Vettuvan Koil

Pranav Menon

After a 20 km drive from Kovillpatti town in Tamil Nadu, we reach a remote location called Kolugumalai, a panchayat town in Thoothukudi district. Vettuvan Koil in Kalugumalai is temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Constructed in the Pandyan Architecture and rock cut architecture, the unfinished temple is believed to have been built during the 8th century by Pandyas. In additionto this architectural marvel, the other portions of Kalugumalai includes the 8th century Kalugumalai Jain Beds and Kalugasalamoorthy Temple, a Murugan temple.

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Local legends say that a rivalry existed between a father and son in the region, both being sculptors about who would attain the best specimen. The son started to work on the lower rock for the Murugan shrine, while the father started working uphill. The son claimed that the father would never finish the shrine, which infuriated the father and eventually led him to kill the son. It is believed that the son was able to finish the Murugan temple at the foothills, but the father's work on this temple was incomplete. Another variant of the legend states that the father wanted his son to take time to learn the tricks to start his work. Foregoing the orders of the father, the son started chiselling in the inner chamber. Hearing the sound and raged by the disobedience, the father killed the son. The literal meaning of Vettuvan Koil can be understood in two ways – one being Heaven of sculptors, while the other means the Temple of Slayer.

Additional sources - Wikipedia