Ponnambalamedu Hill is located around four kilometers from the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple at an altitude of 3839 ft. The famous Makaravilakku is lit at Ponnambalamedu on January 14 or 15 and this marks the end of the annual Sabarimala Mandala Makaravilakku pilgrimage. There is a popular belief that Lord Parashuram had built a temple in the hill and this was known as Ponnambalamedu Temple.
Ponnambalamedu means ‘hill of the golden temple.’ The name is derived from the Malayalam words Ponnu (gold), ambalam (temple), medu (hill).
Legend has it that Lord Parashuram had built a temple here dedicated to Ayyappa. It is the Adhi Moolasthanam – or the original abode of Lord Ayyappa. He also made a pond named Seethakulam here.
The shrine was created after Ayyappa annihilated Mahishi and Dharma was restored on earth. As per belief, the murti of Lord installed here was Poorna Pushkala Samedha Maha Sastha. The area was then known as Srimoolam Kavu. It is believed that the original temple was made of gold.
As per one belief, the temple was accessible only to Yogis. Ayyappa later asked a temple to be built in an area which was accessible to all people. It was built on Mahayogapeetam of the Garudadri hill. This later came to be known as Sabarimala.
The original temple at Ponnambalamedu was later destroyed. But tribals used to still perform worship here. The annual Makaravilakku is performed here in memory of this event.