Travel : Indulge in a Spiritual Trek to Sathuragiri Hills
Sathuragiri (chaturagiri) is the place to be if you are looking for a spiritual journey trekking all the way up and down on a hill, a nature’s haven, uninhabited except for the ancient temples and the siddhas living on the hill. The temples are 1000-2000 years old and thronged by devotees from all over India.
Watrap (Vathirairuppu) is a small village located in Virudhunagar District, Tamil Nadu, India. The holy uphill shrine “Sundara Mahalingam temple” (also known as Thaani Paarai and Sathuragiri Malai) is located here.
The town is on the bank of the Arjuna River. There is a dam here for irrigation and agriculture called “Pilavakal dam” and it is one of the beautiful excellent picnic spots in this area.
Sathuragiri Hills is a must-see place if you are a nature lover.
Reaching Chathuragiri from Watrap
From watrap proceed to Thaanipaarai. Couple of passenger mini buses are available in the morning and evening. Auto Rickshaws are available 24/7. They charge between Rs. 60-80.
Note: People can also come to Sathuragiri Hills from Theni and other towns situated around the Hills. If you are not experienced in any of these routes or not led by an experienced guide, you are requested to avoid these routes. Because it is quite easy to get lost as not many people use these routes. So visitors are advised to stick to the Thaanipaarai route as it is quite easy (compared to others) and even on lean days, the path is used often by the Adivasis to carry goods. So it would be easy to find humans using the path quite often say every 10-20 minutes.
Know Sathuragiri: A revered Place of Pilgrimage and a Spiritual Abode of God
Sathuragiri is the Abode of God and is also the abode of thousands of Siddhas including Agastiyar, Gorakkar, Satta Muni, Roma Devar and Sundranandar. It is believed that the Siddhas still worship Lord Shiva from Sathuragiri. So the hills are also known as Sivan Malai.
The divine place Sathuragiri is surrounded by four hills, hence its name Sathuragiri or Chathuragiri. It is said that the name Sathuragiri is derived from the Sanskrit word Chathur meaning FOUR (4) (there are 4 Vedas and each one is represented by a hill) and the second part of the name, Giri meaning Hill. So it can be literally taken as a place where all four Vedas meet and merge into one. This is mentioned in Siva Puranam. The name also carries another meaning where the hills surrounding the place are in the shape of a Chathuram (Tamil for square) so the name Sathuragiri. It is also called Mahalingagiri, Menugiri/Merugiri, Kailasagiri, Indiragiri, Sarvalogagiri, Suriyagiri, Brahmagiri, Siddhagiri, Yamagiri/Yemagiri, Sivagiri, Sakthigiri, Udayagiri, Sanjivigiri/Sathuragiri.
On the way to Sathuragiri (after foothills till Sundara Mahalingam):
1. Two sanctums of Sivalingams inside two separate caves at Kora Kunda (Gorakkar Cave)
2. Two Lingams in a single sanctum called “Irattai Lingam” or Sankaran Narayan Lingams
3. Vana Durgai Amma
4. Pilavadi Karuppasamy
Pilavadi Karuppasamy & Kali, are the guardian angels/gods of the Sathuragiri Hills. Vana Durgai Amma is the guardian of Sundaramahalingam temple. They safe guard the area from evil forces. The pradistai of these three guardian angels/gods were done by the Siddhas of Sathuragiri hill.
Sathuragiri plays host to three temples. They are Sundara Mahalingam temple, Santhana Mahalingam temple and Anandavalli Amma temple.
Sundara Mahalingam Temple:
1. Sundara Murthy Swamigal Sanctum at the entrance of the temple.
2. Lord Sundara Mahalingam Temple (100 metres from Sundara Murthy Swamigal Sanctum)
Santhana Mahalingam Temple:
1. At Santhana Mahalingam Temple, separate sanctums for 18 Siddhars, Lord Ganesha, Lord Muruga, Navagrahas, Santhana Mahadevi (Sakthi), and Santhana Mahalingam (Sivam) are available. Satta Muni Cave can also be found nearby.
Anandavalli Amma temple:
1. Anandavalli Amma’s temple mandapam can be found behind Sundara Mahalingam temple. Anandavalli Amma is formless. Only during Navarathiri she takes a form.
At Sundara Mahalingam temple the daily pooja starts by 6 ‘o’ clock in the morning. At Santhana MahalingamTemple the daily pooja starts by 3 ‘o’ clock in the morning. The two jama poojas are performed before sunrise. At both the temples Ardha Jama Poojas are finished before 18.00 hrs and closed. On full moon and new moon days, the puja schedule changes according to the visit of pilgrims.
From Sundara Mahalingam to the top of the hill (inside the 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
Travelling Uphill and Downhill
To reach Sathuragiri, one has to cross seven hills (some pathways are steep) and walk for 9 to 10 kilometers. Never overestimate your level of fitness. Those who are aware of their limitations, can arrange for DOLIs. Normally first timers take 6 to 8 hours to reach the top and experienced climbers can reach the top within 4 to 5 hours. Elderly and physically disabled on a pilgrimage can hire dolis (human carriers) to carry them to Sathuragiri. The DOLI charges each way could be between 2000 to 3000 Rs. per person, i.e.for both ways Rs.4000/- to Rs.6000/-.
Those who want to use the DOLI facility are requested to bring with them.
- A big THICK, bed-spread – 61/2′ x 4′
- Two numbers of 6 feet rope each preferably coir one or twine one or thick nylon one to be tied in a bamboo stick as a hanging bed. Bamboo will be provided by the Doli carriers.
- The things (bed spread, rope, etc.), should be collected back by the individual from the DOLI men on arrival at the landing points each way.
- Each DOLI is carried by a set of two persons. Another set of two persons might exchange in the middle.
One should be there at the foothills by early in the morning, so that you can return back before sunset, if you plan for a day. If you are a trekker willing to smell those natural moments, it’s a safe place to camp at night. People, locals here are more ethical and possess no danger.For trekers one or two night stay would be interesting to see some of the rarest caves, which is some 2 km away from Sathuragiri temple, a fresh water pond at the top of the hill. All these areas have to be trekked through dense forest which is a very thrilling and delightful experience.
There is a top spot called Perrumal Mottai which is recommended only for people with good stamina to trek. But its the most coldest spot in these hills.Kindly take guidance from any localities if you plant to trek any place beyond Sathuragiri Temple.
Best season to trek is Post Monsoon.
The new moon day in Aadi month (July-August), Purattasi Navarathri in September-October, Shivarathri in February-March,, Thai Amavasya- new moon day in January-February, Margazhi pujas in December-January and all new moon and full moon days in the year are festival days in the temple.
Points to Note
- Since it is a forest area no enclosures for toilet/ bath are available. One should take shelter under nature (bushes/trees)
- Water points for bathing, drinking are provided by a philanthropist.
- There is no provision for electricity at the top of the hills.
- Sathuragiri is a very holy place. Still lot of Spiritual aspirants and Siddha do penance there. So pilgrims are requested not to disturb the environment (do not talk loudly, do not litter, do not pluck flowers, leaves, plants etc or do not break branches etc).
- Decency and decorum should be maintained on all occasions and at all levels.
- The mountain environment is very fragile. So please do not litter plastic covers, bottles and other waste materials. Always carry a plastic bag with you and dump all the waste generated (waste papers, plastic bottles etc) into it. You can later dump the plastic bag either at Sathuragiri or at Thaanipaarai (i.e. in a waste bin).
- Once at Sathuragiri, pilgrims are requested not to venture on their own into the jungle. Fine guides with in-depth knowledge about the mountains are available and it is advisable to take their services and strictly follow their instructions.
- If any animals happen to cross your path, do not panic. Stay still and wait for the animals to leave to proceed further.
- Sathuragiri hill does not have any electricity, hotels, lodges etc. There is an ashram called Sri Kalimuthu Swamigal Madam or Kanji Madam, which provides free food and also provides place for pilgrims to stay.
Other places of Interest
There is a Krishna and Rukmini and Sathyabama temple called Gopala Swamy Malai, at the top of a small hill, which is 22kn from Watrap at NH-47(between kallupatti, Krishnankoil and Srivilliputhur towns), and a Shiva Cave temple called Motta Malai 16 km from Watrap(between Watrap and Alagapuri road, take a diversion after a village called Akkanapuram villaku)recommended for spiritual seekers.
For people who would love to swim in natural waters, you have a place called Maavuthu(Big spring, 8 km from Watrap, Need to take a diversion between Maharajapuram and Thambipatti), a pond which has a spring at its corner and flows 24/7 throughout the year, a very beautiful place at the foot of Southern Ghats. An excellent place to be at rainy season and is recommended only for people who know to swim above average.
Watrap Village is very well-connected by rail, road and air
The nearest railway station is srivilliputtur. There are several passenger trains from Madurai to Srivilliputtur. The Pothigai Express is a daily train from Chennai Egmore to Sengottai that reaches Srivilliputtur at 6.13 in the morning. From Srivilliputtur you can take a local bus to Watrap.
Watrap Town is connected from NH208 around 10 km (From Krishnan Kovil) and 17 km (from Alagapuri Village) and there are plenty of buses are operated to and from the destinations given below.
Madurai – TNSTC , CK Balan Bus Service, MC Somu Busservice and VVR Transports
Virudunagar – TNSTC , Meenambigai and KVV Bus Service
Srivilliputtur – TNSTC , KAYESR and SRM Bus Service
Kovilpatti – TNSTC , KAYESR and KVV Bus Service
Sivakasi – TNSTC , KAYESR
Theni – Southern (Suba) Bus Services.
There is a Bus Stand which has been built and it is on the Road towards Koomapatti. Mostly the Buses are stopped at the Bazaar which is also known as Mutthalamman Chavadi. Watrap Town has a very busy bazaar and has around 1000 to 1500 shops are less than 1 KM radius.
The nearest Airport is Madurai (72 km) and there are plenty of Local Taxi Operators are operating the taxis to Madurai Airport for Pickup and Drop facility.
For Information Contact :
Sri Sundara Mahalingaswami Temple, Chaturagiri, Madurai district.
Phones : +91- 98436 37301, 96268 32131
A Typical Travel Plan to Sathuragiri from Chennai – 4 nights/ 5 days
Cost of Travel (from Chennai)
Total estimated cost per person would come to Rs. 1500 (Indian Rupee) (for a period of 3 days) – including train reservation (second sleeper) to and fro Chennai, break fast, lunch, evening snacks & Tea, supper at the hills. This excludes the food and other expenses in the plains.
Travel by Train from Chennai (Pothigai Express (Train No.2661) from Egmore) to Srivilliputhur
3 days plan (5 days including Departure and Arrival days)
19.30 Hrs Arrive Chennai Egmore – occupy berth in Pothigai Express
20.00 Hrs Leave Chennai Egmore (by Train No.2661, Pothigai Express) to Srivilliputhur
06.20 Hrs Arrive at Srivillipputhur.
06.30 Hrs Reach Srivilliputhur busstand. Have Breakfast. Pack food items for lunch.
07.15 Hrs Leave by bus/taxi from busstand to Vathirairuppu
08.30 Hrs Arrive at Vathirairuppu. Take a Auto/Bus to Thaanipaarai (foot of the Hills)
09.20.Hrs Arrive at Thanipparai- Handover luggage to luggage carriers. Start climbing hills in groups (Optional: Doli
for those who cannot climb) with your hand bag and water-bottle, snacks, food items etc. Can have lunch at
around 12 noon near Gorakkar cave.
14.00 Hrs Arrive top of the hills. Stay at Kanji Mutt. Have bath, snacks and settle down/rest.
16.30 Hrs Tea & Snacks
17.00 Hrs Darshan at Sundara Mahalingam Temple
17.45 Hrs Start climbing hills to reach Santhana Mahalingam Temple-Darshan- Bhajan, etc.
19.30 Hrs Return to Kanji Mutt-Dinner
20.30 Hrs Rest
05.30 Hrs Wake-up
06.30.Hrs Sukku coffee, Bath etc.
07.30 Hrs Breakfast. Pack food for lunch.
08.30 Hrs Leave for Thavasi Paarai (a cave/gukai where Siddhas assemble incognito – quite difficult to climb)
11.30 Hrs Reach Thavasi Paarai. Enter cave, meditate, visit Nava Graha rock-idols. Have Lunch.
14.00 Hrs Start descent. Towards Big Mahalingam
16.30 Hrs Return to Kanji Mutt from Big Mahalingam
17.15 Hrs Tea and Snacks
17.30 Hrs Free time to visit and go round the hills and have darshan at Sundara Mahalingam/Santhana Mahalingam temples.
20.00 Hrs Dinner
21.00 Hrs Rest. Pack up things and be ready to leave next day early Morning to down hills.
05.30 Hrs Wake-up
06.30 Hrs Sukku coffee
07.00 Hrs Collect break-fast packets (for enroute)
07.30 Hrs Leave for Thaanipaarai.
11.30 Hrs Arrive Thaanipaarai.
12.00 Hrs Leave by auto to Vathirairuppu
13.00 Hrs Take bus to Srivalliputhur (enroute devotees can also visit Sri Kalimuthu Swamigal Ashram at S.Ramachandrapuram).
15.00 Hrs Arrive Srivilliputhur – free time till train departure. Visit temples (Andal Temple), shopping (purchase
palgova etc), dinner etc
19.45 Hrs After finishing dinner reach Srivilliputhur Railway station
20.30 Hrs Board train No 2662 Pothigai express to Chennai.
07.00 Hrs Arrive Chennai Egmore – with Happy Memories
(Travel Plan Courtesy: The firstname.lastname@example.org)
Posted on December 20, 2011, in Adventure, Attractions, Travel and tagged bus, chaturagiri, Sathuragiri Hills, Shiva, stay, sundara mahalingam, Tamil Nadu, tamilnadu, train, travel to chaturagiri, trekking, Vathirairuppu, watrap. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.