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Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai

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Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai
Thiruvannamalai is one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalangal representing the fire element along with Chidambaram, Sri Kalahasti, Thiruvanaikoil and Kanchipuram representing sky, air, water and earth respectively.

The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built between the 9th and the 10th centuries by the Chola kings of the Tamil empire. The temple is famous for its massive gopurams[6]. This has been determined from an inscription in the structure that was made during the reign of Chola kings who ruled in the ninth century A.D

Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai
The 11 tiered East Rajagopuram towers to a height of 217 feet, while the fortified walls pierced with 4 gopura entrances offer a formidable look to this vast temple complex . The Pei Gopuram, Tirumanjana Gopuram and Ammanaiammal gopuram are the other three. The 1000 pillared hall and the temple tank were built by Krishna Deva Rayarar of Vijayanagar. Each of the prakarams has a huge Nandi and several towers such as the Vallala Maharaja Gopuram and Kili Gopuram

It is one of the panchabhoota sthalam - representing five basic elements. This is the Tejo Sthalam among the Pancha Bootha Sthalams representing Fire. The others are - Thiruvanaikaval (Appu sthalam - Water) Kanchipuram (Prithvi sthalam - Earth) Kalahasti (Vayu sthalam - Air) Chidambaram (Akasa sthalam - Space).

Glory of the Place:

The Saiva cult is a world phenomenon. Thiruvannamalai is the capital of Saivism. The South Indian deity Siva is the God of all countries. Annamalaiannal is the most sacred of the names of the manifestation of Lord Siva.

Saint poets Thirugnana Sambandar, Thirunavukkarasar, Sundarar and so on have visited Thiruvannamalai, prayed to the Lord and have composed divine poems. Saint Manickavasagar had lived at Thiruvannamalai for long period and had composed "Thiruvempavai - 20" and "Thiruvammanai". Even today there is a temple for Saint Manickavasagar on the Girivalam path at Adi-Annamalai.

Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai
There are 275 sacred places (Lord Siva Temples) which were praised by the hymns of Thevaram and were called "Thirumurai Thalangal". Of these places twenty two are found in Nadu Naadu (a part of Tamil Nadu ). Thiruvannamalai is the most sacred of these twenty two.

SivaPuranam identifies four sacred places for obtaining salvation. Thiruvannamalai is one among them. The significance of this place is that by mere remembrance of Lord Arunachaleswarar at this place gives salvation to all souls (Ninaithale Mukthi Tharum Thiruthalam).

Thiruvannamalai is the "Manipooraga Sthalam", which is one among six athara sthalams. Thiruvannamalai is so sacred that even Gods, and celestials offered their prayers. Tradition has it that Sun, Moon, Eight Vasus, Brahma, Vishnu and so on have worshipped here.

Thiruvannamalai has been the abode of Siddhars. Idaikkattu Siddhar, one of the eighteen Siddhars, belongs to this sacred soil.
Thiruvannamalai has the honour of providing an abode for saints such as Arunagirinathar, Vitpatchathevar, Gugai Namachivayar, Guru Namachivayar, Deivasigamani, Arunachala Desikar, Mahan Seshadri Swamigal, Bagawan Ramana Maharishi, Sri Yogi Ram Surathkumar and the like.

Puranic History:

The Creator Lord Bramha and Protector Lord Thirumal entered into a controversy among themselves so as to ascertain who was the greatest. Lord Siva was asked to be the judge. Lord Siva told them that whoever was able to see his crown as well as his feet would be termed as the greatest. Then Lord Siva transformed himself into a Jothi (a column of fire) touching the heaven and earth. Thirumal took the avatar of varaha (wild boar) and dug deep into the earth to find Siva's feet but at last accepted defeat. Bramha took the form of a swan and flew to see the crown of Siva. Unable to see the crown, Bramha saw a thazhambu flower which had decked Siva's crown falling down. He asked the flower as to the distance of Siva's crown whereby the flower replied that he had been falling for forty thousand years. Bramha, realizing that he would not be able to reach the crown asked the flower to act as a false witness.

The thazhambu flower acting as a false witness declared that Brahma had seen the crown. Siva became angry at the deception and cursed that Bramha should have no temple on earth and that the thazhambu flower should not be used while praying to Lord Siva. The place where Lord Siva stood as a column of fire to eliminate the ego is Thiruvannamalai.

The Annamalai Hill was Agni (fire) during Krithayugam, was Manikkam (Emerald) during Threthayugam, was pon (Gold) during Dwaprayugam and rock during Kaliyugam as per the ancient legends. On the request of Thirumal and Bramha by their devout prayer, Siva who was in the form of a fire column took the form of a Sivalingam at the foot of the hill hwere the Arulmigu Annamalaiyar Temple is located.

Lord Siva's wife Goddess Umadevi once playfully closed His eyes which plunged the world into darkness. All living beings suffered in the dark. To absolve herse of this sin Mother Umadevi created a Sivalingam out of sand and worshipped at Kancheepuram. At that instance, Lord Siva ordered her to proceed to Thiruvannamalai and do penance so that she could get half of His body. Likewise Mother Parvathi did penance at Pavalakundru with the help of Saint Gowthama. A demon called Makidasuran disturbed the penance of Mother Parvathi. The Mother took the form of goddess Durga Devi and destroyed him on the full moon day of the Tamil Month of Karthigai during the auspicious period of pradosham. Lord Siva presented himself in the form of Fire atop the hill and merged Goddess Parvathi on the left half of his body.

To commemorate this event, every year during the Tamil month of Karthigai in Kiruthigai Star, exactly at 6.00 p.m. Arthanareeswaramurthi presents himself as Jyothi Swaroopa to his devotees at the time of Karthigai Festival 10th day.

Temple Structure:

Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai
Arulmigu Arunachleswarar Temple consists six prakarams. The sixth prakaram is the outer prakaram. Rajagopuram, Thirumanjana gopuram, Pei gopuram and Ammaniammal gopuram are located between sixth and fifth prakarams.

Raja Gopuram:
The tower located on the eastern side between the sixth outer Prakaram and fifth Prakaram is the tallest of all the towers in this temple. This is known as Raja Gopuram. It stands in splendid dignity at the foot of Annamalai Hill over looking the town with its immense height and beauty. It is 217 feet in height with 11 storeys. It is the second tallest temple tower in South India.
The Raja Gopuram, built by Krishnadevaraya is lavish with the sculptured art of the period.

Kambathu Elayanar Sannathi:
Slightly at inner left side of the Raja Gopuram entrance stands this magnificent Sannathi. This Sannathi consists seven steps which lead devotees to the inner chambers.

This Sannathi was built during the reign of Vijayanagara kings. It marks the actual spot where according to legend, Sambandan's boastful challenge to Arunagirinathar took place in front of Prabudadevaraya Maharaja and his court, where lord Muruga appeared.

The Sannathi was divided into four chambers. The first chamber consists very fine sculptures over the entrance leading to second chamber. The left and right side walls of this chamber carries pictures and devotional hymns of Arunagirinathar. Third chamber is the place for devotees to worship and the fourth chamber is the moolastanam, the inner shrine of Lord Muruga.

One Thousand Pillared Mandapam:
Parallel to Kambathu Elayanar Sannathi and to the northern side of the fifth prakaram stands "One Thousand Pillared Mandapam". Every pillar of the Mandapam is engraved with beautiful figures and the roof with numerous stone Nandis. Thousand pillared Mandapam is used for the deities to be seated for ablutions and worship on Aani Thirumanjanam and on the day of the star Thirivaathirai. This Mandapam consits an underground chamber which houses Sri Pathala Lingam.

Sri Pathala Lingam:
Descending stone steps from Thousand pillared Mandapam lead devotees to the shrine of Sri Pathala Lingam. The sculptured vimanam of this shrine is at the floor level of the mandapam. The stone Lingam found in this shrine stands there undisturbed several hundreds of years.
This was the shrine where Saint Ramana Maharishi used to meditate during his early days. The meditation was so deep and wonderful that he could not feel pain even though his body was covered with insects and was eaten by vermin. It was at this stage Mahan Sheshadri Swami noticed Ramana Maharishi and arranged assistance to him.

Sivagangai Vinayagar Sannathi:
Close to Sivagangai Theertham stands Sivagangai Vinayagar Sannathi. This is situated at the rear side of Kambathur Elayanar Sannathi and opposite to Thousand Pillared Mandapam. The Vimanam of this shrine is colourful covered with a profusion of deities.

Arunagirinathar Mandapam:
Arunagirinathar Mandapam consists a spacious Hall. The hymns of Arunagirinathar are engraved on marble stones of the walls. At the inner side of the Mandapam is a shrine for Lord Subramaniyar wherein Arunagirinathar is seen praying the Lord with folded hands. This is also known as Gopurathilayanar sannathi.

Kalyana Sundareswarar Sannathi:
Kalyana Sundareswarar Sannathi stands at the southern side of the broad flight of stone stairs leading upwards to the majestic Vallala Maharaja Gopuram. This Sannathi houses a Lingam, Devi and Nandhi. In front of the Sannathi is a marriage hall where marriages of the devotees are performed.

Vallala Maharaja Gopuram:
This is the direct entrance and exit between the Fifth and Fourth Prakarams.
The Vallala Maharaja Gopuram was built by the Hoysala King Ballala between AD1318 and AD1343. Two stories are associated with this Gopuram one is Vallala Maharaja being humiliated by Lord Siva and the other one is Saint Arunagirinathar saved by Lord Muruga. The fame of this ardent devotee king Vallala Deva soars high as Lord Arunachaleswarar himself performs the King's funeral rites which are supposed to be done by King's son.

Going around the Mountain (Girivalam distance : 14 kms):
Arunachala is a manifestation of the God wearing the crescent moon upon his head who is lord shiva himself. The manifestation of sambhu in ancient times appeared as a column of fire in order to settle a dispute between Brahma and Vishnu. Both became haughty and once argued as to who was the Superior of the two. The dispute led to the danger of disruption. To resolve the dispute the two gods, lord Shiva appeared as a column of fire and make the two realize their folly. Both the Brahma and Vishnu set out to find bottom and top of fire effulgent, but could not find. Their ego – sense completely destroyed in the effort they became humble and pious. Then the Omnipresent Being who transcends space and time, the Sambhu (i.e Shiva), told them he had taken this form to solve the dispute and make them know who the actual superior was. On the request of Brahma and Vishnu, Lord Shiva took the form of a Hill, “Girivalam” which inturn looks like the shape of lingam, by withdrawing the blazing effulgence and abide as the lingam with the name of Arunachala for the welfare of the world. Lord Shiva said that he will remain back in the form what they requested for. And also told let those who worship the Linga attain prosperity and Liberation. Worshipping the Arunachala Hill with a tranquil mind expiates our sins and regain our position in life, wishes get fulfilled.

The Sun god abides on eastern side of the hill, Visvamitra on southern side, Varuna on the Western side, Trisula on northern side, On northern slope, a banyan tree throws shade all around. The great Shiva abide under it in the form of Siddhapurasha (Shiva). There are eight lingas at eight cardinal points round the hill. The holy river Sona flows near as a clear stream. The people circumambulate the hill, take a bath, put on clean clothes smears the body with sacred ash and put a garland of rudraksha beads. One should walk slowly with a serene mind remembering Siva all the time. Going round the mountain, one can attain liberation there through gifts, austerities, Sacrifices and worship. The Culmination of the festival occurs two days later, when the deities are carried around the holy hill in magnificent borne palanquins on the shoulders of Male devotees. Along the fourteen kilometer long road there are, at intervals, sacred tanks, small shrines and scared resting places where the Gods will stop to bestow blessings and receive offerings offered by the devotees. The procession always starts from the eastern Gopuram with lord music from big trumpets. Drummers dominate the group for the way, then the dances from the temple who express in their rhythmical way and do accompany only part of the way. The procession itself keeps moving forward to the sound of the drummers and chanting of the devotees. On the way pilgrims and local residents stop the procession near shrines of near their houses to offer flowers, betel, bananas sugar candy. The priests place these gifts on a tray illuminated by a small camphor flame before offering them to the Gods. They even have meals and rest for the strength to continue the day long procession. The sacred resting places are called "Mandapams" with three enclosed sides and a wide opening in the front. Arriving on these the deities are placed in the middle, fruits, flower garlands, fine dhotis and costly sarees, and rose water to refresh the Gods. The priests unfold the clothes and drape them over the dieties on their return they will store them in the temple. The devotees who have made the offerings receive as prasadam along with sacred ash. As night sets in the procession returns to the temple. The going around the sacred hill on a normal poornima is also very sacred. But for once in life times going on a Karthikai Deepam day is equal to whole life going round the hill on every po6rnima day. This will surely bless us, by the Lord Shiva, for the salvation and make our janma “punya".

Circumambulating Arunachala:
This holy pilgrimage at Tiruvannamalai is as ancient as of the 16th Century. The temple at Tiruvannamalai was well-known to us by 1845 itself. The glory of Arunachala, Lord Shiva is very enthusiastic as it is pertained to the universe, Supreme power whose darshan make our janmam Sarthakam.

Lord Shiva himself is told Gautama about how and when the devotees have to circumambulate the sacred hill. He has told that, He is abided gloriously on Earth as Arunachala all the devatas, munis circumambulate them. At every step that one takes on the path, round Him all the Sins committed in one's past lives are expiated. By circumambulating the sacred hill, one obtains the merit of performing thousands of horse sacrifices innumerable vajapayas, bathing in all the tirthas. Medidating on this great Lingam one should circumambulate it slowly. One will not be born again and will certainly become eternally one with Lord Shiva. At every point one should meditate and being the palms together in praise and reverence. One should walk carefully, slowly and noiselessly. Before setting out a bath should be taken clean clothes should be put on, sacred ash applied on the body and rudraksha beads worn. While circumambulating one should meditate on Shiva. Thousands of invinsible manus, devtas siddhapurushas others accompany a devotee who circumumbulates in this manner. One may walk in the company of devotees singing the sacred names of Siva and dances. This hill is incomprehensible being beyond speech and thought. It is unapproachable, being a mass of fire. It is the absolute and therefore called the Supreme. One should remember the Siva in the heart with love and devotion while circumambulating.

A devotee who circumambulates the Hill on a Sunday penetrates the region of the Sun and attains liberation. He gains the world of Siva. He who circumambulates the Hill on a Monday lives free from the afflictions of old age and death. He who circumambulates the Hill on a Tuesday is released from all debts and becomes an emperor. If Pradakshina is done on Wednesday he becomes omniscient and wise. On Thursday he is worshipped by all the devas and attains fame as a guru. Circumambulating on a Friday brings prosperity and takes him to the abode of Vishnu, a Saturday Pradakshina brings worldly success and averts the ill-effects threatened by the planets in one's horoscope. If those who suffer from physical and mental ailments, as well as those who are weak and emaciated, circumambulate Him, their ailments are cured.

Meaning of Pradakshina (Circumambulation):
PRA – rooting out sins
DA – granting desires
KSHI – obliterating the fruits of Karma
NA – bestowing liberation.

Even Lord Shiva Himself circumambulates Arunadri, the div5nely efflugent Linga in the company of ganas, devas, rishis at the time of the which the holy season of uttarayana commenses is an auspicious day for men.

When the Goddess Gowri requested sage Gowthama to kindly explain to her the greatness of the festival of light at Arunachala at Tiruvannamalai he described the glorly, which liberates people from all sins and bestows all prosperity. In the month of Karthika, on the day of the star Kritika during pradosha (13th day counting from new moon / full moon) the fortunate ones who perform giri prada2shina are not born again. All Karmas are destroyed on performance of circumambulation. It is customary to circumambulate the Hill for a mandala i.e forty days. One who is not able to do this may perform giri pradakshina atleast for eleven days. If even this is not possible, the one should go round the Hill on the day of the Deepam. This is equivalent to performing crores of yagnas. He who worships the Deepam lit atop the Hill derives countless blessings. A person residing elsewhere may light lamps in front of any shrine of Siva, a top his temple towers along peaks of other hills and he will be blessed. The mere lightning of the lamp on this day with any type of oil available confers great merit on them.

Temple Address & Contact Info

Deputy Commissioner/Executive Officer
Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple
Tiruvannamalai - 606 601
Phone : 04175- 252438.
Website :


  1. Hellow!
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    Please link my site to your site.
    Thank you!

  2. Hai, nice. Before i saw ur site, i dont know our Temple is so beauty like this. Nice introduction. It will help to new people to know about our temple. Thank You