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Maruthvamala is located in Kanniyakumari district. Situated at the south most tip of the Indian peninsula, it is surrounded by the bay of Bengal in the East, the Indian Ocean in the South   and the Arabian Sea on the west.

The name Maruthwamala originates from the Tamil ‘marunthu vazhum malai’ which means the 1111mountain of medicines.  Legend and mythology attribute the hill to be a fallen portion of Sanjeevi, mountain of medicinal herbs that Hanuman carried from the Himalayas  to Lanka to heal the fatal wounds of Laksmana.

On the high crest of Maruthwamala there stands the airy, hidden Pillathadom cave facing west , that seems to have been specially designed for tapas. Its high, wide mouth is intensely welcoming. The inside of the cave is smoothened with pearl-white sand. The luxurious green around, murmur of  leaves, the sloping carpet variegated grass tints, flowers of rainbow colours and the arboreal chorus of the birds provide a mystic serenity to the environment.

Narayana Guru who  cut  himself  away  from  the  bonds  of  flesh,  began  his  journey  in  quest  of  true  knowledge  and  the  secrets  of  life.  At that time he happened to meet Chattambi Swamikal, a great scholar, sage, sanyasi  and  ascetic- all rolled into one  at the Aniyoor temple. He and Narayana Guru proceeding on the same path of spirituality  became  close  friends. Narayana Guru  went  out  into  the  wide  world  in  search  of  solitary  places  conducive  to  penance  to  attain  the  lofty  planes  of  spiritual  experience.

As  he wandered alone with  perfect  renunciation  and  detachment,  inwardly  firm  in  his  quest  for  the  realization  of  Brahma  residing  within  himself, Swami reached  the beautiful Maruthwamala, found  Pillathadam  cave  a  very  suitable  place  for  performing  tapas  and  he  did  his  last  phase  of  penance  there. Guru observed tapas and meditation in the cave, an area which was heavily forested and teemed with wild life. Guru practiced an austere life by undertaking yoga and meditative thought and followed severe sustenance rituals.

This period lasted for eight years; the epoch is regarded as the completion of the meditative recluse, the period in which Sri Narayana Guru is believed to have got Enlightenment. He lived in this cave and sustained himself mostly with berries and tubers, leaf juices and drank from mountain brooks.   He  transformed  ‘the  spiritual  lessons  that  had  received  into  priceless pearls of experience and realization’.  He attained self-realization during his solitary tapas in Pillathadam cave on Maruthvamalai. The Guru,  who  had  mystical  experience,  left Maruthwamalai  and  came  back  to  people, to revolutionise the society.