There is no denying the fact that India is a treasure trove of eclectic sights spanning history, architecture, art, culture and religion. With engaging sites in almost every small city and town, it is no surprise if you spot them totally unplanned, say, when you are travelling to a totally different place. And this what happened to us when we were travelling from Kanadukathan to Kumbakonam. Thirumayam is one such interesting town located on the Pudukkottai-Karaikudi highway in Pudukkottai District, Tamil Nadu. Located just over 65 and 90 km from Trichy and Madurai respectively, this seemingly non-descript village is known for its formidable fort and the rock cut Shiva and Vishnu temples.
The walls of the fort are visible from a distance and the fort complex replete with its temples, a pond, a jail etc is spread over a whopping 40 acres. Dating to the 17th century, the fort is believed to have been built by the Raja of Ramanathapuram, Ragunatha Thevar. He is said to have gifted the same to his brother-in-law Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman, who went on to rule the Puddukottai kingdom until 1730. The fort rose to prominence as a political stronghold between 1799 and 1801.
Apart from the fort, the little town boasts of two famous rock-cut shrines Sathyagirisvarar and Sathyamoorthi, one dedicated to Lord Shiva and the other for Lord Vishnu (also called Perumal or Thirumal). Both of them are located close to one another towards the southern side of the town. The Shiva temple has a number of other deities like Lord Ganesha, Gaja Lakshmi apart from Lord Shiva himself in the form of a Linga.
The Sathyamurthi Perumal temple is a beautiful temple dating back to the 9th century and is beleived to have been built by the Pandya rulers. An example of the Dravidian style of architecture, a striking feature of the temple are almost life size sculptures of Gods and Goddess, adorning the pillars at the beginning of the temple. Considered as one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu, the main deity of Sathyamurthi Perumal is almost seven feet in height and is accompanied by his consort Lakshmi known as Ujeevana Thayar.
The adjoining sanctum has an awe-inspiring statue of Lord Vishnu in a reclining position resting on Anantha (Seshanaaga). The deity is considered highly auspicious and the temple is much revered in that it is considered second only to the mighty Srirangam temple in Trichy.
Both temples are located in the same complex and are s maintained and administered by the Archaeological Survey of India.