Mahadeva Malai temple is one of the ancient and important temples located atop Otraikal Malai in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. This temple enshrines Shiva and is also known as “Arulmigu Balamurugan Temple“. It lies in a small village called Kanguppam, between Vellore and Gudiyatham. This is a popular pilgrimage site, and many devotees throng the temple on Shivaratri day.
The temple was supposedly built during the Chola dynasty rule in Tamil Nadu between the 9th and 13th centuries. There also prevails another belief that the Mahadeva temple is 500 years old, and a trader of the Pandya period built it.
The presiding deities of the Mahadeva temple are Shiva and Goddess Kamakshi. The construction is in the Dravidian style of architecture, characterized by tall towers, elaborate sculptures, and intricate carvings. Kanguppam Mahadeva Malai is about 135 km from Chennai. Mahadeva Malai is supposedly an extension of the famous Arunachala hill in Thiruvannamalai.
Mahananda Siddhar or Vibhuti Siddhar
The person in charge of this hill temple at present is Maha Ananda Siddhar. He was born in Dharmapuri on 6th December 1930 and was a trader in turmeric. Being a devotee of Shiva, he undertook the renovation of many temples in Tamil Nadu and performed Annadaanam. Once, while feeding the cows at Lokuvakulam Bharadhvajeeswarar temple, he is said to have received a divine message asking him to proceed to Mahadeva Malai.
Accordingly, he started residing there in a cave in the year 2001, spending his time wholly in the worship of Shiva and engaging himself in the service of his devotees. Locals say that, as instructed by Shiva, Mahananda Siddhar leads the life of a recluse without partaking of food or water and lives just by breathing in fresh air.
Mahananda Siddhar smears Vibhuti all over his body, and his matted hair resembles the five-headed serpent wound around the neck of Shiva. His preachings and guidance have helped many to overcome life’s hurdles. His special ability to offer herbal cures for several ailments attracts large crowds. He is also visited by many political leaders. Devotees who have visited Mahadeva Malai to meet Siddhar Swami have gained relief from their agony, and good things have happened in their lives.
Thousands of devotees visiting the temple take part in the Annadaanam offered at the temple under the guidance of Mahadeva Siddhar. For those visiting the temple by vehicle, Mahananda Siddhar laid a ghat road in addition to providing steps for those who climb up to reach the Mahadeva Malai temple. The ascent to the hilltop by foot takes about 20 minutes.
The hill area has been dredged, and roads have been laid between the hillocks. Each road was built on his birthday. To mark this fact, the age of Mahadeva Siddhar is painted on the walls on either side of the road. Beside the temple, a large temple tank is presently under construction on top of the hill.
Legend has it that a merchant who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva prayed for His darshan. He was asked to go to Kalahasti on Maha Shivaratri day. The merchant started the journey, and when he made inquiries about Sri Kalahasti after reaching a place called K. V. Kuppam (Keezh Vazhi Thani Kuppam), he heard that it was already the day of Maha Shivaratri and that as he was still far away, he would be unable to reach Kalahasti on Maha Shivaratri. It was then that an elderly man approached the crestfallen merchant, took him atop a hill, and directed him to build a temple there. This elderly man happened to be none other than Shiva himself.
At the temple entrance, one can see Ganapati’s shrine. After one has climbed approximately 150 steps, one can see a small tank in which ducks swim merrily. The steps adjacent to the pond lead to the Mahadeva shrine. The idol of Shiva is medium-sized, and the temple tower has a different shape from the ones in other temples. The base of the tower is not as broad as in other towers. Both the Nandi and Lingam in this temple are “Swayambhu”.
At the entrance, one can see two idols of Ganesha. On either side of the steps, there are beautiful sculptures of Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati, Narada, and other deities in square-shaped cement structures. The temple complex also comprises several small shrines dedicated to various deities, including Ganesha, Goddess Parvati, Murugan, Kala Bairavar, and Srinivasa Perumal.
There is also a glass house in the shape of a hexagon with all its outer doors adorned with the picture of Goddess Lakshmi. This glass house contains many idols of Goddess Lakshmi.
Ganesha’s idol is hand-carved from ivory. The idol of Goddess Saraswati is exquisitely designed and is in a sanctum near Ganapati. Muruga, with his consorts, Valli and Devasena, are in another sanctum inside the temple. There is a huge idol of Dakshinamoorthy and a beautifully sculpted Goddess Kali in a mandapa.
There is a meditation hall and Dhwajastambham in front of this Mandapam. A very large trident 121 feet high is to be set up on the hilltop.
An arch welcomes visitors to the temple at the 19th kilometer on the Gudiyatham highway. This arch is 11 kilometres from Gudiyatham town on the way to Katpadi. The Mahadeva Malai Temple is also known for its beautiful surroundings. The hill on which the temple is situated offers lovely views of the surrounding landscape, including Arunachala Hill and the town of Thiruvannamalai. Dense forests surround the temple, adding to its charms.
Throughout the year, the temple conducts many festivals and events. During Maha Shivaratri, the Mahadeva Malai temple is decorated with lights and flowers.
The temple remains open from 7 am to 6 pm.