Theerthamalai is an important Sacred place in Harur taluk of Dharmapuri district. Theerthamalai is situated about 16Km north-east of Harur in Dharmapuri district. Theerthagirishwarar temple is located at the top of a hillock. The temple situated about one k.m up the steep slope of a hillock derives its name from the five springs in the temple. Lord Theerthagireeswar (Lord Shiva) is the worshipping deity.
History and Belief
According to the legend, it was here that Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva to absolve himself of the sin of having killed several demons in the war against Ravana. Hence there is a belief that holy dip in the water of this spring will wipe out the sins committed by the people.
In order to worship to Lord Shiva, Rama sent Hanuman to fetch water from the River Ganga, but when Hanuman did not return at the appointed time for pooja, Rama unleashed an arrow onto the rocky slope of the hillock and water sprang forth, which today is called Rama Theertham. The tiny waterfall drops from a height of about 30 feet is perennial and during the summer as well as the rainy season the water falls on the bathing ghat behind the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The other Theertham, all of which have their origin in different parts of the rocky surface, are the Agasthya Theertham, AgniTheertham. Kumara Theertham and the Gowri Theertham. Besides these four Theerthams, the Hanuman Theertham is situated about 16km from the main temple on the banks of river South Pennar.
This is also closely associated with the temple. It is stated that when Hanuman returned with the water from the Ganga, he found that Rama had brought the Ganga water with his arrow. He then threw away in anger the vessel containing the Ganga water. This water fell onto the riverbank. Hanuman Theertham is considered to be the holy place. During summer, even when the river is dry there will be sweet water in the spring that flows from rock in the riverbed. The water of the Theerthamalai is supposed to have medicinal values too. It may be mentioned that Theerthamalai has huge reserves of magnetite iron ore that can be utilized for the Salem Steel Plant.
Several Inscriptions can be found in the Theerthagireeswarar Temple. They relate to the Vijayanagar and Chola rulers. There is one inscription in ancient Telugu and Kannada. Poet Saint Arunagirinathar referred to the Temple of Theerthagirieeswarar in his compositions. The Mandapam near the sanctum sanctorum is supposed to be built by Sila Naicken. He is said to have maintained a well-fortified garrison at the top of the hill from where a commanding view of the surroundings can be on all sides is available.
There is another spring known as Vashista Theertham higher up in the hill. Close by are the wonderful granite pieces of Saptha kanyakas. The beauty of these sculptures is that they can be viewed only through a very narrow crevice in the rock. The nine-day annual festival at the Temple is in the month of March. The main festival is held at the Shiva temple at the foot of Theerthamalai.