Sathuragiri Hills Shiva Temple
Sathuragiri hills are around 15 km from Watrap or Vathirayiruppu village near Srivilliputhur. Sathuragiri Shiva Temple surrounded by mountains is referred to as the abode of Lord Shiva and the innumerable saints who are still believed to religiously worship Lord Shiva in Sathuragiri Hills. The name “Sathuragiri” is supposed to be derived from the Sanskrit term “Chattur” meaning four and “Giri” meaning hills, and so it is “the place where all four Vedas meet and become one”. Some also believe that since the hills are square (Chathuram) in shape, hence the name Sathuragiri.
History of Sathuragiri Hills:
History has it that one day Lord Shiva came to the temple disguised as a devotee and struck a conversation with the priest. When the priest informed Lord Shiva about how the temple was a very old one and belonged to its landlord, Lord Shiva conveniently claimed that the temple and surrounding land belonged to him. In order to prove his point, Lord Shiva asked the priest to take all the land that he needs. To this, the priest replies, after having thought for a moment, “let a conch be blown and the area covered by its sound shall become a part of the temple”. And thus, as far as the sound of the conch reached, became the temple property. The hill has three main temples – Sri Sundara Mahalinga Swamy Temple, Sri Santhana Mahalinga Swamy Temple, and Anadavalli Amma Temple.
Sathuragiri Trekking Journey:
Sathuragiri Trekking is one of popular trekking in Tamilnadu. The journey uphill is for about 8 kms. The trail to the temple starts at Thanipaarai (base of the hill). Hereafter devotees are offered Annadhanam at Ashrams and we could get essentials like a torch, water bottles, biscuits, etc.
First Quarter of the Journey:
Around half hour walk and you reach Kudhiraiootru. Going further, the route through Vazhakkuparai is slippery and leads to Sangali Parai. Enroute one could find small water streams flowing.
Second Quarter of the Journey:
Path following Sangali Parai leads to Korakkar or Goraknath Cave. You then make way through rocks and water to reach the Irattai Lingam cave.
Third Quarter of the Journey:
The trek that follows leads to Vanadurgai Temple – the protecting deity of the forests and to Pilavadi Karuppasamy Temple – the guard of the hills.
An uphill walk further for about 15 minutes will bring us to Sundara Mahalingam Temple and his disciple Sundara Moorthy Swamy Temple. The Sundara Mahalingam is said to be Anidai Lingam i.e. A Lingam worshipped by the Siddhas. Behind Sundara Mahalingam temple is Anandavalli Amma temple who is formless. She’s said to take form only during Navarathri. An upward trek again for about 15 minutes brings us to The Santhana Mahalingam Temple.
Around 4 kms away from Santhana Mahalingam Temple is the Periya Mahalingam, which, as the name suggests is a huge Lingam. Other deities you could offer prayers to enroute are – Oonjal Karuppan Temple, Vellai Ganapathi, Nadu Kattu Ganapathi, Naga Kanni Kaavu and Lord Ganesha at Thavasi Cave.
It is advisable to carry water, torch, and blankets for stay at base camp. Elders prefer to use sticks while trekking. Annadanam is provided to pilgrims by Ashrams on the way, it is advisable to avoid carrying food items as it attracts monkeys. It is preferable to wear flexible and normal clothing suitable for trekking. Dolis (Human carriers) are available for the elderly and physically disabled. The ideal time to start the trek would be before 8:00 AM and to return to the base after darshan by 6:00 PM.
Sathuragiri Temple Visiting Time:
Temple is open only for 6 days a month – 3 days during New Moon (Amavasya) and 3 days during Full Moon (Pournami). It is also open during Aadi and Thai Amavasya and devotees usually throng the temple during this time. Timing is between 6:00 AM and 4:00 PM which again depends on the weather conditions.
Sathuragiri Routes and Distance:
Thaaniparai is about 80 Kms from Madurai, 28 Kms from Srivilliputhur. Srivilliputhur is the nearest railway station.
Pilgrims coming from Chennai have to go to Madurai – Srivilliputhur – Watrap – Thanipaarai.
Pilgrims traveling from South have to go to Nagercoil – Tirunelveli – Rajapalayam – Srivilliputhur – Watrap – Thanipaarai
Visit to Sathuragiri Shiva Temple is a blend of adventure and spiritual exploration. An apt place for seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva and to get a breath of fresh air.