Once there was only Vel - the weapon of Lord Muruga, in the temple. The priest of the Temple, Poovan Pattar was performing pujas for the Vel. While he was relaxing under a tamarind tree after the puja one day, Lord Muruga appeared in his dream and said that the hill belonged to Him and that He was in the form of an idol at Kottaithiradu, a little away from the place. Lord asked the priest to go to the place where ants would be moving in a line and that He was there. The priest informed the king. The idol was taken from the pit and installed. The temple was built by the Pandala king.
It is believed that Pithrus (departed ancestors) live on the steps of the hill. Hence, performing Tarpans to them at this place would greatly benefit the following generations. The devotion of Sivakami Ammayar with steadfastness and determination carrying the stones for building the temple is a thrilling story.
Generally, people believe that Aiyappan temple alone was built by the king of Pandala while he built this Tirumalai temple too at the border of Kerala. Places known for Aiyappan worship as Ariangavu, Achankoil and Kulathupuzhai are around this place.
One Sivakami Ammal was living in this place with her husband Gangaimuthu Thevar. They had no child. Deciding to erect a stone mandap in the hill temple, the woman carried bricks and stones to the temple with such determination and faith seeking child boon. Yet, she could not realize her wish. One Varadar Masthan, a saint of the place advised her to adopt Lord Muruga Himself as her son. The lady readily accepted and willed all her assets to Lord Muruga. She also sued against some in illegal possession of properties belonging to the Lord in Puliarai village in the Tiruvananthapuram court producing epigraphic evidences and recovered them. The copies of these epigraphic evidences are still available. As the lady spent all her life in the service of Lord Muruga, she was called Sivakami Pardesi..
There are 625 steps to reach the temple at the hill top. This is also called Tirikoodamalai. At the entrance of the hill, there is a shrine for Lord Vallabha Vinayaka. There are two Padukas - Foot Symbol. There is another Vinayaka shrine in the middle of the hill path followed by one to Idumban.
The sacred spring at the top of the hill is called Ashta Padmakulam. It is presently called Poonjunai. A flower called Kuvalai mentioned in Tamil literatures blossomed here. Only one flower would blossom a day. The seven virgins (Saptha Kannikas) worshipped Muruga. While the idols of Saptha Kannikas are found only in Lord Shiva temple, they are installed on the banks of the spring in this temple too. The seven powers of Mother Parvathi are called Saptha Kannikas.
Those born of Visaka star should visit this temple at least once in their life time. Three herbal plants grew in this hill named Odavalli and Nalamoolika representing the powers of the stars Visaka, Kruthika and Uthara related to Lord Muruga worship. It is believed that the roots of these herbals were used and worshipped along with a Dhanakarshana Yantra for acquiring wealth. Though these herbals could not be identified now, it is certain that a positive change in the life of those visiting this temple is evident. The V in Visagam means supremacy and Sagam means light. Visagam star has three lights in it called Vimala Sagam, Vibhava Sagam and Vipula Sagam. As all these three lights exist in this hill temple, Siddhas had said that Viskam starrers should worship in this temple for great benefits.
There are 16 steps to Lord Vinayaka Temple praised as Shodasa Vinayaka. Shodasa in Sanskrit means 16. The number represents 16 wealth such as education, courage, success, material wealth etc. On the first of each Tamil month, feeding is organized by a Devotee Association from 6.00 a.m. till night.