Arulmigu Rathnagireeswarar Temple - History
History & Heritage
Rathinagireeswarar temple at Ayyar Malai is one of the 275 most sacred "Saivite" temples ( Thiruthalangal) and more than 1300 years old.
The five pandavas are believed to have stayed here briefly during their exile. It is also believed that the sage Aghastiya worshipped at this temple on the way to "Podhigai".
There are many hymns about this temple in "Thevaram" by thirunavukkarasar (7th Century AD), Appar and Sundarar. Arunagirinadhar has sung about its glory in "Thirupugazh".
There are about 50 rock inscriptions from the 11th to 16th century AD indicating that the temple received patronage from the Cholas, Pandyas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara kings.
Background of the study
The height of Ayyar Malai is 342 M (1178 Ft) above MSL.
One has to climb 1017 steps to reach to the top of hill
The terrain is flat with gentle gradient from the "adivaram" up to the "Ponnidum Parai" temple
Thereafter, the steps are steep and the flight runs straight continuously up to the step no 833. The climb is dizzying & quite strenuous in spite of many wayside rest shelters.
About 20% of the pilgrims alone have the stamina to climb to the top of the hill. A few uses the "doli" The remaining terminate their pilgrimage at the foot hills near the "Ponnidum Parai" itself.
Most of aged long and desire to worship the Lord at the hill temple atleast once before their death, if suitable transportation facility is made available.
There was a proposal to form a ghat road but the work was not taken up due to high initial cost. Its alignment also had to be terminated midway, wing to rock out crops, steep terrain and lack of adequate space for parking elsewhere
The ghat road, besides rendering only a partial relief, would have made the pilgrims to go through the ordeal of climbing the remaining steps numbering about 150. To put an end to the hardship and ordeal of the pilgrims, there have been spates of representations to construct a passenger ropeway at this hill temple.
The temple authorities believe that a ropeway would enable more people to worship the Lord & attract more pilgrims & tourists