Thirumayam Fort & Temples (Pudukottai - Tamil Nadu)

Continuing with Thirumayam in the Pudukottai Trip. This name is derived from Thiru Meiyyam. Thirumayam temple complex has 2 temples - one of Lord Shiva and another of Lord Vishnu. 

Copyright: Ashok Krishnaswamy


We first ventured to the Vishnu Temple. First, right inside, the huuuuuuuuuuge reclining Vishnu, its amazing... Thanks to Ashok Krishnaswamy for letting me use this pic shot & edited by him. In real, its a 3 walls scene with 2 pillars in between. Ashok's fabulous editing has made what you're seeing now, possible! This is the most unusual, exquisite and complicated Vishnu I've ever seen in 15 ft length! Vishnu was reclining on a 2 tiered Adhiseshan the snake. The Adhiseshan here is the most furious, I've seen so far. 3 of its 5 heads, have their mouths open and fire is flying from its mouth to Madhu, Kaidaba who are at the extreme right. Vishnu's right hand is on Adhiseshan trying to calm it down. His consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi are on his head and foot. Brahma, Ayudha Purusha-s, Celestials, Naradha, Tumburu, Surya, Chandra are all seen atop. Garuda is at the extreme left. 

This cave temple is age-old, most probably of 7th - 8th C. However the rest of the temple was constructed later on in bits. The Gopuram is very much of the Late Pandya style.
The Maha Mandapam has several huge, larger-than-life sculptures protruding from pillars of the Nayak Style (16th C). There were Manmatha, Rathi, Kuravan, Kurathi, Man on Horse etc etc etc... The best part is that each sculpture is of just 1 stone on the whole!!! Apart from these there are separate shrines of Chakrathazhvar, Andal, Krishna, Lakshmi Narasimha etc.
The separate shrine for Sathyamoorthy Perumal is present which was also built during the Late Pandya era. However anything that was supposedly built by late Pandyas, also has a little controversy that says it was built by Mutharaiyars. An old inscription says that 'It was renovated by Perumpirugu Mutharaiyar'. However, what he renovated and where is unknown. 
However no confusion about the Pillars. Its all Nayak Era - thanks to the epitome of the Naga Bandham on the Pillars!

Purusha Mirugam spotted.. Ever since came to know of Raja Dikshathar's
research on this, I manage to spot one everywhere...


From there, our next target was the Shiva Temple located in the same area, just a few metres away. That's Sathya Girishwarar. Here again the exquisiteness of the Dwarapala should not be missed. It cannot be missed, even otherwise, its so prominent and compelling! 

Here, the Dwarapala-s have 2 hands unlike the later depictions with 4 hands. They do not have vampire teeth too. The club in their hand has a python twisted on it. So this must have been sculpted before Raja Raja Chola's era, thanks to the iconography, that's must be 7th or 8th C

The sanctum sanctorum had a Shiva Lingam which was sculpted from the rock of the cave itself, so its practically attached to the cave and not separately kept. The ceiling has a beautiful carpet design which is now almost gone. On the right is fabulous relief sculpture of Lingothbhavar. He unusally has the hair which is generally not shown in the later depictions. Here he also doesn't have the swan and boar shown later on, as well. This must have been sculpted before the legend came up. Legend is that Brahma and Vishnu took the shape of Boar and Swan to search the feet and hair of Lord Shiva, as he's considered endless!!! Here again the front Gopuram is of Late Pandya era.

Out of the sactum santorum to the left was this narrow passage. In that was the inscription of major importance - 'Parivadhinitha' sculpted in a  bordered rectange! 
There are just 3 musical inscriptions and 1 dance inscription in the whole of Tamil Nadu, and all the 3 are in Pudukottai. In all these 3, is this rectangular heading called 'Parivadhinitha'. What does it mean? Could be a musical instrument! Or it could be a heading! Or Lord Shiva's another name is Parivadhini, so this could be something that denotes something Given by Lord Shiva! Or this could be the style of the music that evolved here! 
But the sad part is that the inscription was scrapped off during 13th C, as they did not understand it then, and they deleted it to inscribe a judgement that tells that two-fifth of the fund goes to the Vishnu temple and three-fifth must go to Shiva temple, during the Pallava-Hoysala unrest.
Saw something like Mahab's Krishna's Butter Ball

The whole hill houses a fort, the Thirumayam Fort. This was originally built in 1687 by Ragunatha Sethupathi of Ramanathapuram. 

Pudukottai wil continue...

To Reach Pudukkottai:
From Chennai: 400 km via Villupuram, Trichy
Trains to Rameshwaram go via Pudukottai. 
Trains / Buses can be taken to Trichy and regular buses are available from Trichy.
From Trichy: 50 km. Regular buses are available.
From Madurai: 115 km via Tirupatthur
From Coimbatore: 300 km via Dharapuram, Dindigul

Thirumayam is located 20km from Pudukottai towards Thirupathur.

Photography of the Reclining Vishnu by Ashok Krishnaswamy and the rest by yours Bhushavali...

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan, Prof. Muthazhagan, Prof. Jambunathan, and the whole group...


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. 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. So nice. Very beautiful pictures and write up. It appears that next time I am in Tamilnadu, I need to camp at Pudukottai for atleast a week or so. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the appreciation Subramanian Sir.
      You do have to camp at Pudukottai... :)

  2. Lovely place and intricate works. Nice article Bhusha.

  3. wow , wonderful coverage and beautiful pictures.

  4. மையார் கடலும் மணிவரையும் மாமுகிலும்
    கொய்யார் குவளையும் காயாவும் போன்றிருண்ட
    மெய்யானை மெய்யமலையானைச் சங்கேத்தும்
    கையானை கைதொழாக் கையல்ல கண்டோமே

    -திவ்ய பிரபந்தம் 2016 - பெரிய திருமொழி

  5. Kuravan and Kurathi, these two I saw in Thekkady recently, statue of this couple is present on the top of a mountain near Thekkady. Can you put more light on these personalities and how you identify these two in Thirumeyam?

    1. Kuravargal, even till date, are hill tribes. Kuravan is the male, Kurathi - the female. I'm soon coming up with another post showing the photographs of the Kuravan & Kurathi of Avudaiyar Koil in Pudukottai, in a separate post dedicated to the exquisite pillar reliefs there! You should have a better picture of their iconography then!!! Kuravan is generally shown with a dagger, bow & arrow and moustache and a tribal headgear/hairstyle, tribal 'kada' (a jewel) on ankles. He definitely looks tribal! Kurathi is adorned with feather simulating jewels.
      In Shiva temples in Maha Mandapa you may spot a Kuravan Kurathi coz, in Periyapuranam, there goes this story: When Somasimara Nayanar performed yagna, Lord Shiva himself came there as a Kuravan accompanied by 4 dogs (which were actually the 4 vedas)!!!
      I believe the statue of Kuravan Kurathi that you saw was in Ramakkalmedu, Thekkady. That is a recent statue built in 2005. The legend behind is however, age old, that they were sacrificed in order to build the Idukki dam, which just did not set till then!

    2. Here's the post on Avudaiyar Koil. The last 2 images are of the uravan & Kurathi..

  6. " Here he also doesn't have the swan and boar shown later on, as well. This must have been sculpted before the legend came up" is not correct. The 2nd Thirumurai 9th song authored by Sambandar has this song.

    மாலும் நான்முகன் தானும் வார்கழற்
    சீல மும்முடி தேட நீண்டெரி
    போலும் மேனியன் பூம்பு கலியுட்
    பால தாடிய பண்பன் நல்லனே.
    பொழிப்புரை :
    திருமால் நான்முகன் ஆகியோர் நீண்ட திருவடிப் பெருமையையும், திருமுடியையும் தேட எரிபோலும் மேனியனாய் நீண்டவனும், அழகிய புகலியுள் பால் முதலியவற்றை ஆடி உறைபவனும் ஆகிய பண்பினன் நமக்கு நன்மைகள் செய்பவன்.

    1. Oh.. Then that's a new piece of info. Coz in Thirumayam, this was the info given to me!

  7. Loveliest Lingodbhava I've yet seen!!

  8. Very well written post. Will send you the photographs of Lingothbava & the dvarapalas for you to update (if needed). The Mutharaiyar king name should be Perumbidugu Mutharaiyar (alias) Kuvavan Maran. There is a statue of Perumbidugu Mutharaiyar at Promenade Road, Trichy :)

  9. I think the Lingodbhava here at Thirumayam is the very loveliest I've seen. What beautiful murthis
    in all the early caves in Pudukkottai!

    1. Wow. So true! They are indeed so so beautiful!!!


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