The temple was burnt down in the year, 1950. Fire had struck Sabarimala at earlier occasions also. But they were all accidental incidents unlike the one in 1950. In this case, apart from the complete destruction caused to the temple from the fire, the Sacred Stone Idol of Ayyappan had been smashed into smithereens with an axe like weapon. The eye-witness accounts of the tribal people who first had reported about the disaster and the clues gathered from the site pointed to a strong possibility that some misguided persons had committed this crime out of religious hostility. T his act of sacrilege was committed during a period when the temple remained closed as per schedule. The news of the tragedy reached the plains, only after a month, as nobody used to stay at the Sannidhanam during off-seasons, unlike now. Though, the police investigation could zero down the suspicion to a man known as ‘Kodaliswami’ (axe-holding sanyasin) who was believed to be a Christian impostor, nothing more came out from this exercise.
The Hindu community, with the help of t he Govt. of Kerala and the Devaswom board renovated the temple and consecration was done in the year 1951 with a new idol in Pancha Loha (an alloy of five metals) during the month of Edava (May –June) by Shri Kantaru Sankararu, the then Thanthri. We should also remember that under the leadership of Akhila Bhartha Ayyappa Seva Sangam, an ‘Ayyappa Jyothi’ was ceremoniously taken around Kerala and Tamilnadu by the devotees for the first time, to generate public awareness, interest and involvement in the temple construction. This was the first turning point from which the influx to the SabarimalaTemple had started growing many folds especially from the southern states of India .