The Kalamukhas lived in various parts of South India especially in Karnataka and Andhra areas during the 11th, 12th and the early part of the 13th century although many have associated the Kalamukhas with the Kapalikas, there were actually some basic differences in the cult and rituals of these two sects. It appears that the Kalamukhas were not as heretical as the Kapalikas although they did bathe in ashes of corpses like the former. The Pashupati Sutra, a famous work composed by Lakulisha, which was held in very high esteem by the Kalamukhas states that bathing in ashes is one of their most important rituals. They were called Kalamukha (black-faced) as they covered their foreheads with a black streak and were also known as the Maha Vratins because they, like the Kapalikas, undertook several austere vows.
Numerous grants to Kalamukha shrines have been found in the Karnataka area and the inscriptions mention a lot about their doctrines. Some inscriptions also point to their existence in the ancient Tamil country. A big matha (monastery) for the Kalamukhas existed at a place named Kodumbalur in present day Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu to which donations were made by the chieftains of Kodumbalur who were vassals of the Cholas of Tanjavur. Sriparvata in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh was a stronghold of the Kapalikas, but later became a centre of the Kalamukhas. There were two main sects of the Kalamukhas, namely the Shakthi-Parishad and the Simha-Parishad and historical sources seem to reveal that the former was the more important of the two.