“History has carved many sublime moments unto my soul…”
The first impression is of a typical south Indian village... expressions of radical simplicity and a life deeply attuned to nature. Scratch the surface and a historical wonder reveals itself. A humble and small hamlet, Kazhugumalai, located in the state of Tamil Nadu, is a place of archaeological importance. Once a religious center, Kazhugumalai boasts of Jain monolithic rock sculptures and ancient inscriptions and carvings, several religious shrines, and is especially known for the 13th century Shivan Temple Kazhugachalamurthy Temple, locally called 'Vettuvar Koil', is dedicated to Lord Subramania, and is a rare example of Pandya style of architecture. Carved out of a single huge rock, the unique feature of this temple is that rather than rising from the foundation, it was chiselled from the top. The idol of presiding deity Kazhugachalamurthy (Aarumugaswami) is kept inside in a cave. The temple has four towers with the figures of Siva and Parvathi in the east, Lord Dakshinamurthi playing a mrithungam in the south, Narasimha in the west and Brahma on lotus in the north. A holy water tank called Valli Sunai, considered to be of great medicinal value, is located at the foot of the 300 feet high hill.
Kazhugumalai means 'hill inhabited by eagles'; the village is perched on a hill top, offering a panoramic view of paddy fields interspersed with palmyra trees, ponds and scattered thatch dwellings. Coral reefs in the vicinity of this village make Kazhugumalai add to the charm. The Thoothukudi coastline nearby defines the rural milieu in this marine eco-system, which is home to several forms of folk art, palm and banana based products and traditional fishing practices. Two distinct farming systems are practiced here; agro farming, supported by the Tamiraparani river system and coastal farming dominated by coconuts and palmyra.