Rathnagirishwarar temple, Ayyarmalai - Kulithalai

Hiking Guide To Rathnagirishwarar Temple, Ayyarmalai, Kulithalai

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Located in the Karur district, Ayyarmalai is a short day hike from Tiruchirappalli. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is worshiped in the form of Rathnagiriswarar. Also known as Ratnagiri Malai, Sivaya Malai, or Manikka Malai, it is a popular destination for pilgrims and explorers who visit Ayyarmalai to experience natural beauty in the region and offer prayers to Lord Shiva. Interestingly, the temple’s legacy and history live on in the songs of Appar, a renowned Tamil poet.

If you’re looking to go on a hike here, we’ve got just what you need. With this guide, you’ll be able to trek to the summit of this beautiful help without much help.

Rathnagirishwarar Temple, Ayyarmalai


According to folklore, there once lived a noble king who worshipped Lord Shiva on this hill. To complete the rituals, he used to fill water from the nearby Cauvery River. However, the vessel in which he filled the water never filled. Several villagers attempted to do the same but to no avail. Angry and unhappy with this, the kind threw his sword at God. However, he later realized his mistake and sought forgiveness through prayers. Happy with the devotion, Lord Shiva appeared before him and gave him Rathinangal, or precious stones. The head of the stones carries a small bend which can be seen even today.

Another story says that the five Pandavas from the epic Mahabharatha stayed on this hill. Due to this, the hill got the name Aivar Malai which translates to five-person-hill. As time went by, the name changed to Ayyarmalai.

Best Time To Visit Ayyarmalai

Ayyar malai full hill view

Although Ayyarmalai can be visited throughout the year, the best time to visit the place is during the post-monsoon months. Due to the moderate temperature and relatively low humidity, the hike is easier, and there are lesser chances of you suffering from a heat stroke, sunstroke, or dehydration.

How To Reach Ayyarmalai?

By Air

Tiruchirapalli International Airport (IATA code: TRZ, 50 Km) is the nearest airport. From there, you have to hop on three buses to reach Ayyarmalai. First, to the Central bus stand, then to Kulithalai, and then onto another bus to Ayyarmalai.

By Rail

Kulithalai Railway Station (station code: KLT, 9 Km) is the nearest station. You can walk to the bus stand and then take a bus or hop on a tuk-tuk to reach your destination.

By Road

Kulithalai bus stand is the main bus stand (9 Km) which has good connectivity to nearby districts. There are frequent buses available from the Kulithalai bus stand to Ayyarmalai. You can also hop on a tuk-tuk.

Network Availability

Ayyarmalai has intermittent to good connectivity from the network providers – Jio and Airtel.

ATM Availability

Many ATMs are available in the region. Digital UPI payments are also accepted in most shops. However, it’s always good to have some cash in hand.

Languages Spoken

Tamil is the regional language spoken by most people from Kulithalai. Very few people can converse in English.

Parking Availability

A small parking space is available at the base near the temple entrance.

Restroom Facilities

We didn’t find any restrooms. These super helpful public restroom tips come in handy during your travels. 

Where To Eat?

There are a few shops located at the base. For good dine-in restaurants, you have to drive to Kulithalai, which is 9 Km away.

Where To Stay?

Since Ayyarmalai can be done as a day hike, you don’t need to stay there. Furthermore, there are no good accommodations available in Ayyarmalai and Kulithalai. So, you might have to drive to Karur (42 Km) or Tiruchirapalli (45 Km). Below are a few of our recommendations in Trichy.


Things To Do In Ayyarmalai

Ayyarmalai is a pilgrim site for residents living nearby. Hikers and worshippers usually climb up the hill to get blessings from Lord Shiva, relax at the hilltop, and enjoy the panoramic view.

Hiking Details

Distance to the base: 9 Km from Kulithalai, 42 Km from Karur, and 45 Km from Tiruchirapalli 

Cost: Free entry

Registration: No registration or pre-online booking is required.

Timings: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Duration: 30 mins – 1 hour to ascend and 20 – 30 mins to descend

Summit Height: 1178 feet or 359 m

Hike Distance: 1017 steps

Difficulty Level: Easy – highly subject to your fitness level.

Terrain: Rocky steps

Hiking Route:

Ayyar malai entrance

The hike starts from the base temple.

Ayyar malai hiking steps

You must climb the flight of stairs and take breaks whenever required.

Saptha Kannigal temple

After crossing about 500 steps, you can see “Saptha Kannimar Gal” (10 Gods) on your left (while climbing up). You can worship them and continue climbing uphill. 

On completing 75% of the hike, you’ll encounter a Ganesha temple, and on the right resides the entry gate to it.

Amman temple midway

Climb a couple more flights of stairs to reach the Amman temple.

Tamil inscriptions on the temple wall

You can see Tamil inscriptions on the walls of the temple. You can pause for a few moments, absorb the picturesque view, and resume your hike.

Note: The rope car is currently operated for construction purposes only. So you won’t be able to access it.

At The Ayyar Malai Summit:

View from the Ayyar malai hill top

You’ll get panoramic views of the surrounding vegetation and settlements from the hilltop.  At the hilltop lies the Rathnagiriswarar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. You’ll be surrounded by a surreal vibe that will instill a sense of peace in you.

Fort around the Rathnagirishwarar temple, Kulithalai

Get blessings and walk around the temple premises to see the fort or mandapa-like structures with pillars. 

You’ll return to the base via the same route.

Important Things To Remember

  • A guide is not required to hike Ayyarmalai Hill.
  • The use of plastics and smoking are strictly prohibited. As a hiker, it is incumbent on you to be responsible and not litter. Collect and bring back the waste and dispose of them in proper dedicated bins.
  • Illegal hiking is strictly prohibited.
  • Footwear needs to be removed at the base. You’ll have to climb the steps barefoot.
  • There are numerous monkeys all along the hike right from the starting point. Learn how to deal with monkeys.
  • Shops are available only at the base of the hike. And there is no water source en route. So make sure to carry some snacks and water before starting.

Essential Things To Carry

  • Ensure you carry at least 1 L of water per person.
  • Have your first aid kit handy.
  • Cap, sunscreen & sunglasses are essential to ward off the summer heat.
  • Carry a poncho or raincoat in case of rain.

Read the blog to know more about what we usually carry for day hikes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a guide required for the Ayyarmalai?

No, a guide is not required for people visiting the Ayyarmalai temple as the route is straight all the way up, and the probability of getting lost is nil.

Is camping allowed in Ayyarmalai?

Camping is strictly not allowed in most of the hills in Tamil Nadu.

Can the Ayyarmalai hike be done in a day?

Absolutely. Ayyarmalai is a small hill that can be hiked in half of the day.

How many steps are there in Ayyarmalai?

There are about 1017 steps in Ayyarmalai.

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