Arunachaleshwar Temple

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  Video - In and Around Arunachaleshwar Temple

Arunachaleswara Temple which is located in Tiruvannamalai is dedicated to Lord Siva and it is one of the largest temples in India. Arunachaleswara temple is one among the "Panch Boodha Sthalams" and it is "Agni" Sthalam. It has also the significance as "Padal Petra Sthalam". Which means that the four famous 'Saiva Saints and Poets' such Appar, Sundarar, Manichkavasakar and Thirugnana Sambandar made several poems on Lord Arunachaleswara.

Significance of the Temple
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If one observes the general structure of the temple it is noticed that there are five small gopurams on the inner boundary and four big gopurams on the outer boundary. The inner gopurams are also known as Kitti gopurams. There are two gopurams in the East and one gopuram each for the other three directions. The first of the two Eastern gopurams is called Kili gopuram. These are indications that the temple was built in the 11th century. The gopurams built during this period have no more than five storeys. The Kili gopuram was built by Veera Rajendra Chozhan around 1063 A.D. He is also referred to as Maharaja Thiribuvana Chakravarthigal in the inscription.This name was also given to the gopuram.

The Kitti (smaller) gopurams, except the top of the western one, were built by the Hoysala King Vallala Maharaja III. His name is given to the biggest Kitti gopuram which is in the East.
Arunachaleshwar Temple Significance
About the outer gopurams, historians say the western gopuram is the oldest among all. The base for this was built by Vallala Maharaja. The top of this particular gopuram belongs to a later style. Inscriptions attribute this to Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagar. This king had undertaken the important construction work in this temple. It is said that he built the base of the other three gopurams. But the architectural style of the base of the Western gopuram was constructed first and then those of the South, East and North. Though the Eastern gopuram, known as the Rajagopuram looks older, it was built after the Western one. This was constructed by Krishna Deva Raya and renovated by king Sevappa Naicker of Tanjore. There is another view that this was completely built by Sevappa Naicker. Tamil and Sanskrit inscriptions on the Western gopuram dated 1690 A.D. bear witness to this. Krishna Deva Rayer of Vijayanagar also constructed the hundred pillared and thousand pillared halls in the temple. He dug the Sivagangai Thirtham in front of the thousand pillared hall. As mentioned earlier, he built the base of the three gopurams and either began or finished the Eastern Rajagopuram with eleven storeys.

Arunachaleshwar Temple
All the kings who are related to the temple construction are chieftains like Kadava Raya, Sambuvaraya and Banas who expressed their devotion to Arunachaleswara by building small temples inside the Arunachaleswara temple as well as around the mountain and elsewhere in the town. These kings were also responsible for digging many ponds in this region. For the devotees who visit the town and the temple, its architectural splendor and sculptured beauty, its rich lands and ponds, its jewels and appurtenances, the inscriptions and the wealth of literature praising the glory of Arunachaleswara are glowing evidence of the love that the lord has commanded in the minds of kings and commoners through the centuries.Critics may take exception to the absence of continuity in the architectural style but there is no lack of continuity in the depth of piety of the kings who built it.

The atmosphere of this auspicious Arunachaleshwar temple is sensational and one feels it as indescribable. The variegated architectural style of generations of kings who built and renovated its massive gopurams and halls, the living presence of the great saints who stayed here and sang the Lord's praise and above all, the infinite compassion and grace of Arunachala gives this holiest of holy places a timeless quality.

Arunachaleshwar Temple
Arunachala Puram describes about the King Vallala as an embodiment of all human virtues. The king was praised for his uprightness, generosity and love for Lord Arunachaleswarar. The King had no issues. Lord Siva tested him for his piety and became a child at the hands of king Vallala and his wife. King Vallala embraced the child in all his lovingness and later Lord Siva disappeared. When the king prayed for a child, Lord Siva assured him that would perform all his funeral rites as he himself became a child to the king.

Even today in the month of Maasi (February) when the annual anniversary of King Vallala Deva's death occurs, at the instruction of Lord Arunachaleswarar, the Lord is taken in procession with great ceremony to the village Pallikonda Pattu, where the funeral rites take place. This festival is also known as 'Masi Maga Theerthavari' Urchavam.

Arunachaleshwar Temple
On entering the temple from the east, there is the Thousand pillar hall built by the king Krishna Deva Raya. There are exactly 1000 pillars which are inscripted with the sculptures of the Naik period. The mandapam where the deity is placed and worshipped is known as the Ani Thirumanjaram. The sacred tank or pool of ShivaGanga is towards the south of the Kambathu Iiayanar mandapam with enclosed corridor. The tank is used for the purification and ablution of the deities in the temple. The water to the tank was provided by digging a canal called Thirumalaiamman Devi Samundram.

The third mandapa has 16 pillars and it is from this mandapa that the Pancha Murthis or the five deities give darshan on the day of Kartigai. The sanctum is reached by the main entrance in the east. Within the sanctum Lord Shiva is personified as Annamalaiyar and is present in Linga form. The Rudra baga is covered with gold plate. There is the Devi shrine to the opposite of the Mandapa.

Time to Visit
Annually there are innumerable festivals which are carried out in the temple. The most favorable festival is "Karthigai Deepam" celebrated in the month of November to December for ten consecutive days. During this famous festival every day in the morning and night Lord Arunachaleswara is taken out for a procession through the streets.

  • Daily pujas are performed here at the temple to LordArunachaleswara six times from early mornings to late evenings.
  • The Pujas are performed in the very traditional way.
  • Devotees are seen queuing in large numbers to offer puja to their Lord.
Nearby tourist places to Ananta Vasudeva Temple

Chennai Kanchipuram
Arunachaleshwar Temple

How to reach the Temple
  • Through Airways -the city of Triruvanamalai is over 100 km south of Kanchipuram and 185 km to Chennai.. From Chennai there are international flights available to important destinations around the world.

  • Through Railways - there is a train station in the line between Madurai and Tirupati. The Metro gauge trains usually operate between Vellore and Triruvanamalai.

  • Through Roadways -the bus stand here is just 2 kms near to the temple. Many people arrive by bus to the temple. The Triruvalluvar Transport Corporation buses run here regularly to places like Tirupati, Chennai, and Kanchipuram.