Thirumayam Fort & Temples (Pudukottai - Tamil Nadu)

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

Both are often referred to as Thirumayam rock-cut temples, but technically only the sanctum sanctorum of the 2 temples are rock-cut and not the entire temple complex. Read on for more information in detail. The below Thirumayam temple images are by me, Ashok Krishnaswamy, Siddharth Chandrasekar & Rangarathnam Gopu.

Thirumayam Sathyamoorthy Perumal Kovil Pudukottai Temples

Thirumayam Sathyamoorthy Perumal Kovil Pudukottai Temples
Pic Credit: Ashok Krishnaswamy

Thirumayam Sathyamoorthy Perumal Kovil Pudukottai Temples
Pic Credit: Siddharth Chandrasekar

Thirumayam Sathyamoorthy Perumal Kovil Pudukottai Temples

Thirumayam Sathyamoorthy Perumal Kovil Pudukottai Temples


We first ventured to the Vishnu Temple - Sathya Murthy Perumal Temple, one of the important Pudukottai Perumal Temples. 

As mentioned above, this is a Thirumayam rock-cut temple, but only the sanctum sanctorum. The Sathyamurthy Perumal relief sculpture is an epitome example of Thirumayam Temple sculptures.
The most important aspect of Sathyamoorthi Perumal Temple is right inside the sanctum sanctorum - the fabulous relief sculpture of a huuuuuuuuuuge reclining Vishnu! It is amazing... Though the pic above may look like a single face, in reality, it covers 3 walls that have 2 pillars in between (Ashok's fabulous editing has made what you're seeing now, possible!). The entire length of the Sathya Murthy Perumal relief sculpture is 15ft (Srirangam Ranganathar is about 20ft to compare). This is the most unusual, exquisite and complicated Vishnu I've ever seen! 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 are throwing fire from their mouths 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 very much belongs to 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 a monolith, i.e each is made 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. 
That said, 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!

Sathyagiriswarar Sivan Koil Pudukottai Temples

Sathyagiriswarar Sivan Koil Pudukottai Temples

Sathyagiriswarar Sivan Koil Pudukottai Temples
Pic Credit: Siddharth Chandrasekar

Sathyagiriswarar Sivan Koil Pudukottai Temples

Sathyagiriswarar Sivan Koil Pudukottai Temples
Pic Credit: Siddharth Chandrasekar


From there, our next stop was the Shiva Temple located in the same area, just a few metres away. That's Sathya Girishwarar Sivan Temple

The sanctum sanctorum has a Siva Lingam which had been sculpted from the rock of the cave itself i.e., rock-cut, so it was practically attached to the cave and not separately kept. The ceiling has a fresco of a beautiful carpet design which is now almost gone. 

Thirumayam temple sculptures are exquisite! Here again, the awe-inspiring Dwarapala should not be missed. Even if you wanted, you cannot miss it - it is 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 (7th - 8th C), thanks to the iconography.
On the right is a majestic relief sculpture of Lingothbhavar. He is, unusually, depicted with 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. So, this must have been sculpted before the story of boar & swan was created. The story 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 the Late Pandya era.

Outside of the sanctum santorum, to the left, is a narrow passage. In that, is the inscription of major importance - 'Parivadhinitha' sculpted inside a rectangle with a border! 
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 it be a musical instrument? Or it could be a heading of something? Or could it denote something given/blessed by Lord Shiva because another name of Lord Shiva is Parivadhini? Or could this be the style of the music that evolved here?
Sadly, the inscription was scrapped off during 13th C, as they did not understand it then. This was over-written with another inscription of 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.

Thirumayam Fort Things to do in Pudukottai

Thirumayam Fort Things to do in Pudukottai
Attacking me (!) is Shillika Chandrasekhar. Pic Credit: Rangarathnam Gopu. 
Thirumayam Fort Things to do in Pudukottai

Thirumayam Fort Things to do in Pudukottai

Thirumayam Fort Things to do in Pudukottai


The whole hill houses a fort - the Thirumayam Fort, one of the important forts of Tamil Nadu and tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu. 
Also Read: Other pre-colonial Forts in Tamil Nadu - Namakkal Fort, Adhiyaman Kottai in Dharmapuri, Trichy Rock Fort
This was originally built in 1687 by Ragunatha Sethupathi of Ramanathapuram. It severely fell into ruins over time, and was renovated by Archaeological Survey of India in 2012. Today, one of the British canons is still on display atop the fort. Should I even mention that the view is exquisite. 

The importance of the fort is of its historical involvement during the War of Indian Independance. It was here, where Oomathurai, the brother of Veerapandiya Kattabomman was held captive, by the British after the Palayakkarar wars. 

Thirumayam Temples Pudukottai Pinterest Thirumayam Fort Pinterest

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

Pudukottai to Thirumayam distance & route: 20km on NH336 & NH36  towards Karaikudi
How to reach Thirumayam from Pudukottai by train: 10 mins on Thiruvarur - Tiruchchirapalli passenger train (runs only once a day at 7:55AM and return train at Thirumayam is at 6:25PM).

Thirumayam Fort opening time - 10:00AM to 4:00PM 

Sathyagiriswarar Sivan Temple Timings: 7AM to 12 Noon; 4:30PM to 8PM
Sathyamoorthy Perumal Temple Timings: 7AM to 12 Noon; 4:30PM to 7PM

Rs.20/- for Indians & SAARC nationals and Rs.250/- for foreigners.
Can be bought online via ASI's website via ASI - PayUMoney app.
Choose Thiruchirapalli and choose Fort,Thirumayam. Choose the date and proceed to give your ID details and pay.
Tickets can also be bought at the gate.

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan, Prof. Muthazhagan, Prof. Jambunathan, and the whole group of Tamil Heritage Trust...


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. 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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