Soottu Pothai Malai - The Mysterious Hill in Valliyur, Tirunelveli district, India

Every time I drove from Kanyakumari to Tirunelveli on the NH44, I used to watch this hill from afar, click a few photos and move on. But one day, I felt like I wanted to get closer to the hill so I managed to get into the service lane, parked my car, and was staring at this beauty.

There was something very different about this hill, I felt. Different as in, something different in me. More energy, More joy, More coincidences… so to experience this feeling, I did the same thing another day but this time an old man gracing the cows told me, “Thambi, you can go around the hill also. There is a road.” Whaaattt?? I was shocked. The joy of getting closer to the hill was immense, coz I know there is something noticeably different in me every time I come here.

All of us have a place of comfort right? You will feel absolutely fine when you go there. For some, it is a church, temple, bed, bar, dance class, ocean and so on. For me, it is this place. Welcome to ‘Soottu pothai malai’ in Valliyur, Tirunelveli district.

Sootu Pothu Malai Entrance View , Valliyur, Tirunelveli District

The hill and the surrounding areas come under the forest department but have been maintained by NGOs. A 5km road around the hill, a very successful afforestation program that is adding to the beauty of this region, a free medical clinic for the nearby villages, and more importantly keeping the nature and biodiversity of this region intact - the trusts are doing a phenomenal work here. So, thank you.

Long long ago it is said that Siddhar Sri Muthukrishna Swami lived here. It is said that Siddhar lived for 179 years as a fully realized being before attaining Jiva Samadhi in 1913. It is reported that he used to levitate to the top of the Hill every evening to witness the Sayarakshai Pooja at Tiruchendur Temple and once a year on Thirukarthigai day he used to light a fire on top of the hill. Several authentic, old legendary transcripts have confirmed that Siddhar is an avatar of Sri Agastya Maha Muni and did not permit him to be photographed throughout his lifetime. According to his instructions, his devotees till date have been offering worship to him in the sculpted form or painting of Sri Agastya Muni.

Sootu Pothu Malai View 2, Valliyur, Tirunelveli District

Sootu Pothu Malai View 3, Valliyur, Tirunelveli District

My favorite thing to do here is a walk during sunset when the entire place lights up in gold and orange. Watching and listening to sparrows, chittu kuruvis’, bulbuls, and few other beautiful tiny multi-colored birds that jump when they fly and whistle sounds that I haven’t heard ever before. I walk in wonder looking at the peak of the hill hoping and wondering what’s up there. Lighting fire on Thirukarthigai day is continued till date and I eagerly wait for my turn to go up this hill.

An elderly man, who takes care of the gardening here is one of my favorites coz he tells me stories about the place and also gives me prasad from the temple that coincides with my craving for food. Every time we see each other we greet by saying “Aiiiiyyaa vanakkam :pray::pray::pray:” with our hands folded until elbows and wide smiles and then we start talking. Usually, it’s me asking questions about the hill. The same question every day. Aiyya, tell me more about the hill. Even if it’s the same story, I listen just like I was listening to it the first time.

Sootu Pothu Malai View 4, Valliyur, Tirunelveli District

Think about it. I had no idea about this hill. I was just a passerby on the highway but something attracted me to it. The place is very much accessible for everyone and I am sure everyone, who lives in Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli at some point in their lives, including me would have crossed this hill. The first time when I shared this info with my friends in Kanyakumari, their immediate question was, “What were you high on?”. Actually, nothing. Totally sober. But when they went to the hill the first time, they actually felt nice too, something very different and they have been telling their friends about it and I wasn’t surprised.

All these places exist. I was not the first one to discover this hill. It has been there, ever. People have already felt something here. Hence they have built a road around the hill. Yearly once they also have a Chariot Festival aka Ratha Yatra. All these places exist. It’s just that we have other things to worry about and we pay zero attention to all these experiences.

Lastly, if you know of places like this, please leave a comment so we can go and have these experiences that are naturally available for all of us.