The Sathuragiri Hills, also called Sundara Mahalingam or Chathuragiri, are located in the district of Virudhanagar in Tamil Nadu. The name Sathuragiri comes from the words Chathur, which means four, and Giri, which means hills. An alternate version of the origin of the name is that it is a square-shaped hill, hence called Chaturgiri. It is said to be the abode of 18 Siddhars and God. Siddhars are devotees of Shiva and are Shaivites, who are saints. The devotees of Shiva practise and profess unusual Siddha forms that have yogic powers.   

The Sathuragiri Hills are in the village of Vathirayiruppu, near Srivilliputhur. The temple on the hilltop of this mountain is the Sathuragiri Shiva Temple, which is surrounded by mountains on all sides. It is said to be the abode of Shiva, and many of the saints, also called Siddhars, made it their abode to worship Lord Shiva on this mountain. As per legend, the four hills that make up this mountain are the four Vedas, which meet and become one. There are also others who believe that the hills are square-shaped and hence called Sathuragiri.

 Legend of Sathuragiri Hills

As per legend, it is said that Lord Shiva came to this temple as a devotee and started a conversation with the priest. The priest tells Lord Shiva, who is in disguise above the temple, that it belonged to the landlord. Lord Shiva then claims that the surrounding land and the temple belong to him. To prove this point, Shiva asked the priest to take whatever land he needed. After giving this a thought, the priest said that he would blow the conch, and wherever the sound reaches, it should become a part of the temple. Wherever the conch sound travelled, it became the temple’s property in accordance with the promise.

Sathuragiri Trek 

The Sathuragiri trek is one of the most popular places in Tamil Nadu. The trek is about 8 km, and the trail to the temple starts at the base. There are many Mattas, or Ashrams where devotees get food and shelter for their trek to the hilltop.

The first leg of the journey is around 30 minutes, where you reach Kudhiraiootru, after which the route is very slippery and dangerous. It leads to Sangali Parai, en route, you can find many small streams flowing. The route after Sangali Pari leads to Goraknath Cave, or Korakkar, where you have to walk through rocks and through water streams to reach the Irrattai Lingam.

After the Irrattai Lingam cave, a road leads you to the Vanadurgai Temple, which is the deity of the forest. Walking a few kilometres further leads you to the guard of the hill, Pilavadi Karuppasamy Temple. You will arrive at the Sundara Mahalingam and Sundara Moorthy Swamy Temples after a 15-minute walk. The Sundara Mahalingam Temple is the one that the Siddhars worship. Behind this temple is the Anandavalli Amma Temple, which takes form only during Navarathri. A trek upward for another 15 minutes will lead you to the Sanathana Mahalngam Temple. At about 4 km from this temple is the main temple, which is the Periya Mahalingam, or the huge Lingam.

 Temple Timings

The temple is open only six days a month ie the Pournami and the Amavasya, respectively, each lasting three days. It is also open during the Thai and Aadi Amavasyas, which are when the devotees come in huge numbers. The temple is open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., depending on the prevailing weather conditions. 

Sathuragiri Routes

The base town of Thaaniparai is 80 Km from Madurai and 28 km from Srivilliputhur, which is the nearest railway station. For people coming from Chennai, they have to reach Madurai and then take the Madurai, Srivilliputhur, and Thanipaarai routes.

 Things to note

∙ Carry blankets, a torch, and enough water for your stay at the base camp.

∙ It is best to use sticks while trekking, especially for elders.

∙ Dholis (human carriers) are available for the physically disabled and elders.

∙ Food is provided on the way to the ashrams.

∙ Wear clothing that is suitable for trekking.

∙ Avoid carrying snacks or food items, as there are monkeys that can attack you for the food.

∙ The best time to start the trek is about 8 a.m. and return to the base camp by 6 p.m.

 Sathuragiri Hills Shiva Temple stands as a sacred sanctuary, radiating tranquilly and devotion. Its pristine surroundings and serene atmosphere offer solace to spiritual seekers. The temple’s rich historical significance, coupled with its breathtaking natural beauty, make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a profound connection with divinity. Sathuragiri Hills Shiva Temple is truly a testament to the power of faith and the profound bond between humanity and the divine.