Before one views the Sanctum Sanctorum, one has to climb over eighteen sacred steps. These steps are now covered with `Panchaloham’ ( A Special Composition of gold, silver, copper, iron and tin ). Pilgrims initiate their ascent up the Pathinettam Padi by placing their right foot on the first step.
The symbolism of these 18 steps is as follows:-
The first five steps symbolise the five human senses (Panchendriyas).
1. Visual (Eye)
2. Auditory (Ears)and
3. Olfactory (Nose)
4. Gustatory (Tongue)
5. Tactile (Skin)
14. Satva (Perspicuity, Discernment)
15. Rajas (Activity, Enjoyment)
16. Thamas (Inactivity, Stupor)
The last two steps represent:
17. Vidya (Knowledge)
18. Avidya (Ignorance)