The Arunachaleshwar Temple

About The Temple

Offer Your Diligent Prayers In The Arunachaleshwar Temple

Situated at the extreme base of the Annamalai hills, this temple is one of the greatest religious destinations of Thiruvannamalai, in the state of Tamil Nadu. Associated with the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, the temple is the bearer of the fire or Agni form of Lord Shiva. According to the historical artifacts of the temple, the constructional era dates back to the 9th century, during the reign of the Chola dynasty. However, later expansions of the temple trace back to the time of Sangama dynasty of the Vijaynagar rulers. Approximately between 1336 to 1485 C.E, the vijaynagar rulers undertook further expansions of the temple. Proceeding with this legacy further were the Tulava and Saluva dynasty.

Religious and cultural significance

The annamalaiyar temple is the divine manifestation of the five essential elements of nature. Referred to as Agni Lingam, it portrays the inherent essence of aesthetic life through the perfect execution of worldly duties. Moreover, it also represents the complete cycle of Agni Kalpa through virtue and self-sacrifice. Personifying the tantric cycles of human anatomy, are the Aathara Stalas. Also popular as the Manipooraga stalam, it represents the major virtues of the Manipooraga chakra. The entities of one’s spiritual ignorance, jealousy, treachery, disgust, shame, fear and delusion are associated with this chakra. Moreover, the incorporation of nagaswaram and Tavil, the pipe and percussion instruments, in the worship procedure of the temple, essay the rich cultural heritage of the temple.

Presiding deity of the temple

Pilgrims and devotees across the world, offer prayers to the principal deity of the temple, Lord Shiva. However, the divine manifestation of the Lord, in this temple is popular as Arunachaleswarar or Annamalaiyar. He is the fire manifestation of Pancha Bhoota Stalas representing virtue, self sacrifice and duty. Additionally, the presence of Lord Shiva’s consort Parvati, as the Unnamulai Amman is of great reverence. The Lord possesses various other names of reverence, such as Arunagiriswarar, Sonachaleswarar, Bhaktapasavimochakar, Sounadriswarar and Vedamurthi.

Detailed description of Idol

Worshipped as the divine fire incarnation, the resident idol of the temple is a Shiva lingam. It is also popular as the Agni Lingam of Lord Shiva. After circling around the other three prakarams, dedicated followers can enter into the first prakaram, containing the Garbagraha of the main deity. Carved out of black stone, the idol is in the legendary form of lingam; iconic representation of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, the controller of all the worldly cycles of the universe, showers blessings on his followers and guides them to the path of self-emancipation.

Presence of other shrines

On the posterior side of the main Shrine, stands the Venugopalaswamy image, known to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Apart from that, there are other images of Somaskandar, Chandekeswarar, Arumugaswami, Swarnabairavar and Lingodbhavar, the last one being the image of Lord Shiva emerging from the Lingam. Going around the sanctum, pilgrims can offer prayers to the Palliyarai; divine room of repose of deities situated in the first precinct. Apart from that, the second precinct houses the Unnamulai Amman, the divine incarnation of Goddess Parvati and Sambantha Vinayagar, the elephant deity.

Diligent performance of rituals

The performance of rituals at the temple is done by the Shaivaite priests, belonging to the sub-caste of Brahmins. The rituals begin as early as 5:30 a.m. with Ushathkalam, followed by Kalasanthi and Uchikalam, at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. respectively. After the completion of these rituals, there is Sayarakshai, Irandamkalam and Ardha Jamam at six p.m., eight p.m. and 10:00 p.m respectively. Each of these worship procedures involves the diligent performance of four steps. The steps are Abhisheka the holy bath, alangaram or adorning the deity, neivethanam or offering of prasadam, and finally deepa aradanai, or performance of arti with lamps. Along with these procedures, religious readings from the Vedas are also present.

Festivities at the temple

An annamalaiyar photos download will divulge the range of festivities celebrated at the temple. Throughout the year, the temple hosts almost a dozen festivals. Amongst the major celebrations at the temple, the Brahmotsavam is celebrated annually. Ranging from November to December, during the Kartikai month of Tamil calendar, the celebration of Brahmotsavam attracts flocks of pilgrims and devotees from every corner of the country. Moreover, the entire celebration concludes with Karthikai Deepam. During this festivity, a large cauldron with three tons of ghee is lit in the form of a lamp. The entire celebration occurs atop the Annamalai Hills.

Apart from that, the first week of Thai, according to the Tamil calendar, host Tiruvoodal. During this festivity, both the idols of Lord Shiva and his consort are taken to the streets of Tiruoodal. Enactment of the romance between Unnamamulai Amman and Annamalaiyar occurs, on the Maatu Pongal morning. Moreover, fruit garlands are used to decorate Nandi.

A famous pilgrimage destination

The entire Thiruvannamalai region witnesses the gatherings of pilgrims and devotees from all parts of the world, paying respects at the Lord Shiva temple. Dedicated worshippers of Lord Shiva, gather in the temple premises, in huge numbers, during Chitra Pournami. On this full moon day, five ther, or temple cars set in a grand procession.

How To Reach

With the aid of the lucid transportation of the region, arriving at the temple is quite easy. But pilgrims and devotees across the country must possess comprehensive information on the thiruvannamalai arunachaleswarar temple timings, to offer prayers to the deity.

 

  • By road: In terms of roadways, there are ample access facilities for dedicated devotees, arriving at the region. From Chennai, it takes about 3.5 hours. Pilgrims from adjacent regions can completely rely on the state bus services, plying from Chennai, Madurai, Tirupati, Salem and other parts of Tamil Nadu. Moreover, if you wish to commence your journey from Bangalore, it is also possible, as there are government operated bus services from Bangalore to Thiruvannamalai.
  • By rail: Located at the convergence of Villupuram and Katpadi, there are various options through railways for outstation pilgrims. The nearest rail junction to the temple is the villupuram Junction train station, situated at 44 kilometers from it.
  • By air: A famous pilgrimage destination of this stature is sure to attract considerable amounts of international devotees. Therefore, superior connectivity through airways is of prime significance. In this regard, Thiruvannamalai is sure to satisfy devotees arriving from abroad, as the Chennai International Airport is about 185 kilometers from the temple.

Additionally, to the modes of transport mentioned above, you can also arrive at the temple premises through taxis and other private transports. Average taxi fares may range around Rs.2500.

 

Nearby Attractions

After paying holy tributes and seeking the blessings of lord annamalaiyar, pilgrims and worshippers can visit the adjacent areas of Thiruvannamalai. Offering great sightseeing experience for pilgrims and devotees, the place houses some of the important tourist centers.

  • Propagating the teachings and philosophies of Saint Ramana, the Ramana Ashram houses a temple, dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. Moreover, this particular temple in the ashram bears relics of the architectural excellence by the Pallavas. According to the popular legends, it was at this place that Saint Ramana attained salvation and vision on the ultimate truth of one’s existence.
  • Situated at Villupuram, lies the royal Gingee Fort, also popular as the Chenji Fort. According to the constructional history of the fort, it was an architectural effort of the Chola kings around the 9th century. Much later, a reconstruction was on the cards, done by the great Maratha warrior, Chhtrapati Shivaji himself. Moreover, the fort received British accolades and was conferred the title of Troy of the East.
  • Sathurnur Dam, across the Pennar River, is a major tourist destination of the region. While visiting the dam, tourists must not miss the ancient Thirnkoilur temple, offering deep insight into the architectural details of the time. The intricate carvings on the Gopurams are sure to enthrall archaeologists and enthusiasts of sculptural beauty.
  • Built in the holy remembrance of Saint Seshadri Swamigal, the sacred Seshadri Swamigal Ashram lies in proximity to the Ramana Ashram. The Ashram was the holy abode of Saint Seshadri Swamigal, an ardent possessor of great mystical powers. Legends state that the saint showered his devotees with blessings, relieving them of every pain.
  • Apart from the destinations mentioned above, those with a religious bent of mind can also offer prayers at the Kubera Lingam Temple, located in Thiruvannamalai.

History Of Temple

By taking a detailed look at some annamalaiyar temple photos, dedicated devotees gain a considerable amount of information on the temple’s history. According to some of the legends associated with the temple, it essays the divine glory of Lord Shiva. Once it so happened, that in a playful mood, Devi Parvati, Lord Shankar’s consort, blindfolded her husband’s eyes. It was at the point that the entire world and universe doomed to darkness. Pained by the predicament of the people, Goddess Parvati decided to practice penance, along with Lord Shiva’s devotees. Answering to their prayers, Lord Shiva appeared as a fire apparition at the peak of Annamalai hills.

It was at this auspicious hour that the world emerged to brightness and darkness was removed. Moreover, legends also state the union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati as Ardhanarishvara, at this point in time. Represented through the half-male and half-female form of Lord Mahadev, it essays the strength and glory of both male and female potent energies. Apart from that, the Annamalai Hills also house the Shiva lingam; iconic representation of the Lord.

Another significant legend associated with the temple states the superiority of Lord Shiva. Once, there was a battle for supremacy between Lord Vishnu and Brahma. At this point, Lord Mahadev transformed himself as a flame of fire, challenging the Gods to search for his source. Acquiring the divine forms of Swan and Varaha, Lord Brahma and Vishnu respectively set out on an expedition to reach the pinnacle. Supremacy of Lord Shiva was established, as neither of the two gods were successful in their endeavors. The entire scene became popular as lingothbhava.