Tiruvannamalai is one of the most venerated places in Tamil Nadu. In ancient times, the term “Annamalai” meant an inaccessible mountain. The word “Thiru” was prefixed to signify its greatness, and coupled with the two terms, it is called Tiruvannamalai. The Temple Town of Tiruvannamalai is one of the most ancient heritage sites of India and is a centre of the Saiva religion. The Arunachala hill and its environs have been held in great regard by the Tamils for centuries. The temple is grand in conception and architecture and is rich in tradition, history and festivals. The main Deepam festival attracts devotees from far and wide throughout South India. It has historic places besides Tiruvannamalai, Arni, Vandavasi, Devigapuram connected to East India and French companies. In the late Chola period, this district was ruled by the Cholan of Sambuvarayar having Padavedu near Arni as HQ. We can now find the fort and note along with a Shiva temple namely Kailasanathar in Arni town. Tiruvannamalai District is famous for spiritual and religious aspect. The world-famous Annamalaiyar temple, Padavedu Renugammbal temple, Thennnagur Pandurangar Temple and Devikapuram Periyanayagi Amman temple are some of the main spiritual centres. Sathanur Dam, Jawadhu Hills are the famous tourist places. Tirumalai Jain temple, Mamandur cave temples, Koolamandal and Brammadesam are the heritage sites of this district.
Sightseeing Points In Thiruvannamalai
Arunachalesvara Temple, also called Annamalaiyar Temple, is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva, located at the base of Arunachala hill in the town of Thiruvannamalai. It is significant to the Hindu sect of Saivism as one of the temples associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of fire, or Agni. Shiva is worshipped as Arunachalesvara or Annamalaiyar and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Agni lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamalai Amman. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam.
The temple complex covers 10 hectares and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the eastern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 66 metres (217 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India built by sevappa nayakar (Nayakar dynasty) The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Arunachalesvara and Unnamalai Amman being the most prominent. The temple complex houses many halls the most notable is the thousand-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar period. The present masonry structure was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Vijayanagara rulers of the Sangama Dynasty (1336–1485 CE), the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty (1491–1570 CE).
The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and twelve yearly festivals on its calendar. The Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated during the day of the full moon between November and December, and a huge beacon is lit atop the hill. It can be seen from miles around and symbolizes the Shiva lingam of fire joining the sky. The event is witnessed by three million pilgrims. On the day preceding each full moon, pilgrims circumnavigate the temple base and the Arunachala hills in a worship called Girivalam, a practise carried out by one million pilgrims yearly.
As per legend, Parvati, wife of Shiva, once closed the eyes of her husband playfully in a flower garden at their abode atop Mount Kailash. Although only a moment for the gods, all light was taken from the universe, and the earth, in turn, was submerged in darkness for years. Parvati performed penance along with other devotees of Shiva. Then her husband appeared as a column of fire at the top of Arunachala hills, returning light to the world. He then merged with Parvati to form Ardhanarishvara, the half-female, half-male form of Shiva.
Sri Ramana Ashram, also known as Sri Ramanasramam, is the ashram which was home to modern sage and Advaita Vedanta master Ramana Maharshi from 1922 until his death in 1950. It is situated at the foot of the Arunachala hill, to the west of Tiruvannamalai, where thousands of seekers flocked to be in his presence. His samadhi shrine continues to attract devotees from all over the world. The ashram gradually grew in its present location after Ramana Maharshi settled near the Samadhi shrine of his mother Alagammal, who died on May 19, 1922. In the beginning, a single small hut was built there. By 1924 two huts were set up, one opposite the samadhi and the other to the north.
Amongst its early western visitors were British writer Paul Brunton in 1931, who is credited with introducing Ramana Maharshi to the West through his books “A Search in Secret India” (1934) and “The Secret Path”. Writer W. Somerset Maugham visited the ashram in 1938 and later used Ramana Maharshi as the model for the holy man, Shri Ganesha in his novel, The Razor’s Edge (1944). Other visitors included Swami Sivananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, Alfred Sorensen (Sunyata) and Wei Wu Wei. Arthur Osborne stayed at the Ashram for twenty years, and edited the Ashram’s journal, The Mountain Path, besides writing several books on Ramana Maharshi and his teachings. Mouni Sadhu spent several months at the Ashram in 1949. David Godman came to the ashram in 1976 and has since written or edited fourteen books on topics related to Sri Ramana Maharshi. He continues to live near the ashram. Niranjananda Swami, younger brother of Ramana Maharshi, who had moved to the ashram along with his mother in 1916, stayed at the ashram for the rest of his life and handling its management. His son and grandson have looked after the ashram in turn.
Here in Tiruvannamalai for many Westerners, the focus is on Sri Ramana Maharshi and Ramanasramam. Many of these go up Arunachala to the caves where Ramana lived and taught and gave darshan. One of these caves is Skandashram. It is perhaps one mile from Ramanasramam, up a well-cared-for path, up the side of the mountain. Ramana lived at Skandashram from 1915 to 1922. This is where his mother joined him and started preparing meals at the ashram, rather than having prepared food carried up, as had been the case since the earliest years. After the mahasamadhi of Mother and her subsequent interment at the base of the hill, Ramana then took residence at her samadhi, the location of the present-day Ramanasramam.
Virupaksha Cave has been venerated since the year 1300, first because of the saint, Virupaksha Deva, then more recently due to Sri Ramana Maharshi. Sri Ramana lived in this cave for 16 years, from 1899 to 1916. It was while residing in this cave that early written works originated like ‘Self-Inquiry’ and ‘Who am I?’. For this reason, many devotees of Sri Ramana feel like this is one location that must be visited. Many find meditation here to be a deep experience. There are two ways to get to Virupaksha from Sri Ramanasramam via Skandashram, or walking up from the Arunachaleswara Temple.
Tour Packages Offered From Tiruvannamalai
2 Nights 3 Days Bangalore | Tiruvannamalai | Bangalore Tour Package.
2 Nights 3 Days Chennai | Tiruvannamalai | Chennai Tour Package.
3 Nights 4 Days chennai | Vellore | Tiruvannamalai | Chennai Tour Package.
4 Nights 5 Days Chennai | Kanchipuram | Tiruvannamalai | Mahabalipuram | Chennai Tour Package.
5 Nights 6 Days Madurai | Tiruchirappalli | Kumbakonam | Pondicherry | Tiruvannamalai | Chennai Tour Package.
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