It has been long we wanted to visit this temple. Has always been on our mind. One of the most grand and most famous Shiva temple in this world.
After visiting this temple, we felt why didn’t we paid a visit to Lord Annamalaiyar earlier. It magnificent just magnificent!
In a departure to my practice of giving the route information in end, let me give it at the start this time. We drove down to the temple from Bengaluru, but it is equidistant (almost) from Chennai.
Distance from Bangalore: Approx 200 Kms one way via NH48 and NH 77. Basically head towards Hosur and follow the marking. It is actually on half way through Pondicherry.
Distance from Chennai: Approx 200 kms froom Chennai as well. Via NH32 and NH77.
Just put google map. You are not going to get lost. It is a very straight forward route.
Road conditions: Very good
Eating options: Many on the way
Ok, now coming back to the temple, this temple is located at the base of Annamalai hills. The temple itself is spread across 10 hectares. It is just huge and one of the largest in the world. The it has four entrance one of each side and each entrance is a “gopuram” which is more than 11 stories. So you can imagine how big these gopurams are.
Inside this premises, the main temple is Sri Annamalaiyar temple and then there are numerous other temples.
The significance of this temple is that Lord Shiva is worshiped here as Agni Lingam. So this temple is part of Pancha Bhoota Stalam ( i.e set of five temple dedicated to lord shiva each representing five elements of universe that is earth, fire, water, air and space).
As such this temple is always full of devotees, but specifically during the full moon day between November and December each year a festival is celebrated here called as Karthikai Deepam. Where a fire is lit at the top of the hill and is seen and worshiped by millions of people who gather around the hill on that day (from across the world).
Apart from this there is ritual of Grivalam which is going around the hill. This is specifically performed by devotees during full moon and the total distance is around 14Kms.
Visit the official website => http://www.arunachaleswarartemple.tnhrce.in/ and you can get more information.
Please note that full moon days and Karthikai Deepam days are days with huge rush. Devotees from all over the world come to Thiruvanamalai on this day and hence plan in advance as hotels may not be available.
There are lots of hotels around the temple and provide comfortable stay. You can walk down to the temple from these hotels and from my perspective it is a better option. But if you want a 3star+ hotel you have to look a bit away from temple and you need to drive down and parking can be an issue. So better hire a taxi or rikshaw. As fat as food is concerned, lots and lots of options there.
Sri Ramashree Ashram is also very near to temple and I would say its a must visit if you are there and there are many more temples around which could be visited. Unfortunately we did not had time and hence could not visit them.\
But we will definitely go again with more time in hand!
Do visit once you have some time. You will find lots of peace there!
Have a good time!
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