Arunachala Temple

By Vijay Anand vjangiti@gmail.com | 2008

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Welcome to the Tiruvannamalai, the world renowned abode of Lord Shiva. It is also closely associated with Ramana Maharshi. It is about 185kms from Chennai app 3.5 hours. It is also easily accessible from Bangalore. You see Arunachaleswarar Temple. Shiva and Parvathi are the two deities that are worshipped here. Shiva is prayed here in the form of Agni. One of the panchaboothas that is used as an element to incarnate this earth or universe. Shiva is known by devotees as Annamalayar or Arunachaleswarar.

You see Arunachala Hill. Devotees do a 16 km Parikrama (called Girivalam in Tamil) or walk round the holy mountain. The number of devotees increases on full moon night. On the day of Kartik Purnima there are a larger number of devotees. This Karthikai Deepam is celebrated as a ten day festival and it widely known as Karthikai Brahmotsavam. A flame is lit on the top of the holy hill during this festival. To know details of how the 10 day festival is celebrated click here

Another view of the temple taken from top of the Arunachala Hill. Note the gopurams on four sides and in the centre as well. The temple has a unique architecture with a 66 metre high gopuram consisting of thirteen storey tier. The temple has seven prakaras and nine gopurams. The tallest gopuram was built by king Krishnadevaraya in the fifteenth century & it is believed to be the second tallest gopuram South India. This tower is called as Rajagopuram located on the eastern side.

An overview of the town. It has two big tanks named as Brahma Theertham and the other as Siva Ganga Theertham. It has a massive thousand pillar hall built by the ancient kings. In the 13th century the Hoysala kings from Karnataka built some sannadhis and prakaras in the temple.

U see temple at night. As of today the temple plan includes five Prakarams in total. And in each Prakaram there are Nandhi statues placed facing the Lord Arunachaleswarar temple. The fifth Prakaram is the outer most Prakaram and it has four Gopurams on all four different sides of the temple. They are the Thirumanjana gopuram, Ammaniammal gopuram, Pei gopuram and the Rajagopuram. This splendid temple architecture owes its due to King Krishnadevarayar of the Vijayanagaram kingdom. At this fifth Prakaram there is also a thousand pillared mandapam besides a holy tank called Shiv Ganga tank. Do darshan of the Shiv Lingam.

A close up of the gopuram at night.

An overview of the town from atop Arunachala Hill.

Entrance to Ramana Maharshi Ashram. There is a big courtyard with plenty of old trees and one among them is said to be around 450 years old. Next to attract the attention of the visitor to the Ramanashram is the two imposing tower built in temple and it is in Dravidian style. One of the tower is built over the tomb of Ramana’s mother and the other over the new hall. See Maharshi''s Samadhi and his Mother''s shrine.

Skanda Ashramam is where Bhagawan or Maharishi spent almost 16 years imparting advaita to seekers, granting divine grace to one and all, and acting as a guiding spirit to seekers on their journey to their own inner light/wisdom. His earlier days were spent in the arunachaleeshwara temple, and the village. Later on moved to the Virupaksha cave on the sacred arunachal mountain before moving to Skanda. After his mother death, maharishi moved to the foothills, where his Sri Ramana Ashramam stands!

The Ashram has a temple and is at the foothills of Arunachala hill. You see Nataraja and Parvati image inside the temple.

The next six pictures are of the parikrama (circumambulation)round the holy mountain Arunachala. The 16kms walk stirred me, takes between 3-4 hours depending on your speed. There is a outer road ie cemented, the inner one is a kucha path.

Parikrama round the holy Arunachala. Each of the spiritual centers of India has its own character and its own line of tradition; and among them all it is Tiruvannamalai (Arunachala) that represents the most direct, the most formless and the least ritualistic of paths, the path of Self-enquiry, whose gateway is silent initiation.

This is expressed in the old Tamil saying: “To see Chidambaram, to be born at Tiruvarur, to die at Banaras or even to think of Arunachala is to be assured of Liberation.” “Even to think of” because in the case of the direct path physical contact is not necessary. Hence, it was no accident that the Maharshi made Tiruvannamalai and its sacred Arunachala Mountain his home.

the peak of the holy mountain. This was a clear indication not only of his devotion to Arunachala but also his Oneness with it.

Through his compositions, his sayings and his life the importance of Arunachala as a spiritual center has once again risen to eminence. The Maharshi called Arunachala the spiritual Heart of the world. Aruna, which means ‘red, bright like fire’, does not signify the mere fire that gives off heat. Rather, it is Jnanagni, the Fire of Wisdom, which is neither hot nor cold. Achala signifies hill. Thus, Arunachala means the ‘Hill of Wisdom’

Parikrama or circumbulation round the holy mountain Arunachala. Most narrations content taken from www.thiruvannamalai.in/index.html and www.sriramanamaharishi.org and written by Shri Vijay Anand. Copyright and credit lies with the respective sites.