Arunachaleswarar Temple Tiruvannamalai Tamilnadu

Arunachaleswarar Temple, one of the largest Hindu temples of South India, is located at the bottom of the Annamalai hill in Tiruvannamalai town of Tamilnadu. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple has the presiding deities, Arunachaleswarar (Lord Shiva worshipped as a Shiva Lingam) and Unnamalaiyaal (Apitakuchambaal - Goddess Parvati). Tiruvannamalai Temple is one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams (one of the five temples related to five basic elements) – associated with the element Fire; the other four temples are Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Chidambaram Natarajar (sky), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth) and Srikalahasti Temple dedicated to Kalahasti Nathar (wind). According to Hindu belief, the Lord Arunachaleswarar was worshipped by Lord Surya (Sun), Lord Chandra (Moon), Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu.

Temple Structure

Also known as Annamalaiyar Temple or Annamalaiswarar Temple, the Arunachaleswarar Temple is spread over 24 acres and is known for its architectural and sculptural splendor. There are six prakararams (enclosures) and 9 gopurams (towers). Rajagopuram in the east, Pey Gopuram in the west, Ammani Ammal Gopuram in the north and Thirumanjana Gopuram in the south are located between sixth and fifth prakarams.

Arunachaleswarar Shiva and Goddess Unnamalaiyaal of Tiruvannamalai Temple Tamilnadu

Goddess Unnamulaiamman

Located at the north-west part of third Prakaram is the shrine of Goddess Unnamulaiamman. The Goddess is seen in the sanctum in a standing posture and dressed in pure gold. Located in front of her shrine is Navagraha Sannathi (a shrine to Navagrahas or the Nine Planets). Also found in front of her shrine are the shrines of Yama, the God of death and His secretary-bookkeeper Chitragupthar. Another masterpiece is the splendid pillars signifying Ashta (Eight) Lakshmis and other forms of the Goddess which stretch from the entrance to the sanctum.

Daily Pujas

There are six worship services conducted daily. Also, special pujas called Panchaparvams are held on Amavasai, Kiruthigai, Pradosham, Pournami, Sathurthi, Sukravaram and Somavaram.

Girivalam at Tiruvannamalai

Girivalam is the most prominent feature of Thiruvannamalai temple. The word Arunam means sun which signifies red color of fire. Asalam means Giri or malai (mountain) and thus Arunachalam means hill which is red in color. On every full moon night, thousands of pilgrims worship Lord Shiva by circumambulating the Arunachala Hill, barefoot. Siddhas and devotees from various parts of the world walk around on all days to seek the blessings. The path is around 15 km and there are eight lingams located at the eight directions. The eight lingams are Indra Lingam, Agni Lingam, Yama Lingam, Niruthi Lingam, Varuna Lingam, Vayu Lingam, Kubera Lingam and Esanya Lingam. Besides, there are eight Nandis, more than 350 tanks and many mandapas around the hill. Girivalam is also done during Karthigai, first day of the Tamil month and Tamil New Year day. It is believed that circumambulating the hill gives spiritual power to the devotees.

Significance of Ashtalingams in Tiruvannamalai

Picture of Lord Shiva Arunachaleswarar Temple in Tiruvannamalai Tamilnadu

Tiruvannamalai Festivals

The temple celebrates four Brahmotsavams every year. Most renowned is the one held during the Tamil month of Karthigai (November - December). This ten-day event concludes on the day of Karthigai Deepam. On that evening, a huge lamp is lit with three tons of ghee at the top of the Annamalai hill. In 2015, Arunachala Karthigai Deepam Festival is on 25th November.

Chitra Pournami also attracts a number of devotees from all over the world.

In addition, Mahasivarathri, Navarathri and Panguni Uthram are celebrated in a great pomp.

How to Reach Arunachaleswarar Temple

Thiruvannamalai is about 103 km Pondicherry Airport. The town has a helipad to reach from Chennai and other cities. Thiruvannamalai railhead is on the Viluppuram - Katpadi rail route. Frequent bus services are available from major cities. Nearby towns are Vellore (90 km), Dindivanam (60 km), Viluppuram (60 km) and Krishnagiri (100 km).

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