Thiruvannamalai is a highly religious city where more than 3 million visitors assemble in the months of November-December to offer their prayers to their supreme deity at the Annamalaiyar Temple. The city is a spiritual base for a large number of Shaivites. Read on to know more.
Thiruvannamalai is a place in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was known as Trinomalee during the British period. It is a spiritual center for Shaivites and pilgrims and devotees arrive here in large numbers. Thiruvannamalai is connected to NH 66 that goes to Pondicherry and NH 234 that links to Mangalore. Nearest airport to this city is Chennai. Coming to the places to stay at, Hotel Arunachala, Sparsh Resort, Hotel Himalaya, etc. are some fair choices in Thiruvannamalai hotels. The town has a rich history as it has seen a number of rulers through the years. From Pallavas to Cholas to the British, Thiruvannamalai has seen a lot of different ruling heads. Like many Nayak capitals, Thiruvannamalai is built around the Annamalaiyar Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is the supreme deity of the people who live here.
The place is religiously associated with one of the five elements of Saivism, fire. Lord Shiva is worshiped here at Thiruvannamalai as Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar and represented by the phallus or the lingam. The temple is spread over 10 acres and has four gopurams or towers as gateways. There are many shrines inside the temple complex. The weather can be hot and humid during summers and hence it is best to visit this place post the monsoons until the spring season. During November-December, the festival of Karthigai Deepam is celebrated on a full moon. It is symbolized by a beacon that is lit on the top of the Annamalai Hills. An astounding number of more than 30 lakh pilgrims attend this festival. Just the night before the festive of full moon, the devotees circumnavigate the temple. This ritual is known as Girivalam. The temple is also known as the Arunachaleswar Temple.
Besides the religious center of Annamalaiyar Temple, there are some other attractions in Thiruvannamalai as well. Virupaksha and Skandasramam are two caves at some distance from the temple on an offbeat path. Mount Arunachala is an extinct volcano which is 800m high. Devotees circumambulate this place as a ritual. The top of this volcano offers a sweeping and clear view of the region, which is a nice experience for hikers. It is a unique experience to visit Thiruvannamalai and be part of its customs and ceremonies. In a place like India, there is a vast diversity of cultures and traditions. This city gives an in depth of glimpse of the immense religious faith people have for their deities. With numerous Thiruvannamalai hotels to pick from, travelers do not get to worry about accommodation. If you wish to offer your devotion by visiting this city, it would be pragmatic to make your bookings in advance since the accommodations become during the festive time. If you plan to stay here for more than a couple of days, budget hotels in Thiruvannamalai would be the most suitable choices for low expenses. There are bi-weekly express trains from Madurai and Tirupati which connect to Thiruvannamalai.