Pilgrims visiting Sabarimala usually visit other temples en route
For pilgrims coming from the northern side of Kerala, via Thrissur, a visit to Vadakkumnathan Temple located in the heart of Thrissur city and one of the largest and oldest Shiva temples in Kerala is worthwhile. The temple is the best example of the Kerala style of temple architecture.
Another temple to visit is Guruvayoor, is one of the most important pilgrim centers in South India, and only about 30 kilometers away from Thrissur. This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and houses the largest collection of domesticated elephants anywhere in India.
Kodungalloor Devi temple, in Kodungallur, a major temple dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy, is on the NH 17, Edappally -Panavel highway and is about 50 kilometers away from Guruvayoor.
Within 20 kilometers from Edappaly or Kochi town is Chottanikkara Devi temple, another temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess.
Some of the other major temples between Kochi and Sabarimala are the Vaikom Mahadevar temple which is about 20 kilometers from Kochi, Kaduthuruthi Mahadevar temple, around 15 kilometers from there, and Ettumanoor Mahadevar temple, 15 kilometers further. Thirunakkara Mahadevar temple in Kottayam town is only 12 kilometers from Ettumanoor.
Erumeli is a town close to Sabarimala and about100 kilometers by road. There is also a 40 KM pedestrian route via the forest to Sabarimala. There are two Ayyappa temples here. The Mosque of Vavar, believed to be an associate of Lord Ayyappa, is located here and the devotees visit this masjid as well during the pilgrimage.
Those traveling from the southern part of the state can visit the following temples:
The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, located in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram, is only 3 kilometers from the Central railway station and interstate bus stand and about 6-8 kilometres from the city airport. This ancient, grand temple is the ancestral shrine of the royal family of Travancore. The temple is one of 108 divya desams of Lord Mahavishnu in the country. Some parts of this beautiful temple were constructed in the 16th century.
Pazhavangadi Ganapathi temple, a renowned Ganesha temple, is located near the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple just outside the eastern gate of the temple in a junction known as East Fort. It is difficult to park vehicles in front of the temple but there is a city-run pay and park facility nearby.
The Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesha, is a famous temple situated in Kollam district and serves as a halting point for devotees heading to Sabarimala from Thiruvananthapuram. The distance between both shrines is about 80 kilometers.
The Pandalam Ayyappa Temple, located inside the princely state of Pandalam, is the family temple of the Pandalam Royal family and has a prominent place in the pilgrimage to Sabarimala as pilgrims often break journey at this place of worship. Devotees believe that Lord Ayyappa was the foster son of King Pandalam. The temple is located about 100 kilometers from Thiruvananthapuram.
The Chengannur Mahadeva Temple, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvathy, believed by Hindus to be the father and the mother of the universe. The temple is located in Alappuzha district and is close to MC Road. The distance from Thiruvananthapuram via M C Road is about 115 kms.
Aranmula Sri Parthasarathy temple is one of 108 sacred Vishnu temples in India and is close to Adoor, Pandalam and Chengannur on the route to Sabarimala. The temple is located on the banks of the holy river Pampa about 125 kilometers from Thiruvananthapuram and is dedicated to Parthasarathy, Arjuna's Charioteer, who was Lord Krishna in the Mahabharatha War.
Malayalappuzha temple is a temple dedicated to Bhadrakali, also known as the mother goddess
Durga. It is in a village close to Pathanamthitta. Devotees travelling from Thiruvananthapuram have to take a deviation from Kottarakkara for the shortest route (about 110 kilometers). They can also reach the temple from Pandalam or Chengannur. From Malayalappuzha travelers can reach Sabarimala via Ranni.
Nilakal Mahadeva Temple located to the east of Pampa is the oldest temple in Kerala.
It is believed that Lord Ayyappa, who was on his way to the forest to eradicate the marauding demon, got the blessings from his father "Haran" from this temple. Pilgrims on their way to Sabarimala seek blessings here.