Thursday, 19 March 2015



Parvathamalai is a part of the Javadhu hills of the Eastern Ghats and situated 25 km from Polur in Thiruvannamalai District. The height of the hill is about 3500 feet from mean sea level. There is a temple for Lord Shiva temple at the top. Lord Shiva appears under the name of Mallikarjunaswamy. It is popularly believed that Lord Shiva is worshipped by the Devas and spiritual beings from other world and siddhars every night. The hill is considered to be very auspicious, with powerful vibrations. People refer to Parvathamalai as Southern Kailasam. Sri Bramarambigai was enshrined by Sri Bhogar, one of the eighteen Tamil siddhars. The whole mountain is believed to be protected by Vanadurga and Veerabhadra.

Lord Shiva Temple

Many siddhars lived once and practiced their mystical powers on this hill, which is covered with medicinal plants. It is believed that Parvathamalai was formed when a piece of rock fell from the Sanjeevini hill, carried by Sri Anjaneya, and thus the hill got its name Sanjiva Parvatamalai. The scented herbal breeze on this hill is believed to cure even incurable diseases. During the pournami (full moon) day, it attracts a lot of devotees.

History of the hill

The history of the Parvatamalai hill can be traced from the Sangam period. It is believed that the King Nannan would come to this hill and worship Lord Mallikarjuna. When Lord Shiva came to the southern part of Tamil Nadu from the Himalayas, he placed his first foot step on this hill. As in Thirukalukundram, here too one can see three eagles circling the Pappathi hill. At midnight, the villages around the hill can hear the sounds of melam, sangu, tharai and thappatai. Guru Namashivayam and Guhai Namashivayam lived on Parvathamalai and attained their youth by consuming herb called Karunochi, according to popular belief.

Kanchi Sri Sankaracharya saw the hill in the shape of a Shiva linga and therefore never placed his foot on it the circumambulated and worshipped it. Every month, during pournima people start the Girivalam (circumambulation of the hill) at 7pm.


Temples in the Parvathamalai

There are several temples of on the hill, including the Pachaiamman in the Pachaiamman temple; Lord Veerabhadra temple with its herbal park; Renugambal temple situated in front of the herbal pond known as ‘Agaya Gangai’. If one bathes in the water of this pond it is believed that one can get cured of all body pain and fatigue; the Vana Durga temple situated on the way to the main hill temple; the siddhar’s temple on the way; and the Kadaparai Shiva temple, the last temple situated on the way to the hill top temple. Those who cannot climb the hill perform their pooja here and turn back. Before reaching the hill top temple one can find symbols of lord Shiva’s feet.

The major festival of the temple is chitra pournami (full moon day), Kaarthikai dipam, Shivraratri and Panguni Uttram. Wearing white, yellow and saffron coloured dresses and worshiping the God by offering milk is said to auspicious.

Temple Tanks

It is believed that there is an underground whirlpool which heals all diseases. Old people believe that there is a lotus pond and plantain field, inhabitated by a holy cow and sages.

Biodiversity of Parvathamalai

The Parvathamalai Forest is an undisturbed portion of the Eastern Ghats, all of which was once densely forested. There are many small temples in the forest area between the Parvathamalai hill and Munnurmangdam village. This is an important protected area, the hills of which are considered by the people to be the “Southern Himalayas”. The area is also of heritage and historical value with its plants well known for their medicinal value.

The entire Parvathamalai is protected as a reserve forest. There are about 152 plant species recorded in this hill. Very rare herbal plants found on this hill include: peyviratti (Anisomeles malabarica) karunthulasi (Ocimum sanctum), karunochi (Justicia gendarussa / Gendarussa vulgaris), karu umathai (Datura fastuosa), karunelli (Phyllanthus reticulatus), civanar vembu (Indigofera aspalathoides), mahavilvam (Limonia acidissima), vellerukku (Calotropis procera), orithazh thaamarai (Lonidium suffruticosum) and other plants. However, these plant species are characteristic of this area only. 

Justicia gendarussa
Datura Fastuosa

Limonia acidissima
Ocimum Sanctum

As far as fauna are concerned, there are about 128 species of animals, of which there are 17 species of mammals, 22 species of reptiles and 89 species of birds. Some of the animal species are IUCN-categorized animals, including the Star tortoise, the Orange-breasted green pigeon and Slender Loris that belong to the rare animal species and the Barheaded goose, Black buck and Civet cat that belong to the threatened and endangered category.

Bar Headed Goose
Orange-Breasted green Pigeon

Civet Cat
Star Tortoise


A variety of factors threaten the sacred mountain environment. The forest stretches leading to the temples are degraded due to the disposal of polythene materials (bags, cups, etc) by devotees and due to the clearing of vegetation by the pilgrims to keep away the poisonous snakes from the path.  

Friday, 6 March 2015


A small grove with an area of 1.1 hectare is situated in Periyakumatti village in Cuddalore district of Tamilnadu, dedicated to the goddess Kilialamman, on the state high way between Cuddalore and Chidambaram. The main deity is sheltered within a temple of brick and mortar. A perennial pond is situated in the forecourt of the temple where people clean themselves before entering the precincts of the sanctum. 

In this grove, Kilialamman is the main deity and Aiyanar is the secondary deity. Terracotta horses line the way to the Aiyanar shrine. People offer flowers, fruits and pongal (rice cooked in milk and jaggery) regularly. Images of peafowl and terracotta horses are offered to Aiyanar on special occasions. Goats and fowls are sacrificed to the goddess Kilialamman. After harvesting, the village people ritually offer paddy to make pongal and to perform puja and ghee for lighting the lamp in the temple. Oil extracted from the punnai (Alexandrian laurel) seed is used to light the lamp. The people believe that the goddess Kilialamman protects them from floods, cyclones and other catastrophic events. The priest performs spiritual healing with the neem twigs. Hunting and gathering of wood are strictly prohibited. Fallen twigs and wood may be used for temple purposes. The annual festival is celebrated in the month of Aadi (June- July) every year. During the annual festival, before taking out the procession of the decorated Amman, four goats are sacrificed in the four corners of the temple for the smooth conduct of the festival. There is a common belief that if those who want progeny must make and offered pongal to the deity, tying a thottil (cradle) on the uddhala, vidimaram (Indian Cherry /Cordia mixa) tree in the grove.

The Story

A merchant was carrying a cartload of tamarind to be sold at Cuddalore. While the merchant was crossing the grove, he heard a call and looked around. He could not find anybody except a parrot sitting on a banyan tree. The merchant got scared, since the place was desolated, and drove his cart faster. After reaching the market, the merchant found charcoal instead of tamarind. The merchant realised his mistake of not responding to the divine call. He returned to the grove and sought pardon for disregarding the anonymous call. Kilialiamman, the goddess of the grove, appeared before the merchant and offered consoled him. After that, the merchant visited the grove and worshipped the Amman regularly. Kilialiamman was satisfied with his devotion and reconverted the cartload of charcoal into tamarind. The merchant was happy and, as a token of atonement, he installed an Amman idol inside the grove and started worshipping the goddess regularly. Since the Amman was believed to have been incarnated as a parrot on a banyan tree, the goddess got the name ‘Kilialamman’ - Kili (parrot) + aal (banyan) + amman (goddess) - and the grove is known as ‘Kiliaalamman thoppu’ (Kiliaalamman grove).

Biodiversity of the grove

The grove extends over an area of about three acres and is a conserved patch of tropical dry evergreen forest. The soil is humid and damp in texture. The grove is relatively less disturbed with a dense vegetation cover. Around 45 plant species belonging to 33 families are found in the grove. The major species occurring are Callophyllum inophyllum, Ficus hispida, Ficus amplissima, Ficus recemosa, Acacia leucophloea, Azadirachta indica, Lepisanthes tetraphylla, Borassus flabellifer, Atalantia monophylla, Paramignya monophylla, Acacia leucophloea, Pongamia pinnata, Syzygium cumini, Dioscorea oppositifolia, phoenix pusilla, Ecbolium viridae, Calamus rotang, Pandanus odoratissimus, Theriophonum minutum, Cissus quadrangularis, Gloriosa superb, Tinospora cordifolia, Coccinia indica, Hemidesmus indicus, Aristolochia indica, Asparagus racemosus, Combretum albidum and Lepisanthes tetraphylla.


In general, the threats are mainly anthropogenic activities due to the development in and around the temple. Cattle browsing is high in the grove because of a waterbody nearby.