Tiruvannamalai is a beautiful little pilgrimage town found in Tamil Nadu, South India. It is named after the deity Annamalaiyar, of the Annamalaiyar Temple located at the base of the Annamalai hills in Tiruvannamalai…what a mouthful!
The Annamalaiyar Temple is one of the biggest attractions of Tiruvannamalai. It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and one of the largest temples in the whole of India! It covers 10 hectares and has four gateway towers, so you definitely can’t miss it! On the day before each full moon pilgrims circumnavigate the base of the temple and the holy mountain Arunachala, it’s a ritual called Girivalam, and around one million pilgrims practice this every year. One of the best views of the temple can be seen from the Annamalai hill – Arunachala, it also makes for a great trek!
Arunachala, as mentioned in one of our prior blogs ‘Tempting Tamil Nadu’, is one of the five main shaivite holy places in South India. Every year during the Karthigai Deepam festival a huge beacon is lit on top of the holy hill, it can be seen for miles and symbolises the return of light to the world after Shiva closed his eyes. This festival is celebrated during the full moon of November and December, and around three million pilgrims play witness to this event.
Arunachala is also an important and holy place for worshippers of Sri Ramana Maharshi; his Ashram is located at the base of the hill. After a near death experience (later realised to be enlightenment) at the age of 16, Maharshi revealed the path of self-inquiry and opened mankind to the spiritual power of Arunachala. He travelled there at 16 and stayed for the remainder of his life. He is acknowledged as one of India’s outstanding gurus and attracted many devotees during his years of solitude and stillness. You can still feel his presence presiding around Arunachula and the ashram.
Come and experience the magical, spiritual energy of Tiruvannamalai by joining one of these tours; ‘Vinyasa Yoga and Well-being’, ‘Living the Ayurvedic Way South’, Body Mind Spirit Healing Tour’ or ‘Heart of South India’.
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