Thiruvannamalai is one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalangal representing the fire element along with Chidambaram, Sri Kalahasti, Thiruvanaikoil and Kanchipuram representing space, wind, water and earth respectively.
Four Brahmotsavams are celebrated every year, the most famous of which is the one celebrated during the Tamil month of Karthikai (November/December). The ten day event culminates on the day of Karthigai Deepam. On that evening, a huge lamp is lit in a cauldron with three tons of ghee at the top of the Annamalai hill.
Every full moon night, tens of thousands of pilgrims worship Shiva by circumambulating the Annamalai hill barefoot. The circumambulation covers a distance of about 14 km. The yearly once Chitra Powrnami (full moon) night in the Tamil calendar year is very special.
Puranic History :
The Creator Lord Bramha and Protector Lord Thirumal entered into a controversy among themselves so as to ascertain who was the greatest. Lord Siva was asked to be the judge. Lord Siva told them that whoever was able to see his crown as well as his feet would be termed as the greatest. Then Lord Siva transformed himself into a Jothi (a column of fire) touching the heaven and earth. Thirumal took the avatar of varaha (wild boar) and dug deep into the earth to find Siva’s feet but at last accepted defeat. Bramha took the form of a swan and flew to see the crown of Siva. Unable to see the crown, Bramha saw a thazhambu flower which had decked Siva’s crown falling down. He asked the flower as to the distance of Siva’s crown whereby the flower replied that he had been falling for forty thousand years. Bramha, realizing that he would not be able to reach the crown asked the flower to act as a false witness.
The thazhambu flower acting as a false witness declared that Brahma had seen the crown. Siva became angry at the deception and cursed that Bramha should have no temple on earth and that the thazhambu flower should not be used while praying to Lord Siva. The place where Lord Siva stood as a column of fire to eliminate the ego is Thiruvannamalai.
The Annamalai Hill was Agni (fire) during Krithayugam, was Manikkam (Emerald) during Threthayugam, was pon (Gold) during Dwaprayugam and rock during Kaliyugam as per the ancient legends. On the request of Thirumal and Bramha by their devout prayer, Siva who was in the form of a fire column took the form of a Sivalingam at the foot of the hill hwere the Arulmigu Annamalaiyar Temple is located.
The Significance of Girivalam (Circumambulation)
In most of the holy places the Deity is found atop the hill. But here the Holy hill itself is the Deity (Lord Annamalaiyar) and is worshipped. “Arunam” means sun and denotes the red colour of fire. “Asalam” means “Giri” or “malai” (mountain). Thus “Arunachalam” means the HOly hill which is red in colour. The Holy hill is 2668 feet in height.
There are eight lingams located at the eight directions and provides an octagonal structure to Thiruvannamalai Town. The eight lingams are: Indra Lingam, Agni Lingam, Yama Lingam, Niruthi Lingam, Varuna Lingam, Vayu Lingam, Kubera Lingam and Esanya Lingam. The Adi Annamalai Temple glorified in Dhevaram is located on this path.
The circumambulation path is 14 kilometres. History has it that even today a number of siddhars are living on the hill. It is auspicious to perform “Girilvalam” during every Full moon day which would do immense good. It is because during Full Moon Day siddhars movement would be there and the whole atmosphere would be filled with perfumes of herbal plants. This will provide peace of mind and good health to body. It is a proven fact that on every Full moon day lakhs of devotees circumambulate the Hill and get all benefits by praying to Lord Annamalaiyar .
Gallery (SlideShow) :
Transport and Accomodation Details:
•The temple is located on the Villupuram – Katpadi Railroad and is about 185 kilometers from Chennai, 65 kilometers from Villupuram and is about 90 – kilometres form Katpadi.
•The town is about 90 kms from Vellore, 60 kms from Tindivanam, 60 kms from Villupuram and 100 kms from Krishnagiri.
•The town also has a helipad so as to enbale devotees to reach it from Chennai and other cities.
•The temple authorities have provided accommodation at nominal cost for the benefit of the devotees. The rent for Rest Houses is Rs.200 and Rs.150 per day.
•The rent for rooms at Appar Illam is Rs.100 per day.
•The rent for rooms at Unnamalai Amman Rest House is Rs.100/-(Double room) and Rs.50/- (Single room) per day.
•Apart from this, private accommodation is available in and around the temple.
PRAYER AND BENEFITS
• Karthigai month holy bath : During Karthigai star in the month of Karthigai, taking a holy bath at Sivagangai Teertham cleanses the body and a dip at Brahma Teertham cleanses the mind which leads devotees to attain spiritual enlightenment.
• Motcha deepam : These lamps are specially erected at the top of Raja Gopuram. Gingerly oil is poured and the lamps are lighted by devotees on the day of the death or on the day of performing funeral rites of their kin praying that they get motcham (To reach Heaven). This is the specialty of this temple which is not found in any other temples.
• Pariharam for Childless devotees : At the southern side of third Prakaram stood Mahizha maram, the sacred tree of the place (sthala Virutcham). Childless devotees hang boon cradles made of cloth to the branches of tree with great reverence to Lord Arunachaleswarar. They are miniature of baby cradles, when their prayer is fulfilled they bring their infants and remove their cradles and make offerings.
• Annamalaiyar Mai : Even after the Great Grand Festival, the deepam is lighted up for not less than 10 days. After that the cauldron used to light up deepam is taken back to the temple. The residue of deepam, dark colour ash found in the cauldron is considered very sacred. This holy Annamalaiyar Mai is also supplied to the devotees on request.
DEVELOPMENT WORKS CARRIED OUT SO FAR :
|S.No||Year (AD)||Work||Done by|
|1.||–||Sanctum of Annamalaiyar||No Evidence|
|2.||–||Sanctum of Unnamalai Amman||Kulothungan I -Recently renovated by the nagarattars|
|3.||870-970||Annamalaiyar Sanctum||Aditya Chola|
|4.||Sthlavinayagar Sannadhi||Sembiyan Madevi|
|5.||1230||Brahma Theertham||Venuudayan S/O Koperunsingam|
|6.||Sivaganga Theertham||Krishna Devarayar|
|7.||East side entrance tower||Krishnadevarayar & Chevvappa nayakkar|
|8.||Ammani Ammal Gopuram||Ammani Ammal|
|9.||1328-1331||Vallala Gopuram||Vallala Maharajan|
|11.||Third Pragara||Kulothungan III|
|12.||1421||Kalyana Sundharar Sannadhi||Deverayan III|
|13.||1421||Gopurathu Ilayanar Sannadhi||Deverayan III|
|14.||Big Nandhi||Vallala Maharajan|
|15.||Bhimeswara Lingam||Krishna Devarayar|
|16.||1000 Pillars mandapam||Krishna Devarayar|
|17.||800||Deepa Dharshana Mandapam / 16 Pillars Mandapam||Mangaiyarkarasi|
|18.||Thirukalyana Mandapam||Vijaya nagara kings|
|19.||Puravi mandapam||Venuudayan S/O Koperunsingam|
|22.||Mahasankaranthi Mandapam||Krishna Devarayar|
|23.||Thiru Palliarai||Koperunsingams II|
|24.||Amutha mandapam||Koperunsingam II|
|25.||Avanni Alapiranthan mandapam||Koperunsingam II|
|26.||7th Thirunal Mandapam||Krishnadevarayar|
|28.||Thirumalaidevi Amman Lake||Krishnadevarayar|
|29.||1240||Roads around the mountain||Jadavarma Vikrama Pandiyan|
|27.||Pathalalinga Sannathi||J.H. Tharapur|
Hundred years back, the renovation works of this temple was undertaken by Nattukottai Nagarathar. They have also contributed ornaments and vahanas. The Maha Kumbhabishegam was held on 12-6-1903.
Again with the valuable assistance of Nagarathar Ashta Pandana Maha Kumbhabishegam was held on 4-6-1944.
With the efforts of the then trustees and the assistance from Nagarathar, the temple car for Ambal was renovated and trial run took place on 29-6-1956.
With the grant from Government, the contribution from Nagarathar and the assistance from other temples, renovation of Raja Gopurams and vimanams was carried out. Swarna Pandanam and Ashta Pandanam were performed to Swamy, Ambal and other Parivara Deities. Maha Kumbhabishegam was held on 4-4-1976.
After 26 years, renovation works were performed mainly through contributions and Ashta Pandana, Swarna Pandana Maha Kumbhabishegam was held in a grand manner on 27-6-2002.