Pronunciation and Phonetics

Learning proper pronunciation can be done without much knowledge of phonetics, actually. A basic knowledge, however, helps to make pronunciation clearer and thus facilitates the process of learning how to speak a foreign language properly.

eAmbalam introduces a phonetic chart which is based on Dhevanagari script. The sounds of vowels and consonants and other speech sounds in Sanskrit and the languages which have completely or mostly borrowed from it can be covered with the help of the chart. A few other sounds common to some languages in this group and outside are also put in. Unique sounds of some languages are specified too.

Diacritical marks are used to aid perfect pronunciation. World over, these marks have been created and propagated by scholars to make understanding of the differences in speech sounds in different languages better. Team eAmbalam also has created a phonetic chart which helps even first timers to pronounce words accurately.

Our Phonetic chart is unique, comprehensive, learner friendly and is divided into four columns wherein:
  • In the first column, the letter is written with the associated diacritical mark.
  • In the second column, an example is given in Dhevanagari language containing the letter.
  • In the third column, an example is given in English, which contains the sound closes to the letter or instructions in few cases, to facilitate better understanding.
  • In the fourth column, an audio button is placed with the help of which you can hear the actual pronunciation of the letter.
An open minded approach with the above introduction and guidelines will definitely enable the user to understand the speech sounds of any language and pronounce it like a native, which is eAmbalam’s aim in this exercise.

Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English
A or a Aḍavu Arise
Ā or ā Ānanda Vast
I or i Indhira Sing
Ī or ī Īśha Meal
U or u U ṣhā Good
Ū or ū Ū rdhhva Boost
R or r Riṣh i Try
Ṛ or ṛ Ni ṛ uti Grr!
Lr or lr   Pronounce L and R together.
E or e Eka Ate
AI or ai Aikya Sight
O or o Ojas Robe
AU or au Audh ā rya Now
A M or am Śhiva m Drum
A HA or aha R ā ma ha Aha!
Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English

Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English
KA or ka Kavi Car
KHA or kha Khalu Mark -Him
GA or ga Gamana Gut
GHA or gha Ghata Ugh!
Ṅ A or ṅa Tura ṅ ga Ring
CHA or ca Chakra Chart
CHHA or cha Chhandas Branch
JA or ja Jagath Jug
JHA or jha Jhallari Fudge
NYA or nya Gnyana Knew
Ṭ A or ṭ Ṭ anka Top
ṬHA or ṭha Pāṭha Pothole
ḌA or da Ḍ amaruka Dog
Ḍ HA or ḍ ha Mūḍ ha Madhouse
Ṇ A or ṇ a Ga ṇ a Wander
THA or tha Thanu Health
THHA or thha Athha Theater
DHA or dha Dha śha This
DHHA or dhha Dhhana m Dha with an additional H sound
NA or na Namask ā raha Nut
PA or pa   Path ā ka Past
PHA or pha Phala m P with a H sound
BA or ba Bandhhu Ball
BHA or bha Bhadra Abhor
MA or ma Manas Money
YA or ya Yama Yummy
RA or ra Rajas Rub
LA or la Lath ā Lust
VA or WA, va /wa A śh va or A śhwa Water/Valour
ŚHA or śha Śhakthi Shutter
ṢHA or ṣ ha Ṣh a ṇ mukha Shunt
SA or sa Sarasvatī Sun
HA or ha Hari Hum
Ḷ A or ḷ a Ar āḷ a Bold
KṢHA or k ṣ ha Ak ṣh i Try to pronounce Ka, Sa & Ha – all at one time.
Extra Vowels in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada & Malayalam Scripts    
É or é Éṇi Angel
Ō or ō Ō m Ō M
ZHA Exclusive to Tamil & Malayalam Fold the tip of your tongue backwards and try to pronounce it with the aid of the audio button.
Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English

Śhabarimala temple

Name of the Temple

  • Śhabarimala Ayyappa Sannidhanam or Śhrī Dharma Śhāstha Temple


  • Western Ghat mountain ranges of, On a hilltop about 3000 feet above sea level, in Pathanamthiṭṭa district of Keraḷa
How to reach there?
  • By Air : The next airports are in Thiruvananthapuram, 175 km south on the State Highway 8, and Neḍumbaśheri, 190 km north on the State Highway 44.
  • By Train : The railway station in Chengannūr is 85 km west from Śhabarimala. The railway station Kottayam is about 95 km west on the State Highway 44.
  • By Road : Śhabarimala is connected by the State Highway 67 from Pambā to Mannārkuḷanji and 44 from Pambā to Thalakoḍu.

Rulers/builders and Time Period

  • According to historians and archaeologists, the Lord Ayyappa Temple of Śhabarimala is believed to be around 4000 to 4250 years old.
  • Another belief is that the temple is around 4800 to 5000 years old. Reference to the temple can be seen in old scriptures such as Rāmāyaṇa.
  • In ancient times, the temple was known in two different names such as Māthaṅga Mala (the place where Sage Māthaṅga lived) and Potalaka (the place of light). 
  • The Royal family of King Pāṇḍya had migrated from Tamilnāḍu about 800 years back. The King reconstructed the destroyed Śhāstha temple at Śhabarimala with the help of Ayyan, Vāvar, a Muslim youth from Kanjirappally and Kaḍuttha, a Nāir youth from Muzhukīr, Chenganūr, Ālapuzha dist.


  • Lord Ayyappa Swāmi

Architecture Style

  • The idol of Lord Ayyappa Swāmi is made of Panchaloha or Five Metals.
  • There is a shrine dedicated to Lord Gaṇapathi – known as Kannimūla Gaṇapathi, to the south-west of the main temple. The shrine of Mālika Purathamma is located nearby and houses the shrines of Goddess
  • The temples of Nāgarāja and Nāgayakṣhi are situated on the left of this temple.
  • Bhasma Kuḷam is located on the way to Mālikapurathamma Temple. Devotees can take a holy bath at the tank to get rid of their sins.
  • The temples of Kaḍuthaswāmi and Karuppaswāmi can be seen at the foot of the Pathineṭṭāmpaḍi (18 Holy Steps).
  • The shrine of Muslim Vāvaruswāmi (an intimate friend of Lord Ayyappa) can be seen near the Pathineṭṭāmpaḍi.

Later Renovation

  • However, we do not know as to when the Śhabarimala pilgrimage had started. After the installation of the temple, it remained unreachable for about three centuries. 
  • It was a king of a later generation who rediscovered the traditional paths to reach Śhabarimala. He had many followers with him, including the descendants of the Vāvar family. The family members found their resources at Erumeli and this marked the beginning of the famous Peṭṭa Thuḷḷal there. The Temple was then renovated.
  • In 1821 Ad, the kingdom of Pandhalam was added to Travancore. 48 major temples including the Śhabarimala temple were also added to Travancore.
  • The idol was erected in 1910.
  • In 1971, the temple underwent a major revamp.

Special Reference to Fine Arts

  • Harivarāsanam song, which is sung at Śhabarimala as a lullaby at night (Urakkupāṭṭu) was composed by Śhrī Kambanguḍi Kuḷathūr Śhrīnivāsa Aiyer. It is said that he used to recite the composition, after the Athazha Pūjā, standing in front of the shrine of Ayyappa in the main temple.
  • With the efforts of Swami Vimochanānanda, it came to be accepted as the lullaby by the Thanthri and melśhānthi. The composition has 352 letters, 108 words in 32 lines (8 stanzas).
  • Though there have been many versions of this song sung by many renowned vocalists, the temple plays the rendition by K. J. Yesudhās, composed by the renowned music director G. Dhevarājan, which is in the 'Madhyamāvathi' raga of Indian Carnātic music.

Other Special Features

  • It is believed that "Paraśhurāma Maharṣhi" who retrieved Keraḷa from the sea by throwing his axe, installed the idol at Śhabarimala to worship Lord Ayyappa.
  • The pilgrimage begins in the month of November and ends in January. This significant ritual involves pouring sacred ghee brought by pilgrims in their Paḷḷikeṭṭu or Irumuḍi (A two compartment bag made of hand woven cotton cloth used to bear the offerings for Śhabarimala Temple by the devotees and carried on their heads)on the idol of Lord Ayyappa. It symbolically means the merging of Jīvāthma with the Paramāthma.
  • While a Saffron coloured Irumuḍi is used by a pilgrim on his first journey (Kanni Ayyappan) to Śhabarimala , others use black or Navy Blue coloured Irumuḍi. Manḍala pūjā (December) and Makaraviḷakku(January) are the two main events of the pilgrim season. The temple stays closed during the rest of the year except for the first five days of every Malayāḷam month and during Viśhu (April). 
  • Certain customs are to be strictly observed if one has to undertake a pilgrimage to Śhabarimala. A pilgrim attending the Manḍala pūjā should observe austerities for 41 days. During this period, the pilgrim should abstain himself from non vegetarian food and carnal pleasures. Pilgrims set out in groups under a leader, and each carry a cloth bundle called Irumuḍi keṭṭu containing traditional offerings. Unlike certain Hindhu temples, Śhabarimala temple has no restrictions of caste or creed. The temple is open to males of all age groups and to women who have either passed their fertility age and those before reaching the stage of puberty.

Any Other/Remarks

  • According to legend, Lord Ayyappa was a descendant of the Pāṇḍya dynasty which lived in various places like Vaḷḷiyūr, Tenkāsi, Chengottai, Acchankovil and Sivagiri and in parts of Travancore, where the Pāṇḍya dynasty were the ruling dynasty belonging to Chempazhanāṭṭu Kovil, lived in Sivagiri and were given the right to rule the country of Pandhalam by the King of Travancore eight hundred year ago.
  • King Rājaśhekhara was the direct descendant of third dynasty. He was a very talented, courageous and just ruler and his subjects were happy and prosperous. However, the king had no children and no heir to inherit his kingdom. His prayers to Lord Shiva for heir were answered when the Lord ordered Dharma Śhāstha to take the avathār of Ayyappa. Thus Ayyappa was born. The King found the baby near the Pampa River when he went hunting and took the child home, where he was brought up as his son.

Special Reference

  • Paḷḷikaṭṭu Śhabarimalaikku Kallum Muḷḷum Kālukku Metthai is a popular Devotional song sung by singer K Vīramaṇi.
  • Thath Thvam Asi in Sanskrit meaning "That is you" as in “You are part of the Universal Soul” is an Upaniṣhadhic statement. This mahāvākya was suggested by Swami Chinmayanandha(1916–1993) in end of 70's to be the important message given at the Śhabarimala temple, meaning that the ultimate knowledge is knowing that each individual is a God unto oneself.


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