Thiruvannamalai The temple has 9 towers and seven parakrams. The main tower (Rajagopuram) is 217 feet high with eleven stories, and is the second largest tower in South India.
This temple, dedicated to the god Shiva, was built between the 16th and the 17th centuries by the kings of the Vijayanagara empire. The temple is famous for its massive gopurams. The 11 tiered East Rajagopuram towers to a height of 217 feet, while the fortified walls pierced with 4 gopura entrances offer a formidable look to this vast temple complex . The Pei Gopuram, Tirumanjana Gopuram and Ammanaiammal gopuram are the other three. The 1000 pillared hall and the temple tank were built by Krishna Deva Rayarar of Vijayanagar. Each of the prakarams has a huge Nandi and several towers such as the Vallala Maharaja Gopuram and Kili Gopuram It is one of the panchabhoota sthalam – representing five basic elements. This is the Tejo Sthalam among the Pancha Bootha Sthalams representing Fire. The others are – Tiruvanaikavil (Appu sthalam – Water) Kanchipuram (Prithvi sthalam – Earth) Kalahasti (Vayu sthalam – Air) Chidambaram (Akasa sthalam – Space).
Getting into Tiruvanamalai
Town is well connected to many cities and towns in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh by road. It lies on the junction of the Chittoor – Cuddalore state highway and the Puduchery – Bengalooru national highway (NH 66). The TNSTC operates many bus services to the different towns and cities in Tamil Nadu.
Bus : 122P and 122PP buses run at regular intervals between Chennai and Tiruvannamalai from 5 AM in the morning till 10 PM in the night.
Bus : SETC runs many buses daily including Air-Conditioned Volvo bus.
Train : Tiruvannamalai is connected by a Tri-weekly train, Chalukya Express(Train No. 11005/11006). Tirupati – Puducherry (Weekly) Express (UnReserved)/17413,17414.Rameswaram – Tirupati (Meenakshi) Express/16780,16779. Villupuram- Katpadi Passenger (UnReserved)/56882,56884,56886, Katpadi- Villupuram Passenger (UnReserved)/56881,56883,56885. Pamani Express/17408,17407. Mannargudi/MQ to Tirupati.Villupuram – Purulia Weekly SF Express/22606,22605. Villupuram-Kharagpur Biweekly Superfast Express/22604,22603.
PLACES TO VISIT
- Arunachaleshwarar Temple Being the very center of town, the temple complex covers 10 hectares, and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the eastern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 66 metres (217 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India. The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Annamalaiyar (the form in which Shiva is being worshipped here) and Unnamulai Amman (his wife Parvati) being the most prominent. The temple complex houses many halls; the most notable is the thousand-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar period. Foreigners are, unlike in many other big temples, allowed to visit the inner sanctums.
- Arunachala Mountain is considered an incarnation of Shiva and emanates a very subtle but intense special energy. People go around the mountain (“Giripradakshina”, takes 3 to 4 hours), climb up to Skandhashram, Virupaksha Cave where the sage Ramana Mahirishi has been meditating for years (accessible from behind Ramana Ashram or behind Arunachalshwarar temple) or even to the top of the mountain (follow a path from Skandhashram) or just abide peacefully in its presence as many sages have done throughout history.
- Ramana Ashram a place where lots of Indian and foreign devotees of Ramana Maharishi and Advaita Vedanta philosophy gather. Ramana Maharishi (1879-1950) was a sage who lived on Arunachala Mountain all his life after his sudden enlightenment at the age of 16. He is considered the greatest realized sage of the 20th century. A donation based stay at the ashram for up to one week is possible but one has to enquire at least one month ahead.
The relatively quiet part of town around Ramana Ashram is where you can see lots of middle- to old-aged foreigners in white cotton clothes, especially during the the winter season. Many are long time stayers and come to meditate in the Ashram, on the mountain and to attain spiritual gatherings with local and foreign teachers. The area features many good restaurants, health food shops and so on. Check it out, it’s pleasantly quiet compared to downtown Tiruvannamalai and has some good accomodation options!
- Auspicious Day – Pournami (Full Moon) Day.
Once a year, Karthigai Deepam is a very famous event: hundreds of thousands of people used to go for Girivallam, around the mountain.
- Hotel Ananda (veg) near bus stand serves some very good quality south indian snacks and lunch.
- German Bakery Agni Lingam Road, near Ramana Ashram. Good quality food, Western and Indian, around 100 Rupees. Check out the bakery items incl. brown bread! (Open only in season time between November and February!)
- Shanti Cafe near German Bakery, very pleasant and peaceful Cafe, superb Coffee and Snacks, Breakfast.
- Abirami Hotels Coming out of the main temple it’s after 100 meters on the right side. One of the best Indian restaurants in town, great Thali!
- Bans The Hotel, (7 kms to Kanipakam, 70 kms to Tirupati), ☎ 09704771333, . Accommodation, dining and water park.
- Hotel Arunachala, (Tiruvannamali Vellore Road). Accommodation, dining and water park.
- Nathiya Home, ☎ +91 96 29 82 49 90. Accommodation with kitchen (Fridge + gas), bathroom, T.V. and Power 24 Hours