Pathanamthitta is a mascot of Kerala’s splendid secular traditions where Hindus, Christians and Muslims in large numbers have traditionally lived in harmony and peace. The district houses both the famed hill shrine of Sabarimala, the state’s most popular Hindu pilgrim centre and also Maramon, where an annual religious convention attracts Asia’s largest Christian assemblage. The Vishnu temple at Aranmula and also the palace of Pandalam Raja, the foster father of Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala shrineare important Hindu pilgrim centres of the district. Famed Christian pilgrim centres here include the Parumala Orthodox Church where its saint Mar Gregorius was laid to rest, the ancient church at Niranam believed to befounded by St Thomas in AD 52 and Manjanikkara church which holds themortal remains of Mar Ignatius Elia III, the Holy Patriarch of Antioch.
Sabarimala temple, located atop the hills at an altitude of 914 m, itself is anicon of secularism as devotees believe that the closest friend of Lord Ayyappa, the Hindu deity is the Vavar, a Muslim trader. Pilgrims to Sabarimala pay customary obeisance at the Vavar’s mosque too. Theannual “Chandanakkudam” festival at the mosque in Pathanamthitta town bears testimony for the land’s hybrid culture where Hind and Muslim traditions blend beautifully. Half the district under dense forest, the district is known for its pristine greenery, undulating hills, serpentine rivers and vast stretches of spice(pepper, cardamom) and rubber plantations. The famed annual “snakeboat” race at Aranmula on the eve of Onam festival is a huge draw.
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