holy month of Vrischikam, something I had not managed in my previous 4 visits. Excluding alcohol and non veg food from the diet from the beginning of the holy month, I quietly went about with a routine to reinstate some amount of fitness I used to have. Cycling an average of 45km a week, I was able to build some confidence over 4 weeks to do this journey on my own.
Having nil experience at the peak time, I decided to utilize the online services offered – Slotted myself on the Virtual Q. and booked Kerala road transport buses for the onward and return journey.
Unusually this time having to make this journey from a place I have only moved in to 6 months ago, I had to find my own Guruswami when incidentally we came across Sree Dharma Shastha Temple at Perumbavoor.
Having done my kettu nira from there, I set out in the evening taking a superfast bus from Angamaly to Ernakulam. Despite it being Christmas Eve, I only encountered the usual city traffic at Kochi. Just 200m before reaching the bus stand, our bus managed to scrape the front and back door of a Chervolet Beat. Since I knew this would consume time, I set off on foot to the bus station.
There was nothing appreciable about the bus made available specially for this season of pilgrimage – just another KSRTC super fast bus. A group of 4-5 young fellows, probably early 20s late teens were on board, passing lewd comments and bringing up the feminine side of the world much to the dislike of the rest of the Swamis. Most of the Swamis nowadays no longer opt for a rigid 41 day fast. This is typically noticeable amongst Keralites. The night bus ride was uneventful. I despise winding roads going uphill but that is part of the package when it comes to visiting Sabarimala. At least this time I could close my eyes and not care much as I am not driving.
The bus reached on schedule at Pamba – 230am. I went over by the side of the Pamba river, mopped a towel with the water and wiped my body and changed to fresh clothes to start the trek. 4.2km one way from Pamba to Sannidhanam, takes on an average with good pace 45 min. I reached in one hour as I recollect my fitness levels were poorer than my last visit. After having gone barefoot last time around, I no longer wear sandals/chappals. The emotion of pain, masks the crying calf muscles pushing you uphill a bit. The uneven surface under the feet makes sure you have a spring in your feet IF you are not one who usually walks barefoot. (Those who walk barefoot in general were almost nonchalant in their stride uphill).
Since I was alone, I no longer was waiting for anyone after any short spells of swift climbing, so I continued non stop.
My first visit utilizing the virtual Q and to be honest, I literally walked straight beyong the last metal detector just outside the 18 steps straight after a 1 hour climb. I was amazed considering only 48 hrs ago, people had to wait upto 8 hours even in the virtual Q!!
Climbing those 18 steps was the longest time I ever spent on them. With not much rush, the cops were no longer propeling people like rockets up the steps. Darshanam was calm and capacious. I went about the rest of the rites in Mallikappuram and headed over to the Aravana queue.
Just to sum up how my timeline went (and actually how lucky I was to go in and out with this much ease)
Pamba to Sannidhanam: 0230 – 0330
Darshanam: 0345 – 0400
Malikappuram: 0400 – 0445
Aravana counter: 0445 – 0520
Sannidhanam to Pamba: 0600 – 0700
However the day drive by bus was torrid. I walked 1 km to the Pamba KSRTC bus stand and found myself a direct bus to my hometown.
It took me over 5.5 hours to get back home but I am still amazed and happy that I had it my way today. Swami sharanam!!