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Thiruvannamalai

 
Place : Thiruvannamalai District, Tamil Nadu
Significance : Famous for its Arunachaleswarar Temple
Best time to Visit : Throughout the year
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Thiruvannamalai is a pilgrimage town in Thiruvannamalai district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is also the headquarters of the Thiruvannamalai district. It is located 82 km south of Vellore and 187 kms away from Chennai. The town is also one of the 'Pancha Bootha Sthalangal' representing the fire element along with the other elements of nature, wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikka), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Thiruvannamalai).

It is here, four famous 'Saiva Saints and Poets' such Appar, Sundarar, Manichkavasakar and Thirugnana Sambanda prayed to God and composed divine poems.

Manickavasagar had lived here for long period and wrote the famous poem 'Thiruvempava'. Thiruvannamalai also has been mentioned in the Sangam classics and in Saivite religious lore.

There is an interesting story behind Tiruvannamalai : Once Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu quarelled over who was superior. Lord Shiva appeared before them as a blinding column of light in the shape of a mountain. Both decided to search for the 'Aathi' (beginning) and the 'Antham' (end) of this ling of fire ' and whoever succeeded first would be declared the superior god. Vishnu tried to find its beginning by digging in the form 'Varaha' (wild boar) while Brahma became a swan and flew towards the top. Neither was successful. Realising their mistake, they prayed to Lord Shiva and Shiva condensed himself from a light into the mountain Arunachala.

Thiruvannamalai is famous for the Arunachaleswarar Temple one of the oldest and most famous Shiva Temples in India. Besides this temple, the town is dotted with more than 100 small shrines dedicated to different dietie, ashrams including those of Ramana Maharshi, and Seshadri Swamigal and around 360 holy water sources.


In and around Thiruvannamalai

Arunachaleswarar Temple
One of the oldest and the largest temples in South India, Arunachaleswarar Temple is located at the foot of the Annamalai hill/Arunachal Hill, a short distance from the famous Sri Ramanashram. Built between the 9th and the 10th centuries by the Chola kings of the Tamil empire, its huge 60 m high gopurams dominate the centre of the town. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, here Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of fire. Sprawls over an area of 25 acres of land it is surrounded by three massive granite walls forming a series of rectangles.

The temple's walls runs to a length of 1,320 metres pierced with gates and towers. Inside the complex, there are many shrines, mandapams, corridors, enclosures adorned with massive pillars with intricately carved sculptures.

There are four Rajagopurams positioned on the four sides of the complex. The temple is approached from the east end of the temple through colonnades with wide passageway. The lower parts of the gopurams date from the late Vijaynagar period. Similar to all Dravidian temple's gopuras, their lower sections are built of granite while the upper storeys and the decorations are of brick and plaster. Out of the four gopuras, the one which stand on the east in the outerwall has a height of 65 metres. It has decorated basments and pilasters with full of Sudhai images. Besides these four gopuras, there are more than 300 towers for the shrines in the temple.

As one enter the temple from the eastern gate, on the right side one can see a 1,000-pillared mandapa built in the Vijayanagar period. On the left there are a large stepped Sivaganga tank surrouned by a colonnades and a Subrahmanya shrine stands near the edge of the water. On the outer wall of the eastern gopura, a columned hall dating from the 17th century occupies on the north side of the enclosure. Shiva is shown in the north wall and dancing shiva is shown in the south corner. Four smaller gopuras with less decorated walls lead into the second enclosure. There is a stepped tank and a large columned hall with an open colonnade facing south. On the ceiling there is a scene depicting the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvati.

Just before enter the next enclosure, right is the Parthalia-linga worshipped by Ramana Maharishi. There are Moolavar and utsavar idols of Arunagirinathar are enshrined here.

Within the next enclosure is a shrine dedicated to the consort of Lord Siva and a large seated Nandi bull facing the temple of Lord Siva. Within the enclosure are deities on the walls, such as Siva, Parvati, Subrahmanya, Ganesh, and Lakshmi. For more details contact ; Ph: 04175-252438.

Special poojas are offered every Monday, Friday, Saturdays and on the first day of every Tamil month, Sukla Chaturthis. Pooja timings : Kalasanthi starts at 9.30am, Uchikala poojai at 11.30am, Sayarakshai Pooja at 5.30pm, Ardhajama poojai at 9.30pm.

 

Ramana Ashram
Sri Ramana Ashram is one the holy places in Thiruvannamalai. Sri Ramana maharishi is a great sage lived in a cave on Arunachal hill where he lived in solitude for 17 years, gradually attracts many devotees. In the 1920s an ashram was built for him at this mountain. He attained mukthi in the year 1950. Its international reputation is confirmed by the many foreign visitors who visits here. Situated at the foot of Arunachala hill, the ashram is a large, well maintained ashram.

Contact:
The President,
Sri Ramanasramam,
Tiruvannamalai,
Tamil Nadu-606603
Ph: 04175-237292

Skandashramam

Situated a half hour's walk up the mountain is the Skandashram. It is a beautiful tree-shaded hermitage. Ramana Maharshi lived and meditated here in a cave from 1916 to 1922, and his mother attained mukti here. One can see panoramic view of the temple and the surrounding areas from here. Slightly further is the Virupaksha Cave, believed to contain the ashes of a yogi from Karnataka who lived here from 1899 to 1916. Even closer to the foothill is the Mamara Guhai (cave under the mango tree), where Ramana Maharshi stayed for a while.

Yogi Ramsurathkumar Ashram
The other much visited ashram of the Yogi Ram Surathkumar who attained mukthi in the year of 2000. One of the beautiful place in Thiruvannamalai, the ashram is situated in a four acre land near Ramanashram. Devotees from all over the world visit Yogi Ram Surathkumar Ashram. Contact : yrskt@md4.vsnl.net.in.

Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram
Established by Sri Seshadri Swamigal who lived in the late 20th Century. It is also situated near to Ramana Ashram. The ashram has a beautiful garden which attracts many people. Contact: Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram, Tiruvannamalai- 606 603, Ph: +91-4175-24999

Sathanur Dam

Constructed across Pennaiyar River, it is 30 km from Thiruvannamalai. One of the famous picnic spot and a day outing site in Thiruvannamalai, it is constructed in 1958. The dam has a capacity of 7321 million cubic feet. There is a beautiful Botanical garden with many varieties of ornamental plants and flowers and a well maintained zoological park with lawns. Inside the park, there is a min zoo.

A Swimming pool is also built inside the dam to enjoy the tourist. A large Crocodile farm and a fish grotta to know the life of Crocodile and fish culture. Thie botanical garden is one of the Famous Cine Shooting Spot in South India.

Jawadhu Hills

Situated in the northwestern part of Tiruvannamalai, and a part of the Eastern Ghats it is a beautiful mountain lies at about 2350 feet to 3500 feet above sea level. It has many scenic spots such as Beema Falls, Komutteri Lake, Kavalur Observatory, Amirthi Forest, and the Glass House.

 







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