Not many will know Kalugu malai (eagles’ hill), it is one among the serene offbeat destinations in Tamilnadu. Kalugu malai is small hillock nestling in a calm village named Kovil patti. This spectacular spot is just 20 kms from the famous Sankaran Temple. For the ones who prefer to spend their holiday in a sublime place, devoid of hustle bustle, with stunning natural scenic, and hoary rock cut temples as backdrop, then Kalugu malai is their ultimate destination.
As it is a way-out destination, there won’t be any guides to guide you through the rock beds. But there is no need for local guides, as the place itself explains a lot. People walking past the hill, or visiting the temple or even the goatherds are friendly and will be ready to render tourists any kind of help. The path that leads to Kalugu malai is very picturesque, dotted with many giant wind mills, bordered on either sides by banyan trees and pleasing green pastures.
Many centuries back Kalugu malai was a dense forest, visited only by gurus and sages. It was earlier known as Araimalai or Thirumalai, and was used by the Jains as their preaching point. Even still we can witness thousands of Jain statues, carving in the bas reliefs, rock beds, where Jain saints did penance and many inbuilt caves. The most interesting part of the bas relief is that, all the statues are carved in a similar proportion and dimension. There are statues of Jain deities including Adinatha, Parsvanatha, Mahavira, Bahubali, Ambika Yakshi and Padmavati Yakshi from the 8-9th century CE.
Other than Jain beds, another most enchanting part of the hillock is an unfinished rock cut temple. If this temple had been finished, it would have gone into history as the most beautiful Rock Cut temple in Asia. Though it is half done, its quite mesmerizing. The Vimana (top part of the temple) speaks of the peerless craftsmanship of the sculptors. The whole temple is a passionate piece of art created by adept architects. The inside of the temple is rough and unpolished, so beware of rocky surfaces as you go inside the temple. There is no specific idol placed inside the sanctorum. This unique temple is carved out of a single rock, in a perfect square. From the top of the boulder, the temple appears to be placed inside a square box, ready to be packed and gifted. This temple is surely a gift from our ancestors.
Vettuvan temple is 300 feet high located in a hill that sprawls across 50 acres. This Temple was believed to be built in the year 8th to 9th century during the reign of Pandyas. This temple is held in par with monolithic Kailasanath temple in Ellora, the temples of Pallavas at Mamallapuram, and the temples of Pattadakal in Bijapur, Karnataka.
The main sculptures of Mridanga Dakshinamurthy, Narasimha (Vishnu), Siva, and Brahma are truly breathtaking and magnificent.
Now the monument is undertaken by Archaeology department of Tamilnadu.
Below the Vettuvan temple, there is a small Ayyanar temple (Village guardian), which is visited by the villagers regularly. At the foot of the Kalugu malai, is the Kalugasala moorthi temple, dedicated to God Muruga. This temples is quite busy with devotes thronging all day.
Kalugu malai is located at the distance of 20 km from Kovilpatti. All the busses running from Kovil Patti to Sankaran temple will halt at Kalugu Malai. It’s also better to hire a taxi from Kovilpatti.Kovil Patti is situated near Thoothukudi. There are busses from Madurai and Thoothukudi.