Marudhamalai, or Marudha Hills

Marudhamalai, or Marudha Hills, on the Western Gats, is the site of Sri Subramanya Swamy temple, at an altitude of slightly over 150m (500 feet).
Though not among the Aarupadaiveedugal, Marudhamalai is rated highly by Murugan devotees.  The Medicinal Marudham trees gave the hills the name Marudhamalai or Marudhachalam.  It is said that sages and other Holmen of yore scoured the hills for the elusive kayakalpam that would supposedly confer immortality on the user.  It is also believed that the celestial cow, Kamadhenu, grazed on these hills.  At the foothills is a shrine of Thanthonri Vinayagar, so-called because He is self-evolved, that is, swayambhu.

Sri Subramanya Swamy temple is a very modest shrine, with a well-maintained, newly built/renovated ardha mandapam in front of the sanctum.  It is said that the original idol of Sri Subramanya, with His two consorts, Valli and Devayanai, is now in the shrine in the outer prakaram.  The present deity, in granite, is 1.51m (5 feet) tall.  He holds the Dandayaudham staff) with His right hand, while the left hand is on the hip.  The idol bears a close resemblance to the Lord in Palani, except that here He is wearing a turban and has a tuft.  Among the sub-shrines here, mention must be made of Sri Patteeswarar (of Perur, in the plains) and His divine consort, Sri Maragathambigai.

According to the sthala purana, three hills, Vellingiri, Nili and Marudhamalai are the manifestation of Shiva, Parvati and Sri Subramanya.  It is said that a tired and thirsty siddha, took shelter under a marudham tree and prayed to Muruga for succour.  Immediately there sprung a jet of water from the tree, upon which the siddha proclaimed Sri Subramanya as the Lord of Maridham.  The Perur puranam says that the gods urged Lord Shiva to save them from the excesses of Soorapadma and is brothers.  Shiva advised them to go to Marudhamalai and await the advent of Lord Subramanya.  The devas then repaired to Marudhamalai and requested the Lord to slay the asura.  The Skanda puranam describes Soorapadma's destruction.  Inscriptions in the temple at Tirumurugan Poondi, near Erode, refer to this temple.  Since the shrine at Tirumurugan Poondi is said to belong to the 8th century,  It is safe to assume that the Marudhamalai temple is at least 1,200 years old.

On the slopes fo the hill is the cave of Pambatti siddhar meditated on the Lord here and attained siddhi.  He was one of the 18 noted siddhars in the region.  He lived among snakes and was reputed to have made them dance to his tunes (literally); hence the name Pambatti siddhar.  A suberranean passage from the cave led to the sanctum.  Half-way up the hill, on the walking path, is a shrine for Idumban.  He is shown carrying the kavadi.  Couples without issue, tie tiny cradles here in thehope of begetting children.

How to get there:  Marudhamalai is 15km from Coimbatore. Town buses ply to and from Coimbatore at frequent intervals.  A 45-minute drive leads to the foothills, from where mini buses, operated by the Devasthanam, carry pilgrims up the hills.  Coimbatore is the main rail terminal.  It is 498 km from Chennai, and is connected by air.

Accommodation:  The Devasthanam has a wedding hall on the hills, are a rest house at the foothills.  Or you could stay in Coimbatore.

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