Arunachalam Temple


The Thiruvannamalai (Arunachalam) Temple


The Annamalaiyar temple in Thiruvannamalai is a sacred Hindu shrine located at the foot of the Annamalai Hills in Tamil Nadu, India. It is related with the Pancha Bhoota Stalas and devoted to Lord Shiva (five elements). In this shrine, Shiva is depicted in the phallic form of a Lingam and is known as Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar. Here, the element of fire is particularly respected, and Shiva's symbol is known as Agni Lingam. He is accompanied by his consort, Goddess Parvati, who is known as Unnamulai Amman in Hindu mythology. The ancient Hindu sacred text ‘Tevaram,' penned by the legendary Tamil ‘Nayanars,' mentions the deity (saint poets). Many works of literary art were also written here by illustrious saints in the past. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Tamil Nadu government is in charge of the temple's management and upkeep. This well-known shrine is a well-known pilgrimage and tourism destination, attracting a large number of tourists from far and wide.


History of the Thiruvannamalai (Arunachalam) Temple


According to inscriptions found on the site, the temple as it stands today dates back to the 9th century and was built by Chola monarchs. The Vijayanagara monarchs later carried extensive expansions and improvements, followed by the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty.

According to various inscriptions, the Pallavas governed Thiruvannamalai before the 9th century. Two ancient Tamil saints, Appar and Sambandar, are claimed to have worshipped Annamalaiyar in the temple. The Chola monarchs ruled the region for nearly four centuries and paid frequent visits to the shrine. For a brief while in the mid-seventeenth century, the Carnatic Nawab overran Arunachalam temple and the town of Thiruvannamalai. After that, the region was ruled by a succession of Hindu and Muslim monarchs until colonial powers assumed control.



Parvati is said to have once playedfully closed her husband Shiva's eyes in Mount Kailash. Though it was only a fraction of a second in astronomical terms, the entire Universe's light was extinguished, and the world was plunged into darkness for years. To satisfy Shiva, Parvati and other followers dutifully endured extreme penance. Shiva, true to form, arrived at the top of the Annamalai hils as a dazzling column of fire, once again enlightening the Universe. Ardhanarishvara (half-male, half-female) was created when the divine couple combined into one being.


Significance of the Thiruvannamalai (Arunachalam) Temple

The Annamalaiyar temple is thought to be one of Lord Shiva's Pancha Bhoota Stalams (five element temples). Each of these is an expression of the five natural components that is still relevant today. Land, water, air, sky, and fire are the five elements, and Shiva is claimed to have appeared as fire (Agni) here. The temple's Lingam depicts numerous aspects of human nature that, when followed, are thought to lead to self-liberation. Manipooraga Stalam is another name for the temple, which preaches breaking free from the chakra of all human vices.


Architecture of the Thiruvannamalai (Arunachalam) Temple

This ancient temple sits on a huge plot of land that spans over 25 acres. Each side features a Gopuram (gateway tower), with the Rajagopuram on the eastern side being the tallest. The temple's other towers are the Kili Gopuram (Parrot Tower) and Vallala Maharaja Gopuram. The structure is divided into five precincts and is overseen by Nandi, Lord Shiva's sacred Bull.

The oldest shrine in the complex, facing east, houses the images of Nandi and Surya the Sun God. An image of Lord Vishnu in the form of Venugopalaswamy can be found behind the Sanctum. Several images of Hindu deities can also be found on the property. In the second precinct of the temple, Lord Shiva's spouse is portrayed standing. In the north of the temple, there is a shrine for Sambandar Vinayagar, as well as a tiny shrine for Subramanya. Within the temple's precincts, there is also a sacrifice platform. The shrine's 1000-pillared hall is a stunning feature, and a massive Sivaganga tank outside adds to the temple's splendour. Magizha, the sacred temple tree, is where childless couples come to pray for progeny.

The hall of light that has 16 pillars, is located within the temple too. A wedding hall, designed in the Vijayanagara style, is also located on the property. In this massive complex, which spans over an area of 10 hectares and is one of India's largest, there is also a Vasantha Mandapam (hall of spring).


Festivals Related to Thiruvannamalai (Arunachalam) Temple

Every day, Shaivite priests perform Pujas, and temple ceremonies are performed six times every day. During prayer, the priests read Vedic texts and religious music reverberates throughout the temple complex. Weekly, fortnightly, and monthly ceremonies are also observed at the temple. Every year, the temple hosts a number of festivals, including the Brahmotsavam, which takes place during the Tamil month of Karthikai in November-December.

In the Tamil month of Thai, Tiruvoodal and Maatu Pongal are two additional prominent festivals observed in the temple.

Five temple cars are taken out in a procession on the occasion of Chitra Pournami, which is observed by throngs of people. A large lamp is lit and set on top of the Annamalai hills, which can be seen from afar, during Karthigai Deepam. Thousands of devotees flock to temple to take part in celebrations and worship Lord Annamalaiyar.


Arunachalam Temple – Facts

Deity - Agni Lingam

Significance - Pancha Bhoota Stalams

Location - Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu

Entry Fees - Free Darshan Timing is 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Best Time to Visit - October to March

Poojas - Kiruthigai Pooja

Festivals - Shravan, Shivratri, Karthigai Deepam

Pancha Bhoota Stalams - Ekambareswarar Temple, Chidambaram Nataraja, Jambukeswarar Temple, Srikalahasti Temple


Blessings or Advantages of the primary deity- Thiruvannamalai (Arunachalam) Temple


Girivalam is the practise of circumambulating the Arunachala highlands barefoot on the full moon days. It is stated that participating in this ceremony cleanses one of their sins and satisfies one's desires. It also aids in the attainment of Moksha, or freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth.


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