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South Indian - Temples

Annamalaiyar Temple - Thiruvannamalai - Tamil Nadu

Arunachaleswar temple representing one of the five cosmic elements, Fire, is sprawling across 25 acres in Tiruvannamalai. This temple is considered to be very auspicious by Saivaties, as a place must to be visited once in their life time.

Lord Shiva is represented as a column of fire in this temple called as Agni Lingam. Mythologically, when there was a clash between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu about their supremacy, they surrendered to Lord Shiva. He suggested them to find out where is His crown and feet as a contest to both of them.

Lord Brahma moved upward and Lord Vishnu, traversed through downwards. Even after spending a lot of time, Lord Vishnu could not find the feet of the God, hence, came back and accepted the fact. But, Lord Brahma, brought a pinnacle flower stating that he took it from the crown of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva cursed Him not to have any temple on earth and later it was withdrawn with His penance. Thus, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a column of huge fire which is an endless phenomenon.

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The temple is believed to exist from the ancient times, but from the inscriptions, it is seen that, the temple has been renovated during the Chola dynasty in 9th century. The temple has seen vast expansions and maintenance over centuries during various dynasties.

The temple complex is sprawling across 25 acres of land, located at the foot of the Tiruvannamalai Hills. It comprises of many shrines, out of which the shrines for Lord Annamalayar and Goddess Unnamalaiamman being the prominent.

The temple has many festivals celebrated throughout the year, out of which the most renowned Karthigai Deepam is of special religious significance. The presence of Lord Shiva in the form of huge column of fire is symbolized by the celebrations on this day during the Tamil month Karthigai, that is, between mid-November and mid-December.

A large cauldron filled with three tons of ghee and is placed at the top of the hill. The light lit in this cauldron is visible around several kilometers radius. From the inscriptions, it can be inferred that, celebrating Karthigai Deepam has been in place since the 8th century. To mark this event, the processional deity of the Lord Annamalaiyar is taken on circumambulation around the hill.

Yet another religiously significant event in this temple is Girivalam. During every full moon day, lakhs of devotees walk around the 14 kms distance of foot hill and it is estimated that around one million people take part in this every year and the number is in the increasing trend.

Apart from the temple, there exists many Ashrams where Indian and Foreign devotees involve themselves in the process of the self-realisation and inner peace. Come and experience the divinity in every aspect of Tiruvannamalai and get blessed by Lord Annamalaiyar.

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