At the base of Thiruthani hills, standing 700 feet above the sea level, in Tamil Nadu, you can find 365 steps, leading to the top of the hills. Each of this steps represents one day of a year. Traveling through all these steps, reaching atop of the hills, you can find, one of the Arupadi Veedu; the six holy abodes of Lord Muruga, the world famous Thiruthani Murugan Temple. The other five Arupadi Veedu are Tirupparangunaram, Swamimalai, Thiruchendur, Pazhamudircholai and Palani.
Like most of the other Hindu temples in India, the origin of this temple is also buried deep in eternity. The temple had been described in the Tirumurugaatruppadai, a work composed b Nakkeerar, in the Sangam period, and hence it is assumed that the temple was built during that era. Records shows that, the temple was financially supported by the rulers of Vijayanagar and also by local Zamindars.
There are many legends associated with this temple, and most of these are attached with Lord Indra. One among them is that, Lord Indra married away his daughter, Valli to Lord Muruga, and as a part dowry he gave away Airavatam; the white elephant. But after sending away Airavatam, the wealth of Lord Indra started declining. Seeing this Lord Muruga offered back the Airavatam to Indra, but Indra refused to take back Airavatam, as it was against protocol, and asked Lord Murugan to place the Airavatam facing the heaven; home of Lord Indra. When you reach the temple you can see the image of Airavatam in the temple facing east, as a promise kept to Lord Indra.
Another legend circling the temple, associate with Lord Indra is that, in the marriage between Lord Muruga and Lord Indra’s daughter, Lord Indra offered Lord Muruga a sandal stone as a part of dowry, and it is believed that even today sandal paste made from this sandal stone is being applied to the image of Lord Muruga. Legend also states that Lord Muruga carries in his chest the discus thrown by the Tarakasuran, a demon, in his chest, and so in the image of Lord Murgan in Thiruthani Murugan Temple bores a hollow space in its chest. It is also believed that the Lord Murugan gifted the discus to Lord Vishnu.
There is also a legend which says that, Lord Muruga, imparted knowledge of the language Tamil to a sage named Agasthyr, and hence in this temple, the Lord is considered as Veeramurthy Ganamurthy, and also Acharyamurthy.
Another Legend says that, after killing Ravana, and finding penanace in Rameswaram, Lord Rama, came back here at Thiruthani, to find peace by offering prayers to Lord Muruga. It also believed that in the Dwapara Yuga, Arjuna, visited the temple to offer prayers to the Lord, on his way to Teertha Yatra .
It is also said that, Lord Vishnu got back his Chakra, which was seized from him the demon Tarakasura, on praying to Lord Muruga at this temple. It was here that Lord Bhrama was conciliated by Lord Muruga, near a spring, which is now considered as holy, and is known as Brahmasonai. Lord Bhrama was imprisoned here, in the temple by Lord Murga when he failed to explain the significance of ‘Pranava’.
It is also believed that Vasuki, the king of snakes, worshiped Lord Muruga in this temple, to heal the wounds in his body, which was caused when he acted as a rope to churn to churn the Milky Ocean to obtain Amrit. It is also believed Lord Murugan’s terrors and anger towards the asuras for their cruelty, was tempered here at Tiruthanimalai, hence this place is also called Shantipuri; meaning Abode of Peace. The place is also known as Chanikasalam, as it is believed that, Lord Murugan would fulfill all the desires of his devotees, if they worship him in utter faith and true devotion. It is also believed that if a person prays to Lord Muruga with his full heart and soul for five days in this temple then, that person would be blessed with prosperous life thereafter.
Saint Arunagirinathar, a tamil poet who lived in the 15th century, had praised the hills in his works as a favourite spot sages to worship gods and also to perform prolonged tapas, and he also compared this place to Sivalok; the very soul of the whole world.
One of the legends in Carnatic music, Sri Muttuswami Deekshitar , who lived about 200 years ago, is said to have had his inspiration for music when Lorg murugan sweetened his tongue with prasadam on the steps of Tiruttani, and as a tribute he composed his first krithi “Sri Nathadhi Guruguho Jayanthi Jayanthi”.
Another one of the specialties of Thiruthani Murugan temple is the Saravana Poikai, one of the sacred tanks in the temple. It is believed that this is where Lord Muruga was born. Unlike anyother Murgan temple, the Thiruthani temple is located at the foot of the hills and the sacred tank, here is filled with water of medicinal values, and has rich sulfur contents. It is believed that, one dip in this sacred tank can cure many ailments.
The Saptha Rishi theerthams, is another important spot in the temple, which is believed to have been visited by the Saptha Rishi’s to pray to Lord Muruga. The main festivals conducted in the temple are, Adi Krittikai, which is celebrated in the months of July-August, and December 31st Step festival.
The nearest airport to Thiruthani, is the Chennai International airport, it is about 75 km away from the temple. If you are planning to travel via train, then hail at Arakkonam railway station, which is 12 km away from the temple. Thiruthani has well connected roads and there are regular buses from all the nearby cities.