About the Temple
Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar Fire temple is located at the base of Annamalai hills in the town of Thiruvannamalai of Tamil Nadu. The temple was built during 9th century. The temple complex is spread over 10 hectares. It houses four gopurams. The temple complex houses many halls. One of the hall has thousand-pillars which was built during the Vijayanagar period.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple’s association with the five elements, specifically the element of fire, or Agni makes it a significant shrine. Shiva is worshiped as Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar, and is represented by the lingam. His idol is referred as Agni lingam and consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamulai Amman.
The temple also has shrines and images of Nandi, Surya, Durga, Chandekeswarar, Gajalakshmi, Arumugaswami, Dakshinamoorthy, Swarnabairavar, Nataraja, and Lingodbhavar.
Once, Lord Bramha and Lord Vishnu entered into an argument for superiority. Lord Shiva was asked to intervene. Lord Shiva challenged them to find out his crown as well as his feet. Then Lord Shiva transformed himself into a Jyothi lingam, touching the heaven and earth. Lord Vishnu took disguise of varaha and dug deep into the earth to find Shiva's feet. Lord Bramha took disguise of a swan and flew to see the crown of Shiva. While Lord Vishnu accepted his defeat, Brahma lied that he had found the crown. Lord Shiva became angry and ordained that Bramha would never have temple on the earth. The place where Lord Shiva stood as a Jyothi lingam is known as Thiruvannamalai. On the request of Lord Vishnu and Lord Bramha, Lord Shiva appeared as a Sivalingam at the base of the hill where the Arulmigu Annamalaiyar temple is located.
As per another legend, Parvati, once closed the eyes of Lord Shiva playfully in a garden at their abode atop Mount Kailash. Suddenly, all light was taken from the universe, and the earth submerged in darkness. Parvati performed penance with other devotees of Shiva. Lord Shiva appeared as a Jyothi lingam at the top of Annamalai hills, returning light to the world. He then merged with Parvati to form Ardhanarishvara. The Annamalai, or red mountain, stands behind the Annamalaiyar temple. The hill is sacred and considered as an iconic representation of Lord Shiva.
Festivals and Celebrations
Ten day Karthikai Brahmmotsavam, Karthikai Deepam, Mahashivarathri, Thai Mattu Pongal, Tiruvudal, Oonjal utsav and monthly Brahmmotsavam are religiously celebrated in the temple.
Fire walking is observed on Aadi Pooram day, a ceremony not followed in any Shiva temple.
Six times puja ritual is strictly followed in this temple as per Agama rules.
The six day wedding festival takes place during Panguni Uthiram.
Pradosha i.e 13th day of new moon or full moon is religiously observed in the temple.
Special pujas are performed on Deepavali, Pongal and Tamil and English New Year days.
How to Reach
By Road: The temple is located in the heart of the Tiruvannamalai town which is linked to other cities of Tamilnadu with bus facilities.
By Train: The nearest railwayhead are Tiruvannamalai, Kadpadi and Villupuram.
By Air: The nearest airport are Chennai Airport and Pondicherry Airport.