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Pathanamthitta district in Kerala is very famous for its pilgrim centers. There are many famous temples and temple towns that are visited by tourists. The most important pilgrim center is Sabari mala. This is the abode of Lord Ayyappa, the guardian of mountaineers. This pilgrim center alone draws over 2 million people during the months of November- January. Pilgrims observe strict austerities before undertaking the pilgrimage. The temple remains closed during the rest of the year except for the first five days of every Malayalam month and during Vishu. The shrine is kept in the Valiyakoikal temple in Pamba. All the devotees visit this shrine first before proceeding to Sabarimala. It is believed that Lord Ayyappa or Manikanta spent his boyhood days as the son of the Raja of Pandalam and lived in the nearby Valiyakoikal palace.
The other important pilgrim center is Aranmula. This place is famous for the Sree Krishna or Parthasarathy temple. It is believed that the idol in this temple was brought in a raft made of aaru (six) mula (bamboo) and hence the name Arumula which has now become Aranmula. This temple is believed to be built by the Pandavas for Parthasarathy or the charioteer of Partha (Arjuna) i.e Krishna. This temple is located on the banks of the river Pamba. Aranmula Boat race or Aranmula Vallamkali is conducted very year to commemorate the arrival of the idol to this temple. The temple has four entrances. The entrance on the eastern side has 18 steps wide enough for elephants to climb. The temple has 8 elephants which are housed in the anakottil or the stable of elephants. Krishnaâ€™s birthday is celebrated with much gaiety in a 10 day festival. Artisans around the temple complex make Kannadi or mirror out of metal. This is very famous as the Aranmula kannadi and it is believed that possessing one is very lucky.