Thousands throng the hill shrine of Sabarimala to witness the divine light or the 'Makara Jyothi', which is seen near Ponnambalamedu today on the Makara Vilakku day. The sighting of the 'Makara Jyothi' and the festivities afterward mark the end of the main pilgrimage season to Sabarimala.
Pilgrims camp out at various vantage points to see the celestial light. This year, the police and other security forces have been pressed into action to ensure that the festivities go off on a peaceful note. The authorities have taken enough measures to ensure that the places where the pilgrims camp are well-lit. Here are some of the prominent places from where you can witness the 'Makara Vilakku'.
The Sannidhanam, arguably, is the best spot to watch Makara Jyothi and hence, a huge rush of devotees stay back at the hill shrine to watch the divine light. There are many who climb up the trees for a better view. However, people who have been to Sabarimala know of other places from where they can watch this phenomenon, more peacefully. Pandithavalam is one such location. People camp out here in advance and it is one of those places where the authorities have put up new barricades to prevent any untoward incidents.
Marakoottam, where the paths merge, is another vantage point for seeing the celestial light. Thousands gather here too. Malikappuram, Saramkuthi and Sabaripeetam also see a huge rush. Further away, between Appachimedu and Neelimala, there are a couple of places where you can see the Makara Jyothi from. The veterans who undertake the pilgrimage know about these places and people will be camping out there. If it is your first time, follow the herd would be a good mantra.
The Hilltop Parking Ground at Pamba is site from, which you can see the light. Although it will be crowded here, the place will be under police radar. Chalakkayam, Attathodu, Angamozhi and the forests around Pullumedu, Ilavunkal and Neelimala are the other good sites to see the light.
All these places are in and around Sabarimala. And they are normally crowded with the devotees. However, provided the conditions are ideal and there are no rain clouds to play spoil sport, you can see the Makara Jyothi from Panchalimedu, which is about 70kms away from Sabarimala. This is one of the best kept secrets of Panchalimedu. Click here to read more about Panchalimedu