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.
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.
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|
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.