Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai - A Sacred Haven of Spiritual Energy

Important information

  • Address : Pavazhakundur, Tiruvannamalai, Annamalai R.F., Tamil Nadu 606601.
  • Open and Close Timings : 05:30 am to 08:00 pm
  • Nearest Railway Station: Villupuram Railway Station at a distance of nearly 65.9 kilometres from Arunachaleswarar Temple.
  • Nearest Airport : Puducherry airport at a distance of nearly approx 108 kilometres from Arunachaleswarar Temple.
  • Deity: Arunachaleswarar (Shiva).
  • Did you know : Arunachaleswarar temple is considered a symbol of fire element. Nestled in the heart of the town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India, the Arunachaleswarar Temple stands as a beacon of divinity and spiritual energy. This ancient Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, worshipped here as Arunachaleswarar or Annamalaiyar.

The Arunachalesvara Temple, also known as Annamalaiyar Temple, is a Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, situated at the base of Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India. This sacred site holds significance in Shaivism and is recognized as one of the Pancha Bhuta Sthalams, representing the element of fire (Agni). Shiva is worshipped as Arunachalesvara, and the lingam symbolizing him is referred to as Agni lingam. The temple, covering 10 hectares, is one of India's largest, featuring impressive structures like the 66-meter eastern tower.

Constructed during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, with later expansions by the Vijayanagara rulers, the temple complex houses shrines for Arunachalesvara and Unnamalai Amman. Notable features include the thousand-pillared hall from the Vijayanagara period. The temple is administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

The Arunachalesvara Temple conducts six daily rituals and hosts twelve yearly festivals. The Karthikai Deepam festival, celebrated between November and December, is a grand event where a beacon atop the hill symbolizes the Shiva lingam of fire joining the sky. The temple gained global attention in the mid-20th century through the teachings of Ramana Maharishi (1879–1950 CE). Pilgrims also engage in the spiritual practice of Girivalam, circumnavigating the temple base and Arunachala hills, attracting millions annually.

History and Mythology

The roots of the Arunachaleswarar Temple can be traced back to centuries, and it is closely associated with various Hindu myths and legends. One popular belief is that the temple represents one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalas, symbolizing the fire element. Legend has it that Lord Shiva manifested as a column of fire, challenging Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma to find his beginning and end. This divine event gave birth to the sacred hill, Arunachala, upon which the temple now stands.

Architectural Marvel

The Arunachaleswarar Temple is a testament to Dravidian architecture, characterized by towering gopurams, intricate carvings, and expansive courtyards. The main sanctum houses the imposing Lingam, a representation of Lord Shiva's cosmic energy. Pilgrims and art enthusiasts alike are captivated by the detailed sculptures and carvings that adorn the temple's walls, narrating stories from Hindu mythology.


The main shrine of Arunachalesvara, facing east, is the oldest structure in the temple and houses images of Nandi and Surya. Behind the sanctum's walls is an image of Venugopalaswamy (Krishna), an incarnation of Vishnu. Surrounding the sanctum are various images, including Somaskanda, Durga, Chandeshvara, Gajalakshmi, Arumugaswami (Kartikeya), Dakshinamurthy, Swarnabairavar, Nataraja, and Lingodbhava. The Palliyarai, a divine resting place for deities, is in the first precinct around the sanctum. Annamalai Amman's shrine, depicting her in a standing posture, is in the second precinct. Sambantha Vinayagar (Ganesha) is located north of the flagstaff and the Bali peeta. To the south of the thousand-pillared hall, there is a small shrine for Subramanya (Kartikeya) and a large tank. The underground lingam, Pathala Lingam, is believed to be where Ramana Maharshi performed his penance. The shrine of Sivagangai Vinayagar (Ganesha) is found on the northern bank of the Sivanganga tank.

Religious Significance

The Arunachalesvara temple is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams, representing the five Shiva temples, each embodying a natural element: earth, water, air, sky, and fire. According to legend, Shiva manifested as a colossal column of fire in the Arunachalesvara temple, eluding discovery by Hindu gods Brahma and Vishnu. The primary lingam in the shrine, known as Agni Lingam, symbolizes duty, virtue, self-sacrifice, and liberation through an ascetic life at the conclusion of the Agni kalpa.

Aathara Stala refers to Shiva temples embodying Tantric chakras of the human anatomy. The Arunachalesvara temple is identified as the Manipooraga stalam, associated with the Manipooraga (Manipura) chakra, linked to the solar plexus.

Significance and Rituals

Devotees from far and wide visit the temple to seek the blessings of Arunachaleswarar. The circumambulation around the sacred Arunachala hill, known as 'Girivalam,' is considered highly auspicious, especially during full moon nights. The temple also hosts various festivals, with the annual 'Deepam Festival' being the highlight. During this grand celebration, a massive lamp atop the hill is lit, symbolizing the cosmic light of Lord Shiva.

Cultural Reverence

Apart from its spiritual importance, the Arunachaleswarar Temple plays a crucial role in preserving and showcasing South Indian culture. The temple's architecture, rituals, and festivals contribute to the region's rich cultural heritage, attracting scholars, artists, and spiritual seekers.

Visiting Tips

If you plan to visit the Arunachaleswarar Temple, it's advisable to check the local calendar for major festivals, ensuring you can witness the vibrant celebrations. Respectful attire is expected within the temple premises, and participation in rituals and ceremonies is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the spiritual ambiance.


The Arunachaleswarar Temple in Tiruvannamalai stands not only as a physical structure but as a living testament to the spiritual beliefs and cultural richness of the region. Whether you seek spiritual enlightenment or an appreciation for architectural marvels, this sacred abode offers an immersive experience that transcends time and connects visitors with the divine energy of Arunachala.

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