Kalugumalai is a panchayat town in Kovilpatti Taluk of Thoothukudi district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Kalugumalai is 21 km and 22 km from Kovilpatti and Sankarankovil respectively.[1] The place houses the rockcut Kalugasalamoorthy Temple, monolithic Vettuvan Koil[2] and Kalugumalai Jain Beds.

Kalugumalai is located in Tamil Nadu
Location in Tamil Nadu, India
Coordinates: 9°09′N 77°43′E / 9.15°N 77.72°E / 9.15; 77.72Coordinates: 9°09′N 77°43′E / 9.15°N 77.72°E / 9.15; 77.72
Country India
StateTamil Nadu
105 m (344 ft)
 • Total14,834
 • OfficialTamil
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)


Kalugumalai is located at 9.152962, 77.704386.[3] It has an average elevation of 105 metres (344 feet). It is strategically located in between Kovilpatti (20 km from kalugumalai) and Sankarankoil (19 km from kalugumalai) and served as ancient trade route from Kovilpatti to courtallam and sengottai. The village has two parts Kazhugumalai and South Kazhugumalai or kottai kalugumalai


The hill Kalugumalai ("Hill of the vulture"). Earlier it was known as Araimalai or Thirumalai. Even before that it was referred as Nechchuram and Tiruneccuram. Some of the epigraphies mentions that there was a palace for the pandya official called Ettimannan. At the foot of the Kalugumalai a large urn-burial cemetery was found. However hundreds of urns were destroyed during limestone quarrying.[4] Opposite to Kalugasalamoorthy Temple there is a small palace which served as local residence of Raja of Ettaiyapuram.[5]

The place was the scene of Kalugumalai riots of 1895, when ten people were killed in caste clashes.


As of 2001 India census,[6] Kalugumalai had a population of 14,834. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. Kalugumalai has an average literacy rate of 70%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 78%, and female literacy is 63%. In Kalugumalai, 9% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Worship PlacesEdit

There are three important Temples in Kalugumalai and a huge Church.

  • Jaina Abode

There are many rock relief sculptures dating to the 8th-9th century A.D. in the area, including the rock cut image of Bhagawan Parshwanatha flanked by two Yaksha, as well as many other rock cut images of other tirthankaras.

A portion of Jain rock cut images

The area is known for the Jain cave temple and architecture. There are a number of Jain images with labels in vattezhuthu script. The epigraphs mentions the name of the donors,of the figures, of the provisions made for the offerings, etc. The main deity of the hill was called Araimalai Alwar. The other figures were caused to be made by the followers of Jain faith from a number of villages nearby. The sculptures were caused to be made in memory of the departed souls. There are approximately one hundred and fifty relief sculptures. Among the donors were the carpenters, potters, smiths, cultivators and other workers.[7] A number of others were high ranking persons bearing the titles of Enadi, Etti and Kavidi. Provisions are also recorded for expounding Jain siddhanta a Gunasagara bhattara a great Jain ascetic lived here. The sculptures and the epigraphs are to be assigned to the reign of Pandya, Parantaka Nedunjadaiya (A.D. 768-800). From different epigraphies it is found that they belong to different era and the place became extinct after the 13th century due to loss of Patronage after Pandya kings.[8]

Vettuvan Koil
  • Vettuvan Koil

Vettuvan Koil (English: a Sculptor's paradise) is a Hindu temple built between the 8th and 9th century. Kalugumalai is a priceless unfinished Pandyan monolith cave temple, part of the iconographic richness that helped chronicle the burgeoning richness of the Tamil culture, traditions, and sacred centres containing religious art.[9] About 7.5 meter of the mountain is excavated in a rectangular fashion and in the middle the temple is sculpted from a single piece of rock. The carvings reflect the southern temple style of the Pandya era. Only the top portion of the temple is completed. The temple has an entrance and centre hall for the main deity. In the later days Ganesha's idol is kept and worshipped. At the top of the temple beautiful sculpture of Uma Maheswarar, Dakshinamoorthy, Vishnu and Brahma can be found. This temple is of same style of Kailasnath temple in Ellora, structural shrines at Pattadakal in Bijapur, monolithic temples of Pallavas at Mamallapuram showing the close political relationship between Pallavas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas.[4] There are around 122 sculptures in the rock cut temple. The intricately carved statues are from fine granite.[10] here another one temple is famous Sri Ananthamma kovil

  • Kalugasalamoorthy temple

The main deity of this temple is Murugan. The main deity hall and entrance hall is excavated inside the foot hills of kalugumalai in the south western corner of the hill and with external structural additions. The temple has many aesthetic sculptures.The temple dates to the 18th century.[11][12] The main deity is Lord Murugan with his wife Deivanai. The temple complex also has shrines of Shiva, Akilandeswari, Vinayakar and many lesser deities.[5]

Kazhugasalamoorthy Murugan temple facade
  • Our Lady Of Lourdes Church

Our Lady Of Lourdes Church is the biggest Roman Catholic Church in Vicinity. This church is more than 100 years old and is adorned with two tall steeples in the front entrance of this church. This church has over 3000 members who gather here every week for prayers and are also actively involved in community activities. A primary school named as St. Mary's Primary School managed by this church is located adjacent to it.[13]

Other than these temples there is Vinayaga temple at the top of the Kalugumalai hill and Ayyanar temple on the way to Jaina Abode.


Kalugumalai, along with surrounding villages, specializes in the manufacturing of safety matches.[citation needed] There are hundreds of small scale industries involved in this trade, supported by the dry climatic condition and skilled labor available.[citation needed] Grocery business is another one doing in large scale.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 August 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Kalugumalai
  4. ^ a b L. A. Cammiade (October 1930). "Observations Upon Ancient Sites in the Neighbourhood of Kalugumalai, Madras Presidency". Man. 30: 187–189. JSTOR 2790466.
  5. ^ a b Anthony Good (December 1989). "Divine Marriage in a South Indian Temple". Mankind. 19 (3): 181–197. doi:10.1111/j.1835-9310.1989.tb00107.x.
  6. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 16 June 2004. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  7. ^ Lisa N. Owen (2010). "DEMARCATING SACRED SPACE: THE JINA IMAGES AT KALUGUMALAI" (PDF). International Journal of Jaina Studies (Online). 6 (4): 1–28.
  8. ^ V. VEDACHALAM (20 July 2011). "Jain monastery at Kazhugumalai". The Hindu. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  9. ^ Rajan, K.V. Soundara (1998). Rock-cut Temple Styles'. Mumbai, India: Somaily Publications. p. 7. ISBN 978-81-7039-218-7.
  10. ^ "KAZHUGUMALAI". Chennai. The Times of India. 16 October 2012. p. 5.
  11. ^ "Homepage of Kalugumalai". Retrieved 9 February 2007.
  12. ^ "Vattuvan Koil (temple)". indoarch.org. Retrieved 9 February 2007.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit