Ayyappas Return to Pandalam

Lord Siva then advised Manikanta to go back to Pandalam and console the King Rajasekhara who was eagerly looking forward to his return. Accordingly, Manikanta set out on his journey back to Pandalam. He summoned Devendra to assume the form of a ferocious leopard for Manikanta to ride on its back to the palace. He was accompanied by a number of celestial damsels all disguised as leopardesses and the gods as their cubs. Seeing the procession of leopardesses and their cubs headed by Manikanta bestriding an awe-inspiring leopard, the inhabitants of Pandalam were terribly frightened. They ran helter-skeletal and took refuge atop the trees. The king was much bewildered at first. But Manikanta remained cool and calm as if nothing unusual had happened. He dismounted from the leopard and reported to the king that enough leopardesses had been brought for providing sufficient milk to cure the queen's headache. Now it dawned upon the King that his foster son was no ordinary human being, but an incarnation of God. His joy knew no bounds. He stood before the Lord with folded arms and began to extol him exultantly. Meanwhile, to the embarrassment of everyone, the herd of leopardesses and their cubs had vanished with the leopard. Pleased with the overwhelming devotion of the ding, Manikanta hugged him warmly and asked him to demand any boon. He added that, brought up as his son, it was his bounded duty to fulfill any desire of the king. The king longed nothing for himself, but requested the Lord to reside in his kingdom forever and shower his blessings on all people including his subjects. The Lord Boothanatha readily agreed. He said to the king that he should be enshrined in a temple built in the Neelimala in the north-east direction of the Pampa river. It was on this hill where the ascetic Sabari did penance and gained immortality at the hands of the Lord. Hence it has come to be known as Sabarimala. The Lord then shot an arrow and blessed the king with divine eyes to follow the path of the arrow. It was instructed that the temple should be built at the exact spot where the arrow struck the ground and that the temple should face east and have a flight of eighteen steps to climb up before reaching His holy presence. Instructions were also given about the austerities to be observed by His devotees before they came to worship Him at the altar. The pilgrimage without adhering to the prescribed austerities would be of no avail. So saying the Lord disappeared.