We have heard about Marathon Race. Marathon runners used to cross 45 kilometers, but here the Siva devotees are crossing about 90 kilometers (ie. distance of 2 marathon race). Why do the people do like this? What is Sivalaya Ottam? Yes. There are many stories behind this, but I believe in this story that, once Lord Siva gave a Varam to choondodharan that the person who point out by Asura will be becomes ash. So the choondodharan wished to practice with Siva. To escape from the choondodharan, Lord Siva ran to these twelve places.These 12 Siva temples in Kanyakumari district, which are very famous for the marathon run performed by the devotees on the Sivarathri day which is known as Sivalaya Ottam. On that day the devotees cover a distance of around 90 km by running or by walk starting early in the morning from Thirumala temple and end at Thiru Nattalam late in the night.

The Sivalayam Temples are,

1 Thirumalai 2 Thikkurichi 3 Thiruparappu 4 Thirunanthikkarai 5 Ponmanai 6 Pannippagam 7 Kallkkulam 8 Melancode 9 Thiruvidaicode 10 Thiruvithamkode 11 Thiruppanticode 12 Thirunattalam


The south most corner of India is the Kanyakumari District - a very scenic place with fertile lands surrounded by mountains and ocean. This was part of the erstwhile Thiruvidhangur state. The capital of this state was padhmanabhapuram / kalkulam. Around this town there are twelve nice abodes of Lord shiva inviting the devotees to worship the Lord Who is adorned by the nature - Moon, river & snakes, in this inspiring natural surroundings.

The devotees take up a run during the shiva ratri (1) every year. In this they worship in all the twelve temples covering a distance of 50 miles in a day. They complete the run in the Everlasting Lord's suchInadhram. They run holding a palm-leaf fan in their hand. They observe fast for a week before the day of the run. During the fasting period they eat tender coconut, tender palmyra (nounugu) during the day and tulsi and water in the night. Many of them chant
"Govinadha ! Gopala !" while running.

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There is an interesting story that is being told about this run, which is also called chaliya Ottam. according to this story the pAndava prince bhima wanted to get the milk of PuruShamraigam (VyAgrapAdha mahaR^iShi) (!!) who was meditating Lord Shiva. When Bhima approached him for the milk, he got disturbed and tries to catch Bhima. The freigtened Bhima drops a Rudrasha beed on the earth. It becomes a Shiva Lingam. VyAgrapAda mahaR^iShi being a devout yogi of Lord Shiva, looses himself in the worship of the Mind-stealing Lord, leaving behind Bhima. Again Bhima tried to approach him for milk singing "GOPALA, GOVINDA". Disturbed again the sage angrily catches him. The story repeats. This happens for twelve times and in the last time bhima puts his one leg in the place of the sage. His brother YudhiShthira was called as the jury. In spite of Bhima being his brother, he told the right justice that Bhima was at fault. Impressed VyAgrapAdar gives off the milk Bhima wanted. The truth of this story is difficult to be confirmed. It could be more a folklore. But very likely that these temples are worshipped by the great saint VyAgrapAdha, which is evident from the names of various places over here.

The ways,the routes, the roads, bridges, fields and in fact, the whole geography of that 90 sq km area is like the back of his palm. The worshippers after taking vratham (penance) for atleast three days and sometimes "weeks" on shivarathri day. In 24 hours the pilgrims cover 12 Shiva temples over a distance of about 90 kms. by foot in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu.

The temples and the order in which the devotees cover the pilgrimage are from Thirumala Mahadevar Temple to Thirunattalam Sri Sankaranarayanar Temple.

Location: State : Tamil Nadu District : kanyakumari
Situation: In and around PadmanAbhapuram, KalkuLam and VilavankoduTaluks.

The twelve temples are: