ECR Surprises 1 (Sanyasi Hill):

ECR Surprises 1 (Sanyasi Hill):

As a devotee of Shri Aurobindo and The Mother of Pondicherry, I used to visit the Ashram atleast once in a quarter for the past 8 years (after coming to Chennai in 2000) and everytime we straight go to the Ashram, do some shopping and return. Only this time, I had a big list of temples in ECR, mainly got through the friends of this Blog.

We started off by 6 AM and after Mayajal, there was a heavy downpour. First I drove with the parking lamp on, then with the headlights on and by the time I near Mahabalipuram, the driving became too risky and we had to halt for about 15 minutes and then proceed.

My first temple in the list was Sri Malaimandala Perumal temple at Sathurangapattinam (Kalpakkam) but while passing through this, the rain was so heavy that I dropped the idea and thought I have to drive straight to Pondy as usual. But surprisingly, the rain stopped when we approached the 2nd temple at just about 5 kms.

(Later, on some other day, we visited Sri Malaimandala Perumal temple at Sathurangapattinam and here is the link:
Links:  Location Photos)

It was Shri Pramiki Vittala temple at Vittalapuram. This is a temple with archeological importance. Built by the Vijayanagar empire in the same style as the famous Vittala Temple at Hampi. After Mahabalipuram, in about 5 kms,  Thirukkazhukundram-Kalpakkam road will cross the ECR. From this 4 way junction, Vittalapuram is at about 4-5 kms on the right side of ECR.

A short note on the Hampi Vittala temple: This has a monolithic ratham (temple car) and about 100 musical stone pillar groups. Each pillar group has 7 pillars that produce the Sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-tha-ni. Interestingly each pillar group produces the sound of a different musical instrument. What an archeological marvel but unfortunately it is in ruins without the deities! People will definitely ooze out blood out of their eyes when they see this. Coincidentally, we had seen Hampi just a week back!!. Of course, I don’t think the Vittala temple at Vittalapuram here can match the Hampi temple but atleast it will be in the same model, I believe. The temple was closed both while going ( 7:30 am) and on return (3PM) and so could not see the inside. I will cover this when I visit this temple.

(Later, on some other day, we visited the Sri Vittalapuram temple also and here is the link:
Links: Location Photos)

My 3rd temple in the list was the Thirupuleeswarar and Vaikuntanatha Swamy Temple at Voyalur suggested by Mr. R.V.Subramanian of this Blog reader. This is another temple with archaeological importance by the Vijayanagara empire, again.
Links: Location Photos

The next in the list was Sri Kandaswamy temple at Nergunapattu and following was just what the information I had about the temple from Mannaikosai, also a reader of this Blog, from internet :

” நெற்குணப்பட்டு கந்தசாமி கோவில் – தொண்டை மண்டலத்தில் கடற்கரை நகரமாம் கல்பாக்கம் அருகே மலைகள் சூழ இருக்கும் எழில் கொஞ்சும் திருத்தலம். சிதம்பரம் சுவாமிகள் திருப்போரூருக்கு போவதற்கு முன், இத்தலத்து முருகனிடம் உத்தரவு பெற்றுச் சென்றாராம். ஒரு பெரிய கல்வெட்டு ஒன்று வெட்டவெளியில் கிடக்கிறது.இங்கு சன்யாசி மலை என்று ஒரு குன்று இருக்கிறது. இங்கு ஒரு லிங்கம் மலையுச்சியில் உள்ளது. பௌர்ணமிக்கு மலை வலம் வருதல் சிற்ப்பு. சித்த்ர்கள் வாழும் மலை.
கல்பாக்கம் – மதுராந்தகம் சாலையில் இத்தலம் உள்ளது. சுமாரான கிராமத்து சாலை. பேருந்து உள்ளது”

The place is exactly half way between Chennai and Pondicherry. i.e., 76 kms from Chennai and 76 kms from Pondicherry. After Kalpakkam, Pudupattinam and the long Palar bridge at Voyalaur, there is a road to the right side that goes to Maduranthakam. Take that road for about 2-3 kms and you will reach Nergunapattu. The Kandaswamy temple is about 100 meters inside from the main road on the right side.

The google map location of the temple is here.

Chidhambaram Swamigal, the founder of Thirupporur Kandaswamy temple, before going to Thirupporur, got permission from this Murugan as said above. There was no priest in the temple. It is an ancient temple with rich heritage and spiritual values but not so impressive from the view point of architecture and maintenance. Shiva, Amman, Murugar and Vinayagar shrines are cramped within a small place.

IMG_3782 IMG_3781 IMG_3779 IMG_3780

Then I was looking around for the Sanyasi hill but nowhere could I find any traces of a hill. I thought I had mixed the information of two places wrongly and so decided to leave. But something sparked inside and advised me to enquire there. So I went to a group of people over there and enquired. Yes, the place is around and it is just about a km from there by walk but have to go around for 4-5 kms to go by a vehicle. A village man, with the smell of the previous night’s hangover offered to come along with us in the car to show the route and I hesitantly allowed him. We then took again the Maduranthakam road for a km and it joined with the Koovathoor – Maduranthaham road (Koovathur is right on the ECR road). And from that junction, in about a km towards Maduranthaham, we have to take a right to a village road and take several left and right turns to have a glimpse of the hillocks finally. We had to stop the car at a distance and walk over. We could see a group of 4 hillocks there.

First we were taken to a Village Kanni koil under a mammoth banyan tree. I am not an expert, but from the look of it, doesn’t it look to be atleast a thousand year old? It is a fantastic and picturesque place any nature lover will love it. The temple is completely engulfed by the Banyan tree.

Backside of Kanni Koil

Front side of the Kanni Koil 1

The temple underwent a colour wash very recently and throws a fresh look. The sculptures at the top of the temple are beautiful looking.


IMG_3797 Front side of Kanni koil

There is a lone palm tree.

Palm tree engulfed by the Banyan tree IMG_3787
IMG_3802 IMG_3786 IMG_3789

The sculpture at the outside of the temple is also artistic. I don’t know whether our Kollywood has already captured this place but this is a place of a movie climax.

Banyan tree of the Kanni Koil 1

Then we were guided to the Sanyasi hill. It’s flat to the height of 4-5 floors of a building and anybody including elders can walk easily.

Cilmbing Sanyasi Kundru

On top of it, we could see a huge Shiva lingam in a small half-height compounded sanctum without roof with a neem tree right inside the sanctum. The Nandhi is just outside facing Shiva. A lovely place indeed and no doubt, it could be a place of Siddhars.

Nandhi and Shiva lingam

Nandhi and Shiv lingam Nandhi

Incidentally, it was a Pradhosha day and we felt very blessed to be there (but no pradhosham is being conducted there). The lingam is very big and majestic indeed and here He is:

Shiv lingam at Sanyasi Kundru

In the adjacent hillock, there are 3 sunais (water streams) that supply the abhisheka water.

Sunai 1

Sunai 2 Sunai 3
We then went to the next hillock. There was a stone pillar on top of it and no information is available. There was also a sunai there.
Pillar hill Sunai at the Pillar Hillock

Thirukkazhu kundram hill is visible from here (If you download the picture and zoom it you can see it).

Pillar on hillock

From another side, IGCAR at Kalpakkam is also visible (Don’t forget to take the Binoculars when you go).

IMG_3845 Way out

This is definitely a place for a weekend pleasure as well as spirituality.

All in all, it took us about an hour and the guy who showed us around was very enthusiastic and showed us with passion towards the place. We could see the sense of belongingness in him. At the end, since we were very happy with him, I offered 100 Rs but to our big surprise, he refused to even look at the money. With all his hangover smell and our initial hesitancy, finally he proved to be “not an ordinary man” – a typical experience one could encounter in a place of Siddhars!, is itn’t?

We continued our Pondicherry journey by joining ECR at Koovathur. More surprises were in store for us – the downpour continued till the Tollgate near Pondicherry!

Location (Sanyasi Hill) :

Take the ECR beyond Mahabalipuram, Kalpakkam, long Palar Bridge upto Koovathur (76 kms from Chennai) and take the right side road to Maduranthaham. Go for about 3-4 kms and you will see a main road cutting to the right. Proceed going straight beyond that for another about a km and then you have to turn right in a village road. From there, the place is around 2 kms but you have to take seveal left-right turns.

Contact: Mari @ 94457 76947

Do’s and Don’t’s:

  • Don’t go alone and if you have ladies, go in sufficient number.
  • Take along a village person to show the route
  • Return before 5 PM
  • If you know any meditation techniques, be ready for it.
  • Go with Binoculars.
  • It’s a flat hillock and not so difficult to climb/ walk. So you can take elders easily.


  1. You are one of the best spiritual tourist person and inform every thing in detail those who are willing to see such places. I EXPECT YOU DO THIS NOBLE SERVICE WITH MORE ENERGY AND SPIRIT. WE EXPECT MORE FROM YOU

  2. Dear Sir,

    I have been visiting various temples frequently along with my wife and kid. Your blog is guiding us to plan a proper visit. We had been to Voyalur, Parameswara Mangalam, Koovathur and Nergunapattu on 27th August 2011. There is no word to express our feelings about our abishega and aradhana to appa at Sanyasi hill. My papa and we all really cherished every moment.

    Mikka Nandri.

    A small request, your team – Reach Foundation / Temple Cleaners is doing a lot to develop ancient Kovalam Kailasanathar temple. Reach foundation is team have recently visited the temple and working out a plan on restructuring the temple. Everyone is thankful to this great work. However i am not finding any news about this temple in your blog even though photos (temple cleaners job) are available in your flicker page.

    I would request you to kindly put this in your blog so that more and more people who visits Nithyakalyanaperumal temple in Thiruvidanthai will also visit Kovalam. You may be aware that Kailasanathar temple is also one of the parihara thalam for marriage. Please log on to for more details.

    Nandri meendum orumurai thangal sevaikku.

    Ohm Namasivaya

    Best Regards,

  3. dear sir,
    thank you very much for your information and also my friend vijayaravichandiran.
    becas of i am crossing last 10 years but now only i got the chance to visit this temple .


  4. Dear Praveen, Anil Sriram and Swami,
    Nice to know about your trip and your enjoyment. I’ve recommended not to go to that place in late evenings since it is very isolated. But your determination to do the abhisheham during the pradhosha timing is very commendable. Maybe if you go next time, I will also join.

  5. Hi All,

    Y’day we (around 8 people) went and did abhisheham to Lord.

    Lord Pleasingly accepted and by the time we returned it was around 8.00 pm in the evening.

    All Shaivaites must visit.


  6. Hello Mr Raju,

    This would remain as one of the most adventurous, memorable yet a spiritual trip for me. The place is so calm, even though reaching there is not easy, but its worth the effort. All in all was an excellent trip and I pass on my sincere thanks to you for have discovered such a lovely place at a distace of one hour drive. Keep posting more articles and such new findings and we would follow you… 🙂

    Anil Sriram

  7. Dear Sir …. it was based on your inspired article we proceeded to Sanyasi hill yesterday ( Sunday 28 Nov 2010). While we had planned to perform pooja during Pradosha time, we were worried if Rain would play spoil sport as the meterology dept announced severe downpour over the weekend. However we were determined and praying to the lord to provide darshan. Around 12 of us visited the place without any troubles on finding the route, based on your guideline.
    We performed abhishegam and aradhana till 07.00 pm. we later realized that its was completely dark and no way out to reach the car easily. however the lord helped us without any issues to reach back home safely.

    I sincerely thank you for providing such an article which gave us wonderful spiritual experience.
    Thanks again

    Regards ….. Praveen.R

  8. sir
    your travelogues are very interesting and useful. If you are taking interesting Devotees, in a group to any temples on week ends, pls do let me know. I wish to join along with devotees like you, where i can also learn and enjoy the divinity.

    thank you sir

  9. Dear Mr Raju, I would like to meet you. I am working in softwre company in thiruvanmiyur. Can you give me appointment .Please. The service you are doing is highly valuable. Kindly let me know the date and time to meet your good self. Suresh Kumar.

  10. I’ve passed thro’ the ECR several times not knowing the immense beauty I was missing. good Job sir.
    while several people use the net for promoting vulgarism and terrorism, thanks for promoting spiritualism.
    My wish in life is to see all the temples in TN, at the rate at which you are discovering new and long forgotten ancient temples I don’t thing I can reach any where close by.

  11. A good web link you have given me. Basically I am a temple freek and deep lover of Lord Arunachala.

    My sincere wishes in your endeavour to give us more information on temples around Tamilnadu

    Sincere regards
    Raggavendran G

  12. Hello Padamaja,
    As I mentioned in the writeup itself, I got the information about this place through an article in Tamil Brahmins forum. The name is given like this there. Actually the person who has written (Mannaikosai) is also a reader of this blog and I am surprised he is very silent. He could throw a lot more information on this place.

  13. Really excellent sir, good articles and clear photographs. thanks for your information and very good efforts.

    with regards

  14. Raju Sir,


    Thanks for ur information….and ur great efforts.

    how many time i travel through ECR…i dont know…i missed a lot in the past …

    anyway thank u sir


  15. Natrunayavathu namachivayave

    There are so many souls, who desperately wanted to go to such places and have a darshan. You are guiding them to a virtual tour. The almighty proves that he is everywhere and you are the messenger.

    Sivaya Namaha!

  16. Hello Raju Sir,

    Namasthe. Your narration is excellent – It is as if, we are going to these places. Thanks for your efforts & time and above all, your kindness to share your experience with us.

    I wish you to explore many more temples.

    Have a wonderful time.


  17. Excellent article…! Divine guidance was available, looks like. The route for this place can also be through Chennai – Chengalpattu ByePass – Maduranthakam possibly.

    Cheers / Ram

  18. Hi Raju
    it is amazing.all your posts with info about the temple and route to the place which is very useful for everybody.keep the good job.You are very lucky to be in india and could do this frequently.
    i am sure ‘you may be knowing also’ about the temple in Ayyavadi near kumbakonam.very old temple.

  19. Sir,
    You are simply exxxxcellent. It is my punya I have done, has made me to be in your blog so that I am able to have immense of religious information. Not all are gifted like this. Thanx a lot.

  20. Such an excellent narration. Wish to see all these temples/ places one day, if not from your blog will not be aware that such holy places exist in our country. Thank you for the great contribution without doubt your dedicated effort.

  21. thanks for the very interesting travelogue …sanyasi malai ! wonderful findings ! Expecting many more like this… May GOD be with YOU

  22. Thank you Sir
    Intha Jenmom porathu..To follow your temple visits for me..So close to Chennai and the way you narrate and the photos looks like an another world.
    Take care,
    Best wishes always


  23. Dear Rajendra,

    All your travelogues are excellent and is a great source of inspiration to me. I will surely visit this place. Thank you for posting it.


  24. With great interest, I read the article and gave a quick thought to visit the ancient temple, mountain which has got spiritual importance. When i cllicked the photos, I got disappointed as it says “prohibited content “of UAE internet policy. I hope I can view the photos, when i visit another country.

  25. Mr S Muthiah of Chennai is an expert to trace the entire history of Chennai and an authority on the subject of History of Chennai. He has all the informations about the various heritage buildings of more than 150 Years.

    Comparatively, you have become an expert in tracing the ancient temples in and around Chennai and the amiount if in formations that you furnish has no comparison.

    God will not give this opportunity to everyone and he selects people who can perform. You are the lucky one to have been selected by him.

    God bless you to continue your yemon service for ever

  26. Dear Mr.Raju

    Yes! it is Sidhar who had guided you.

    You are indeed very lucky to be there on Prathosham day.

    It is clear that HE is with you.

    Excellent guidance.

    Continue your service.

  27. Hi Mr.Raju

    Thanks for this posting.You have given me the inspiration to visit our ancient spiritual centers in Tamil Nadu. Yes,last week end, I drove to Tirupporur, Murugan Temple taking my elderly mother and handicapped brother. The orgination of the inspiration is your forerunning visits. I am hope ful of visiting nearby places for the time being, in the days to come, after reading your travelogues. Hats off to Keep up your good services.

  28. Excellent travelogue. It’s astonishing that you cull out and produce so much information…. great pictures…I always like the thoroughness in your write-ups. God Bless you!

  29. What a wealth of information Chiranjeevi Rajendran Ganesan. Should you be addressed as Rajendran or Ganesan? REmarkable indeed. At 77 and with a recent fracture of my right foot I am confined to the few sq metres of our two bed room flat in Bangalore.
    I shall keenly look forward to your further travelogues. subbanarasu divakaran my first name is divakaran and subbanarasu is my late father’s name.

    • My dear Raju Sir,

      Before looking at your blog page fully, I had sent you a mail asking you to cover a few temples in Sadras – Sathurangapattinam. I am glad to have gone through these pages in your blog. Hope to find info on much more unknown places of interest like this. May God Almighty bless you with a long, happy, healthy and prosperous life to continue this good activity that you have undertaken.

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