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The Arulmigu Thaana Valarntha (Suyambu) Perumal Temple perched atop the Thalamalai hill, 75 km from Tiruchi, receives a significant number of visitors during the Tamil calendar month of Purattasi, which started on September 17 (Saturday), this year. With a natural spring called ‘Ramar Sunai’ and a landscape filled with herbs, Thalamalai attracts not only worshippers, but also trekking groups.

Situated on the Tiruchi-Namakkal highway, Thalamalai (altitude: 2400 to 2700 feet), which earned its name due to its resemblance to a human head, can be approached from three different points from the city.

The most commonly used track is from Neeliampatti village in Thathaiengarpet Block, favoured for its less steep climb. Sanjeevipuram near Elurpatti (Thottiyam Block) will lead to the peak of the hill where the temple is situated. The third route is from Vadavathur village from Erumaipatti Block of Namakkal District.

“It is not an easy climb, because of the harsh scrubland and the uneven track. Trekkers should try and make it up the hill before 9 a.m. to avoid harsh sunlight,” J. Ramanan, architect and a qualified mountaineer who serves on the advisory board of Trichy Trekkers, told The Hindu. It takes around 3 hours to trek the 4-km route up the mountain.

Among the more unusual (or scary) sights here is that of devotees literally bracing themselves by their feet on a narrow outcrop of the temple’s outer wall to complete their rituals, unmindful of the sheer drop of 2000 feet below. “Perhaps people in a religious trance are able to do this without fear, but we do not encourage trekkers to try this out,” said Ramanan.

S. Damodaran, founder-director of non-governmental organisation Gramalaya, said Thalamalai would benefit from better access roads and electricity connections. “Most of the worshippers are senior citizens or those with young children. A road from Neeliampatti village could help transport those who cannot walk up the stony path,” he said. Last year, a Gramalaya campaign drew 6,500 signatures from the public petitioning for road access from the Government.