Arunachaleswarar temple - Tiruvannamalai - Siva Temple

The holy temple at Tiruvannamalai (located on the Northern part of Tamilnadu. ) lies at the foot of Arunachala hill and occupies a vast area of 25 acres of land. It is one of the Pancha (five) Bhutasthalas. Tiruvannamalai is the Thejo sthalam - Fire. The other four are at Kanchipuram (Prithvi sthalam - Earth), Tiruvanaikaval (Appu sthalam - Water), Kalahasti (Vayu sthalam - Air) & Chidambaram (Akasa sthalam - Space).

The Tiruvannamalai temple owes its grandeur to four lofty towers - the eastern one called Rajagopuram is the tallest and measures 217 feet, the western is called the Pey gopuram, the southern - Tirumanjana gopuram and Northern - Ammani Amma gopuram. It has five prakarams, and the walls are broad and high, resembling the rampart wall of a fort. In each of the prakara, there are tanks and many mini shrines.



Entering through the Rajagopuram, devotees worship Gopura Ganapathi. In this prakaram, ( the fifth) lies the thousand pillared mandapam and an underground temple enshrining Patala Linga. Bhagavan Ramana did penance here in his Purvasramam.

Then they enter the fourth prakaram passing through Vallaha Maharaja Tower. The Brahma Thirtham (temple tank) is situated here & a bath in its holy waters is said to purge one of all his sins. There are several other shrines dedicated to Arunagirinathar (Gopurathilayanar), Kesavar, Kalyaneswar, Viranmandir & the Panchasthalas.

Next, they cross the Kili Gopuram to step into the third prakaram. Arunagirinathar is said to have entered the body of a parrot in order to fetch the parijatha flower. His enemy Sambandan burnt his body & hence Arunagirinathar settled himself on the temple tower in the form of the parrot and sang his famous Kantharanubhuthi. There is a form of a parrot in one of the sthubis, testifying to this story. In this prakaram there are temples dedicated to Bhimeswar and Vigneswar besides the Mahila trees.

In the second prakaram the temples of Ganapati and Muruga are situated on either side of the entrance. Finally, the first prakaram enclosing the garbha griha of Sri Arunachaleswarar (Tejolingam) - the presiding deity of this glorious temple.

Devotees refer to this deity by various other names such as Sonachaleswara, Arunagiriswarar, Vedamurthi, Annamalaiyar, Bhaktavashankar, etc. It is recorded that there are as many as 360 thirthas and 400 lingams in the eight-mile circuit of this sacred hill. Around the hill are many hermitages inhabited by holy personages of supreme spiritual eminence such as Ramanashram, Seshadri Swamigal Sannidhi, Durvas Ashram, Goutama Ashram, Adi Annamalai tmeple, Manickavachagar temple, Isanya Gnanadesikar Mutt, Durga temple besides the famous Virupaksha cave, Sadai Swami cave and Mamarathu cave.

Traditional poojas start everyday at 7.30 AM followed by Kalasanthi at 9.30 AM. Uchikala poojai begins at 11.30AM. Sayarakshai Poojai starts at 5.30PM & the Ardhajama poojai at 9.30 PM. Special poojas are offered every Monday, Friday, Saturdays, on the first day of every Tamil month, Sukla Chaturthis, Sashti, Amavasya and Pournami.

In addition many annual festivals like Chitrai, Ani, Adipooram, Puratasi, Aipasi, karthigai, Margazhi, Thai and Panguni are celebrated and these normally last for 10 days. Among the galaxy of spiritual celebrities Sage Gautama, Pangu Muni, King Brihadatta, demon king Pulakathipa, Appar, Sambandar, Sundarar, Manickavachagar, Arunagirinathar, Guhai Namasivayar, Isanya Gnana Desikar, Virupaksha Devar, Daivasikhamani Desikar, Ramana Maharishi, Seshadri Swamigal, Jatini Shanmuga Yogini and Iswara Swamigal deserve special mention.

Karthigai Deepam is the most important festival, when devotees walk round the hill and worship the Bharani Deepam. The deepam is lit in a gigantic, circular metal vessel that can hold about 2000litres of ghee. It is five and half feet in height and five feet in diameter. For making the wick, 30 meters of ghada cloth is used and is burnt with 2 kilos of camphor on the night of Karthigai Pournami. The jothi can be sighted from nearly 10km around.


Virtual Tour of the temple


Related sites

Arunachala, Shiva, India, Grace, Spiritual, Miracles
http://www.arunachalasamudra.org

Information on the temple, history, Girivalam, Deepam & the Ashram
http://www.omarunachala.com/

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