A view of the temple complex at Arunachalaeswarar Temple
A view of the temple complex at Arunachalaeswarar Temple

Arunachalaeswarar Temple (or) Annamalayar Temple is located in the town of Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnadu.  Arunachalaeswarar Temple is believed to be representing the element Fire. The Pancha Bhoota temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and these five temples are said to be the important pilgrimage places of South India. The word Pancha refers to the number ‘five’ and Bhoota refers to ‘elements’. And the five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Sky. These five elements are believed to be manifested in the form of five Lingams, the divinity of Lord Shiva. The Arunachalaeswarar Temple is one among the Pancha Bhoota Lingam temples. The Pancha Bhoota Lingam Temples are:

  • Ekambareswarar Temple (Kanchipuram,Tamilnadu)
  • Jambukeswarar Temple (Tiruchirapalli,Tamilnadu)
  • Arunachalaeswarar Temple (Tiruvannamalai,Tamilnadu)
  • Kalahastheeswarar Temple (Sri Kalahasti, Andhrapradesh)
  • Thillai Natarajar Temple (Chidambaram,Tamilandu)

The mythology says that Lord Brahma (the god of creation) and Lord Vishnu (the god of Harmony) had a tough argument on who holds the superiority in creation. To test Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva penetrated the three worlds as an endless pillars of light, called Jyotrilinga. Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu was assigned separate directions, one to the upward direction and the other towards the downward direction to find the end of the light in either directions.

Lord Vishnu admitted His Vanquishment whereas Lord Brahma lied that he found the end of the light. Hence, Lord Shiva appeared to be the second pillar of light and proclaimed that Lord Vishnu would be worshipped by all till the end of the eternity and cursed Lord Brahma that He will not be worshipped in any etiquette. The place where Lord Shiva stood as endless pillars of light to destruct the ego is Tiruvannamalai.

A closeup view behind the main Entrance Tower at Arunachalaeswarar Temple
A closeup view behind the main Entrance Tower at Arunachalaeswarar Temple

Specialty

The main deities of this temple are Lord Shiva worshipped as Lord Arunachalaeswarar and His consort Goddess Shakthi worshipped as Goddess Unnamulaiyamman. The main shrine also contains the idols of Lord Nandi and Lord Surya. The Shiva Lingam in this temple is known as Agni Lingam. The other deities of this temple are Lord Vishnu worshipped as Lord Venugopalaswamy, Lord Somaskandar, Lord Chandikeswarar, Lord Dhakshina Moorthy, Lord Swarnabairavar, Lord Natarajar, Goddess Durga, Goddess Gajalakshmi, and so on.

Arunachalaeswarar Temple is one of the largest temples in India with a span of 10 hectares. This temple has four Gopurams (gateway towers) and the eastern Rajagopuram (temple tower) of this temple measures 135 feet, made of granite which is the tallest in the temple. Arunachalaeswarar Temple is said to be one of the Paadal Petra Stalam, where the great saints ‘Nayanars’ have sung songs about the temple.

A Sanctum of a Linga behind the tower of Arunachalaeswarar Temple
A Sanctum of a Linga behind the tower of Arunachalaeswarar Temple

Girivalam

The Tiruvannamalai hill is believed to take different forms at different period of time and age. In Kirithayugam, it was said to be in the form of fire. In Threthayugam, it took the form of emerald.In Dweparayugam, it took the form of gold. Presently in Kaliyugam, it has taken the state of rocky hill. The word Girivalam is the origin of the Tamil word, where Giri refers to the “Hill” and Valam refers to “coming around”, which takes place on the full moon day (during night).

To complete one full Girivalam around the hill, one must walk around 14 kilometers. Arunachalaeswarar temple houses eight lingams known as Ashtalingams. They are positioned at different locations and faces various directions. Each lingam is believed to address the different aspects of human life. Also these lingams have a dominant navagrahas and it is a strong belief that worshipping each lingam brings forth various benefits.

A View from a passageway inside the Arunachalaeswarar Temple
A View from a passageway inside the Arunachalaeswarar Temple

Ramana Maharishi

Ramana Maharishi is closely related to Tiruvannamalai who taught the devotees about spiritual matters here. Ramana Maharishi, originally named as Venkataraman was born on December 30, 1879, in a small village Tiruchuzhi near Madurai in Tamilnadu, and considered as a Hindu Guru. When he was in his teenage he lost his father. He, along with his mother, moved to his uncle’s house in Madurai. And he was said to have permanently lost his sense of individual selfhood at the age of 16, which he later described the event as enlightenment.

Ramana Maharishi was naturally so much excited and interested to know about the holy place Arunachalaeswarar temple and by the age of 16, he made up his mind to visit Arunachalaeswarar temple somehow. And His firm mind took him to this holy place.Since he did not have enough money to travel that much long distance, he got to walk a long distance to reach Arunachalaeswara Temple at Tiruvannamalai, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

And soon he attracted many devotees and worshipped by the devotees. He responded to many questions on spiritual matters, but always insisted that silence was the purest teaching. The essence of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings is that there exists one indivisible reality, which is both immanent and directly experienced by everyone, and is, at once, the source, substance and real nature of all that exists. The term he used most frequently for this reality was “the Self”. In April 15 in the year 1950, Ramana Maharshi passed away. The spirit of Ramana Maharshi merged with divinity.

A view inside the temple complex at Arunachalaeswarar Temple
A view inside the temple complex at Arunachalaeswarar Temple

Pooja Timings

  • Ukshakala Pooja – 5.30 a.m.
  • Kala santhi Pooja – 8.00 a.m.
  • Uchikala Pooja – 11.30 a.m.
  • Sayaratchai Pooja – 5.30 p.m.
  • Irandam Kala Pooja – 7.30 p.m.
  • Arthajama Pooja – 9.00 p.m.

Festivals

  • Chitirai vasantha urchavam (10 days) – April or May
  • Vaikasi Urchavam – May or June
  • Aani Bramorchavam (10 days) – June or July
  • Aadi Pooram Bramorchavam (10 days) – July or August
  • Avani Moolam Urchavam – August or September
  • Navarathri Urchavam – September or October
  • Kanda Sashti urchavam – October or November
  • Karthigai Deepa Bramorchavam (17 days) – November or December
  • Vaikunda Ekadasi Urchavam – December or January
  • Uthrayana Punyakala Bramorchavam (10 days) – January or February
  • Maha Sivarathri Urchavam – February or March
  • Panguni Uthiram Thirukalyana Urchavam – March or April
By Road

The town is well-connected by Tamil Nadu Road Transport Corporation (TNSTC) buses. Regular bus service is available. The town is well connected from Chennai and frequent bus services are available, through Chengleput, Madurantakam, Dhindivanam and Gingee, and the other through Sri Perumbudur, Kancheepuram, Vellore and Polur.


By Train

Tiruvannamalai railway station is located on the rail route from Vellore to Villupuram. The rail route is well-connected with the major cities of the country. Dhindivanam Railway Station (about 68 km.) can be considered as an alternative to reach Tiruvannamalai via rail.


By Air

The nearest access via air to Tiruvannamalai is Chennai International Airport that lies about 173 km.

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