Sathuragiri hike entrance

DIY Hiking Guide To Sathuragiri Hill, Tamil Nadu

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Situated 80 Km from Madurai, Sathuragiri is one of the hiking trails in Tamil Nadu, which is also sacred. The hill is surrounded by hills on all four sides, forming a square. The name Sathuragiri comes from the aforementioned characteristic of the hill. Sathuram in Tamil means square, and Giri means hill, hence the name Sathuragiri.

Every year pilgrims from all over the nation hike the Sathuragiri hills to express their devotion and pay tribute to Lord Shiva, residing here in the form of Sundara Mahalingam and Sandana Mahalingam. The hills are also known to be an abode for rare herbs, plantations, the caves of Siddhars, and pristine water bodies with healing properties.

If you are a hiking enthusiast or a spiritual person, this hike is definitely one you must try. If you do not know much about the place, don’t worry. Here’s where we come in. In this blog, we take you through the various details about the place, the timings, the cost, and more.

Sathuragiri Hill Hiking Guide

Sathuragiri Hill History

The great sage Narathar once said that Sathuragiri is “Holier than the Kailash hill,” and the phrase is an important part of the hill’s identity. According to the lore, Lord Shiva once disguised as a pilgrim and went to this hill. When he encountered a priest and began talking to him, the latter said that the place belonged to a landlord. Shiva refuted the claim and said that the place belonged to him. 

Shiva instructed the priest to blow a conch to prove his argument and said that all the land around the hill where the sound reaches would become the temple. Thus, today, the complete hill and the surrounding area are considered sacred by the devotees, including the Siddhars. It is believed that many Siddhars reside in the hills even today.

Sundara Mahalingam temple

One of the most intriguing facets of the hill is the Sundara Mahalingam. The Shiva Linga here is tilted toward the right with a slight bend on the head. Another interesting fact is that the Sandana Mahalingam is said to be made from sandalwood.

Besides the above two, you can also witness the double Lingas (Erattai Lingam in Tamil) on your way to the hilltop. It is said that Shivan and Vishnu represent the two Lingas.

How To Reach Sathuragiri?

If we map your journey to Sathuragiri, it can be divided into two phases. In the first phase, you’ll need to reach Srivilliputhur. You can reach the place via train or via bus. Usually, two trains run between Chennai and Srivilliputhur. The second phase involves you traveling from Srivilliputhur to Watrap. Frequent buses run between these two places as well. Finally, in the third phase, you must reach Thaniparai from Watrap, which is 8 Km away. You can either hop onto a bus or get an auto.

You can also reach Sathuragiri from Madurai. You can either take a bus directly to Thaniparai or reach Watrap and take an auto/bus from there. However, two or four-wheelers are the most comfortable and easy way to reach Sathuragiri.

Network Availability

Sathuragiri has little to no connectivity across all parts of the trail. When we went, there was no signal reception for Airtel or Jio from beginning to end. 

ATM Availability

No ATMs are available in this region. The nearest ATM can be found at Watrap, a nearby town, 8 Km away. Carry sufficient cash with you, as digital payments aren’t accepted due to poor network.

Languages Spoken

The locals speak the regional language, Tamil. Very few people can communicate in English, so it’s best to know the basics of the language for you to get around.

Parking Availability

Ample parking space, paid and free, is available before the hike’s starting point.

Restroom Facilities

No restroom is available at the base or the trek starting point. A couple of free restrooms can be found at the top near the Sandana Mahalingam temple, but it is not well maintained. We advise you not to use them if it is crowded. Come prepared, as you might have to answer nature’s call outdoors.

Related: Use these super helpful public restroom tips during your travels. 

Best Time To Visit

Us with our mom and cousins
Us with our mom and cousins

The Sathuragiri Hill is open for hiking 6 days every month. On full moon and new moon days, and the days before and after them. The hill is also open on the days of Pradosham days, which occurs twice every month. Besides these, the place is also accessible on 3-4 days around Maha Shivarathri. On all other days, the hill is open just for devotees and not hikers. 

You can hike the hill during all months of the year, but it is best to visit the place between September and January. You can beat the summer heat and slippery terrain during monsoons. In fact, Sathuragiri Hill is closed during the monsoon months due to heavy rainfall.

Where To Eat?

Drinking water facility on the trail

We recommend you drink water only from the dedicated drinking water drums or taps installed for drinking purposes. Water elsewhere would be unhygienic and consuming it might make you sick.

Annadhanam or free food served

Free food, also known as Annadhanam (usually rice with sambar, rasam, and a vegetable fry), is served thrice a day to devotees at the base as well as on the top of the hill. You can have a sumptuous meal in these places but ensure you don’t eat too much as you are going to climb up and down the hill.

vendors along the hiking trail

There are no dine-in restaurants available, even at the base. Many vendors, who sell cold drinks, and snacks like chikki, bottled water, candies, and tea, can be found at different parts of the hiking trail. 

Note: Sometimes, food is not served at the hilltop. So carry some with you and check at the base before you start the hike.

Where To Stay?

Since Sathuragiri is just a day hike, there aren’t many options for you to stay at the base of the hill. Devotees usually stay in open halls, which can accommodate about 100 people each. There are 3 halls, and you must carry your essentials, such as bedsheets and pillows.

However, the restrooms were not well-maintained, and the place wasn’t convenient for us. So we descended the same day and recommend you to do the same. If you’re tired and planning to rest nearby, numerous good accommodations are available at Madurai, which is 78 Km away from the Sadhuragiri base. You can halt for the night there.


Things To Do In Sathuragiri

Hiking to visit the pilgrimage sites of Sandhana Mahalingam and Sundara Mahalingam temple is a popular activity in the region.

Hiking Details

Distance to the base: 27 Km from Srivilliputhur, 78 Km from Madhurai, and 218 Km from Tiruchirapalli.

Cost: Rs. 10 for forest entry.

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

Timings: From 7 AM to 12 PM. Entry is restricted beyond that. But you can descend at all times of the day.

Duration: 3-4 hours for the ascend and 2-3 hours to descend.

Summit Height: 830.5 m

Hike Distance: 7 Km one way

Hiking Route:

The trail has many checkpoints along the way.

first stretch of easy terrain

The hike begins with well-laid cement steps that you can easily climb. On either side, you’ll see numerous people dressed in yellow and red who might ask you for donations. You will also be able to see the Shiva Lingas and temples on both sides when you start. Move on the path for about 1.5 Km until you reach the first checkpoint, Mangani Odai.

Mangani odai

Odai translates to stream. There is a rope tied to the stream, enabling people to cross the stream safely. While crossing, you can see pebbles and rocks in the crystal-clear cold water. Post this, you’ll reach the second checkpoint, Valukkuparai, which translates to slippery rock.

Vazhukku parai or slippery rock

This huge boulder is extremely slippery. So ensure you wear shoes that have good grip and ensure you take each step with utmost safety.

Sangiliparai Athi oothu

A few meter walk will take you to Sangiliparai Aththi Oothu. There are steps carved into a huge boulder here. Until this checkpoint, the hike is pretty easy. This point marks the first quarter of the uphill hike.

Beyond this, you’ll have to hike uphill to reach the next checkpoint. The path is mostly covered in rocks, small stones, and gravel. A stream will follow you on your left.

Korakkal cave sathuragiri, tamil Nadu

On hiking further, you will notice a massive painting of Shiva Linga on your left. A visible will lead you down a cave named Korakkal Kugai. Two Shiva Lingas reside in the stream next to the small cave. It is believed that Korakkal Siddhar meditated and worshipped Lord Shiva in this 1000-year-old cave. You can also look into the cave but access will be prohibited if the water is too much. The cave marks the trail’s first half.

On moving further, you’ll come across Irattai Lingam (Double Lingas), Naval Sunai (Its water is said to cure sugar patients), a tree cow, Goddess Vana Durgai (Forest Durga), Karuppu Saami (black god) who is known for guarding the border marking that you are close to the temple.

Close to the Irattai Lingam, you’ll find a hair donation center and numerous other shops where you can buy items for poojas and rituals. With these, you can perform rites for Lord Shiva and offer your prayers. From here the route splits into two paths. One leads to Sundara Mahalingam Temple (Right) and the other leads to Sandana Mahalingam Temple (Left). You’ll have to hike downhill on the same route to complete your journey.

The hike is challenging for many people. So, if you’re a beginner ensure you carry sufficient liquids and electrolytes with you. Take breaks at every checkpoint and even in the middle if necessary. Try to go with a group, that way you feel less drained and the trek will become easy.

Difficulty Level: Moderate – difficult, highly subjected to your fitness level.


Open grasslands, forests, streams, cemented paths, stones, and boulders.

At The Sathuragiri Summit:

Unfortunately, unlike other hiking trails, there are no viewpoints on reaching the summit. You’ll see only two temples at the top of the hill. The 2500+ years old temples of Sundara Mahalingam and Sandana Mahalingam are located here.

Sundara Mahalingam temple

Worship Sundara Mahalingam temple first. You’ll also notice a stream that runs along the circumference of the temple.

Sundara Mahalingam temple - tilted Siva linga

There are two Lingas and one Devi situated inside the temple premises.

Sandhana Mahalingam temple

You’ll have to climb 100+ steps to reach the Sandana Mahalingam temple. Midway, you’ll find restrooms, accommodation sheds, and a place where free food is served. So take a breather here if you’d like.

Permission: Since Sathuragiri Peak is located in the Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary of the Western Ghats, permission is required to enter it. Carry a valid ID proof with you. Generally, they check your ID at the base if it is less crowded.

Important Things To Remember

  • A guide is not required to hike Sathuragiri Hill.
  • The use of plastics and smoking is strictly prohibited. As a hiker, it is incumbent on you to be responsible and not litter. Collect and bring back the waste with you and dispose of them in proper dedicated bins.
  • Illegal trekking is strictly prohibited, and trespassers will be prosecuted.
  • Although you’ll find numerous streams along the trail, we do not advise you to drink the water from them. People cross them with bare feet, and take baths in them, making the water inedible. In fact, the source of the water is the same, so you can take a dip in it if you’d like but do not drink the water.
  • You can get water from the separate drinking water tanks or taps kept specifically for drinking purposes. Water is not filtered and the sanitation quality is poor. Thus, it is best to buy water bottles from small vendors if you are concerned about safety.
  • Although you’ll see people hiking barefoot without any footwear, we highly recommend you wear good hiking shoes as the terrain is slippery and full of stones and boulders.
  • You’ll find plenty of monkeys throughout the trail. Beware of your belongings, and do not feed them. Read the blog to learn how to deal with the monkeys.
  • Leeches can be found during the rains. Learn how to treat leeches the right way.

Essential Things To Carry

  • Ensure you carry at least 1 L of water per person.
  • Take some energy bars and snacks.
  • 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.
  • Buy sticks for support at the base, or bring hiking poles, especially if you are a beginner.
  • Above all, ensure you wear comfortable shoes with good traction and grip.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a guide required for the Sathuragiri trek?

The probability of getting lost in the Sathuragiri hike is nil. The straight visible route will lead you to the summit. Thereby, a guide is not required to hike Sathuragiri.

Is camping allowed in Sathuragiri?

Camping in tents is not allowed. However, you can stay at the dedicated sheds built to accommodate people at the top of the Sadhuragiri hills.

Is a GPS file required to hike Sathuragiri?

Although the signal is weak or nil, you don’t require a GPS file. The trail is very frequented by people and leads you straight to the top of the hill. If you need a GPS file, drop an email to

Can the Sathuragiri hike be done in a day?

Of course, one day is enough to hike Sathuragiri. Start your hike early, at 7 AM. You’ll reach the base at 4 PM or before.

If you find this blog helpful in planning your trip to Sathuragiri Hills, comment below. For more extensive hiking guides such as this and travel tips, guides, and itineraries, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter and follow us on social media – Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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