The Annamalaiyar temple situated at Thiruvannamalai is dedicated to Lord Shiva known as Sri Arunachalaswarar – Annamaliyar. It is one of the Pancha Bhootha Sthala, the Pancha Bhootha are sky, air, water, fire and earth. Here, the deity is the representation of Agni (fire) and you can feel the heat in the sanctum sanctorum.
The other Pancha Bhootha sthala / places are Chidambaram (Akasha – Sky), Sri Kalahasti (Vayu – Air), Thiruvanaikoil (Jala – Water), and Kanchipuram (Prithvi – Earth).
Presiding goddess is Sri Unnamulaiyamman Apeethakuchambal is installed in a seperate shrine inside the temple complex.
This temple was built between 9th and 10th centuries by the Chola kings. The gopuram / towers are white and majestic. The four gopurams / towers are known as Rajagopuram, which is 217 feet tall, Pei, Tirumanjana, and Ammanaiammal.
There is a hall with 1,000 pillars and the holy water tank was built by Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara Empire, Karnataka. Every open courtyard has an idol of Nandi. There are many small towers inside the huge temple complex.
People throng the temple during the four Brahmotsava celebrated every year. The grandest of them all is the one celebrated for 10 days during the Hindu month of Kathika (Nov / Dec). It ends with Karthika Deepam day. Just as the sun sets, a massive lamp is lit with 3 tons of Ghee / clarified butter on top of Annamalai / Arunachala hill.
Other interesting places around are Saathanoor Dam across Thenpennai River, Annamalai / Arunachala hill, and Ramana Maharshi ashram.
Type of Place: Ancient Temple and Ramana Maharshi Ashram
Situated: Tamil Nadu
Distance: Chennai is 170 km and Bengaluru is 200 km
Transport: Well connected by road, nearest rail head is Villupuram (60Km), nearest railhead is Chennai
Facilities: Many staying options available, restaurants with international cuisine are available