Kozhikode: For them, embarking on a treacherous 1,800-kilometres trek is not a test of physical endurance but a matter of faith. In an age when people find it tough even to travel short distances despite modern transport, a group of Ayyappa devotees led by their 'Guruswamy' Chandrahas, started their pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple shrine on foot from the Andheri Ayyappa Temple in Mumbai reached here on Thursday morning. Chandrahas swamy has been leading the padayatra for the fifth consecutive time during this year.
The team comprised only 9 members at their starting point in Andheri on November 22, but when it reached Uduppi in Karnataka the numbers rose to 25.
On a gruelling 52-day journey, these devotees clad in their black dress and carrying an 'irumudi', traverses nearly 40 kilometres every day. Their target is to reach Sabarimala on 2012 January 12.
The daily schedule begins at early morning and continues till 10 pm. In between, the devotees take breaks and consume food at temples or other places where people organise poojas and accommodation for these devotees.
"People from all the states which we covered including Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala offered great support and this added up our spirit", said Chandrahas Swamy, a hotel owner in West Ghatkopar in Mumbai who is on his 26th pilgrimage and fifth marathon walk to Sabarimala.
The average age of the team members is 50. Rajesh swamy from Mumbai is the youngest in the team while Guruswamy is the senior.
From Kozhikode their next main destination is Guruvayoor temple. "We started from Mumbai then Pune, Kohlapur, Belgaum via Khanapur reached Yellapur jungle route. From there to Kumta-Kollur Mookambika temple, Kundapura, Uduppi and Managlore, Kasargod, Kannur and Kozhikode", said Chandrahas.
With Ayyappas grace there were no unpleasantness besides the monkey menace during the journey through Yellapur jungle route, he added.
A 30 member team will join the padayathra from Erumeli to Sannidhanam through the Karimala-Neelimala traditional route. The team will return back on January 15 after 'Makaravilakku darshan'.