Arunachaleswarar Temple of Shiva Car Street, Tiruvannamalai, Tiruvannamalai-606601

One of the biggest temple complexes in the South. Tiruvannamalai is very famous for Giri Valam (going around the mountain) which happens on full moon days (Pournami Giri Valam). The hill is considered to be Lord Shiva and thus going around it is to show respect to Lord Shiva.

Temple Etiquette

  • Footwear not allowed inside

    Footwear not allowed inside
    Footwear to be left outside the temple. In summer be careful of the hot paving stones.

  • Prasad and donation

    Prasad and donation
    Use your right hand to accept prasad and give donations. The left hand is considered unclean in India.

  • Dress conservatively

    Dress conservatively
    Avoid shorts, skirts, tanktops and do not expose legs.

  • Restricted entry

    Restricted entry
    Entry is normally restricted to temple priests in the sanctum sanctorum. Some temples restrict the entry of non-Hindus

  • Avoid cellphones

    Avoid cellphones
    Use of cell phones is restricted normally. Photography is restricted in some temples.

  • Circumambulation or pradakshina

    Circumambulation or pradakshina
    Devotees are to walk around the sanctum sanctorum in a clockwise direction

About Arunachaleswarar Temple

As per the Sthala Purana, Brahma and Vishnu once entered into an argument over who between them was the greatest. They then asked Lord Shiva to resove the dispute. Lord replied that whoever was able to see his Crown as well as His Feet could be termed the greatest. Then Lord Shiva transformed Himself into a Column of Fire (Jyothi Roopam), that spanned the Heaven and the Earth. Lord Vishnu took the form of a Boar (Varaha) and bored deep into the Earth to find Lord Shiva's Feet, but failed and accepted the defeat. Meanwhile, Brahma assumed the form of a Swan and flew around searching for the Crown. He saw the Thazhampoo flower, that Lord Shiva had decked in his Hair, falling down, and asked it to show him the Lord's Crown. The Flower said that it had been falling down for 40,000 years and hence could not judge the distance. Brahma then requested the Flower to bear false witness, when he lied to Lord Shiva about having seen the Crown. Lord Shiva saw through the deception and cursed that Brahma would not have a Temple on Earth. He also declared that the Flower (Thazampoo) should not be used for His Worship.

The Temple is situated east at the bottom of the hill. It faces East. It has got four stately towers on all the four sides and four high stone walls just like the rampart walls of a fort. The Eastern Tower called the Rajagopuram is the Highest. The Southern tower is called Thirumanjangopuram, that is in the west is called Peygopuram and that in the north is called Ammaniamma Gopuram. The Rajagopuram which adorns the East Gateway is 217 feet high with 11 storeys, its base measure 135 feet by 98 feet. This tower was built by King Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagar and completed by Sevappa Nayaka of Thanjavur. Krishna Devaraya also constructed the 100 Pillar(Aayiram Kal) Mantapam and dug the tank opposite to it . Ammani Ammal a Sanyasini built the North Gopuram which is called after her name.

The towers, the pillars in the Mantapams and Vimananms consist of figures of Sculptures Excellence.  In the side walls of the Entrance of East Gopuram there are dance poses and figures of Bewitching Beauty. Generally stone-Idols are fixed with what is called "Ashtabandana". But in this case it is "Swarnabandana" (Gold) which is of Special Importance. There are five inner rounds. Including what is called Madavilagam running just outside the temple walls and the four car streets and the path round the Giri the temple is said to have Seven Prakaras.

Main Gate/Eastern Gate

As enjoined, one should enter the temple by the Main Gate in front of the Sanctum sanctorum. Before entering the Eastern Gate we see the Sixteen-Pillared Mantapam and the Four-Pillared Mantapam. When we pass the Eastern Tower Gate we see the Gopura Ganapathi. This deity is held in high esteem and veneration by all devotees and the first worship to Him. We first come to the fifth prakaram and see before us the Kambathilayanar Sannidhi and Gnanappai Mantapam. Here it was that God Muruga appeared in a Pillar for the sake of the King Prabudadevaraya as prayed for by saint Arunagirinathar in response to his famouns song "Athalasadanarada". To the south there is the sacred tank called Shivaganga Theertham. It has stonesteps and Thirumalapathi Mantapam on all four sides.

In the South East corner of this fifth prakaram there is the Adiyar Viduthi (Devotees rest house), Siddhi Vinayagar shrine is found in the North-West side of the tank. To the West of the tank is the Theerthawarimantapam. There is Mangalavinayagar Sannidhi in the fifth South Prakaram and Thiruvarul Vilasa Mantapam just to the West of the South tower. There is the Kothala Vinayagar shrine in the Western Prakaram. There is nothing worth seeing in the Northern Prakaram except the big banyan tree which is considered sacred. Coming again to the Eastern Side of the fifth Prakaram we see the Mathapirappu Mantappam. A festival with Sri Chandrasekara Swami is celebrated here on the first day of the Tamil Month. Then we see the Thousand Pillared Mantapam and the underground temple of Sri Pathala Linga where at Ramana Maharishi's body was eaten by ants and months in his state of Supreme Awareness. In between Shivaganga Tank and Thousand Pillared Mantapam there are the Rudrakshamantapam and the Big Nandhi Mantapam.

From the fifth Prakaram we now go to the forth prakaram passing the tower gate of Vallala Maharaja Gopuram. Saint Arunagirinathar wanted to shuffle off his mortal coil by falling from this tower. Lord Murugan appeared before him and saved his life. Hence he came to be called Gopurathillaiyanar. Along with this deity we see the image of Saint Arunagirinathar also to the North of Vallalan Gopura Ganapathi, Kalyanasundaeswarar, Keswarar and Viranmindar one of the sixty three saivite saints. On crossing this towergate we enter the forth Prakaram. To the left there are the Kala Bairava Shrine and the temple tank called Barhma Theertham with the Teerthavari Mantapam. To the right we see Puravi Mantapam and the Sakthi Vilasam in which religious discourses are held. To the north of Brahma Teertham we see the shrines of Neleswarar, Vigneswarar, Vidyadhareswara and Brahmalinga.

Connecting the fifth and fourth Prakarams there are short tower-gates (Kattai Gopuram) on the Southern, Western and Northern sides. In the South-Western corner of the fourth Prakaram there are the Amavasya Mantapam, Vinayagar Shrine and what is called Sthula-Sukshma temple. To its north there is the Tirupatha Koil. In the North Western corner of the Thirupatha Koil there is the Karthigai Mantapam and Subramanya shrine. On the new moon day Sri Chandrasekara Swami is taken to the Amavasya Mantapam and Lord Subramanya to Krithigai Mantapam on the Krithigai day.

From the forth Prakaram we now go to the further inner circle, the third Prakaram. For this we have to cross what is called the Kili Gopuram(parrot-tower) gate in the East. Before entering this tower-gate we see on both sides the shrines of yanaithiraikonda Vinayagar, Subramaniar, Bairawar. Just in front of this entrance there is a Sixteen pillared Mandapam called the Katchi Mantapam. The five deities(Panchamurthis) are brought to this mantapam during the grand annual Karthigai Festival. Facing the hill they will give dharsan to the devotees simultaneously with the lighting of the hill top that evening. It is a sight to see and a teast to the devotees heart's desire.

To the south of the Katchimantapam there are the store room, temple kitchen and pannirmantapam and in the north we see Vasanthamantapam (used as Devasthanam Office), Yagasala, and the shrines dedicated to Kalatheeswaras, Chidambraeswara, Ekambareswarar and Jumbukeswarar. Thus we have all the panchastalas in the Arunachalam temple. We have the temple of pidari also. In the third South Prakaram there are the Mahila tress sacred to this shrine, and the Tirukalyana Mantapam and Bhimeswarar and Vigneswarar Shrines. Just near the west gate connecting the third and forth Prakarams there is the shrine of Arunagiri Yogeeswarar. Lord Arunagiri Siddha's centre in the temple is here and it is a very good place for Meditation.

The separate temple for Sri Unnamalai Nayaki or Sri Abidhakujambal is situated in the North Western portion of the third Prakaram. In the Mahamantapam in front of the Arthamantapam of this shrine we see the image of Kalanthagar, Veenadharar, Veerabadrar, Adilakshmi, Santhanalakshmi, Gajalakshmi, Dhanalakshmi, Dhanyalakshmi, Vijayalakshmi, Ayswaryalakshmi, Veeralakshmi, Rudra Durga, Mahasakthi and Saraswathi. In the front mantapam there are also the shrines of Vijayaraghava Vinayagar, Navagrahams and Chitraputhrar. To the back of the sanetum-sanctorum we see the Parasakthiamman, Vigneswarar, Cholalingam and Cheralingam. Inside the Garbhagraha we see the charming and graceful Goddess Unnamulai Ambal, the inseperable partner of Sri Anurachaleswara. The Sanskrit name for the Goddess is Abidhakujambal.

After worshipping at Sri Unnamulai Amman's shrine we come to the third Eastern Prakaram. Facing East at the extreme South and Extreme North there are the Shrines of Sambanda Vinayagar and Palaniandavar. On both sides of the entrance to the second Prakaram we see Ganpathi and Subramaniam and the Dwarapalakars (Gate keepers). Taking leave of Adhikara Nandikeswarar in the passage we enter into the second Prakaram. In the North we see Isanyalingam and all Utsavamurthis (festival idols) and in the South there is Indra Lingam. On all there sides of the second Prakaram there are number of deities. They are given below in detail.


Janakeswarar,Janardaneswarar, Appar, Sambandar, Sundarar, Manikkavasagar, Janandaneswarar, Janatkumareswarar, Kaushikeswarar, Kuthsarishiwarar, Valmikiswarar, Vamarishiswarar, Agnilingam, Naradeswarar, Kasilingam, Vaisambandaneswarar, sixty three Saivite Saints, Yamalingam, Thumbureswarar, Sapthamathas(Chamudi, Indrani, Varahi, Vaishnavi, Kaumari, Maheswar and Brahmi, Gauthamarishi and Duruvasarishi.


Kshethralingam Vinayagar, Niruthilingam, Somaskandar, Amman, Ardanareeswarar (Utsavamurthis), Venugopalaswami with Rukmini and Satyabhama, Varunalingam, Vikrapandiswarar, Gajalakshimi, Arumugam with Valli and Deivayanai,Sahasralingam,Santhalingam,Syamalambal and Jeshtadevar.


Vayulingam, Annapurani utsava idols of valli, Murugan, Deivayanai, Natarajar, Bikshandavar and Chandrasekarar, Kuberalingam, Utsava idols of Sixty Three Saivite Saints, Bhakthanugraha somaskander, Viswamitreswarar, Patanjaliswarar, Vyagrapadeswarar, 108 Shivalingams, Agastheeswarar, Jureswarar, Kalasamhararar, Bairavar, Utsava idols of appar, Sambandar, Sundarar, Manikkavachagar, Natarajar and shivakami.

Sri Arunachaleswarar

After going round the three sides of the Second Prakaram we enter by the East into the First Prakaram which encloses the Garbagraha (Sanctum Sanctorum) of Sri Arunachaleswarar, the main deity of the temple. He has got many names. The popular Tamil Name is Annamalaiyar. Other names are Sri Sonachaleswarar, Sri Arunagiriswarar, Sri Sounadriswarar, Sri Bhaktapasavimochakar, Sri Vedamurthi etc.



Sathurnur Dam

Sathanur Reservoir Ponnaiyur R.F. Tamil Nadu 606706, Thiruvannamalai, Thiruvannamalai (Dist), Tamil Nadu

Built across River Pennar is the Sathurnur Dam, which is a popular tourist attraction here. Other attractions like gardens and fountains are located near to the dam that offers entertainment facilities to the visitors who come here. Other attractions near to the Dam region are the ancient temple of Thirnkoilur with carved pillars and gopurams, Crocodile Park and a swimming pool.


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