Thiruvannamalai (Annamaliayar) Mandir was built before 1100 years & architecture of the mandir has its contribution from various KINGDOM from Cholas, Pandias, Sambuvarayars Posalas, Vijayanagara, Nayaks, Nagarathargal, Cheftains & Zamindars.
The Mandir possesses more than 1000 statues & 450 stone inscriptions. The Mandir has more than 100 sannidhis. Various moorthies, bronze statues, paintings, 1000 pillar mahal & gopurams are the specialties of the mandir. Mandir is very enormous with an area covers around 25 acres & East Gopuram built by King Sri Krishnadevaraya with a height of 217 ft (11 storeys) is one of the largest Gopuram in India. Mandir also consists of Vallala Maharaja Gopuram, kili (parrot) Gopuram. The main deity of Mandir is Annamalaiyar & Unnamalai Devi. Ezhuthu Mandap situated in Girivalam path is an excellent art gallery. Skanthashram, Sri Ramana Ashram & Ashtalingas around the Girivalam path are few notable spots. Mandir is Built in the traditional Dravidian style of architecture.
The mandir is believed to be the 8th largest Hindu mandir in the world. This Mandir is believed to be one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalam in South India, where elements of nature (fire, air, water, earth, ether) are worshiped. In this mountain – mandir town, situate at the foothills of Mount Arunachala, Mahadev Shiva is worshiped in his fire avatar. The town is sprawled around the iconic Arunachaleswarar Mandir, a spectacular structure boasting 4 huge Gopurams. On full moon nights (Poornima day), the town sees a sea of bhaktas (devotees) arriving to perform the 14-km walk of Girivalam, around the Annamalai hill. It is a mesmeric sight to see barefoot bhaktas gazing at the mandir atop the hill & walking while chanting “Om Arunachala“. Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated on full moon day in the Tamil month of Karthigai (Nov/Dec) & draws huge footfalls. Girivalam is a popular religious practice in Tamil Nadu, bhaktas does Pradakshina around the Annamalai Hill on the occasion of full moon day every month Giri+Valam (means Doing Pradakshina around the hill). The practice is said to bring peace to one’s mental and physical health.
There are large number of mandirs & ashrams in the Girivalam route around Sri Arunachaleswarar mandir & the most important ones are: Ashta (eight) lingams representing the eight directions with each one being associated with one or more birth stars.
Each lingam addresses different aspects of man’s life & they bless the bhaktas with different types of benefits. It is believed to be installed by various Devas. Also these lingams have a dominant navagraha & praying to each lingam brings forth various benefits that is being bestowed by that navagraha on the bhaktas.
- Indira Lingam – It is said to be installed by Indira representing East. The dominant navagraha of this lingam are Sun & Venus. Worshiping this lingam blesses the devotees with long life & abundant prosperity.
- Agni Lingam – representing the South-East. The uniqueness of this lingam is the only lingam that is placed on the right side of the Girivala path. The dominant navagraha of this lingam is Moon. Praying to this lingam helps one to keep away sickness & to maintain good health.
- Yama Lingam – representing the South. It is said to be installed by Deva of death, Yama. The dominant graham of this lingam is Mars. Worshiping this Yama lingam relieves the devotees of their financial constraints.
- Niruthi Lingam – representing the South East. The dominant graham of this lingam is the Rahu. This was installed by the king of the giants. Devotees worshiping this Niruthi lingam are freed of their problems.
- Varuna Lingam – representing the West. This lingam is installed by Varuna (rain) Deva. The dominant graham of this lingam is Saturn. Devotees worshiping this lingam are protected from all critical illness & are taken care to get elevated in their social development.
- Vayu Lingam – representing North West. Vayu lingam is installed by the Bhagwan Vayu (air), himself. The graham that is dominant is the Ketu. Offering prayers to this Vayu lingam gives strength to fight all heart ailments, stomach, lung problems & general illness.
- Kubera Lingam – representing North. The dominant graham is Jupiter. And Kubera has installed this lingam. Offering prayers to this lingam regularly helps the devotees to achieve prosperity.
- Eesanya Lingam – representing North East. Deva that installed this lingam is Esanyan. The graham that dominates this lingam is Mercury. Praying to this lingam gives peace of mind to devotees & develops a positive attitude in them to achieve success in all their pursuits.
HAR HAR MAHADEV
A Short video on Tiruvannamalai Mandir with English subtitles from YouTube for better understanding
How to reach this Mandir – Location from Google maps – Click Here
Pic Credit: Google & My self – Thank you to respective owners