Peacock Sanctuary at Viralimalai Murugan Temple (Pudukkottai - Tamil Nadu)

A 2-day holiday plan to Vazhachal Forest flopped severely and pathetically. Trusting this plan I did not even book a ticket to my hometown to meet my dear and near ones. I couldn’t afford to waste the 2 days. I thought of atleast making use of 1 day of the 2. Viralimalai, the most important Murugan temple near Trichy, perfectly fitted in.
My roomie (who I call an angel) accompanied me to this trip. We left at 6:30 in the morning and reached Viralimalai at around 10 after changing 2 buses. At 10, I really wanted breakfast. Enquiring the locals, I found 2 or 3 messes, where the food was over. We ended in a bakery and asked my friend had a cake and I bought a bottle of juice. Well I guess the
Lord wanted me to meet him in Viratham (fasting)!!!

Located in Pudukkottai dt. (but closer to the city of Trichy), Viralimalai is a combination of nature’s cradle and devotional serenity. The Viralimalai Murugan temple is around 1200 yrs old, existing since 9th C, built by Aditya Cholan. The temple is on a little hillock and a flight of 207 steps took me to the entrance of the temple. But even before I reached the temple, there on a tree beside the steps, was standing the national bird of India in full grace and attitude. Oh! Did I forget to mention! Viralimalai is a haven of peacocks and a protected area for the peacocks, though there is no actual Viralimalai sanctuary boundaries present. That makes Viralimalai not only one of the important temples near Trichy but one of the off-the-beaten-track, Trichy tourist places.

The lore and legend of the place goes that, Lord Muruga showed himself to Poet Saint Arunagirinathar and asked him to go to Viralimalai. This place being a forest then, he got lost and was guided by the local hunter tribe to reach the temple, who vanished into this air. It was then he realized that the tribe was the Lord himself. This place is located enroute to the temple in the flight of steps.
Later when Karuppamuthu Pillai came to this temple, due to heavy rains and flood got stranded here without food and even a cigar to ward of the hunger. Lord Muruga appeared to him and provided him with food and cigar as well!!! Ever since this local variety of cigar called Suruttu is also offered to the Lord.

Enroute to the temple, in the steps are the smaller shrines of Idumban, and Meenakshi Sundareshewarar. There are 4-5 resting mandapams enroute. On completing the 207 steps, we reached the mandapam, Sandana Kottam. As I entered the temple from the south facing entrance with Raja Gopuram, there he was with all his 6 faces to bless us. Yes, this is the only place where all his 6 faces are visible for the devotees to worship. Generally only 3 frontal faces as visible for the devotees, the other 3 faces in the behind, are not. Here, with the space available in the sanctum sanctorum, and the mirror placed exactly, the 3 rear faces are also visible for the devotees. Also present in the sanctum sanctorum are the Chola period inscriptions. The Lord here faces East. South Facing are the Utsava Murthis (the bronze idols) of Muruga with this consorts Valli and Deivanai.
Murugan here is seated on the peacock vahana here as usual. But unusually, the peacock here faces south. This is called the Brahma Mayil. After Sura Samharam (the killing of the Sura demon), the vahana Mayil (peacock) faces north. But before the Sura Samharam, he has no Vahana and Lord Brahma himself, as a peacock, became is Vahana here.
Then as I took the circum-ambulation I worshipped Vishwanathar and Visalakshi, and Dakshinamurthi in the Southern circum-ambulatory passage. In the west are Arunagirinathar, Moolaganapathy and Durga. In the north are Brahma, Chandigesar and Bhairavar. In the East are the Navagraha and Manikka Vinayakar.
The temple’s tree (Sthala Vruksham) is Kasi Vilvam and Theertham (water) is Saravana Poigai located at the base of the hillock. After this soul warming prayers to the Lord, we came out of the temple, trying to find some more peacocks. Thanks to the heat of the May Summer, there weren’t any more.
In the temple’s Prasadham shop, I got ‘Thinai Maavu’ a delicacy. Going to a Muruga temple and coming back without buying Thinai Maavu is literally unacceptable I’d say!!! This can be taken as it is or with honey. This is one of the must-try foods in Tamil Nadu. 

After buying this, I enquired the shop keeper for the peacocks. He said, “Go down. Midway you’ll find a small gate to your left. You’ll get into the hillock away from the temple and steps. You’ll find several cave like structures there. The peacocks will be resting there. If you come in the evening around dusk, you can see them roaming around. Now the heat makes them settle in these caverns”. Thanks to him, we found that little gate and ventured in.
Being a shallow hillock, it was not difficult to trek in there. I must say, I was glad and gladder and gladdest. I came face to face with atleast 10-15 peacocks!!! Do you spot the peacock peeping out of a dark cavern in the above pic.?
Peacocks generally live in not so dense places esp. rocky terrains like these. Peacocks were pretty shy or scared. They wouldn’t want us to near them. I even tried to give them some Thinai Maavu and laddu, but at vain. They wouldn’t come near me!!!
Thanks to some drinkers who spend some evenings here, there were broken glasses as some places. Care has to be taken before jumping onto or from any rock. I almost pierced my foot but escaped by chance.
As I said earlier, this is nature’s cradle. There were several other fauna that make Viralimalai their home. I saw some Eagles, Monkeys, an unusual Red Insect apart from the regular Squirrels, Crows, Pigs, Goats, Cows etc. I loved place so much.
At around 12:30 or 1:00 pm we started back. As we walked to the bus stop there was a peacock that leisurely crossed the road. I ran behind with my cam’s video on. It climbed the hillock from another side of the temple. Again here I saw 3-4 peacocks. Here, peacocks are like crows in the rest of the country. They walk on the roads. They take food from hands of the localites, early in the morning. People are so used to them that they continue with their regular job as the peacocks pass by. It was a lovely sight!
At the base of the temple, peacock feather were sold. I didn’t buy any. I wouldn’t recommend my readers to buy any as well, as they are mostly deliberately plucked out of the peacocks!!!

Enroute in Manapparai, which is famous for its savoury, Murukku, I badly wanted to buy some. But as I reached there, my connecting bus was ready to leave. I had to get it and miss my Murukku. :(
I reached home by some 3:30. Remember, I was in Viratham (fasting)???!!! The plan to have lunch in Manapparai flopped with the bus that was ready. I directly had my lunch back home at 3:30. But still, may be due to visual treat of the several peacocks, I was not dying hungry even then!!!
Came here because you love peacocks? Then you should probably also check out my post on Kensington Garden in London too, where I spotted a peacock dancing to attract a peahen.
From Trichy: 30 km towards Madurai
From Pudukkottai: 42 km towards Manapparai
From Karur: 98 km via small town roads and Manapparai; 106 km via Kulithalai and Trichy (highways), then U turn to Viralimalai.

A decent hotel is located just at the base of the hillock at the way to the flight of steps. Also 3-4 messes are near the bus stop.

6:00 to 11:00AM and 5:00 to 8:00PM
There are no hotels in this small town. The nearest big city for hotels at all price points is Trichy / Tiruchirappalli from where Viralimalai can be reached in half-an-hour by car.

Dedicated to Chitra.
Peacocks of Viralimalai Murugan Temple Pinterest  Peacocks of Viralimalai Murugan Temple Pinterest


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. Grate post. I love the way peacocks are roaming freely in this area. The colorful feathers are really long in your shots. I hope people allow them to live there peacefully.

    Datia Palace

  2. Great piece of "Rock Climbing" you did there Mitr, filming Peacocks.{:)

  3. Wonderful post
    very informative and beautiful shots !!!

  4. @Rajesh,
    Yeah Rejesh, it was such a soul pleasing sight to see the peacocks roam around like hens or crows... :)

    Really true my dear Roy.. :)

    Thanks sweetheart... :)

    Really dear.. It was so nice to see our national bird roaming about like that... I don't know what all Thinai Maavu consist of, but the main ingredient is the cereal Thinai itself...

  5. Beautiful pictures and the one with your is gorgeous! Hugs.

  6. So many peacocks around there. Great shots.

  7. I really enjoy those rocky areas! You know, I was so surprised to find peacocks in the desert lands around Jaisalmer!

  8. I love pictures of the peacock and I so love the picture of you.

  9. @Phivos,
    Thanks sweethear. So much... :) *Hugs*

    Thanks dear.. :)

    Thanks sweety.. :)

    Yeah! That's true. On my trip to Delhi via Rajasthan, I saw a peacock standing magestically on a rock beside the railway track. I should say, I was awe-struck!!!

    @Ocean Gal,
    Thank you honey. Thank you so much dear.. :)

  10. thanks for the info ..i am planning to visit this month ...One request . Do let us know the temple timings in all your posts ...will help when we plan our trip

  11. @Cool Dude,
    Thanks for visiting and commenting.
    Am glad that my blog is of some use to you.
    I'll try my best come up with the timings in each n every post. :)
    Do let me know your experiences once back from Viralimalai.

  12. First of all Thanks dear, talk about my native place viralimali and try to come now and see the beauty and developed well and we trying to keep the area clean and tied, how ever we really need lot of support to make the place reach lot of people
    around All, try to visit and give your support for the viralimali....Murali :):):)

  13. I visited Viralimalai yesterday. I found a practice (way of worship or offering) different from the usual. A child of probably less than a year old was given in adoption to Lord Muruga by the parents and grandparents formally and was to be taken back in adoption by the parents later. Of course, the baby is never separated from the parents, but this is perhaps to get some special blessings of the Lord for the child. For this process called 'Dattu' in Tamil there is an official rate charged by the temple administration. Could somebody give me a clear idea of this practice.


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