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Monday, 18 November 2013

Chidambaram Natraja Swamy Temple (Aakasa Lingam)


Chidambaram or more correctly—Chittambalam (the atmosphere of wisdom).This is the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva found in his famous dancing pose with one leg in the air and consisting of four arms. The temple is honoured to Lord Shiva in his aspect of Nataraja or the form of the celestial Dancer. Lord Shiva is seen in the Ananda Tandavam dancing position. The position is taken from his victory upon Goddess Kali whom he defeated in the competition at the Tillai forest judged by Lord Vishnu himself.
 Here the Lord danced while blessing saints Patanjali and Vyagrapada, who were doing penance in the Thillai forests. The Cosmic Dance is a symbolic representation of the five-fold activities of God - Creation, Preservation, Destruction, Veiling (Maya) and Blessing. Sri Nataraja's Thandavams include Ananda Thandavam, Urdhwa Thandavam, Bhujanagatrasa Thandavam and Ajabha Thandavam. To the left is the Chidambara Rahasyam or the abode of akasha Lingam. Only a Prabha or circular arch and a Vel (spear) with a golden Bilva mala are worshipped. This is one of the Pancha Bhutha Lingams representing Akasha or Ether. This shrine remains curtained. The five silver-plated steps leading to the shrine represent the mystic five letters of Namasivaya. The shirne of Govindaraja Perumal is close to the Chit Sabha.

There is Akasa lingam in Chidambaram. Lord Nataraja, the presiding Deity of the temple is in dancing pose. His left leg is raised. The idol of Nataraja is enshrined in the Holy Sanctum, known as the Chit Sabha. There is a curtain behind the idol of Nataraja. This is removed on special occasions of worship. There is mere space which represents Nirguna Brahman, devoid of all names and forms. This is the Chidambara Rahasya. Lord Nataraja has come out of the attributeless Brahman.
There is a chakra (Chidambara Chakra) which contains the Panchakshara or five-letters of Lord Siva—Nama Sivaya—on the wall to the back of this idol.
There are five courts or Sabhas in the temple viz., the Chit Sabha, Kanaka Sabha, Raja Sabha or Durbar, the Nritta Sabha and the Deva Sabha.

Significance of Chidambaram temple:-

The Sangam classics which is referred to Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan, respected clan of traditional Vishwakarmas, as being the chief architect of the temple renovation. There have been several renovations in its history, particularly during the days of Pallava/Chola emperors in ancient and pre-medieval periods.
Chidambaram is one among the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (ether). The other four temples in this category are the Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara,Trichy (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth) Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire),Thiruvannamalai and Kalahasti Nathar (wind),Kalahasti.

Chidambaram temple is one of the most ancient and most celebrated of shrines in India. It has been of great religious as well as historic and cultural significance. Chidambaram temple is mainly associated with Nataraja, or Shiva in his Ananda Tandava pose (the Cosmic Dance of bliss) in the cosmic golden hall and the hall of consciousness (Chit Sabha).

(Meaning of Chidambaram):-

The word Chidambaram may be derived from chit, meaning "consciousness", and ambaram, meaning "sky" (from aakasam or aakayam); it refers to the chidaakasam, the sky of consciousness, which is the ultimate aim one should attain according to all the Vedas and scriptures.Another theory is that it is derived from chit + ambalam. Ambalam means a "stage" for performing arts. The chidakasam is the state of supreme bliss or aananda and Lord Natarajar is the symbolic representation of the supreme bliss or aananda natanam. Saivaites believe that a visit to Chidambaram leads to liberation.Yet another theory is that it is derived from the word chitrambalam, from chithu meaning "play or dances of God" and ambalam meaning "stage"

Special features:-

A unique feature of this temple is the bejeweled image of Nataraja. It depicts the Lord Shiva as the Lord of the dance Bharatanatyam and is one of the few temples where Shiva is represented by an anthropomorphic murthi rather than the classic, anionic Lingam. The Cosmic Dance of Lord Nataraja symbolises the motion of the universe as sustained by Lord Shiva. The temple has five courts.Aragalur Udaya Iraratevan Ponparappinan (alias Vanakovaraiyan) rebuilt the Siva temple at Chidambaram around 1213 AD. The same Bana Chief also built Tiruvannamalai temple.The temple has been traditionally administered by an endogamous group of shiavite brahmins called Dikshitar, who also officiate as its priest.

About Temple:-

The Shri Shiva Nataraja temple, also called Shri Sabhanayaka temple, Chidambaram, India. Notes by Raja Deekshitar.

The temple of Shiva Nataraja (Shri Sabhanayaka) of Chidambaram is one of the great temple complexes of South India. Chidambaram is situated some 250 km south of Chennai, about 10 km from the Bay of Bengal. (11½24½ North and 79½43½ East). The temple is the heart of the town with the complex measuring 18 hectares in total. The temple is a living religious institution, and it is therefore still developing.

The complex has a rectangular shape and is orientated on the cardinal directions. It is structured as five concentric courtyards or prakaras, four of which are accessible to the public, the fifth being only accessible to the priests as it lies within the walls of the main sanctum. The prakaras are separated by approximately 10 meter high granite walls . The two outermost walls have four entrance ways in each of the sides. But whereas the gateways and gopurams of other South Indian temples are orientated aligned into a cross, here the gopurams are placed in an asymmetrical pattern.

The fifth prakara, between the outer (fourth) wall and the third wall of enclosure, is in use for gardens. The four gopurams, pyramidal shaped temple gateways, are situated in the fourth prakara wall. Within this wall we find the main temple as well as the sacred tirtha or water place, and many subsidiary shrines and buildings.

Although the earliest historical references to the temple go back to the 6th century CE, there is now nothing within the complex that can be dated to before the 12th century with any certainty, except for the main sanctum, the Cit Sabha (Hall of Consciousness). This wooden structure on a granite base, covered with a gilded roof, is unique. Very unlike the garbhagriha (womb-house), the square sanctum sanctorum of other Hindu temples. It is rectangular and with a roof that is shaped with an unusual slant. Within the wooden walls lies the first prakara, a U shaped circumambulatory passage constructed of granite. This passage encloses the actual sanctum which houses the Shiva Nataraja Murti, the presiding deity of the temple, as well as several other divinities.

In front of the Cit Sabha we find the Kanaka Sabha (Golden Hall). This is a structure with a granite base, slightly lower than the base of the Cit Sabha, wooden doors and a copper covered wooden roof supported by granite pillars. Here many of the rituals of worship are performed, but at certain times devotees are allowed to have close darshan (viewing of, audience with) of the Nataraja in the sanctum from here. These two sabhas are at the centre of the central courtyard which is enclosed by a cloistered veranda. Around this veranda there are several shrines. A shrine to Govindaraja, the reclining form of Vishnu and one dedicated to Brahma-Chandikeshvara are also situated in this courtyard.

From this courtyard two entrances, on the East and on the South side, lead to the third prakara. Here we find the third sabha of the complex, the Nritta Sabha (Hall of Dance) a shrine in the form of a ratha or chariot; the Deva Sabha (Hall of Deities); a shrine for Mahalaksmi; the Mulasthana shrine, where Shiva is worshipped as Linga; a Kalyana Mandapa used for festivals; and a Yaga Shala where Vedic fire rituals are performed. Long hallways of high pillars capped by granite slabs turn this prakara into a cool shaded space reminiscent of a cathedral. This prakara has gates on the East and the West side to the fourth prakara. Flights of steps connect the two spaces, as the inner courtyards are as much as three meters lower then the surrounding courtyard, which has a pavement on street level.

In the fourth prakara we find the Raja Sabha (Royal Hall), also called 1000 Pillar Hall; a Hundred Pillars Hall; the Mukkuruni Vinayaka temple; the Sivakamasundari (Amman or Goddess) temple; the Pandya Nayaka or Subrahmanya temple; a shrine dedicated to nine Lingas, worshipped by the nine planets or Navagraha; a small Ganesha shrine; and a shrine dedicated to Sundaresvara and Minakshi, the presiding deities of the temple in Madurai.

From the fourth prakara four gopuras or temple gateways lead to the fifth prakara. The wall has a fifth passage next to the East gopuram, which is used for the festival processions.

Of the buildings found in the fourth prakara the Nava Linga shrine and the Mukkuruni Vinayaka shrine are ancient shrines but have undergone renovation in the later 19th century and no longer represent ancient architecture. The pillared passages of the third prakara also belong to this period of building, as does the cloister around the central courtyard. The Mulasthana shrine possibly belongs to the same period, or to the 18th century.

The Sivakamasundari temple, the Raja Sabha, the 100 Pillars Hall and the cloister and steps surrounding the Shivaganga tirtha (sacred water place) are generally attributed to the time of the later Cholas, (late 11th to 12th century CE) on the basis of epigraphical evidence. This agrees in general with the architecture as we can see it today. The small (1 pillar mandapam) Ganesha temple by the side of the 100 Pillars Hall also was build around this time.

The Nritta Sabha is also a building from the later Cholas. The kings of this period build many of this kind of ratha (chariot) shaped halls. The Deva Sabha is known to have been covered by a copper roof in the same period, but its architecture has not been analysed. Both shrines existed in some form before this time, as is known from tradition and historical sources.

The Govindaraja shrine in its present form was (re)estabished under the kings of Vijayanagara.

Three of the four towers or gopurams recieved their present form during the last phase of the Chola empire in the 13th century. The North gopuram was either build or renovated by Krishnadevaraya, a king of Vijayanagara, in the 16th century. The gopurams have a rectangular granite base, with granite representations of various deities in the niches. While the seven tapering upper storeys are made of bricks and decorated with lime-work. The eastern gopuram maintains the original abstract structure of embedded miniature shrines while the other three have representations of deities and mythological scenes.

Although the Nataraja temple of Chidambaram is one of the most intensively studied and described temples of South India, much of its history remains undiscovered.

Legends associated with this temple:-

 Aadi Sesha, the serpent (couch) of Vishnu, heard from Vishnu the grandeur of Shiva's cosmic dance. Filled with irrepressable desire to witness this dance in person at Chidambaram, Seshan descended to the earth as Patanjali (the one who descended). Vyagrapaadar, another devotee of Shiva prayed to obtain the tiger's claws so that he could obtain with ease the sacred Bilva leaves meant for Shiva's worship at Chidambaram. At the appointed hour, Shiva (with Sivakami) granted to Patanjali and Vyagrapaadar, a visual treat in the form of his Cosmic Dance of Bliss, to the accompaniments of music played by several divine personalities in the Hindu pantheon. This Dance of Bliss is said to have been witnessed by Vishnu, and there is a Govindaraja shrine in the Natarajar temple commemorating this. The dance of bliss of Shiva, is also said to have been enacted upon Shiva's (Bhikshatana) victory over the married ascetics of Daruka Vanam.

Yet another legend, commemorating the dance duel between the doyens of dance Shiva and Kali is associated with Chidambaram. Shiva is said to have lifted his left foot towards the sky in the Urdhuva Tandava posture, a definite male gesture, which out of adherence to protocol, Kaali could not reciprocate, thereby causing Shiva to emerge victorious, delegating Kaali to the status of a primary deity in another temple in the outskirts of Chidambaram. This legend is portrayed in the Nritta Sabha, one of the halls within the Chidambaram temple.

There is another recent legend associated with this temple. The sacred Tamil works of the Nayanmaars had been missing for several years, and it was during the period of Raja Raja Chola (the builder of the Grand temple at Tanjavur) that formal research was initiated to trace these fine works of devotional literature. These works of the Saivite Saints - rich in musical content were recovered in a dilapidated state in one of the chambers in this vast temple, after the monarch brought images of the Saint trinity in procession to the temple.


 The dance of bliss, or the Ananda Tandavam of Shiva is said to symbolize the five divine acts (pancha krityas) of creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and bestowment of grace. The dance of Shiva has been frozen in metal and held in worships in Nataraja Sabhas, in virtually all of the Saivite temples in Tamilnadu. Five of the foremost Sabhas (Pancha Sabhai) are at Chidmbaram (Kanaka Sabhai the hall of gold), Madurai (Rajata Sabhai the hall of Silver), Tiruvalangadu near Chennai (Ratnasabhai the hall of rubies), Tirunelveli (Tamrasabhai the hall of copper) and Kutralam near Tirunelveli (Chitrasabhai the hall of pictures). Other dance halls of significance are Adri Sabhai (the Himalayas), Aadi Chitsabhai (Tiruvenkaadu near Chidambaram) and Perur Kanakasabhai (Patteeswarar temple at Perur near Coimbatore).

About Idol:-

The idol of Nataraja is enshrined in the Chit sabha. Behind this idol, is a black screen, which is considered to cover the Akasa Lingam. There is no Lingam, but we are made to believe that there is an invisible Lingam, with golden vilva garlands, i.e stressing the belief that there is everything in nothing. There are five silver plated steps to reach the Chit Sabha, representing the Panchakshara mantram - Na ma si va ya. The embossed images of the saints Vyagrapada and Patanjali, are to be seen on the doors. Both these saints had been blessed with the sight of the cosmic dance of Shiva. Lord Vishnu also is said to have witnessed this scene.


If Chidambaram figures in your itinerary, it is because you want to visit its Shiva temple! For Chidambaram is a small town, barely 5 sq km in area with nothing to recommend it xcept the temple. But what a temple! This famous shrine is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, known as Nataraja, Lord of Dance when he performs the tandava, the cosmic dance of destruction.

The architecture of the temple, the exquisite beauty of its icon makes it the highlight of the temple circuit. Shiva is the third member of the divine trinity that includes Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Preserver – and upon Lord Shiva is enjoined the task of Apocalypse. An enraged Shiva unleashes total destruction when he performs the Roudra Tandava, the devastating dance of death that not merely destroys but sets the scene for the creation of a new universe.


The gold-roofed stage or dancing hall is the sanctum sanctorum of the Chidambaram temple and houses the Lord in three forms:

-          the ‘form’ or anthropomorphic form of Lord Nataraja, called the Sakala thirumeni

-          the ‘semi-form’ or semi-anthropomorphic form as Crystal linga Chandramouleswarar, the Sakala nishkala thirumeni

-          the ‘formless’ as the Space in Chidambara Rahasyam, an empty space within the sanctum sanctorum, the Nishkala thirumeni

 Dancing Lord:-

“Every part of the Nataraja image is directly expressive not of any superstition or dogma, but of evident facts. No artist of today however great, could more exactly or more wisely create an image of that energy which science must postulate behind all phenomena. It is poetry; but nevertheless science”.

The Chidambaram Temple is unique since the presiding deity worshipped is a metal icon of Lord Nataraja in contrast to statues of deities made of stone found in other temples. But in the same sanctum, the ethereal or Akasa linga is present and is worshipped along with the Nataraja. There is also a Spatika Linga for which the six daily kala poojas are done.

Chidambara Ragasiyam/Rahasyam (Tamil for "secret of Chidambaram") is a Hindu belief that there is a secret message conveyed through the embossed figure near the shrine of Shiva in Chidambaram temple.

Since ancient times, it is believed that this is the place where Lord Shiva and Parvathi are present, but are invisible to the naked eyes of normal people. In the Chidambaram temple of Lord Nataraja, Chidambara Ragasiyam is hidden by a curtain (Maya). Darshan of Chidambara Ragasiyam is possible only when priests open the curtain (or Maya) for special poojas. People who are privileged to have a darshan of Chidambara Ragasiyam can merely see golden vilva leaves (Aegle Marmelos) signifying the presence of Lord Shiva and Parvathi in front of them. It is also believed that devout saints can see the Gods in their physical form, but no such cases have been officially reported.

The phrase "Chidambara Ragasiyam" really means something different. The pharse literally means a secret associated to Chidambaram - the place. Behind this is a real meaning to a secret. As described above there is a particular curtain kind of curtain which when removed enables us viewing the secret. The real significance of doing so is that, when the curtain which is "maya" is removed one can see his real self. And the seeing of oneself removing the curtain of maya is viewing the secret. According to legend, "Chidambara Ragasiyam" will never be revealed as it is the secret relating to a particular person who sees it removing the screen of "maya". In the temple, when the poojas are performed and the screen is removed, one will be able to see the secret only when he applies this to his mind and soul.
The Dikshitars or Hereditary Priests: The temple is managed and administered hereditarily by the Chidambaram Dikshitar – a class of Vaideeka Brahmins whom, legends say, were brought here, from Mt. Kailas, by Saint Patanjali, specifically for the performance of the daily rituals and maintenance of the Chidambaram temple.
 These Deekshithars follow the Vedic rituals, unlike the Sivachariyars or Adhisaivars – who follow the agamic rituals for the worship of Lord Shiva. The rituals for the temple were collated from the Vedas and set by Patanjali, who is said to have inducted the Deekshithars into the worship of Lord Shiva as Nataraja.
  The Chidambaram Mahatmyam recounts of their arrival in Tillai just as Lord Nataraja started his dance there. Thus they were the chosen guardians of the Lord’s worship and of the temple from its very conception.
Their relation to Lord Nataraja is a very intimate and powerful one, which is expressed by the legend that once the 3000 were requested by Brahma to perform a Vedic sacrifice in heaven. At their return they counted to make sure all had returned safely. But however they counted, they found only 2999. All were very upset, until a voice from the Sabha called out and announced that He Himself, Lord Nataraja, was the 3000th Deekshithar. Today they number around 360.

Greatness Of Temple:-

Lord Shiva and Mother Kali entered into a dancing contest.  Lord Shiva played His frurious Ugra Thandava and raised His legs upward at a stage and asked Kali if She could play this.  Bound in feminine traits, Kali could not do this.  Though defeated, She became furious.  Lord Brahmma appeared there and praised Kali as Veda Nayaki and begged Her to calm down with four faces representing the four Vedas.  Kali responded to Brahmma’s prayer and granted darshan to Him as Brahmma Chamundeeswari.  An idol is made in this form separately and installed in the temple.

 Temple's Speciality:-
  Mother Thillai Kali appears with four faces as Lord Brahmma. Mother Saraswathi as Veena Vidyambika and Lord Dakshinamurthi in female form praised as Kadambavana Dakshina Rupini grace the devotees from their shrines in the prakara. Devotees pray her lighting lamps on Thursdays seeking high education and academic achievements. Probably, this is the only temple where Lord Dakshinamurthi appears in a female form.

Other special features in the temple are:-

The shrine for Govindaraja Perumal.
The representations of many famous Siva Lingams associated with different temples in India.
The Vinayaka idol blowing a conch.
The huge Ganesha in the outer prakara considered to be one of the biggest in India.
The temple of Sivakami Amman in the outer prakara, with its beautiful arch with sculptural beauties.
The Subramania temple next to the Ambal temple.
Durga temple adjacent to this.

Major Places around Chidambaram:-

The Nataraja Temple:-

The dance of bliss, or the Ananda Tandavam of Shiva is said to symbolize the five divine acts (pancha krityas) of creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and bestowment of grace. The dance of Shiva has been frozen in metal and held in worships in Nataraja Sabhas, in virtually all of the Saivite temples in Tamilnadu.

Kali Temple:-

The Thillaikaliamman temple is on the northern end of the town. It was built by Kopperunjingan, who ruled between 1229 A.D. and 1278 A.D.

Sivakami Amman Temple:-

The outermost prakaram is home to the grand Sivakami Amman temple. The vast Sivakami Amman shrine is a temple in its own right. It houses the Sivaganga tank and the 1000 pillared hall or the Raja Sabha, where Nataraja is brought during two annual festivals.

20 km from Chidambaram - the temple has three shrines.

(i) Sri Brahmapureeswarar, Sattanathar and Thoniappar shrines.
(ii) The Goddess Tirunilai Nayaki shrine.
(iii) The Shrine of God Child, Gnanasambandar.


16 km from Chidambaram, Pichavaram ranks among the most exquisite scenic spots with abundant and varied tourism resources. The backwaters which are interconnected by the Vellar and Coleroon system offer abundant scope for water sports - rowing, kayak and canoeing. The Pichavaram forest offers waterscape and backwater cruises.

Vaitheeswaran Koil:-

24 km from Chidambaram, the place is famous for the Siva temple dedicated to Vaidyanatheeswarar, the healer of all diseases and his consort Thaiyalnayaki. It is believed that a bath in the holy waters of the Siddhamirtham tank within the temple complex will cure all diseases. Nadi Jothidam is a traditional skill popular here.


It is about 30 km from Pondicherry town. Here, large fossil bearing areas have been fenced in to create the country's first National Fossil-Wood Park. The petrified trees lying scattered on low mounds date a 100 million years. The Chandramouliswara Temple, is a monument of great architectural grandeur dating back to the Chola period, is an added attraction. Every Pournami or Full Moon Day, people gather here to worship Goddess Vakkarakali.

Gangaikondacholapuram Temple:-

Rajendra I, the mighty Chola King, Gangaiestablished his new capital here with this magnificent city and temple to Lord Siva in the tenth century. It is 50 kms. from Chidambaram.

The temple is noted for its massive and richly carved sculptures. A big Nandi in front of the temple made of brick and mortar, a lion head well with a flight of steps leading to the water level and the gigantic dwarapalakas are the other special features of this temple.


Vadalur is situated on the Cuddalore-Virudhachalam road and has a railway station. It is about 37 kms from Chidambaram. Ramalingaswamigal, popularly called Vallalar Adigalar, established the Sathyagnana Sabai. The sanctum of this sabha or temple is separated from the main hall by seven screens of which only three are removed on ordinary days. It is on the 'Thai Poosam' day in December-January, all the screens are removed and the devotees have a darshan of the jyothi or the eternal flame. Sri Ramalingaswamigal is said to have sung thousands of songs that expound the Saiva Siddhantha philosophy. They are compiled into several volumes called Thiru Arutpa.

Poompuhar (40Kms):-

Poompuhar was once the biggest port on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, and was as its peak of glory under the earlier Chola kings. The River Kaveri, merging with the billowing sea. PoompuharIt was known as puhar due to the exquisite beauty of the port town, and it later came to be called Poompuhar. Another name for Poompuhar was Kaveripoompattinam. Silappathikaram and Manimekalai, the tamil epics, bring out the greatness of the city in some of the poems in Sangam literature. The life and time of the Tamil classic Silappathikaram has been recreated at Poompuhar to the immense pleasure of the Tamils. In order to conjure up the decorative ornamental and scenic beauty of Poompuhar, the whole art Gallery is made to present the environment and atmosphere of the 2nd century A.D by the creation of the Illanji Manram, Pavai Manram, etc. A fine beach and calm waters offer good opportunity for sunbathing and swimming. The department of tourism offers shell and conch-shaped cottages to the tourists in the Poompuhar tourist complex, at a moderate tariff.


It was once the site of a Danish settlement. Tarangambadi has the remains of the Dansborg Fort built by Ore Gedde, a Commander of the Royal Dutch Navy, in the 17th century.

Gingee (132 kms):-

It is located on the Tindivanam - Thiruvannamalai road about 25 kms. from Tindivanam and is about 132 kms. from Chidambaram. This place is associated with Raja Desingh. GingeeThere is a 700 year old fort running over three hills of huge and steep boulders. According to tradition the original fort was laid by Kone Chiefs. The fort was ruled by Vijayanagar Nayaks, Marathas, Moghuls, Carnatic Nawabs, the French and the British Rajagiri and Krishnagiri are two important fortifications here and it is a popular picnic spot.

Festivals of the Temple:-

A year in the life of men is said to be a single day for the Gods. Therefore, as six poojas are performed in a day, six festivals are celebrated in a year;
Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai (in December - January ) indicating the first pooja. This is a 10 day festival that concludes with the Arudra Dharisanam.
The fourteenth day after the new moon ( chaturdasi) of the month of Masi ( February - March) indicating the second pooja.
The Chittirai Thiruvonam ( in April- May), indicating the third pooja or uchi kaalam.
The Uthiram of Aani (June- July) also called the Aani Thirumanjanam indicating the evening or the fourth pooja.
The chaturdasi of Aavani (August-September) indicating the fifth pooja.
The chaturdasi of the month of Puratasi ( September - October) indicating the sixth pooja or Arthajama.
Of these the Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai ( in December-January) and the Aani Thirumanjanam ( in June-July ) are the most important and are aptly called the Bhrammotsavams.

Natyanjali Festival:-

The Natyanjali dance festival at Chidambaram brings together all the prominent dancers of India. They offer their abhinaya and their dance to the Lord Nataraja. To many of them it is like a dream come true, to be able to perform in the vicinity of the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Nataraja’s temple, whose padams and varnams they often use creating an imaginary figure of the Lord.

This festival opens on the auspicious occasion of the Maha Shivaratri day and of course in the right kind of venue, which is the Prakara of the Chidambaram temple.

Temple opening hours & Puja timings:-

The four outer gates of the temple are open from the time of the first ritual of the day till the conclusion of the evening procession.
The outer doors of the Nataraja temple are closed between 12.00 and 16.00 hours.
The doors to the innermost courtyard are closed between 12.00 and 16.45 hours. The Vishnu temple has the same opening hours.
All other shrines open from 07.30 till 11.00 hours, and from 17.30 till 20.00 hours.
06.45 In the morning Shiva, represented by his holy sandals or Padukai, is taken from the Bedchamber to the Cit Sabha by palanquin. This is called the Awakening ceremony.
08.30 - 09.00 A yagna or fire sacrifice is performed in the Kanka Sabha, according to Vedic doctrine.
10.00 - 11.00 Abishekam or ablution is performed to the Crystal Linga and a replica of the Dancing Shiva in ruby form.
11.30 - 12.00 Puja with lamps and ritual objects.
18.00 - 18.45 Puja with lamps and ritual objects.
20.00 - 20.30 Puja with lamps, chanting and hymns.
22.00 - 22.30 Puja with lamps, hymn and music. After which Shiva, represented by his holy sandals, is taken in a procession with a palanquin to the Bedchamber.

The mysterious Friday evening:-

Friday evenings the procession at 22.00 is a special experience. The bells ring the Omkara, the sacred sound OM. The lights of the lamps are a dazzling sight. The perfumed smoke of incense envelops the crowd.

The palanquin is taken around the two inner courtyards, accompanied by the chanting of Vedas, and of the music of nadasvarams and drums. Finally to join the cosmic energy of Shakti, his consort, in the Bedchamber, realising the cosmology.

An unforgettable experience of a vision of the divine.


 The temple is closed between 12.00 noon to 4.30 p.m. and 10.00 p.m. to 7.00 a.m.
om 6:00am to 1:00am and 4.00pm to 9:00pm. The Kali Temple is opened from 7:00am to 12 Noon and then 6:00am to 9:00pm.

How to reach:-

 By Air :-
 The nearest Airport is in Tiruchirappalli, 167 km south west from the place of Chidambaram.

 By Rail :-
 Chidambaram is on the main line of the Southern Railway. There are trains to Madras, Kumbakonam and Thanjore and a direct train to Tirupati.

By Road :-
 There are buses available from Chidambaram to Thanjore, Pondicherry, Madras and Mamallapur

Accommodation Facilities at the Temple:-

The temple town of Chidambaram is the home to the Annamalai University, and it has several modern lodging facilities. The Tamilnadu Tourist Development here Corporation operates one of its hotels at Chidambaram. Chidambaram is located on the Chennai Tiruchirappalli Main line, between Villuppuram and Thanjavur. It is well connected with Chennai by a host of train and bus services.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Agni lingam - Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara


Tiruvannamalai is the home of a big temple for Lord Shiva built around 700 A.D, rich in history, tradition and architectural splendor. Tiruvannamalai is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalangal of Lord Shiva (one of the five grand temples associated with the five basic elements) associated with the element Fire, the other four being Tiruvanaikkaval (Water), Chidambaram (Space), Kanchipuram (Earth) and Sri Kalahasti (Wind) respectively. Shiva is said to have manifested himself in the form of a massive column of fire, whose crown and feet, Bramma and Vishnu attempted in vain to reach. It is dedicated to Arunachaleswarar (God Shiva, venerated as Agni Lingam (Lingam of Fire) and his divine consort is Unnamalai Amman. This is the birth place of Saint Arunagirinathar who composed the Tirupugazh hymns.

Annamalaiyar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. 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 worshiped as Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar, and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Agni lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamulai Amman. 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.

About Legends:-

The history about the temple and the incarnation of Lord Siva in this place of Tiruvannamalai is desribed in many Sanskrit and Tamil scriptures. According to the mythology, there was an argument between Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma regarding who is greater god. Hence Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma wanted to have a competition and asked Lord Siva to judge and decide who is greater between them.  Lord Siva agreed to the competition and told both the Gods, who ever can reach the crown and the feet of the Siva lingam will be judeged as Supreme.  Thus Lord Siva transformed himself into ‘Agni Lingam or Jyothi Lingam’.

Lord Vishnu transformed himself into a wild Boar and started digging into earth to reach Siva’s feet. Time elapsed for long time, but Lord Vishnu couldn’t reach the feet of ‘Shiv Lingam’, understanding it is a futile effort, Lord Vishnu accepted his defeated.

At the same time, Lord Vishnu took the form of a Swan and started flying high to see the crown of Lord Siva. After flying for a many years , he couldn’t reach the top of the Crown of Lord Siva. He saw the “Thazhambu” flower (Lotus flower) which is used for decorating Lord Siva’s crown falling down. Lord Brahma asked the flower as to how long he has to travel to reach the crown, for which the flower replied that it has been dropping down for the past 40,000 years from the time it fell from the top of Lord Siva’s crown but still didn’t the foot of Lord Siva. Understanding that it is impossible to reach the crown, Lord Brahma manipulated the flower in such a way that the flower be the witness that Lord Brahma reached the crown of Lord Siva and took the flower from there. Thus the flower and Lord Brahma went to Siva and told that Brahma could reach the Crown of Lord Siva. Lord Siva, understood the conspiracy and cursed Lord Brahma that no where on earth will any human being pray for him and that the “Thazhambu” flower will not be used for any prayers.

Lord Vishnu and Lord Bramha requested Lord Siva to cool down from his “Agni” form and Lord Siva cooled down and tranformed into a Siva Lingam.

It is said that this mountain was in the form of ‘Agni’ (fire) during Kritayugam, Emerald during Threthayugam, Gold during Dwaparayugam and rock during Kaliyugam.

The Annamalai Hill was Agni (fire) during Krithayugam, was Manikkam (Emerald) during Threthayugam, was pon (Gold) during Dwaprayugam and rock during Kaliyugam as per the ancient legends.

another 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 Annamalai hills, returning light to the world.He then merged with Parvati to form Ardhanarishvara, the half-female, half-male form of Shiva.The Annamalai, or red mountain, lies behind the Annamalaiyar temple, and is associated with the temple of its namesake.The hill is sacred and considered a lingam, or iconic representation of Shiva, in itself

History of Thiruvannamalai:-

The temple town of Tiruvannamalai is one of the most ancient heritage sites of India and is a center 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.

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 history of this town dates from the early Chola period i.e. the period of Aditya I and Parantaka I (A.D. 871-955) when the Chola empire had expanded northwards to include practically the whole of Tondaimandalam. After Parantaka I till the reign of Rajendra I, Chola rule over this region is not attested by the Tiruvannamalai inscriptions, possibly on account of the Rashtrakuta invasions and occupation of this area by Krishna III. This is perhaps indicated by a single inscription of Kannaradeva (Krishna III) found in this temple. (475;63). the recovery of this region by the Cholas was a slow process and reached its successful conclusion only towards the close of Rajaraja I's reign i.e. AD 1014, for even Rajaraja is conspicuously absent in the inscriptions of Tiruvannamalai.

While the rule of Rajendra I and Rajadhiraja I over this area is attested by their inscriptions, once again a fairly long gap of over a hundred years is indicated by the absence of any Chola inscriptions till the beginning of Kulottunga III's reign (AD 1183)

Large scales activities in the period of Kulottunga III and Rajaraja III are indicated by a number of records in the temple. Further, the frequent references to a number of Chola feudatories of this period would also show a gradual ascendancy in their power and importance till the final establishment of independence by the Kadavaraya chieftains in the second quarter of the 13th century A.D. In this connection mention may be made of an interesting inscription at Tiruvannamalai, which records the agreement entered into by a number of feudatory chieftains to support one another and swearing allegiance to the ruling Chola king (Kulottunga III-A.D. 1210), pointing to a period of great political tension under the late Cholas (516;106).

The inscriptions of Kopperunjinga clearly show that by the second quarter of the 13th century, the Kadavarayas had established complete mastery over this region leading to the final decline of Chola power.

A brief period of Pandya supremacy over this region is indicated by the inscriptions of the Pandyas of the second empire such as Jatavaraman Srivallabha and Tribhuvanachakravartin Kulasekhara in the 13th century AD (481,571 etc; 70,162 ect,).

The Hoysalas under Vira Vallaladeva (Ballala III) also exercised sway over this area (459, 509; 89 and 99 - dated AD 1340) indication that the Hoysala power continued to influence Tamil politics even after the Muslim invasions of Malik Kafur.

About temple:-

Temple is an externalized aspect of faith, and it is a place to restore peace and harmony. What great seers have visualized has been made outwardly real in a temple. This temple is safely edifice consecrated to the Lord of Light and other deities, built centuries ago at the foot of the hill to form the seat of worship. The main entrance to the sanctum sanctorum is in the eastern tower, the tallest structure in proportion to the other dimensions of this largest temple forming part of it. The tower rising heavenward is marvelously massive and magnificently majestic one with its imposing structural elegance and inviting architectural excellence and awes people at a distance.

      Temple is the world's only social hope and the sole promise of peace and harmony; It purifies the society, and looks at the world with the intention of serving it, and strengthening society spiritually uniting people. The temple stands for the eternal, and the great glory of god where people praise the name of god and sing his glory. The temple offers you something you simply cannot get else where.
 One can obtain salvation (Mukthi) by remaining in one's place and thinking of Thiruvannamalai.

This Mukthi sthala spreads an expanse of 25 acres containing the temple of Lord Arunachala with tall towers piercing the sky. This shrine is famous not only in India but throughout the world.

Legends declare that those who pronounce the name of this sthala once, secure the bliss of repeating three crores of times the panchakshara (the Mantra of five words) and that not only those who visited and worshipped in this sthala, but also their descendents up to 21 generations will get liberation.

As one enters the city Thiruvannamalai, the Rajagopuram standing majestically, soaring a height of 217 feet comes to view first. It has 11 stories. This tower is a standing testimony to the artistic genius of the Vijayanagar Dynasty.

The Paathala (underground) Linga which is inside the temple in the south west corner of thousand pillared hall is one where Ramana Maharishi worshipped and secured liberation. Next comes Kambath Illayanar Sannadhi where Arunagiri Swami, the author of Thirupugazh was granted Mukthi.

The temple has Six enclosures which includes 9 gopurams(Towers).

                    In the West -  Pey Gopuram

                    In the North - Ammani Ammal Gopuram

                    In the South - Thirumanjana Gopuram.

Among the Gopurams Raja Gopuram is the big tower in the east and it was built by the King Vallala. And also the Entrance to the temple.

About Enclosures:-

The first and second enclosures are the oldest one which has been structured very long back. The second enclosure has the idols of 63 Nayanmars. Third enclosure was structured by the King Kulothunga. It includes 16 pillars mandabam.

The fourth and fifth enclosures were constructed in 16th Century. This includes big Nandhi, Sivaganga Thirtha(Tank) and the wall enclosing huge structures.

The Katchi Mandapam or hall of Darshan.  During the famous festival  Karthigai Deepam  the five deities are brought to this Mandapam, to be worshipped by the devotees when the grand and gigantic lamp (Deepam) is lit on the top of the holy hill.

The third enclosure  houses the temple of  Unnamalai Amman the name of  Parvathi, Shiva's consort in  Thiruvannamalai.

The second enclosure houses the Isanya Lingam, Indra Lingam and several deities. The Utsava Murthis , made of  Pancha Lohas or five metals, which are taken out for processions.

The first prakaram which has the sanctum sanctorum (Garba Graha) of lord Annamalai,  the presiding deity of the temple and the holy place.

Thousand Pillar Hall:-

On entering the temple through the east tower the big structure one faces on the right is the thousand pillared hall. There are indications that it was built by Krishnadevaraya. The thousand pillared hall sports exactly 1000 pillars. the pillars are carved , with sculptures of Naik periods and some divine images. Sages, Vishnu's incarations too find a place with floral designs.

Siddhi Vinayagar:-

The prime God Lord Ganesha also resides near the Sivaganga Theertha (tank) in the name of "Siddhi Vinayaga" and also called "Sivagangai Vinayagar".

Annamalai sthala has a special place in the history of our Culture and Religious life. The hill Annamalai has been responsible for the blossoming of several Saints and Ghanis. Many saints have attained liberation here.

Kartika Deepam:-

The first day :-

Karthika Deepam festival begins with the hosting of the flag signifying the commencement of the festival also known as Dwajaroghanam. In the morning and night Lord Arunachaleswarar will be taken out on the silver vahana for procession. The Panchamurthis(Panchamurthigal) are also taken out in the procession. The Panchamurthigal are Lord Ganapathi, Lord Murugan, Lord Sandeswarar, Lord Arunachaleswarar and Goddess Parvathi.These processions are carried out on different vahanas after the Deeparadhana is done at the kalyana mandapam.

The second day :-

Karthigai Deepam festival commences with the Lord Panchamurthigal coming on Indira Vimanam the chariot of Lord Indira.

The third day :-

Karthigai Deepam festival the ceremony begins at night with the Lord Panchamurthigal coming in procession majestically on the Simha vahana, the chariot of lion.

 The fourth day:-

  Karthikai Deepam the Lord Panchamurthigal comes in the procession that starts at night on the kamadhenu vahanam. The auspicious tree Karpaviruksha is also on the side of the lord. This tree is believed to grant all the wishes that the devotees seek without fail.

The fifth day :-

Karthikai Deepam festival begins at night. This procession on the silver rishaba vahanam is very appealing and splendid to witness. Lord Panchamurthigal goes on this vahana that is about 25 feet tall. A big umbrella with about 17 feet in diameter is carried along in the procession.

The sixth day :-

Karthigai Deepam festival commences with a night procession of Lord Panchamurthigal on the silver chariot that is beautifully crafted and simply imposing when it comes around the temple.

The seventh day :-

Karthikai Deepam festival Lord Panchamurthigal starts with the procession on the Maha ratham that is very huge and it almost occupies the full width of the road. This ratham is made of pure wood that is strong and rugged.

The eight day :-

Karthigai Deepam festival begins at night with the Lord Panchamurthigal going out on procession on the huge horse vahana. The speciality of this horse is that all the four legs of this horse are in the air and they do not touch the ground.

The ninth day:-

Karthigai Deepam festival the devotees can witness Lord Panchamurthigal going out procession on the Kailasa Vahanam. This ceremony is mostly conducted on the ninth night.

The tenth day :-

Karthigai Deepam festival starts at around four o clock in the early hours and the Bharani Deepam is lit at the temple. In the evening the Mahadeepam is lit on the top of the hill at around six o clock. This is a very important ceremony during the Karthigai Deepam festival at Tiruvannamalai. Arunachaleswarar is said to be visually represented in the form of agni on the hill top. There is a very mammoth gathering on this day at the Arunachaleswarar temple to witness this glorious and sacred event. The night ceremony starts with Lord Periya nayagar going out procession on the Rishaba vahanam that is made of gold. This is another spectacular event at Arunachaleswar temple at Tiruvannamalai.

Theppal :-

Lord Chandrasekarar, Lord Parasakthi,Lord Subramaniar goes in the boat and this is called Theppam, since it carried out in the tank. Lord Arunachaleswarar goes procession round the hill, known as Girivalam or pradhiksahana. With this ceremony the Karthigai Deepam festival at Arunachaleswarar temple comes to a grand conclusion with the devotees taking back home some divine blessings and memories from this ancient holy city Tiruvannamalai.

Girivalam means Going Round of Arunachala Hill:-

Girivalam (also called Giri Valam)spiritual festival observed on every full moon day at Tiruvannamalai for sacred Mountain Annamalai.In tamil language, "Giri" means mountain and "Valam" means circumambulation. People with spiritual seeking choose to walk around the mountain and worship Aruanachala temple of Tiruvannamalai on pournami day called Girivalam.

Girivalam is connected to the hill Annamalai , considered as a deity and god Shiva temple called Arunachaleswarar an Tamil ancient massive shrine found at the bottom of the Tiruvannamalai hill. This Arunachaleswarar temple named after "The mountain of fire" . The god who lives there also called by the same name. In sanskrit "Arunam" stands for fire with red colour, "asalam" can be read as "malai" or hill. In fact the mountain is red in color, stand high for 2668 feet with 16 KM in diameter (approximately).

During the Girivalam(Giri valam) circling, people visit eight siva lingams located around the Arunachala mountain. Each lingam represent one direction, if you watch closely Tiruvannamalai town itself structured around this lingams in octagonal dimension. Each lingam has its own name Indra Lingam, Agni Lingam, Yama Lingam, Niruthi Lingam, Varuna Lingam, Vayu Lingam, Kubera Lingam and Esanya Lingam.
Malaivalam (Girivalam)

A monthly ritual, a token of devotion working a stage in spiritual developments. The illumination of the entire disc of moon, is a monthly feature devotees drawn from different parts of the land visit the temple and phallic symbol placed in the sanctum sanctorum, and the mother Goddess 'UMA' and dextrally move in a circle in large numbers keeping the hill as the centre covering in a complete round a distance of nearly fifteen kilometers.

Viewing the vicissitudes of the vesture by which the nature covers the vertical monument.

Observing on all sides from the ground floor to the heavenly peak the changing moods of the hill.

Worshipping all along the way the hundred and odd lingams the masculine means of majesty, the phallic symbols used extensively in the cult of worship of 'Siva' and erected at regular intervals the procreative force (lingam).

Having a sense of detachment

Felling their oneness with the nature as they are

On  joyous journey as

Go  round the world, the universe, the constellations, all of which are his myth and manifestations.

Seeking spiritual union with the savior of all and for sometime the aspirants of higher aims are away from the harassing material world.

Indian spiritual history has it that even today a number of siddhars are living on the hill. During the fullmoon Maha Girivalam (Giri Valam) or Deepam festival day of Karthigai month It siddhars movement would be there and the whole atmosphere would be filled with perfumes of herbal plants. This will provide peace of mind and good health to body. It is a proven fact that Tiruvannamalai girivalam pulls 100,000 of devotees to circumambulate the Arunachala mountain and obtain seeken wish comes true by praying to siva Annamalai.The giri valam circumambulation path has been well maintained with rows of sodium lights around the hill.People can walk round the clock 24 hours a day without any fear or getting lost. To improve the devotees experience, Tiruvannamalai town government has established many road side stores as well as strict vigilant Police patrol around the mountain

Full Moon pulls people and swells the crowd:-

Earthlings enjoy every full moon night. On every full moon day, the temple wears a festive look and draws devotees from all parts of the land as the nectar of the floral disc attracts bees with an osmotic pull of an astounding force. The full moon not only swells oceans and seas but also the crowd of devotees who throng about the temple. The moon shows its whole disc illuminated and this illumination exerts an influence upon earnest adherents by imperceptible means. While the waning  phases of moon bring in depression its waning phases waken up soul of  men to winsome elation; and the lovely luminous (full) moon brings in the devotees a magical sense of spiritual awakening. A glow with aspirations the adherents find a promise of new life, new spring in the severe summer of the earthly life.

Annamalai in Literature:-

Annamalai has found place in all kinds of literatures such as Puranas, Anthathis, Venbas, Prabandhams, Pathikams, Vannam, Sathakam, Kovai, Maalai, Viruththam, Keertanas, Sthothras, Kummi and plays.

More than 60 Sthal Purans are available in Tamil, and in Sanskrit we have Arunachala Stotras and Arunachala Ashtakam. Tiruvannamalai is mentioned even in Keno Upanishad.

Annamalaiyar Mountain:-

Annamalaiyar hills are spread over an extent of 24 acres. The Annamalai, or red mountain, lies behind the Annamalaiyar temple, and is associated with the temple of its namesake. The hill is sacred and considered a lingam, or iconic representation of Shiva, in itself.

Shiva is associated with each of the five elements namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Sky in five different holy places with Tamilnadu. As Lord Shiva attained the mountain roopam and enlightened as a dense volume of fire here in Thiruvannamalai, he is considered as Fire here.
Experience Hinduism - Annamalaiyar mountain
During the full moon day a huge fire is lighted as a memory of the fire that Lord Shiva left behind on the hill. It is believed, on every Full moon day lakhs of devotees get all benefits by praying to Lord Annamalaiyar.

The Annamalai Hill was Agni (fire) during Kirthayugam, was Manikkam (Emerad) during Threthayugam, was Pon (Gold) during Dwaparayugam and rock during Kaliyugam.

A Siddha Bhumi known for Sevas:-

Siddhas are considered representatives of God with complete mastery over the powers of nature. They are believed to have conquered death and live anywhere and everywhere without being seen, recognized or identified by ordinary humans, and other living beings. Certain places in general and mountain ranges in particular are considered permanent seats of Siddhas; Annamalaiyar is one such sacred place.

"All stones in that place [Arunachala] are lingams. It is indeed the Abode of Lord Siva. All trees are the wish-granting trees of Indra's heaven. Its rippling waters are the Ganges, flowing through our Lord's matted locks. The food eaten there is the ambrosia of the Gods. When men move about in that place it is the earth performing pradakshina around it. Words spoken there are holy scripture, and to fall asleep there is to be absorbed in samadhi, beyond the mind's delusion. Could there be any other place which is its equal?" [Arunachala Puranam] .

Asta Lingams:-

Arunachala is surrounded by eight lingams (Asta Lingams) each residing in one of the eight directions of the four cardinal points (South – Yama, West – Varuna, North – Kubera, and East – Indra) and four intercardinal points (South East – Agni, South West – Niruthi, North West – Vayu and North East – Esanaya).

The guardians of the four cardinal directions are called the Lokapalas and are the deities who rule the specific directions of space. The name for the eight deities, four of the cardinal and four of the intercardinal directions is 'Asta-Dikpalas.’

By the turn of the Twentieth Century many of the shrines, temples and theertams at Arunachala were in a state of neglect and decay. In the case of the Asta Lingams the areas around the shrines were filled with squatters and encroachments and the Asta Lingams shrines themselves were unmaintained and their worship ignored.

It is believed by many that the work done by I.S.V. Arunachala Moopanar (Moopanar Swamigal) renovating and restoring the Asta Lingams and their adjacent land, was responsible for helping to re-establish the energetic power of the sacred geometry of Arunachala.

Moopanar Swami came to Arunachala from Tiruveneli around 1968 and became very well known throughout the Arunachala area. He was a devout, spiritual man who placed great emphasis on spiritual service. When he arrived at Arunachala, things were rather different to the present time and what particularly distressed Moopanar Swami was the dreadful, neglected condition of the Asta Lingams (eight Lingams) that surround Arunachala. Moopanar Swami used to spend a lot of time meditating and praying at the Arunachaleswarar Temple and he eventually came to believe that his mission directly imposed by Lord Arunachaleswarar was to renovate the Asta Lingams.

He was convinced that the restoration of the Lingam Shrines was essential to the revitalisation of specific fields of energy and influence surrounding the Hill. Through a combination of various social reasons, over the last few centuries Temples and Shrines throughout India had fallen into disuse and decay. This certainly occurred at Tiruvannamalai where the situation had become so bad that The Asta Lingams were even taken over by squatters and homesteaders. It is said that Moopanar Swami would even resort to driving the squatters off the Lingam premises with a stick!

The Hill which is octagonal in shape is surrounded by a total of eight Lingam Temples (Asta Lingams). Each of these Temples are located at the four cardinal and four inter-cardinal points. This was also believed by the ancients who originally constructed the Lingams at their eight cardinal and inter-cardinal points to represent, characterise and vitalise certain aspects and qualities of life.

Asta lingams:-

Indra Lingam (East)
Agni Lingam (South East)
Yama  (Ema) Lingam (South)
Niruthi Lingam (South West)
Varuna Lingam (West)
Vayu Lingam (North West)
Kubera Lingam (North)
Esanya Lingam (North East)

The Lingams have the dominant Navagraha of the God to whom they are associated. It is believed that placating a specific Lingam will bring various benefits that are associated with the  respective Navagraha.

Indra Lingam (East):-

The Indra Lingam has east as its direction. It is associated with the celestial Lord Indra. This Lingam is situated on Car Street close to the eastern tower of Arunachaleswarar Temple.

Lord Indra is the king of Heaven according to Hindu mythology. His consort is Indrani. His vehicle is the celebrated four-tusked white elephant Iravathi. Indra manifests seated on his elephant wielding in his hand the weapon Vajra with which he destroys ignorance and bestows spiritual knowledge on his deserving devotees.

The Indra Lingam is dominated by the Navagrahas, Lord Surya and Lord Shukra (Venus). Devotees are blessed with long life and with prosperity, on worshipping Indra lingam.

Agni Lingam (South East):-

The Agni Lingam has south-east as its direction. It is situated close to Seshadri Ashram on Chengam road and is the only Lingam located on the right side of the Girivalam Path.

Lord Chandra (Moon) is the dominant Navagraha of Agni Lingam. Lord Agni, is the God of the fire of Knowledge. He has seven hands and seven tongues. Agni is the light of the lives of all creatures and is invoked in the performance of Homa. His vehicle is the goat Saga who serves as the sacrificial beast in the fires of Homa.

Worshipping this Lingam helps devotees get relief from disease, to maintain good health and also helps them face problems and difficulties in their lives.

Yama Lingam (South):-

The Yama Lingam has South as its direction. It is associated with Yama the God of death. It is situated beside the cremation grounds on Chengam road.

The dominant Navagraha of this Lingam is, Mangala (Mars).  Yama is portrayed sitting on his mount, a powerful black buffalo named Mahishan and with two  monstrous dogs by his side. He is supposed to carry a huge lasso with which he drags each being at the time of death to face heaven or hell according to the being’s karma.

Devotees get rid of their financial constraints on worshipping the Yama lingam. This Lingam is also conducive for longevity of life span

Niruthi Lingam (South West):-

The Niruthi Lingam has South West as its direction. It is situated on the Girivalam pathway near the Shantimalai Compound. It is associated with Lord Rahu.

Niruthi is the king of the Asuras (demons) and he jointly rules the Southern realm along with Yama. His associate is a dog.

Legend reports that king Nala bathed in Niruthi Lingam Theertham to be relieved of sins incurred due to his karma. This Lingam is specially renowned to help people recover from the bad effects of black magic and other negative energies.

Health, wealth and fame are the beneficial aspects of this lingam. It is also beneficial for couples to worship at this Lingam if they wish to have a child. Worshipping this Lingam is believed to help devotees achieve detachment to worldly desire.

Varuna Lingam (West):-

Varuna Lingam has the West as its directions. This lingam is situated on the outer girivalam pathway about one kilometre before the village of Adi Annamalai.

Varuna’s vehicle is Makara (that lives both on land and water) which is an animal with the head and front legs of an antelope and the body and tail of a fish.

This Lingam has Lord Shani as its dominant Navagraha. Varuna Theertham, a holy tank, is located here. Devotees are protected from illness, particularly water related diseases.

Legend has it that the eye of Varuna is Surya and when Surya appears in the constellation of Makara, its  a special event and honoured as Makara Sankarathi. This day falls each year in mid-January and is celebrated as Pongal Festival in Tamil country.

Varuna is the king of appreciation and enjoyment. He governs the whole world. He is the God of rain and God of all the waters in the three worlds. He surveys the deeds of man according to his karma and keeps them under his control. Placating Varuna is believed to wash away accumulated sins.

Vayu Lingam (North West):-

Vayu Lingam has the north-west direction as its direction. It is situated on the girivalam pathway, about one kilometer after the village of Adi Annamalai

Vayu is the Hindu god of wind and he is often associated with Indra. His vehicle is the deer. Kedhu (Kethu) is the dominant Navagraha of this Lingam. As Vayu is the God of wind, He provides creatures with vital life-giving breath thus sustaining the entire Universe.

It is reported that at any time of the day, and in every season, when one enters this shrine one is always greeted by a gust of wind.

Relief from heart diseases, stomach problems, lung problems and general illness are conferred to the devotees on worshipping this Lingam.

Kubera Lingam (North):-

Kubera Lingam has the North as its direction. It is located on the girivalam pathway before entering the town and a few hundred metres before the Panchamukham.

The Kubera Lingam has Lord Brihaspati (Guru or Jupiter) as its dominant graham. He has three legs and eight teeth. His vehicle is a female goat. His abode is in the capital of the Himalayas. His consort is Yakshi. He is the Chief of the Yakshas who safeguards the riches of the Devas. He is a very friendly with Shiva.

It is believed that Lord Kubera came to this place to worship Arunachala in order to maintain his wealth and prosperity. Hence a Shiva lingam was installed and consecrated at a point exactly north from the mountain.

Kubera is the God of wealth and material possessions. He does not create wealth, but he is believed to be the one who distributes wealth amongst his devotees.

Esanya Lingam (North East):-

Esanya Linga has the north east as its direction. It is located on the old girivalam road to town, beside the  main cremation grounds.

This lingam was installed by Esanyan and has Lord Budha (Mercury) as its dominant Navagraha.

Esanya is one of the  seven Rudras of Shiva. He is covered with ashes and surrounded by ghosts, he has matted locks and fierce eyes and is seated on a tiger skin. He holds the crescent moon and the river Ganga in his locks. His body is adorned by coiled serpents. In his hands he holds the mortal drum and the trident of Shiva.

Devotees are blessed with peace of mind on offering prayers to Easanya Linga.

Daily Pujas For Arunachaleswara:-

1. Ushathkalam
05-30 a.m.

2. Kalasanthi
08-00 a.m.

3. Uchikalam
10.00 a.m.

4. Sayarakshai
06-00 p.m.

5. Irandamkalam
08-00 p.m.

6. Ardha Jamam
09-30 p.m.

Annul Festivals:-


Vasantha utsavam - 10 Days beginning from Mrigeseerisha Nakshatram


Dakshinaya Brahma Utsavam- 10 Days


AdiPuram - 10 Days ; Last day Fire Walking festival


Navarathri - 10 Days


Kanntha Sashti - 6 Days


Brahma Utsavam; Deepam festival - 10 Days

Manikkavasagar Utsavam - 10 Days


Sankaranthi Utsavam - 10 Days


Uthram Festival - 6 Days

Special Festivals:-


    Natarajar Abishekam-Thiruvona Nakshatram.
    Thirunavukkarasar Festival-Sathaya Nakshatram.


    Abishekam-Visaka Nakshatram.
    Thirugnanasambandar Festival-Mula Nakshatram.


    Manikkavasagar Festival-Maga Nakshatram.
    Natarajar Ani Thirumanjanam Uthra Nakshatram.


    Ambal Niramani(Varalakshmi Nonbu)
    Sundarar Festival-Swathi Nakshatram.
    Arunagirinathar Festival.


    Srikrishna Jayanthi.
    Pittu Tiruvizha-Mula Nakshatram.
    Natarajar Abishekam-Sukla Chathurthai.


    Saraswathi Puja-Ambal Niraimani,Sukla Navami.
    Natarajar Abishekam-Sukla Chathurthasi.
    Arunagirinathar Festival-Mula Nakshartram.

Auspicious Day: -

Pournami (Full Moon) Day and also yearly once karthigai deepam.

How to Reach:-
By Air:-

Thiruvannamalai the world renowned abode of Lord Shiva is ideally located with ample access options by air, train and road. The nearest access via air travel to Thiruvannamalai can be through Chennai. Chennai is the nearest airport and it lies around 185 kilometres away by road. People coming from top metros in India namely Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore and Hyderabad can take the air travel via Chennai.

By Road:-

 From Chennai the travel time is around 3.5 hours. The travel by car or by public transport is quite comfortable. The fare by taxi may cost around Rs 2500 Bus services are available in plenty from Chennai, Tirupathi, Salem, Madurai and from other important cities in Tamil Nadu.

By Train:-

 People can also avail the train service and Thriuvannamalai is located on the railway route in between Katpadi and Villupuram.. From Bangalore there are plenty of bus services to Thiruvannamalai operated by government corporations. The journey is also very pleasant by road during night travel. Thiruvannamalai can also reached from Kanchipuram very conveniently by road by traveling due south. From here it is mere hundred kilometers by road. The bus station and the railway station at Tiruvannamalai are within walking distance from the temple of Lord Shiva.