The Complete Guide to Sathuragiri Hill Trek
Sathuragiri Hills, also known as ‘Chathuragiri’, is located in Thaaniparai village, 45 kilometres from Virudhunagar city in Tamilnadu. The Sathuragiri trek is one of the most sacred treks in Southern Tamilnadu. It is a Western ghats trail that falls inside the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary (UNESCO Western Ghats World Heritage Site).
The trek is known for its rough and challenging terrain that gives you an adrenaline rush. You will also experience the expansive and serene views of the Western Ghats as you make your way to the top.
The trail is popular among devotees who take an arduous journey to pay their respects to Lord Shiva (Sundara Mahalingam and Santhana Mahalingam temples) that has been in existence for over 2,500 years.
Sathuragiri is also known as an Abode of the Gods. The name Sathuragiri is derived from the Sanskrit word Chathur, meaning four, and Giri, meaning a hill. According to the Shiva Puranam, the four Vedas (Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda) combined to form this mountain, and hence the name Chathuragiri.
Sathuragiri has another interpretation since the surrounding hills are shaped like a Chathuram (Tamil for ‘square’), hence the name.
The Sathuragiri Hill trek offers adventurous trekking trails, rich flora and fauna, and a magnificent view of the Western Ghats.
The Sathuragiri hill trek is a moderate trek that can be completed in 2-3 hours by fit trekkers and in about 4-5 hours by beginners.
➤ Table of Contents
Just like you, we love trekking! And this is a trek we’ve documented in great detail to help you do it on your own. Drop in comments at the end of the page if you need any help! You will get all the information required to do the Musattu Hill trek on your own.
To navigate through the documentation easily, use this section of Table of Contents.
➤ Highlights of Sathuragiri Hill Trek
1. Adventurous trekking trails
The ‘Kona Thalai Vasal’ climb is considered the most difficult section of the trek. At the same time, it is the most adventurous part of the trek. Kona Thalai Vasal is a Z-shaped steep trail that stretches for about 1 kilometer, but the climb through irregular rocky sections surrounded by dense forest with a stream running in the valley on your left surely gives you an unforgettable experience.
A deep valley with a stream running on the left in the Kona Thalai Vasal section. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Natural rock has steps carved in it. The steep climb on Vazhukku Parai is an adventurous one. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
2. Rich flora and fauna
Sathuragiri hill is a habitat to diverse and rich fauna. It is recognised as an important bird area since it is located inside the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary. There are around 275 species of avifauna documented here, including 14 endemic species.
Throughout the trail, you may witness a variety of birds and flowering plants, and you can find several rare herbal plants here.
You will see beautiful flowers all around you at any time of year, although the highest proportion will be in Spring. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
This gigantic tree is many hundred years old. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
3. A panoramic view of the Western Ghats
The Sathuragiri endpoint is located in a depression that is surrounded by densely covered forests of the Western Ghats. You’ll be joyous to see such lush greenery surrounding you from all sides.
View of the Western Ghats from the Sathuragiri Hill top. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Route Map of Sathuragiri Hill Trek. Screenshot on Google Earth Pro
Sathuragiri hill trek can be divided into four sections.
- Sathuragiri Start Point to Kona Thalai Vasal
- Kona Thalai Vasal to Rettai Lingam
- Rettai Lingam to Pilavadi Karuppar Temple
- Pilavadi Karuppar temple to Sathuragiri End Point.
Trek Distance: 2.1 km
Trek Duration: 1 hour
The Sathuragiri trek starts from the beautiful village of Thaaniparai. As soon as you step off the bus, you’ll find a straight road ahead of you. Continue straight until you reach the base of the hill.
Walk straight down the road for 100 metres to reach the forest check post office. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
If you are coming in your own vehicle, there is a Parking lot to the left of the base.
The parking lot at the base of Sathuragiri Hill. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Note: Parking for two-wheelers costs Rs 10 for 24 hours, while parking for four-wheelers costs Rs 50. There is also a changing room available free of charge.
Tip: You can contact Mr Subramaniam Parking manager for entry related queries, and he also arranges a guide for overseas trekkers.
Mr Subramaniam – 9715788176
Once you reach the base of Sathuragiri Hill, you will notice petty shops all around you. If you visit during special occasions, you will find shacks that serve free food to the devotees.
Products sourced locally are available in these shops. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Welcome to the Sathuragiri Hills in the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary, states the signboard at the entrance arch pointing to the forest check post office. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
A check post where the forest officials inspect our belongings. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Officials from the Forest department inspect our belongings and give you instructions on the trek etiquette. They also stress on the importance of using the recycle bin for dumping waste on the trail.
Instruction board describes the usage of water bottles on the trail. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
To avoid plastic bottle waste, the forest department collects Rs.10 per recyclable water bottle and gives each bottle a tag; when you return from the trek, you can give the tag and collect the money. This is a good initiative to reduce plastic waste.
Green Trails Tip: Bring your own reusable water bottles and food packed in lunch boxes to avoid littering on the trail. This way you ensure that you will leave the trail better than you found it.
The Sathuragiri Hill trek begins at the forest check post, where entry passes to the hill are issued. The entrance fee is Rs.10.
After passing through the forest check post, you’ll see a long, winding concrete path surrounded by dense forest. Initially, you will walk on this concrete path till you reach Lord Karupusamy temple.
The concrete path is surrounded on both sides by lush vegetation en route to Lord Karupusamy temple. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
The Lord Karupusamy temple marks the end of the concrete path. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
After a short ascent through stairs, you start on the rugged trail.
Once you cross Lord Karupusamy temple, the trail gradually transforms into an uneven rocky terrain. It first leads you to the Mangani stream.
Pilgrims wait for people on the other side of the brook to cross. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Soon after you cross the Mangani stream, you will notice that the trail has become rugged. You need to walk cautiously here to reach the first important point on the trek, Vazhukku Parai.
Note: It is important to double-check that your shoes are snugly laced at this point to avoid any missteps.
In Tamil, Vazhukku Parai means “Slippery Rock.” Steps are carved on a rock. While walking through the Vazhukku Parai, you will know why it is called so.
Stick to the markings on the boulders. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Although the Vazhukku Parai stretch is extremely short, you must gingerly negotiate it because a few missteps will lead you into the stream below.
A slip can make you fall into the stream. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
The ascent begins gradually after you cross the Vazhukku Parai. You need to trek on the same rugged trail for around 700-800 metres to reach the next exciting section, Sangili Parai.
In Tamil, Sangili Parai means “Steel Chain Rock.” The steel chains go between two boulders at Sangili Parai. People hold on to these chains to reach the other end of the Sathuragiri river when the water flow is high.
Steel chains are replaced by thick ropes for better grip. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Sangili Parai is a longer and harder version of Vazhukku Parai. It is quite steep too.
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Trek Distance: 1 km
Trek Duration: 35 minutes
After crossing Sangili Parai, walk for 5-10 minutes on a muddy-rocky path to reach the steepest part of the trek, Kona Thalai Vasal. The Kona Thalai Vasal is a 1 kilometre-long zig zagging trail.
Kona Thalai Vasal has a steep, rocky section. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
The narrow, rocky trail of Kona Thalai Vasal. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
When the trail is crowded during special occasions, the uneven, narrow rock pathway makes ascending difficult, so be cautious of this section when climbing.
The Kona Thalai Vasal stretch is exhausting. However, the beauty of this stretch is such that as you walk up, you will see stunning large rock formations and lush greenery to your right, and a deep valley with the Sathuragiri stream flowing to your left.
The Sathuragiri river flowing in the deep valley is a sight to witness on your left. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
This is also an ideal place to spot certain species of birds.
On your right, you can see rich greenery with a few medicinal plants. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
The Kona Thalai Vasal stretch takes the wind out of you, so it is recommended that you drink water frequently, say every 15 minutes.
| Tip: Start your trek early in the morning to avoid dehydration under the harsh sun.
From here, you will reach a place known as Kaaram Pasu Thadam after a 20-minute climb. This is where the footprints of cow can be found on a rock.
The trail after Kaaram Pasu Thadam is as difficult, with little break.
The Sage Korakkar cave is a short distance from Kaaram Pasu Thadam. To get to the Korakkar cave, you need to cross a stream, and it is believed that the Lingam inside the cave was installed by Korakkar himself.
Pilgrims enter Sage Korakkar’s cave to meditate near the lingam. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
| Tip: To explore the Korakkar cave, you need to turn left from the main trail shortly after passing through the Kaaram Pasu Thadam, which most people are not aware of. Refer to the GPX file to spot this turn.
There is a hidden waterfall a short distance away from the cave that flows through a narrow gorge.
Hidden waterfall near Korakkar cave. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
After the Korakkar cave, it is a 10-minute walk from there to the Rettai Lingam temple.
The Rettai Lingam temple marks the trek’s halfway. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
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Trek Distance: 2 km
Trek Duration: 1 hour
The trail becomes more gentle after the Rettai Lingam temple. It is a mix of flat and steep terrain to reach Chinna Pasu Kidai.
A mixture of mud and rocks makes the pathway through the dense foliage of trees. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
The dense trees block sunlight from entering the ground. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
|Tip: If you are a birder, you might even get to spot rare birds like Nilgiri wood-pigeons, Broad-tailed Grass Warbler, Red-faced Malkoha and the White-bellied Shortwing.
Following Chinna Pasu Kidai, there is a signboard which states ‘Naval Ootru’. It is believed that the water from this source can cure incurable ailments. However, the water source completely dries up post monsoon.
From Naval Ootru, you need to walk straight on the uneven terrain to reach Lord Pilavadi Karuppar temple.
En route to Lord Pilavadi Karuppar temple. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
You will find small snack shops run by the locals in this section. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Green Trails Tip: Do not buy packaged items from these vendors. Buy fruits and snacks that are kept open, so that you can pack them in your lunch boxes. You can even buy lemonade and fill your reusable water bottles.
Trek Distance: 1 km
Trek Duration: 30 minutes
The trail just ahead of Pilavadi Karuppar temple is a rough, rocky path. Even though it doesn’t last too long, you need to proceed cautiously in this section, since the rocks are slippery due to moss formation.
Once you’ve crossed this section, the difficult section is left behind. Now it is a relatively easy trail till the temples at Sathuragiri Hill.
Proceed with caution through this rocky trail. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
On both sides, there are several petty shops selling items of worship and food. From here, you will start your ascent to the temples at the top.
On both sides, there are little shops offering puja items and snacks. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
|Tip: If you’re hungry, small shops selling quick snacks are found, but if you’re thirsty and want to try something different, try ‘Paruthi Pal’ (cotton milk) or Mudakathan Soup (herbal soup), both are healthy as well as tasty.
At the top, you see the temples of Lord Sundara Mahalingam and Lord Santhana Mahalingam.
The main entrance to the shrine of Sundara Mahalingam. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
The main entrance to the shrine of Santhana Mahalingam. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
If you run out of water, fill your water bottles at the Santhana Mahalingam shrine’s water source. You can also get free food offered by the temple management inside Santhana Mahalingam Temple.
Before descending the hill, you can spend some time at Santhana Mahalingam shrine, which overlooks the lush green hills. You may also take a short break in front of Sundara Mahalingam shrine, which overlooks Thavasi Parai.
A 1 km dense forest path leads to Thavasi Parai from Sundara Mahalingam shrine. It is believed that meditating at this spot is a path to enlightenment.
You have to be on all fours to enter the tiny Thavasi Parai cave. But once inside, there is enough room for at least ten people to sit at once.
However, forest officials have closed the trail to Thavasi Parai cave because of wild animal movement recently.
The Descent from the Hill
In comparison to the ascent, the descent to Thaaniparai is relatively easy. Except for a few sections, like Kona Thalai Vasal and Sangili Parai, the descent is not risky. Nonetheless, exercise caution when descending because the chances of ankle twists are more at certain rocky sections, if you’re not careful.
➤ Best Time to do the Sathuragiri Hill Trek
The best season to do Sathuragiri Hill Trek is from October to February.
During Summer, daytime temperatures frequently reach the upper 30s. This can rapidly lead to dehydration, and trekking through certain sections is extremely difficult. Hence, we do not recommend trekking to Sathuragiri Hill during the summer months.
It is strongly recommended not to visit the Sathuragiri trek in the monsoon season. (check weather predictions to avoid days with heavy rainfall), since the trail starts to flood rapidly. It also becomes risky to trek on the rocks and slippery terrain.
The permitted dates are displayed on the information board. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
➤ Difficult Sections on the Trek
The Sathuragiri Hill trek is a moderate hike. It is 7 kilometres one way, with some steep sections. As a result, your up and down journey will be 14 kilometres. If you trek from the Sathuragiri start point to the top in one day, your endurance will be put to the test.
The difficult section on the Sathuragiri Hill Trek is Kona Thalai Vasal.
Apart from this, you must be aware of the following sections:
1. The slippery path through the rocky landscape in Vazhukku Parai (monsoon-specific).
2. Trekking in the forest through uneven terrain can be tricky. Make sure you wear proper trekking shoes and carry a pair of trekking poles to get a firm grip.
➤ How to Reach the Base of the Trek
The Sathuragiri Hill trek starts from a small village called Thaaniparai, which is about 28 kilometres from the Srivilliputhur and 45 kilometres from the Virudhunagar in Tamilnadu.
On special occasions such as full moon days, new moon days, and monthly pradosham, special buses are allocated from Srivilliputhur to Sathuragiri Hill.
On regular days, take a bus from Srivilliputhur to Vathirairuppu (Watrap) and then take an auto rickshaw to Sathuragiri Hill start point.
| Tip: The bus ride from Srivilliputhur to Vathirairuppu (Watrap) costs Rs. 20. The auto rickshaw ride from Vathirairuppu to Sathuragiri Hill start point costs around Rs. 30 per person when shared.
Reaching Sathuragiri Hill by your vehicle
If you are planning on driving to Sathuragiri Hill using your vehicle, you can use this link to help set up navigation in Google maps.
Note: We have considered Chennai as the starting point for ease of understanding.
If you do not have access to Google maps, here is how to reach Sathuragiri hill from Chennai.
Chennai – Villupuram – Tiruchirappalli – Madurai – Sathuragiri
1. Take NH32, NH132, NH38, Chennai – Villupuram – Trichy – Kanyakumari Road/Maravapatty – Villur – Kallikkudi Rd and NH744 to Watrap- Alagapuri -Virudhunagar Rd in Alagapuri.
2. Continue on Watrap- Alagapuri -Virudhunagar Rd. Drive to Sathuragiri Road in Thaaniparai.
3. Turn right at Selva Cool Drinks and Tea Stall to stay on Sathuragiri Road.
4. Continue straight to reach the Sathuragiri parking area.
Protip: If you are travelling from Chennai to Sathuragiri Hill, you do not need to go to Srivilliputhur; instead you can take right in Alagapuri and then go straight to reach the Sathuragiri Hill start point.
Reaching Sathuragiri Hill by Public Transport
Sathuragiri Hill can be reached by public transport easily. There are frequent buses from Chennai.
Note: We have considered Chennai as the starting point for ease of understanding.
Take a bus to Krishnankoil from Chennai, then take a local bus to Thaaniparai from Krishnankoil bus station.
You can use the TNSTC website to book the bus tickets.
The cost of a bus ticket from Chennai to Krishnankoil is Rs 565 for TNSTC Ultra Deluxe buses, Rs 590 for TNSTC AC semi-sleeper buses, and Rs 966 for TNSTC AC Sleeper. On weekends, the semi-sleeper TNSTC bus ticket fare will go up a notch.
The bus fare from Srivilliputhur to Vathirairuppu (Watrap) is Rs 20.
PROTIP: The best way to reach Sathuragiri hill is by taking a train from Chennai to Srivilliputhur and by taking a bus from Srivilliputhur to Sathuragiri.
List of Trains from Chennai to Srivilliputhur
- MS QLN EXPRESS (16101)
- POTHIGAI EXPRESS (12661)
- SILAMBU EXPRESS (16181)
You can use this IRCTC website to book train tickets.
Nearest Railway Station
Srivilliputhur Railway Station – 30 km
Rajapalayam Railway Station – 40 km
➤ Things to Take for the Sathuragiri Hill Trek
- Basic First Aid kit*
- Identity Card
- Cap/ Scarf/ Bandana & Sunglasses
- Water (Minimum two liters)
- Lemon and salt OR Electrolyte Powder/Drink (Electoral/Gatorade/Glucon D, etc.)
- High-calorie snacks (Nuts & dry fruits, a home-baked cake, etc.)
- Safety Pins, Rubber bands & Whistle (Useful in emergencies.)
- Quick Dry T-shirts are preferable over cotton tees.
- Poncho, only during monsoons
- Plastic sheet to wrap electronic devices, only during monsoons
- Sunscreen (SPF 50+)
- Optional: Trekking poles
* First Aid Kit:
- Band-aids (Regular & Waterproof)
- Analgesic spray (Relispray, Volini, etc.)
- Antiseptic Liquid (Savlon, Dettol etc.)
- Antiseptic powder (Povidone-Iodine based powders like Cipladine, Savlon, etc.)
- Cotton roll & Bandage
- Crepe Bandage
- 1-inch wide medical tape (paper or cloth.)
- Micropore tape
- Tablet for motion sickness (Avomine), Acidity (Gelusil, Digene, etc.).
- Mild pain relief tablet (Crocin)
| Note: Always consult a doctor before taking any medicine.
➤ Frequently Asked Questions
1. Permission and Camping on the Sathuragiri Hill trek
You need to take permission from the forest check post to trek. Camping is not allowed anywhere on the Sathuragiri Hill trail.
2. Stay Options near Sathuragiri Hill Trek
If you want to stay overnight you need to go to Srivilliputhur from Sathuragiri start point. You can find some good stay options from these 2 links – Link 1 and Link 2.
3. Timings on the Sathuragiri Hill trek
You must start your trek before 9:30 AM. Getting permission from the forest department after 9:30 AM may not be possible. It is recommended that you arrive at Sathuragiri Hill as early as possible in the morning.
4. Food and Water source on the Sathuragiri Hill trek
You will find small shops run by locals on the trail who sell snacks and refreshments.
| Tip: We recommend that you dine in Srivilliputhur if you want good food. Pack your food for the trek from here in your lunch boxes.
| Tip: If you are not comfortable having water from the stream or well, carry purification tablets or a purifying water bottle like Paany Bottle.
5. Nearest Hospitals and Emergency contacts on the Sathuragiri Hill Trek
Vathirairuppu Government Hospital – 04563287379
Government Hospital Srivilliputtur – 9442215232, 04563260220
Government District Headquarters Hospital, Virudhunagar – 9345081022, 04562242722
Vathirairuppu Police Station – 94981 01500
Srivilliputhur Town Police Station – 9498101494
Fire and Rescue Department:
Fire Rescue Service Vathirairuppu – 04563-288101, 9445086299
Fire Rescue Service – 04562-252286, 9445086288
ERSS: For any kind of emergency help, you can contact the Pan-India Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number – 112.
6. ATMs and Network on the trek
ATMs: The nearest ATMs are located at Vathirairuppu village. However, it is better to withdraw cash either at Srivilliputhur or at an ATM town en route if you are driving to the base.
Mobile Networks: You get weak coverage of BSNL, JIO and Airtel through various patches on the trek. The network connection is intermittent.
➤ Nearby Places to Visit
1. Ayyanar Waterfalls: Ayyanar Falls are located 10 km west of Rajapalayam town and municipality in Virudhunagar. Ayyanar Falls are a part of the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
The source of water to these falls is the monsoon rains in the region. The water from the cascade is believed to be very pure and hence used by the nearby villages for drinking purposes.
These waters are also used for irrigation in the surrounding areas, by the local farmers.
2. Andal Kovil: Srivilliputhur Andal Temple in Srivilliputhur, a town in Virudhunagar district, is dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu. It is located 80 km from Madurai.
3. Shenbaga Thoppu: Shenbaga Thoppu Meenvetti Parai Falls is found in Shenbaga Thoppu, a forest area on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. ‘Thoppu’ in Tamil means ‘groves’, and Shenbaga Thoppu is one of the most ancient natural groves of Tamilnadu.
The forest is at a distance of around 8 km from Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar District. The forest surroundings are a habitat for tribal communities. It is a good option for trekking and is considered to be one of the best reserve forest areas in the State.
The forest is home to many rare and endemic varieties of flora and fauna. It also comprises the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary which spreads over 480 square kilometres.
4. Pilavakkal Dam: Pilavakkal Dam is located at a distance of 90 km from Madurai and 59 km from Virudhunagar. The dam is also a popular picnic spot in the Virudhunagar district. There is also a Children’s Park with all amusement facilities for children near the dam.
➤ Trek Contribution
Trek explored and documented by Ajay Vignesh
Photos Clicked by Ajay Vignesh
Trek written and edited by Ajay Vignesh and Gautam Singh