Hanging Pillar of Mallikarjuneswarar Temple (Dharmapuri - Tamil Nadu)

You would have read my earlier post on Hogenakkal Falls, Dharmapuri. On another Sunday during our stay in Dharmapuri, we opted to go on a pilgrimage exploring the historic temples nearby. Yes, we went to the local ancient Ishwaran Koil (If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’d understand this. For others, Ishwaran Koil is Lord Shiva Temple. Every locality in Tamil Nadu, India has its own Ishwaran Koil, as it is fondly called and mostly this is several centuries ancient).

In Dharmapuri, such an Ishwaran Koil is called Mallikarjuneswarar Temple. It’s also called Kamakshi Amman temple. Locally called Kottai Koil (Fort temple). This temple was built around 8th or 9th C. This is one of the important Dharmapuri temples. 
Dharmapuri Temple - Mallikarjuneswarar Kamakshi Amman temple - Kottai Koil

About the temple, first things first. It has a gravity-defying Hanging Pillar Mystery!!! Located in Ardha Mandapam, just next to the Garbha Graha (Sanctum Sanctorum), there are these 4 pillars and one of it is hanging. Quite literally hanging. It has a 2 cm space between the base and the pillar.
Ok, I see it in your eyes. You don’t believe right.? Here, let me prove it. That’s a friend putting in newspapers in that gap. Still can't believe.? Here is a closeup of that gap. I had to lay on the floor to take that shot. I know, its blurry. But serves the purpose. The space is evident. How did that happen? Generally when constructing any building, the pillars are put up first and then the roof is developed on top of it. In that case, the space must have happened between the roof and pillar, atop. If there's a space below, was this pillar put up later on, attached to the roof??? That seems unlikely. How did this happen?!!!

This was built during the Nolamba Dynasty. This place is a sculptural marvel. The Nolambas are believed to come in the lineage of the great Pallavas who built the Mahabalipuram. Take this pillar itself as example. The pillar is hexagonal with several relief sculptures on all the sides. 

On one side in this hanging pillar is the story of sacrifices. Earlier when warriors sacrificed themselves by falling on Tirusulam (Trishul) from an height, Goddess Kamakshi made it a point that humans should be replaced with lemons. So here is the scene of a man falling upside down onto the Trishul and Goddess Kamakshi keeping her hand atop it and saves him. So she’s called Thaduthatkonda Nayaki.
Apart from the Hanging pillar the rest of the pillars, have the same lion sculpture at joints as this one has, but all the rest are chopped off their head. This is because the hanging pillar is intervened as Goddess Herself and the lions in that pillar are roaring in all pride while the lions in the rest of the pillars are considered shivering in fear and lost the head. The ceiling has the whole Navagraha sculpted in it in full essence, in full rhythm. 
Separately on the side is the separate shrine for Ambal who is here as Kamakshi Amman who faces east here. She is again a wedding speciality Goddess and so she’s also called Kalyana Kamakshi Amman. The number of steps to reach her shrine is 18. This denotes the 18 good habits to be cultivated in the self to get her complete blessings. Her shrines is in a shape of an 18 pointed star. This denoted that the Ambal here has all the 18 Viththunai Sakthigal (mystical powers).
In the circum-ambulation passage, in the space that’s between the elephants has the whole description of Ramayana. Ramayana is the story of Sri Ram who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ramanyana is one of the 2 epics of India with the other one being Mahabaratha. Ramanayana is sculpted scene by scene in the 1 foot base of the shrine. Their sculpting marvel is evident here as well. Infact the pregnant ladies in the scene are shown so realistically that I couldn’t resist my temptation to feel their bulged bellies. The story begins right behind Ambal and goes left to right that’s in Apradakshinam or Opposite pradakshina or circum-ambulation. This is sculpted so as when someone goes following the story they circumambulate Kamakshi in wrong direction. And there is the reason behind sculpting so. I was given the explanation that when we ask God for something, we circum-ambulate seeking the blessings. But later when we lose interest in worldly things and seek inner peace and tend to move towards Godliness, we change the direction of circum-ambulation.
There is another separate shrine for Arumugar or Lord Muruga aka Lord Karthikeya. He sits on his mount Peacock and there is a snake crawling beneath his foot. This is to denote that the snake carries the foot of Lord Arumugar from touching the ground. The temple priest Selva Muthu Kumaraswami was such a nice person who took time to explain each and every thing even after Nadai Mooduthal (Closure of temple for noon).

From Salem: 66 km
From Bangaluru: 127 km
From Erode: 114 km
All the Dharmapuri temples (this & Chennaraya Perumal temple) along with Hogenakkal Falls can be done as a day-trip from Bangalore.

On Google Maps: Kottai Koil, Dharmapuri
From Dharmapuri railway station to Mallikarjunar temple: 1 km

Lodges & small hotels are available in Dharmapuri.
For more comfort & luxury, nearest large city is Salem which can be reached in 1:30hrs by car.

6:00AM to 11:00AM; 4:00PM to 8:30PM

Selva Muthu kumaraswami – Ph: 94443084116, 04342-264924

Dedicated to Shankar and Devan Cheta


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands


  1. Ur blog's very useful for me in gettin to know places yaar :)
    U works are very commendable...
    Keep up ur good work :)

  2. One day I want to visit your country again, and see all these interesting things with my own eyes..

  3. Thanks for the fantastic tour
    you make always great posts :-)
    Have a great weekend ...

  4. Another great post of travel blogs. I appreciate your post. Please keep it up. Really it will be great post if you will special post on sight since.

  5. Really i would like to see the hanging pillar. Good reasoning about the reverse circumambulation.

  6. Nulamba sculpture is interesting indeed, I am not very familiar with it but quite stunning. The liked the Lions on the pillar too. I wish I could get an expanded view of the pictures. The Indian countryside is littered with all things ancient, it is thanks to travelers like you who bring some of those that we normally don't see, to light.

  7. Hey Sathish,
    Thank you so much for the appreciation.. Its all your visits and comments that encourage me so much.. :)

    Hey Aysegul,
    You're welcome dear... India is an incredible place.. :)

    Hi Anya,
    You are welcome dear.. :) Thank you... :)

  8. Hey Coach,
    Guess its your first time here to my space.. Welcome.. And thank you so much for the appreciation.. :)

    U r welcome dear.. :)

    Oru week end kilambi pongolen.. Its a great place to see along with Hogenakkal falls.. :)

    That's such a great appreaciation and compliment... Thank you so much.. :)

  9. Hi Mitr!!! LOL...yes, I was a skeptic, thanks for putting me in my place!!! ;-) Those hanging pillars are amazing. I just love the elephant carving! Thanks for bringing me along today!!!

  10. Very interesting all these awesome places and great pictures. Have a nice day!

  11. Hi Friend! I wonder why your undays would be boring? You always manage such great escapes... ;) Wonderful post of a beautiful place!!

    Blogtrotter, which is always one year late in posting ;), headed to London December 2008. Enjoy and have a great week!

  12. Hi Busha ...
    the last line touched my heart... The trip was all the more amazing cse we had an enthusiatic young girl who dint care bout freaking out during holidays but actually helping the rural women and seeing the wonders of her state. And of course being a cute younger sister during the stay in Dharmapuri.
    Thank you so much for that dedication, Those memories stay with me forever and wish i could meet Shankar anna again.
    Take care.

  13. Interesting history and sculptures! The hanging pillar is an amazing feat.

  14. Lovely post. I had no idea that there is such a wonderful temple such beautiful sculptures.

    Hanging pillar is a real wonder.

  15. Beautiful colourful building! Love the elephant detail!

  16. @Rain,
    Ha ha ha... Thank you so much... :)

    Thank you so much... :)

    Oh ya... Why would I ever be bored at all with all these treasures surrounding me... :)

  17. @Dev Cheta,
    So sweet of you to come here and drop in a comment.. U were such a sweet bro in Dharmapuri who took care of this little sis so much.. :)

    Yeah true.. Several centuries back done. Isn't this a great marvel..

    Glad that I introduced a new place to you.. :)

    Thanks dear.. :)

  18. never been here..an interestg temple..thanks for the tour

  19. Hey Lakshmi,
    Its my pleasure dear.. U r welcome.. :)

  20. Hi Greetings:)

    very interesting write up on an ancient temple. The photos are lovely and the carvings are exquisite. Many thanks for sharing.

    Have a nice day:)

  21. this is amazing... i wanna see that hanging pillar :( romba nanna iruku.. about the pregnant ladies, the reverse circumbulation thingy.. everything is just awwwechum :) loved it as usual... :)

  22. Great detailed post. I have a tough time finding a good guide when I visit temples.

  23. @Joseph,
    Thank you so much.. :)

    Thanks di chellam... Pregnant ladies were my fav... So cute bellies u know. Didn't look like rock cut..!!!

    Thanks dear.. That's such a wonderful compliment.. I am flattered.. :)

  24. Great! i was badly looking for the tel no. of the temple as i had given for Pooja there and missed the number. Thanks yar it was a great help.

  25. @Bala,
    I am glad that I could be of some help. Do drop in often.. :)

  26. I'm from Salem and happened to see this post.visited this temple which is only two hrs journey.kindly permit to use the hanging pillar pic to post in the facebook.


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