Name : SathuraGiri, Chathurachalam, Siddhar Bhoomi, Mooligai Malai (Vanam), Mahalinga Malai
It is situated approximately 5 Kms from "Watrap" (otherwise called as "Vathirairuppu") near Srivilliputhur. It is approximately 100 Kms from Tirunelveli and 70 Kms from Madurai.
Footmark (hoof-marks) of the divine/celestial/Indira Loga cow "Kamadhenu".
Once upon a time, a devotee was on his way to Sathuragiri. In those days only a few people used to go to the hills, as it was thick forest with lots of wild animals. Since being new to the hills he soon got lost in the thickly populated mountains. Seeing this the Lord asks Kamadhenu, the divine cow to help his devotee and bring him back to the correct path. Kamadhenu immediately appeared before the devotee and lead him to the correct path. After bringing the devotee to the correct path, Kamadhenu, being a divine cow, had to travel back to its heavenly abode. In the process, of starting to fly, Kamadhenu gave pressure to her legs and the pressure was so immense that her hoofs left an indelible mark, that can be seen even today.
Gorakunda (Goraknathar 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.
As the name speaks, the mountain is mentioned as "South Kailash" (Thenkailayam), Bhoologa Kailayam as Lord Shiva and Parvathy have promised the Siddhars that they will stay here permanently and visit other places only from here. It is also said that it is the meeting place and head quarters of all the Siddhars, who still stay there in various places/caves in the mountain to worship Lord Siva and Parvathi.
It is also said in Siva Puranam that the four Vedas joined together and formed this mountain and that is why it is called Chathur(ved)agiri.
There are three main temples in the hill
Sri Sundara Mahalinga Swamy Temple and
Sri Santhana Mahalinga Swamy Temple
Anandavalli Amma temple Temple
One more sanctum of Lord Siva is also there in the top of the hill which is called as "Periya Mahalingam" Big Mahalingam). This is worshipped by Siddhars and only those who are destained to see it will be able to go there. It can be reached with help of the local people called "Palingargal" (Hill tribe people)
Sacred waters or Theertham :
The Akasha Ganga (river) which flows from above the Santhana Mahalingam temple.
Atthiootru, Maangani Ootru (Maavuthu), Arjunaa river and Naval OOtru which are on the way when hiking up.
Naaval Ootru is just below a jambu tree water in it has the taste of Jaman tree and it is said that it is good for Diabetic patients.
The Holy Trek Starts :
The trek to Sadhuragiri starts from Dhaanipaarai, and in about 30 minutes we reach a place called Kudhirai Ootru (a place where yesteryear Rajahs used to tie their horses at this area before proceeding on with their treks)
Then one has to pass the Vazhukkupaarai. As name says it is very slippery to pass this. Then comes Atthiootru, Koonathalaivaasal, so named due to its winding uphill trek, Kaaram pasu thadam, a landmark during the trek, apparently a hoof mark of a cow from which Lord Shiva drank milk from.
Path after Sangali paarai leads to Korakkar cave (Goraknath cave). After crossing Gorakunda – you can go through the river to visit a small cave here, you will com across Irattai Lingam.
Irattai Lingam :
Legend says that a Shivite husband and a Vaishanite wife had an argument on who is the greater god – Shiva or Vishnu, and went into deep meditation in Sadhuragiri to find the answer. God then appeared before them in his Shiva form and Vishnu form to make the couple understand that both are one and the same (Hari-yum Haran-num Onnu). To mark this, both Shiva and Vishnu forms rest here as 2 Lingas, thus Irattai Lingam.
A short trek after Irattai Lingam led us to Periya Pasukkidai, Naaval ootru and to Pacharisi Medu. Pacharisi Medu named because of the small white pebbles found on the path. Then we reached Kuliraati, Chinna Pasukkidai and Vanadurgai, a kaaval deivam (protecting deity) of the forests. Then you reach Pilaavadi Karuppar Sannidhi who is known to be the security guard of Shivamalai.
Pilaavadi Karuppar :
As the name says this shrine of karuppa samy is below a Jackfruit tree (Pala maram) and hence the name came pilavadi karuppa samy.
The legend says that a Siddhar called Kaalanganaadhar has the rare ability to turn normal metal pieces to gold, using mooligai from Sadhuragiri and the right Mantras. After making a whole bag of gold to a guy from a nearby village to assist him in building a temple in his hometown, Kaalanganaadhar still had some left over gold-making essence, gold pieces and herbs. He decided to dig a deep well called Thailakkinaru and hid the precious material in hit. To secure the well further, he created Pilaavadi Karuppar as a guard to protect the treasures not only in Thailakinnaru but the whole of Sadhuragiri itself.
Sundara Moorthy Swami Lingam (Anidai Lingam - A Lingam worshipped by Siddhas) :
15 minutes of trek after Pilaavadi Karuppar shrine will bring u to Sundara Moorthy Swami Temple. 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. Siva found a child 3year old nearby village and he took 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.
Sundhara Mahalingam Temple :
The Sundhara Mahalingam temple, and infront of the temple, flows a stream. It is inevitable that your feet touches the cold flowing stream water before u enter temple premises, so a definite feet wash is done. It is notable that a stream or river runs in front of the 3 major temples in Sadhuragiri. There is a row of shops on either side of the steps that lead to the Sundhara Mahalingam sannidhaanam, selling Pooja products, posters, pictures and what really interested me was these natural incense resins (Saambiraani)
Sandhana Mahalingam Temple :
Santhana Mahalingam temple is just 15minutes upward trek from Sundara mahalingam temple. It is only Shiva temple where instead of vibhudhi, santhanam is given as prasadham. Also in this campus are present sanctums for 18 Siddhars, Lord Ganesha, Lord Muruga, Navagrahas, Santhana Mahadevi (Sakthi). The Aagaaya Ganga as it is called, which flows down right behind Goddess Shakthi’s shrine. Inside the Siddhar peedam we can see the cave of Sattamuni, where he meditated and lived.
Periya Mahalingam :
Periya mahalingam is a huge spellbounding swayambu lingam. You can see rocks looking like Balipeetam and Thiruvodu nearby. Also the trunks/roots formation of the tree on top lingam looks like the Jadamudi (hair) of Lord Shiva.
Temples Timings and Festivals :
At Santhana MahalingamTemple the daily pooja starts by 3 'O' clock in the morning. The two jama poojas are performed before sunrise. At Sundara Mahalingam temple the daily pooja starts by 6 'O' clock in the morning. At both the temples Ardha Jama Poojas are finished before 18.00 hrs and closed. On full moon and new moon days, the time schedule changes according to the visit of pilgrims.
During full moon and new moon devotees visit the temples and pay their penance and have darshan. Pilgrims will climb the mountain only in groups and not in solo, since the forest is full of animals. Those who have strong heart and health are advised to climb up. The new moon during the month of July-August (Aadi Amavasai) attracts about 10 to 15 lacs devotees who come there to have the darshan of the Lord Mahalingam.
Anandavalli Amma temple:
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.
Other deities above Sundara Mahalingam inside 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
Trekking Adventures :
There is Thavasi Cave above the temple. This cave is formed in between Rocks and one has to crawl to go inside the cave. After crawling there is a huge space inside for 12 people to gather and do meditation. 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.