– Dr A Pranesh
Thiruvannamalai Temple is located in Thiruvannamallai district of Tamilnadu. It is about 185 kms from Chennai and 210 kms from Bangalore. The town is situated to the east of Eastern ghats and the temple located on the base of Annamalai hills.
The town Thiruvannamalai is named after Annamalaiyar, the principal deity of the temple.
During full moon days in November and December, Kartika Deepam festival is celebrated. Huge quantities of camphor are lit on the top of Annamalai hills during those days. It attracts about three million people from different parts of India.
According to the myths, once Parvathi closed her husband Shiva’s eyes playfully for a moment. Although it was just a moment for gods but the whole universe was plunged into darkness for several years. Alarmed by darkness, Parvati performed penances along with other devotees. Pleased by their penance, Lord Shiva appeared as a huge column of fire on Annamalai hills, thereby returning light to universe. In Tamil, Arunam means red (fire) and Asalam means hills, hence the name Arunachalam. The whole hill is considered as lingam.
At the base of the hills a huge temple dedicated to Shiva is located and is popularly known as Arunachaleshwara temple.
As the whole hill is considered as a Shiva lingam, people usually go for circumambulation of hills starting from the eastern entrance of the temple.
According to another legend, once Brahma and Vishnu contested for superiority, then Shiva appeared as a huge flame and asked them to explore its beginning and its end. Then Vishnu took Varaha (boar) form and went down to find its base but was unable to find. Brahma went up but could not find its peak. He came back and lied to Shiva that he found the apex. Shiva came to know about Brahma’s lie and as a punishment ordained that Brahma would never have temple for worship on earth.
Thiruvannamalai was ruled by Pallavas, Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijaynagar rulers and Tipu Sultan. Hoysala Kings made Thiruvannamalai as their capital in 1328 AD.
Arunachala temple at Thiruvannamalai is huge and amazingly beautiful. The whole temple has a wonderful spiritual aura and makes pilgrims spell bound both through its beauty and spirituality.
There are plenty of lodges around the temple and Ramana ashram. Thiruvannamalai is well connected by road from both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.