There was no plan whatsoever. Suddenly, I asked my wife if we can go to Arunachalam, the Teulgu name for Tiruvannamalai. Bored sitting at home, she was happy. After the usual and monotonous bus journey, we reached Tiruvannamalai after a gruelling five hour journey.
The greatness of Indian temples is, how hard the journey is, one glance at the main idol is going to wipe out all your burden. Arunachaleshwara will surely do that for you. The Sivalinga is white in colour, always covered and decorated, the covers are removed only for Abhishekham
It's a tall Linga, may be some 4 feet tall and you will feel the heat when you are near the Antaralaya. The darshan in that temple, one cannot easily forget. The temple is a massive fortress. The 11 tiered Rajagopuram stands at a lavish 217 feet.
The temple and Arunachaleshwara is the representation of the massive mountain which itself is considered to be the Sivalinga. The word Tiruvannamalai is derived from Tiru+Na+Malai = Holy+Prohibited/Inaccessible+Mountain - the holy hill which should not be climbed.
The story of the temple is a famous one - Brahma and Vishnu bicker once over who is more superior and ask Lord Siva to arbitrate. Lord Siva takes the form of a pillar of light, Brahma takes the shape of a swan to reach the top, Vishnu, the shape of a Varaha to find the bottom.
Well, both fail and recognize the greatness of Lord Siva. The pillar of light and fire, is called Aruna(red)+Achala(mountain) - Arunachala the red mountain. And the lord is called Arunachaleswara.
The four Gopurams, all of them, are some of the tallest in India. The Rajagopuram, in the East, built by Krishna Raya stands at 217 feet and has 11 towers. The Southern one, Tirumanjana Gopuram stands at 157 feet.
The Western one, facing the mountain, Peya Gopuram stands at 144 feet. The Northern one is called Ammaniamman Gopuram, named after a devotee Ammani Ammal, who built it. By the way, this is the Tirumanjana Gopuram.
One of the largest temples, the temple occupies 25 acres of area and the Moolavirat is found in the sixth enclosure. Though Tiruvannamalai operated as the capital city of the Hoyasalas, it was not that big a temple then.
Rajagopuram was built in 1517, the one before it, Vallala Raja(Veera Ballala?) Gopuram was built in 1340. If it is Veera Ballala, it simply means he is not the vagabond trying to harass Madurai Sultanate, but he was still going strong till his capture in 1343.
Next one is the Kili Gopuram in line - Praudha Deva Raya wanted a Parijata flower and Arunagirinathar took the shape of a parrot to fetch it, leaving his body behind. Sambandan(Jnanasambandar?), jealous, spread the word that Arunagirinathar is dead and got his body cremated.
Arunagirinathar returns only to see his body destroyed and no way for him to take a human form. He spent all his life on the Gopuram singing hymns for the lord in the shape of a parrot(Kili). Hence, Kili Gopuram. Cross this forest of Gopurams, you will enter the main temple.
The entrance is flanked by two Sivaganas and first, you notice the beautiful Nataraja idol on the left. Even if you are not a Bhakta, visit the temple for the quality of the sculptures there. It's very rare to find sculptures of that quality and in that an abundance easily.
The main temple seems to be referred from 850 AD though the hill was referred to even earlier, as early as Tolkappiyam and Jeevaka Chintamani, dealing with Kartheeka Deepam - the eternal flame burning on the top of the hill, which in itself is considered very auspicious.
Darshan done, come outside of the temple by a side lane to enter the shrine of the goddess Unnamalai Amman, another beautiful idol in a shrine, decked again, with beautiful sculptures. The temple complex is a veritable forest of Gopurams, Vimanas, pillared halls and temples.
Another prominent thing to notice here is the Patala Lingam in the outer Prakara upon which Ramana Maharshi meditated upon. The whole enclosure, being built by Vijayanagara Emperors, you will see their seal everywhere, as like here, in an unnoticed corner between two elephants.
Surely, this is one of the very few temples where you will feel raw power emanating from the Antaralaya. HARA HARA MAHADEVA!! SHAMBHO SHANKARA!!
The travel from Chennai killed our time. By the time we were out of the temple, we had just half an hour before dark. Rather than waiting for the next day, we thought of going for the Giri Pradikshana(in an auto) on the same day.
Because the Pradikshana started at the temple, the autowallah, a pious Hindu ended the Pradikshana at the temple, completing all the formalities. Starting with Indra Lingam, you will circumambulate Arunachala stopping at Lingams established for/at every direction -
Beside the eight Lingams, you have got a Surya Lingam, which I confused, asked the autowallah to pause at. Another one is Adi Arunachalam, supposed to be the original temple of Arunachaleswara. This temple, again, great for sculptures.
All the eight Dikpalaka Lingams are housed in small temples and they give a hint how the older temple ecosystem worked - the larger one taking the smaller ones in it's vicinity and ensure that all the Kainkaryams are followed.
The last stop is at a composite idol of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara - Brahma as a swan, Vishnu as a Varaha and Maheswara as Arunachala. Praying at this is considered to be the formal end of the Pradikshana.
The autowallah came with us and circumambulated the idol - wonder how many times he does that daily - but with the same Bhakti every time. Our trip was on the spur and was unexpected. After buying all the essentials, we visited the temple again in the morning before moving on.
Next stop was Sripuram Golden Temple which my wife wanted to go desperately. Darshan done, time back to Chennai. And I will be waiting for the next summons from Lord Arunachaleswara to be in his presence.
Some random photos from the trip.
Arunachala. You can see only the silhouette here.
Ruins of Gingee(pronounced as Chenji-Senji) Fort. The final stand of the Gingee Nayak(Krishnappa Nayaka?) itself is a matter of legend. This place needs a dedicated visit.
A random sculpture from Adi Arunachalam. Though a bad quality photograph, look at the finishing of the sculpture.
The abundance of hills in the area from Gingee till Vellore gives you a reason why the Vijayanagara Empire made it's last stand in this area.
Somewhere in this area, the last Vijayanagara Royal Army melted away and the empire vanished from the world formally.
River Kamandala. In the days when there was water in this river, the last army of Vijayanagara quenched it's thirst before dispersing away. Sriranga Raya became a vagabond after that and spent his life as a recluse in the court of Shivappa Nayaka at Ikkeri.
One of my friends raised a query over the origin of the name Tiruvannamalai I gave - Thiru+Na+Malai - the holy inaccessible mountain. Below are the others he gave for that.
1)Thiru+anna+malai meaning (Annal means respectful and elder, relating to the trinity tussle )
2)Thiru+onna+malai (Meaning Siva cannot be explicable)
3)Thiru+aruna+malai(Where aruna changed to Anna, similar to dropping of the "R" sound in Tamil. example..Varna to Vanna.
4) Thiru+Annam+malai(Annam in tamil (அண்ணம்) is the of the inside tongue tonsils and uvula. Since shiva has come out of the in the form of fire and even the uvula also has shape of one from top to bottom it depicts that.
5) Thiru+agna+malai(agna is fire ,depicting the story.Here too the agni/agna has got changed to anna over the years and got the Thiru Anna malai.
Almost every famous ancient temple has Samadhis of Mahapurushas either within the temple premises or nearby that temple. These Samadhis are the cosmic energy radiating centres for that place. These spiritual energies are meant to serve humanity in the way the saints wanted.
Example, Dhanvantri was a Siddha whose Samadhi is in Vaidheeshwaran temple behind the Shiva Linga. The spiritual energy fm this Samadhi helps in curing diseases as this saint was a great healer. So whoever visit this temple get cured of their disease.
Likewise Tiruvannamali has so many Jeeva Samadhis in n around the temple and the place has enormous cosmic energy. This energy is capable of dissolving one’s past karmas n helps in salvation. Hence it is called “Mukthi Kshetram".
There are two Samadhis inside this temple - of Arunagirinathar and of Idaikattu Siddhar. Idaikattu Siddhar, one of the 18 Siddhas, placed the Navagrahas in the present direction and reduced their malefic effects. So this temple is also a Parihara Sthala for all Navagraha doshas.
Information shared by a friend.
This Sambandar is not Jnanasambandar who is from around 800 AD, but an advisor to the ruler of the area who lost his pre-eminence after Arunagirinathar settled in the place.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Eztainutlacatl ~ळाळुक
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!