The Ayyappa Temple or Sree Darma Sastha Temple at Aryankavu in Kollam District is one among the four most important temples dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in Kerala. The shrine at Aryankav is known as Aryankavu SasthaTemple and Lord Ayyappa is depicted as a teenager here. Ayyappa is known as Tiru aryan here and therefore the place got the name Aryankavu. Surrounded by forests, the temple is located on the Kollam – Tenkasi National Highway. Just like in Sabarimala, women from the age 10 to 50 are not allowed inside the Aryankavu Ayyappa Temple. The rituals and pujas followed at Aryankavu Sastha Temple is that of Tamil tradition. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple has idols of Devi, Shiva and Sastha. A young Ayyappa sits in the middle with Devi on the left side and Shiva on the right side. The festival at the temple is celebrated during the the Sabarimala Mandala Kalam. The most important festivals observed here include Pandiyanmudippu, Trikalyanam and Kumbhabhishekam.
Sree Darma Sastha Temple is one of the important pilgrim centers of the district. The main attraction of Aryankavu is the Ayyappa Temple alias Aryankavu Sastha Temple dedicated to Lord Sastha, one among the five ancient Ayyappa temples. The unique feature of the temple is that it is built about 35 ft below the road level and has some fine structure and mural paintings. The legend behind the the Ayyappa of Aryankavu is similar to that of Sree Dharma Sastha of Sabarimala .The only difference between the two are that Sastha was brought up by the Pandi Raja of Madhura and not the Raja of Pandalam.The two main festivals of this temple, Mandala pooja and Thrikalyanam festival, celebrated in December draws thousands of pilgrims. It is believed that Swami Ayyappan married Shri Pushkaladevi of Sourashtra community in Aryankavu. The marriage festival is held every year in Aryankavu and the marriage rituals are according to the Sourashtra community .Even now Sourashtrans reach here in groups during the time of ‘Mandalapooja’. Situated about 73 km east of Kollam and 33 km from Punalur and 21 km away from Thenkasi and 13 km away from shencottah .All trains towards Shencottah have a stop at Aryankavu. The Palaruvi waterfall is only 4kms away from here.
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