Sathuragiri is the Abode of God and is also the abode of thousands of Siddhas including Agastiyar, Gorakkar, Satta Muni, Roma Devar and Sundranandar. It is believed that the Siddhas still worship Lord Shiva from Sathuragiri. So the hills are also known as Sivan Malai.

Sathuragiri Meaning:- The divine place Sathuragiri is surrounded by four hills, hence its name Sathuragiri or Chathuragiri. It is said that the name Sathuragiri is derived from the Sanskrit word Chathur meaning FOUR (4) (there are 4 Vedas and each one is represented by a hill) and the second part of the name, Giri meaning Hill. So it can be literally taken as a place where all four Vedas meet and merge into one. This is mentioned in Siva Puranam. The name also carries another meaning where the hills surrounding the place are in the shape of a Chathuram (Tamil for square) so the name Sathuragiri. It is also called Mahalingagiri, Menugiri/Merugiri, Kailasagiri, Indiragiri, Sarvalogagiri, Suriyagiri, Brahmagiri, Siddhagiri, Yamagiri/Yemagiri, Sivagiri, Sakthigiri, Udayagiri, Sanjivigiri/Sathuragiri.

Where is Sathuragiri? Sathuragiri is situated in Virudhunagar district in Tamil Nadu, India. Sathuragiri falls under the Western Ghat ranges. To reach Sathuragiri, pilgrims will have to reach Thaanipaarai via Vathrairuppu. Thaanipaarai is situated at the foothill of the mountains that leads to Sathuragiri hills. Vathrairuppu is Thaanipaarai's closest town and the distance between the two is between 8-10 kms. The nearest Railway Station is located at Srivilliputhur. Madurai and Tenkasi are the other railway stations located close to Sathuragiri. Pilgrims travelling by air will have to reach Madurai, Tamilnadu and continue their travel by road.

There are many temples/sanctums in Sathuragiri and on the way to Sathuragiri. Below is the list of temples found in and around Sathuragiri.

At the foothills (Vathirairuppu)
1. Vinayagar/Ganesha
2. RajaKali Amma
3. Paechi Amma
4. Karuppasamy

Of these, Paechi Amma and Karuppasamy were installed by Siddhars for guarding the southern side of the Hill.

On the way to Sathuragiri (after foothills till Sundara Mahalingam):
1. Two sanctums of Sivalingams inside two separate caves at Kora Kunda (Gorakkar Cave)
2. Two Lingams in a single sanctum called "Irattai Lingam" or Sankaran Narayan Lingams (Legend given below)
3. Vana Durgai Amma
4. Pilavadi Karuppasamy

Pilavadi Karuppasamy & Kali, are the guardian angels/gods of the Sathuragiri Hills. Vana Durgai Amma is the guardian of Sundaramahalingam temple. They safe guard the area from evil forces. The pradistai of these three guardian angels/gods were done by the Siddhas of Sathuragiri hill.

Foothill temples

Kora Kunda (Gorakkar Cave)

Goraknathar is one of the foremost important Indian Siddha. He is part of the 18 siddha tradition of South India. He is also one amongst the Nava Nath Siddha tradition of North India. He is also closely associated with Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhism. He attained Siddha by mastering sound. The main siddha of Sathuragiri is Goraknathar. Goraknathar created thousands of new siddha medicines like Kayakalpa etc to attain immortality. Every 10th in the Tamil Calendar he appears in light form to his devotees at this place. On every no moon day Sri Kalimuthu Ashram offers a lingam made of Thinai Maavu and the same is worshipped.

Tavayogi has also spend 4 years meditating in this cave

Tavayogi, now living in between Coinbatore and Ooty - Agathyar ashram

The entrance to the Sathuragiri temples

Sathuragiri plays host to three temples. They are Sundara Mahalingam temple, Santhana Mahalingam temple and Anandavalli Amma temple.

Sundara Mahalingam Temple:
1. Sundara Murthy Swamigal Sanctum at the entrance of the temple (Legend given below).
2. Lord Sundara Mahalingam Temple (100 metres from Sundara Murthy Swamigal Sanctum) (Legend given below).
Santhana Mahalingam Temple:
1. At Santhana Mahalingam Temple, separate sanctums for 18 Siddhars, Lord Ganesha, Lord Muruga, Navagrahas, Santhana Mahadevi (Sakthi), and Santhana Mahalingam (Sivam) are available. Satta Muni Cave can also be found nearby. (Legend given below).
Anandavalli Amma temple:
1. Anandavalli Amma's temple mandapam can be found behind Sundara Mahalingam temple. Anandavalli Amma is formless. Only during Navarathiri she takes a form (Legend given below).

Puja Timings:
At Sundara Mahalingam temple the daily pooja starts by 6 'o' clock in the morning. At Santhana MahalingamTemple the daily pooja starts by 3 'o' clock in the morning. The two jama poojas are performed before sunrise. At both the temples Ardha Jama Poojas are finished before 18.00 hrs and closed. On full moon and new moon days, the puja schedule changes according to the visit of pilgrims.

Irattai MahaLingam (Svayambu Lingam - A Lingam formed on its own (from below the ground))
In ancient times there lived a husband and wife. They lived a happy and peaceful married life. They were made for each other except for one major difference. The husband was an ardent devotee of Siva and and the wife worshipped Hari (Vishnu/Krishna) devoutly. This difference in their choice of Ishta Deivam (Personal God) led to many a quarrels on whose god is more powerful. They approached many learned men but their answers convinced either the husband or wife but not both of them.

Realizing no one could come up with a convincing answer, one day they decided to do penance to find answer to this eternal question (in Hindu tradition) themselves. They came to Sathuragiri after deciding it would be the apt place for performing penance. The husband started meditating on Siva and the wife on Hari. After many years of penance, Lord Siva appeared before the husband and asked what he wants. The husband took Lords blessings. He also called his wife and showed her Lord Siva. He boasted saying that Lord Siva is the mightiest as he answered his prayers faster than Lord Hari. The wife agitatedly looked at Lord Siva and said I wanted to meet only Lord Hari and not you. Immediately Lord Siva appeared as Lord Hari and told the couple that both Siva and Hari are not two but one and asked the couple to forget their differences. The couple realizing their folly begged for forgiveness. The Lord then appeared as SankaraNarayanan (Siva and Hari) and blessed both husband and wife. Later the Lord took the the form of Svayambu Irattai (Twin - Siva and Hari) Lingam. It is said that Irattai Lingam was worshipped by the siddha, Roma Devar.

Sundara Moorthy Swami Lingam (Anidai Lingam - A Lingam worshipped by Siddhas)
Sundara Moorthy Swami is a disciple of Sundara Mahalingam. The legend goes that once upon a time, Lord Siva was looking for a priest to perform regular puja (ceremony) at his temple. But he could not find one. So he went searching for a priest in nearby towns and villages. The Lord used to shout “Solvar Undu, Kaetpar Illai” (there is a person to say but none to listen) in every town/village he visited. In one village, a 3 year old child replies “Kaetpar Undu, Solvar Illai” (there is a person to listen but none to say). Siva hearing this knew the child is the right person to perform puja so the Lord brings the child to the hills. This child takes the name of Sundara Moorthy Swamy and grows up to be an ardent devotee of Lord Siva. It is said Sundara Moorthy Swamy is much more powerful than Sundara Mahalingam. Devotees normally pray to Sundara Moorthy & would request him to let Sundara Mahalingam know about their prayers. Lord Sundara Mahalingam would also doubly ensure that prayers routed through Sundara Moorthy Swamigal gets immediately answered. Since this lingam was worshipped by various Siddhas including Agathiyar & Sundaranandar, it belongs to Anidai type.

Sundara Mahalingam (Svayambu Lingam)
According to Hindu scriptures, Kailas is the abode of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi (Sakthi) and Sivaganas, the crew/attendants of Lord Shiva. Yazhvalla Devar, a Sivaganam, was deeply devoted to Lord Shiva. One day he lays a lustful eye on one of the Deva Loga Apsaras. Noticing this, Lord Shiva curses both of them to be born as a human being. Realizing their mistake, they surrender at Lord Shivas feet begging for forgiveness. The Lord tells them not to worry and promises them to take them back during their lifetime. And Yazhvalla Devar took to human life in the form of Pachaimal and was born into one of the cowherd families, near Sathuragiri. His father was Thillaikon and Thilagamathi, was his mother. Being born in a cowherd family, Pachaimal made his living by selling the milk that he used to milk from the cows. After reaching the marriage age, he got married to Sadaimangai, his aunt's daughter. Husband and wife moved closed to the hills as it was be easier for the cows to find grass. As usual Pachaimal milked the cows. Sadaimangai took the milk to her in-laws house and sold them the milk.

One day Sadaimangai saw an elderly sage while she was on her way to her in-laws house to sell the milk. She took his blessings. The old sage being tired and thirsty asked Sadaimangai if it is possible for her to give him some milk. Sadaimangai not wanting to loose an opportunity to serve a sage, readily offered the milk. The sage after drinking asked whether it is possible for her to feed him daily as he had planned to stay there for some period. Sadaimangai, after pondering for a moment, agrees to it. So from the next day, she started feeding the sage and then would go to her in-laws house to sell the remaining milk.

As days went by the in-laws were confused as to the reduced milk quantity. One day they question their son, PachaiMal on the reduced supply. PachaiMal replies that it is not possible as the cows have started to yield more milk and promised them that he would look into the problem. Suspecting his wife, without her knowledge, he follows her the next day and sees his wife offering milk to the old sage. Then on her way to the in-laws house, he encounters her and in a fit of rage he slaps and abuses his wife. The abused wife runs to the sage and tells him the whole abuse episode. The sage said, "You are a good woman. You should not be punished for feeding me." and blesses her to be a Sadathari, one of the NavaSakthis. Then he moves away from that place.

The husband, finding that his wife has attained divinity repents his action. Dejected with life, he goes to Sathuragiri top and establishes a cow shed and serves milk to the the saints and sages. One of the sages to whom he provided milk was Siddha Sundaranandar. As days went by, one day a new sage came to Sathuragiri. He was welcomed by all the sages and Siddhas including Sundaranandar and Sattai Muni. Pachaimal too took his blessings. Next day Pachaimal went to the shed to milk the cows and was shocked to see the new sage drinking milk directly from one of the cows, whose milk was used to perform abhishekam. With a fit of anger he threw a stick at the new sage. This causes an injury in the forehead of the new sage. Seeing this Sundranandar and Sattai Muni wanted to curse Pachaimal. At that time the new sage asks siddhas not to curse Pachaimal and appears as Siva. Realizing his folly Pachaimal begs forgiveness. Lord blesses Pachaimal and tell him about his life purpose and takes him back to Kailas. Even now the Sundara Mahalingam in Sathuragiri bears the hurt mark.

Santhana Mahalingam (Deva Lingam - A Lingam worshipped by Gods or Celestial beings)
Once in Kailas, Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi (Sakthi) were blessing visitors who had come there to pay their respect. Visitors included Holymen, Saints, Rishis, Devas, Siddhas etc. Everyone offered their respect by going round (Pradakshinam) the Lord and the Goddess. And Bringi Maharishi was one amongst the holymen who had come to Kailas to pay his respect. He prayed to Lord Siva and paid his respect by going round (pradakshinam) Lord Siva only. He thus ignored Goddess Parvati. This act confused Goddess and she questioned Lord Siva as to why was she slighted by Bringi Maharishi when everyone else treated her equally with the Lord. Lord Siva explained that those who have renounced the material world and think only about "Moksha" would always pray to him and at the end would join him and those who wish to enjoy material things would worship her and enjoy everything in life. Bringi Maharishi prayed to me as he wanted only Moksha and everyone else wanted to enjoy the material world so they worshipped both of us. On hearing this, Goddess Parvati became furious and turned to Bringi Maharishi and said how come being a Rishi you could forget that we both are not two but one and added that "if no Sakthi there is no Sivam and if no Sivam there is no Sakthi". Goddess cursed the Maharishi that he would lose all his flesh (flesh is one form of Sakthi (energy)) as she felt he had insulted her knowingly. Maharishi willingly obliged and shed all his flesh. After losing all the flesh (energy) he was not able to stand up and he was struggling to move. Seeing the plight of his devotee Lord Siva gives him a special staff. With the help of the staff, Maharishi starts to walk again.

This act of the Lord further infuriated the Goddess. She feels that she was insulted twice, once by the sage and then by the Lord by providing staff to the sage. After thinking for some time, she realized that such incident would not have occurred had she had been one half of the Lord Siva. She feels that the Ardhanareeswarar form (Male-Half and Female-Half) would ensure that everyone treats both God and Goddess equally. To appease the Lord, so that she achieves her goal, she comes to Sathuragiri hills to do penance (it is said in the month of Purattasi (Sep-Oct)). She choses a place under a huge Santhana (Sandal) Tree to do her penance. During that period Sathuragiri was going through a severe drought for almost 12 years. But due to the presence of Goddess Parvati the whole place gets back its greenery. Though the place was full of Munis, Sages, Siddhars and other holy men, they let the drought as it is as they did not want to come in the way of the nature. This sudden transformation made the Munis, Siddhars and others to wonder on who could have done this.

On seeing the Goddess, the Munis received her by paying their respects and enquired the reason for penance. Goddess told the whole story and also explained the Vradh/Viradham (Kedhareswara Viradham) that she would undergo. On hearing the story, the holymen arranged everything and Goddess Parvathi made a Prathishtanam of Linga with Sandalwood Paste (Hence it is called Santhana (Sandal's Tamil equivalent) Mahalingam. Goddess also created Agaya Gangai theertham (stream, still flowing) & used to bath in the theertham before doing Puja to the Lingam. Goddess did severe penance on Lord Siva. Lord Siva satisfied with Goddesses penance appears on his "Rishaba Vahana" and accepts Goddesses demands and offers his left portion of his body. On their return Lord Siva proclaimed that since the Siva Lingam was worshipped by Parvathi Devi, it should be worshipped only by Maharishis only and those who wish for "Kamya Loka" should not do pooja to the lingam. And if they do so, they may stand to hate "Ishta Kamya Loka" and will become "Moksha Desired" person and ultimately join him. Lord Siva blessed everybody and went away. After that, Satta Natha Muni worshipped the "Santhana Lingam" and "Chanangi Muni" followed suit.

Anandavalli Amma
Anandavalli Amma was born near Sathuragiri, some 300–400 years ago, into a family of Saliya Maharishi Gothram. She was spiritually inclined right from her young age. Right from her childhood days, she used to a hear a lot about Sathuragiri hills. This made a major impact in her and being a spiritually inclined person, she left for the hills to do penance. But being a woman, she was asked to leave the hills, by the rishis and siddhars as they deemed the hills would be unsafe for a woman. She begged and cried but the sages were unrelenting. So she went back to the foot hills and did severe penance. This made her accumulate lots of siddhis. One day the Lord fully satisfied with her penance appeared before her and directed her to the hills and to bless devotees from there. Anandavalli Amma's temple mandapam can be found behind Sundara Mahalingam temple. Anandavalli Amma is formless. Only during Navarathiri she takes a form. There are two festivals in honour of Amma. The first one falls in the Tamil month of Purattasi and the second one during Navarathiri.

From Sundara Mahalingam to the top of the hill (inside the forest)
1. Vana Durga
2. Oonjal Karuppan Swamy
3. Korakkar Scripture Rock
4. Vellai Ganapathi (White colored Lord Ganesha)
5. Nadu Kattu Ganapathi
6. Naga Kanni Kavu
7. Lord Ganesa at Thavasi Cave
8. Periya Mahalingam

Thavasi Cave

Click to enlarge Map

Periya Mahalingam

Thavasi Cave entrance

As you can see, not much space to get in and it is quite deep. Also absolute darkness which the flashlight of the camara hides and deep silence apart from the occational bat that is flying around.

...and many bats helping us get rid of the small insects and cooling us down with their wings. You can see them hanging on top of the rock in the picture below - which is the end of the cave.

This place is illuminated inside by small oil lamps. There is a belief that Siddhars do Tapas here every day and that’s why the name Thavasi Kugai. You cannot enter inside the cave without their permission.

Not much room for meditation if you are not alone but it is worth all the trouble. This place has one of the strongest energies I have ever felt - just no words for. I could have stayed here for month or even years...