Vettuvankovil Kazhugumalai

Vettuvankovil, Kazhugumalai

Saivite Temples - Thoothukudi


Siva, facing east



Other Deities


Vettuvankovil Kazhugumalai is an unfinished Shiva Temple excavated in a hill called Kazhugumalai. It is an east-facing temple located on the eastern side of the hill. The climb to the temple is from the west side through steps hewn out of the rock. Below the hill is a large pond and a Vinayaka temple on the slope. On the same hill is the famous Jain Beds with some excellent carvings. Vettuvankovil Kazhugumalai temple is carved out from a single rock in a rectangular portion measuring 7.5 m in depth. The temple’s top portion is finished while the bottom is unfinished. The granite rock of the temple looks like a blooming lotus, with hills surrounding it on three sides. The vimana has the attendant deities of Shiva, a unique rendering of Dakshinamurthy playing a Mridanga, Siva with his consort, dancers, Nandi, and animals like monkeys and lions. This is the only known example of a Pandya era monolithic temple that was carved out in three dimensions, on the site from the top of the hillock.

Holy Water (Theertham) – No information

Sacred Tree (Sthala Vriksham) – No information


Vettuvankovil Kazhugumalai was excavated in the 8th century CE along with the Kalugumalai Jain Beds under the patronage of the early Pandya King Parandhagan Netunjadaiyan (regnal years 765 – 790 CE). His inscriptions in Vattezhuthu are found on the hill.


Both the excavations of the Muruga temple below and the Vettuvankovil Kazhugumalai temple on top were started at the same time as a competition between a father and son sculptor duo. The son who carved out the Muruga temple was successful and the father did not finish the shiva temple. It is believed that the father killed the son in anger. The name Vettuvan Kovil has two possible meanings in Tamil, one is ‘Temple of Sculptors’ and the other is ‘Temple of the Slayer’.


Vettuvankovil Kazhugumalai is 18 kms east of Sankarankovil, 18 kms west of Kovilpatti and 55 kms north of Tirunelveli.

Stay and Food

None locally except tea shops. The closest are Sankarankovil, Kovilpatti, and Tirunelveli depending on your travel plans.

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