Vettuvan Koil – Kalugumalai

Overview & Location of Vettuvan Koil

The Vettuvan Koil is located in a rocky hill by name Kalugumalai in Tuticorin District. It is a rock cut temple where Lord Shiva is the chief deity.

As per the inscriptions found in the temple, it was excavated in the 8th century by Pandyan Maran Chadaiyan Varaguna I. The temple is administered and maintained as a protected monument by the Department of Archaeology of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Legend & History of Vettuvan Temple

The temple is believed to have been built in 8th and 9th century. The name Vettuvan Kovil has relevance to two meanings in Tamil language, one of which means ‘Heaven of sculptors’ and the other means ‘the temple of slayer’

According to legend, a duel between a father and son sculptors resulted in the son finishing the Murugan Temple at the foothills while the father’s work was incomplete. The enraged father killed the son in his angst and hence the shrine remained unfinished.

The Temple Architecture of Vettuvan Kovil

The temple area has been formed by excavating about 7.5 metre of the mountain and the temple is sculpted in the middle from a single piece of rock. The temple entrance is locked using grill gates and the sanctum sanctorum houses the main deity Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha. The lotus shaped top of the temple houses beautiful sculptures of Lord Vishnu (on the western side), Brahma and Uma Maheswar (on the northern side) and Dakshinamoorthy (on the southern side). The temple is also adorned by an astounding number of Bhootaganas (attendants of Lord Shiva) sculpted in different styles.

The temple structure resembles the Kailasnath temple in Ellora, the temples of Pallavas in Mamallapuram and the temples of Pattadakal in Bijapur, Karnataka.

How to reach Vettuvan Kovil

The entrance to the temple is free. Kalugumalai is about 20 kilometers from Kovilpatti town on the way to Sankarankovil. There are frequent buses from Kovilpatti which is well connected with Madurai and Tirunelveli.


The intricately sculpted figures of gods and goddess and the grandeur of this unfinished temple makes it an ideal place for history buffs interested in sculptures, ancient caves and excavations. The temple stands as evidence of the artistic brilliance of the prehistoric period.