History and Legend
The geographical coordinates of Parvathamalai are 1226'11"N latitude and 7858'19"E longitude. Parvathamalai 20 kms from Polur and 35 kms from Tiruvannamalai, is part of the Javadi Hills and accessible through Kadaladi village or Thenmadhimangalam. Parvatham means mountain and Parvatha Malai as it is called, connotes 'Hill of Hills' or 'Queen of Hills'. Parvathamalai presents eight different shapes from eight directions around the hill.

Parvathamalai - Ashram and Temple on summit

"Naviram Hill (Nanviramalai) is described in 'Malaipadukadam' a Sangam poetic work in Pattuppattu anthology. Over two thousand years ago the Javadi hill-range, an extension of the Eastern Ghats comprising modern-day Tiruvannamalai and Vellore Districts of Tamil Nadu, was known as Palkunrakkottam.

Thondai Nadu, a historical region situated in the northern part of Tamil Nadu, was divided into 24 districts or 'Kottams.' Palkunrakkottam was one among the 24 kottams. Palkunrakkottam means the 'land surrounded by hillocks'.

The Javadi hill range extends 50 miles (80 km) wide and 20 miles (32 km) long and lies at 2350 - 3500 feet above sea level. Most scholars believe Naviram Hill, situated at Thenmadhimangalam, is the same hill that is now known as Parvathamalai."

"Know the greatness of the God who resides in Naviram who ate poison, who causes the earth surrounded with water to tremble!"
[81-84 Malaipadukadam]

"Nannan showers unspoiled wealth like the rain showers on Naviram Mountain, the Lord of the country surrounded by mountains)."
[579 Malaipadukadam]

Nannan's (son of Nannan) fort

Before the top of the hill there are ruins of an abandoned fort, believed to have been constructed by King Nannan (son of Nannan).

Part of the abandoned fort

"Palkunrakkottam was ruled by King Nannan (son of Nannan) Lord of Cheyaru Valley and Velir Chieftain of Chenkamma. The 'Malaipadukadam' names Naviram Hill as Nannan's Hill. The poet Perunkausikanar addresses a group of Kuttar and advises them to seek the patronage of King Nannan (son of Nannan) whose territory includes Naviram Hill."
[abridged from narrative by R. Muthusamy]

At the summit of the Hill is the Mouna Guruswamy Ashram and more importantly a very powerful Temple at which resides the Siva aspect in the form of Lord Mallikarjuna (i.e. White Jasmine) and the Shakthi aspect in the form of Parvatha Rani, Parvathammal, Sri Brahmarambika and Sri Akilandesvari Amman.

The presiding deity of Parvathamalai Temple in Sanskrit is known as 'Kalakanteshvarah' - 'the god whose neck is dark blue.' Parvathamalai is also known as Kandhamalai, Mallikarjunamalai, Naviramalai, Parvathagiri, Sanjeevigiri, Thenkailayam and Trisulagiri.

The summit Temple has sannidhis for Lord Shiva, Amman Bramarambigai, Sri Ganapathy, Sri Valli Devasena Subramaniyar, Bairavar and Agasthiyar. The Temple which is open 24 hours a day is not protected by doors or a compound wall and has no presiding priest - leaving devotees free to perform their own puja.

Parvathamalai Temple

A Temple at this site is believed to have existed for the last 2000 years although it is not known exactly when the current Temple was constructed at the top of Parvathamalai. It is said that 2000 years ago great yogis (Siddhars) constructed a Temple at the top of this hill for meditation. The 'Malaipadukadam' states King Nannan around 200 A.D. used to frequently visit a Temple (at this site) to worship Lord Siva and the Goddess.

One of the legends associated with Parvathamalai, states that when Lord Hanuman carried Sanjeevini hill to revive Lakshmana a piece of Sanjeevenimalai fell at this spot. For this reason this particular area is famous for various herbs and shrubs which can cure the deadliest disease. It is not just herbs that can cure disease but it is thought that the breeze alone from the Hill wafting through the plants and shrubbery is enough to affect cure of sickness.

Lord Hanuman carrying Sanjeevini Hill

Another legend associated with this sacred site recounts that when Lord Siva returned from the Himalayas to South India, He stepped on Parvathamalai on His way to Arunachala.

Representation of Lord Siva's Feet near Summit

The history of Parvathamalai is interconnected with that of the famed Sri Mallikarjunar Temple at Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh. The encompassing legend goes so:

Sage Siladha performed severe penance seeking a boon from Lord Siva to have children. Two sons were born to him, Nandi and Parvathan. Sanakadhi Rishi called on the sage and said that Nandi would live on earth only for a short while. As a result of this prophecy Siladha fell into grief. Nandi assured his father by saying that he would win over death by his penance on Lord Siva.

Mallikarjunar Temple Srisailam

Pleased with Nandi's penance, Lord Siva appeared and made the young child His vahana (vehicle) and passed the order that devotees should come to Him only after attaining admittance from Nandi. Nandi's place of penance at the foot of the hills at Sri Mallikarjunar Temple at Srisailam is also known as 'Nandiyal'. His brother Parvathan also performed penance on Lord Siva and became the hill - Parvatha Hill; i.e. 'Parvathamalai'. As Parvathamalai is equivalent to Sri Sailam Hill, the name of Iraivan becomes Sri Mallikarjunar and Iraivi is now as Sri Brahmarambika.

This sacred place approximately 25 kms from Arunachala is infused with Arunachala's radiating spiritual power. Sri Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram saw the hill in the shape of a Siva Lingam. Increasingly as the fame of Parvathamalai spreads, many devotees and pilgrims visit and climb the hill to worship at the Temple on the summit in order that they may attain bliss and enlightenment. One of the unique features of the Temple on Parvathamalai is that all who enter the inner shrine (sanctum sanctorum) are allowed to perform their own puja to Lord Siva, the Goddess, Sri Ganesha and Lord Murugan. The busiest times at Parvathamalai are the days of full moon, no moon and new moon.

Lord Mallikarjunar

It is reputed that there are Siddhars who have made this Hill their home and who keep their presence a secret only choosing to reveal themselves to a few devotees of the Divine. It is believed that these Siddhars visit the Temple on the top of Parvathamalai at midnight to worship the presiding deities. Although no person is able to see these beings in physical bodies, Villagers around Parvathamalai say they can clearly hear the sound of ringing bells, blowing conches and beating drums exactly at midnight when these other-worldly pujas are performed by Siddhars. Devas and spiritual beings from other lokas are also believed to worship on the Hill every night.

"Siddhars have spoken volumes about Pancha Nathana Nataraja. They say that this deity is such a rarity in the Universe that even the Devas would give anything just for the chance of worshipping him. They say that on the Nataraja Abisheka days which occur in certain Tamil months (Chitra, Aani, Aavani, Purattaasi, Margazhi and Maasi), the Devas perform their worship to this deity in subtle form. This kind of worship is similar to the sookshma worship done by the Devas at the peak of the Arunachala Hill and on Parvathamalai Hill."

Sri Brahmarambika

It is reported by devotees that at night many paranormal activities occur on Parvathamalai. In this regard its possible to experience both Jyoti Darsanam at night and also to imbibe an almost other-worldly intoxicating scent of flowers. The Goddess idol at the Temple has a dazzling smile and Divine light can often be seen on her face and cheeks. When the devotee walks away from Goddess Brahmarambika in the sanctum sanctorum, the size of the deity instead of diminishing, appears to increase in size as if the Goddess has stepped forward and is approaching the devotee.

This place is filled with stories of miracles witnessed in one form or another. Devotees often report seeing images of both snake and trishulam when lighting camphor in front of Lord Siva. Some devotees have seen a nine foot King Cobra visiting the Sanctum Sanctorum and others have reported sight of three eagles (believed to be siddhars) circling the top of Parvathamalai.

Saints of Parvathamalai
There is a legend at Parvathamalai associated with the two saints Guru Namasivayar and Guhai Namasivayar - who were to later reside on caves on Arunachala Hill. It is reputed that during their time on Parvathamalai, Guhai Namasivayar and Guru Namasivayar accidentally cooked and ate an unknown herbal leaf (believed to be 'Karunochi - Siddha Medicine') and thereby gained eternal youth.

Thavathiru Veera Vairakiya Moorthy Swamigal
Thavathiru Veera Vairakiya Moorthy Swamigal is believed to have lived for many years on Parvathamalai engaged in sadhana dedicated to Lord Siva. The following legend appears in a well known book written in Tamil - but only now appears in English.

The legend goes thus:
To the northern side of Tiruvannamalai there is a place which has the sacred blessing of Lord Siva and which used to be known as Trisula Paaruvatham. Today this sacred place is called Parvathamalai. It is an ancient Hill which has a beautiful Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara located on its summit. This sacred Temple is believed to have originated over 2,000 years ago. The Hill is surrounded by forests and mountains and is known as Thirumoolaarenyam.

A number of Siddhars and Maharshis have performed Thaavam at this place. A famous Rishi known as Mirukaandu Muni, lived on this Hill and with his power of thaavam a river originated nearby called Mirukaanda River which now flows all through the forest. Agathiyar Maharshi and Kaanuvar Rishi have performed thapas and stayed for sometime at this sacred place. Even today a number of Siddhars and Rishis are believed to reside at Trisula Paaruvatham. The Universal Guru, Aathi Sivalinga - Chariya Peruman Gurupeetam is at that spot even now.

Parvathamalai through Mist

Thavathiru Guru Veera Vairakiya Moorthy Swamigal was the sixth Gurumoothy of the Gurupeetam. He was well versed in the agamas and in all manner of spiritual books. He performed Siva Linga pooja each morning, noon and evening for many years.

During his lifetime a Mughal (Muslim) king named Naavab Baadhumsha interrupted a Tiruvannamalai Temple programme during Festival time while a Panchamoorthy procession was going on. It is customary for saints to walk at the back of a Panchamoorthy procession: Neadumaran Devar, Jollyganda Devar, Paanapathera Devar, Veerupatchi Devar and Arunachalam were on a palanquin at the back of this procession. The Mughal king watching the procession viewed the saints at the back and asked that if the procession was for the five Gods on their vahanas how could it be acceptable that these saints should be coming on a palanquin at the back of them? This king felt that such an act was entirely improper.

People around the king told him that these five saints were very great and by power of their tapas were able to eliminate any problem or difficulty that might arise. On hearing this the king became enraged and cut a cow (which was nearby) into two halves. He told all around that he challenged the saints that if they were truly in possession of Divine power that they would be able to make the cow come back to life. The king announced that if the saints were to fail that he would destroy Arunachaleswarar Temple in retribution. The five saints tried all manner of puja, mantras and invocations to heal the cow and bring it back to life - but they failed with every attempt.

After sometime they heard a voice emanating from the sky informing them to go to Veera Vairakiya Moorthy Swamigal as he alone could return the cow to life. The five saints set off on the 25 km distance to Trisula Paaruvatham (Parvathamalai) to see the saint and to inform him about the king's challenge and to request him to come and return the cow to life.

Metal Padukas

When the five saints reached the Guru Peetam, Veera Vairakiya Moorthy Swamigal was in Siva Yogam. Two tigers (who were manifestations of God Siva and Goddess Parvati) were sitting on either side and the saints were unable to reach him. After Swamigal completed his yoga, the two tigers left the place and the five saints talked with Swamigal and informed him about the challenge of the King.

On hearing the challenge Swamigal requested that the five saints should worship the Siva Lingam murthy at the Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara Temple on top of Trisula Paaruvatham (Parvathamalai) and then informed the saints to make arrangements for a powerful and special puja. He gave explicit instructions that they should prepare a homam (burning sacrifice) long enough to fully stretch to Tiruvannamalai. It was his intention and tapas to walk through the 25 km long, burning homam whilst wearing scorching hot metal padukas. The five saints made the arrangements as outlined and Swamigal started his way towards Tiruvannamalai. As Swamigal reached the direction of Esanya Lingam (northeast of Arunachala) the two halves of the cow came together and joined up.

Swamigal arrived at the Big Temple and after worshipping Lord Arunachala, sprinkled holy water from his kamandalu onto the cow and the creature immediately returned to life. The hitherto distressed calf became happy and jumped towards its mother to have milk. The king was shocked to see such happenings and fell to the ground, worshipping Swamigal in remorse for his actions. The king most eager to see the full extent of the spiritual powers of the saint, requested Swamigal to bring to life a stone bull (Nandi) in the Temple. Swamigal said that it would happen and recited the Linga mantra. As he was chanting the Nandi came to life, stood up and made a loud sound and then sat back down and became stone again.

The king felt great remorse for his treatment of Veera Vairakiya Moorthy Swamigal and apologised most earnestly for everything that had transpired. He then went with the Swami to the Gurupeetam on Trisula Paaruvatham, stayed some time performing service of the Saint and then returned to Tiruvannamalai.

Veera Vairakiya Moorthy Swamigal continued at Trisula Paaruvatham all the while performing Siva Linga pooja and in this way helped develop Siva bhakti amongst the people of the area. He himself merged in the feet of his Lord Siva.