Tiruvannamalai

Thiruvannamalai

Tiruvannamalai, also known as Arunachala, is one of the greatest Saivite shrines in Tamil Nadu, India, on a sprawling 24 acre temple campus, drawing hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every full moon. The hill here is considered to be a manifestation of Shiva. Tiruvannamalai is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams signifying the 5 elements of wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikkal), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Thiruvarur) and space (Chidambaram). Kartikai Deepam festival here is of great significance. Manikkavacakar composed his Tiruvempavai here.The Paatala Linga shrine is connected with the spiritual savant Ramana Maharishi. Arunagiri Nathar began composing his Tiruppukazh here at this temple.

The temple has 9 towers and seven parakrams. The main tower (Rajagopuram) is 217 feet high with eleven stories, and is the second largest tower in South India.

Understand

Traditional stories tell us that there was an unsettled dispute between Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma as to who was superior. They sought the help of Lord Shiva to judge who was really superior; Lord Shiva grew into a long flaming light stretching between earth and heaven, and asked them to find root and crown.

Brahma agreeing to reach the crown took the form a swan and flew, and flew to an extending height and could not reach the crown. In his upward flight he caught hold of a flower of Pandavas falling from Shiva's crown and requested the flower to bear a false witness that he collected it from Shiva's crown . Knowing this Lord Shiva cursed Brahma that he would never be worshipped in the temple, and banished Pandavas flower from his adornment.

Lord Vishnu took the form of pig and kept digging down to reach Siva's foot; Shiva was really pleased with the humility of Vishnu and took him his heart.The significance of Shiva's representation as agni over here is to convey the divine message "To be blessed with true knowledge, there should be a complete destruction of the ego."

History

The Arunachaleshwara temple for Lord Shiva was built between the 16th and the 17th centuries by the kings of the Vijayanagara empire. The temple is famous for its massive gopurams[6]. 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 sthalams - Lord Shiva temples representing the five principal elements. This is the Tejo Sthalam among the Pancha Bootha Sthalams representing Fire. The others are - Tiruvanaikavil (Appu sthalam - Water) Kanchipuram (Prithvi sthalam - Earth) Kalahasti (Vayu sthalam - Air) Chidambaram (Akasa sthalam - Sky).

Get in

Town is well connected to many cities and towns in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh by road. It lies on the junction of the Chittoor - Cuddalore state highway and the Puduchery - Bengalooru national highway (NH 66). The TNSTC operates many bus services to the different towns and cities in Tamil Nadu. The closest airport to Tiruvannamalai is Chennai, about 180 km north. Tiruvannamalai is well connected by bus. Several other tourist destinations, like Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Vellore and Kanchipuram are connected by buses. On full moon days, several cities operate special buses to Tiruvannamalai.

First time and occasional visitors are better advised to visit Thiruvannamalai anytime during year except on Full Moon days because this pilgrim centre is heavily thronged during Full moon days and any visitor is likely to be stranded without accommodation during these days!

See

Do

Eat

The town has several very good vegetarian restaurants, and a few other non-vegetarian restaurants are also available. Food quality is generally good.

Go next

Javvadu hills, Sathanur Dam, World Peace center, Parvada Malai, and Gingee Fort are within a 30-40 km radius from the town. Historically important towns Puducherry and Vellore are easily accessible from the town.

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