Pudukkottai was once a princely state under the reign of the Thondaimans, until it merged with India in 1948. Even before the Thondaimans, it is believed that the district witnessed the rule of several dynasties including Cholas, Pallavas, Hoysalas, Naickers, and Pandyas. Each of these rulers made several contributions to the state’s landscape. They built temples and forts; many of which are a major tourist attraction for curious heritage tourists.
Some of the places to see in Pudukkottai include:
a) Sri Kokaraneshwara Temple: This temple is believed to be built by Maharaja Mahendravarma of the Pallava dynasty. This cave temple is cut from rocks and is in honour of Sri Kokaraneshwar and his consort Brahadambal. The place is famous among the local Hindu population and by tourists exploring Chettinadu.
b) Thirumayam Fort: This fort was established by Sethupathi Vijaya Ragunatha Thevar, the Rajah of Ramanathapuram. It is locally called ‘Oomayan Kottai’ or Fort of the dumb, referring to Oomayan- the younger brother of a local chieftain Veerapandiya Kattabomman. It is said that Kattabomman and his brother hid inside this fort during the struggle against the Britishers. The fort is also home to rock cut temples dedicated to Sri Sathyamurthy-Sri Uyyavanda Nachiar and Sri Sathyagireeswarar-Sri Venuvaneeswari.
c) Viralimalai Peacock Sanctuary: The peacock is said to be the ancient Dravidian God Muruga’s ‘vahanam’ or mount. Viralimalai is home to a famous Murugan temple where the presiding deity is seen sitting with his two consorts. The place is also home to several wild peacocks that roam in and around the temple. The peacock sanctuary was established to protect these pheasants.
d) Sittannavasal: This is a famous rock cut cave temple built by Jain monks around the 7th – 9th century AD. The cave temple is home to exquisitely carved sculptures and paintings made by the Jain monks.
e) Kodumbalur: This place is also known as Moovarkoil- roughly translated as shrines for three deities. But out of the three temples, only two survive. Kodumbalur was once home to Irukkuvelirs- relatives of the Chola dynasty. Every sculpture in each of these existing shrines is priceless because of its unique cut and work. Besides the Moovar Koil, there’s also the famous Musukundeshwar Temple.
f) Avudayarkoil: This place isn’t exactly in Pudukkottai, but is 50kms from the place. It is popular for its temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. There’s also a temple dedicated to Saint Manikkavakar- a popular saint of the Shaivite movement.
The place is also known for its connection with Chettinadu Culture, especially the cuisine that makes exotic spices and meat.