Munchirai, Sivalaya Ottam -1

Saivite Temples, Kanyakumari District


Mahadevar, facing east



Other Deities

Sastha, Naagar, Ganesha, Narayana Perumal

Munchirai is called Thirumalai as the temple is located on top of a small hill. About 50 steps lead up to the beautiful temple. The outer Prakaram is large and filled with trees. A Mantapam leads into the inner Prakaram where the sanctums of Mahadeva and Narayana Perumal are adjacent to each other. The sanctum of Lord Shiva is in typical Dravidian style and that of Lord Vishnu is in Kerala style. There are 3 ponds here, one at the base, one outside the outer Prakaram in the north and one behind the outer Prakaram towards the west of the temple. The large rocks in front in the outer Prakaram provides a beautiful spot for devotees to meditate and relax. The entire place is filled with birdsong with no disturbances from outside sound. Munchirai is the first of the twelve temple in the famous Sivalaya Ottam (Siva temple run) that is performed by devotees on Sivaratri Day/Night. This run is completed in 24 hours covering about 100 kilometers by men who undertake fasting before. They perform the run chanting Lord Vishnu’s name – Gopala Govinda establishing the confluence and inseparable nature of Saivism and Vaishnavism.

Holy Water (Theertham) – Temple Tank

Sacred Tree (Sthala Vriksham) – No information


Munchirai is an ancient temple which has been served by the Tranvancore Kings and Thirumalai Nayak who donated gold and the crown for the Lord.


In the ancient days the milk of a creature that was half tiger and half human was essential for performing Yagas. This creature is believed to have lived in these parts. When the Pandavas wanted to perform such a Yaga they were advised by Lord Krishna to send Bhima to procure the same. He gave Bhima 12 Rudraksha seeds and warning him about the creature told him to drop one at a time when chased by it. Upon reaching the forest he shouted Gopala, Govinda loudly to instigate the creature which was a staunch Shiva devotee. The creature started chasing him and on his run wherever he dropped the seeds a Shiva Lingam sprouted up delaying the creature as it paid obeisance to Lord Shiva. Finally exhausting the seeds Bhima was caught by one leg in the border of the creature’s domain and in the dispute he was saved by the timely intervention of his elder brother Yudishtra. The creature accepting Yudishtra’s judgement let Bhima go and also provided the mil for the Yaga. The 12 places where Bhima dropped the 12 Rudraksha seeds are the temples of Sivalaya Ottam. The running ritual is the one performed by Bhima.


Munchirai is 5.5 kilometers southwest of Marthandam.

Stay and Food

None locally. Closest place for food is Marthandam, stay is Nagercoil.

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