Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thiruvannamalai - Arunachalam Part 1

Thiruvannamalai can justifiably be called as Siddha Sthalam.. Land of Siddhas and Saints..!
Ramana Maharshi,Seshadri Swamigal, Yogi Ramsurath kumar some of the great souls of recent times and Idaikkattu Siddhar,Arunagirinathar of ancient times are from this holy land.
It is said in scriptures that just a mere contemplation of the Lord of Arunachala is enough to confer Salvation.Thiruvannamalai is one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalam - Fire. So sacred is this place that it has references in scriptures that even other Gods like Sun,Moon,Brahma and Vishnu have worshiped Sri Arunachaleswara..!

View the prototype of this temple before moving on to reading other interesting facts.

The following are some of the staggering metrics and facts of this great temple

  • Thiruvannamalai can be termed as capital of Saivism
  • Built between 9th-10th century by Chola Kings
  • The temple tank and the 1000 pillared hall -  built during Krishna Devaraya of Vinjayanagaram 
  • Built over 25 acres of land
  • 9 Towers with the 11 stage main tower 217 feet tall.
  • 7 Praharams (ambulatory, around the heart of the temple)
  • Each of the Praharam has a huge Nandhi and sevaral Towers
  • Tamil saint poets Appar,Sundaran and Manickavasakar have composed hymns on this deity
  • Manickavasakar stayed here for long and his Thirvumembavai is very famous and considered sacred among tamils. 
  • Even today there is a temple for Saint Manickavasagar on the Girivalam (circumnavigation of the mountain) path at Adi-Annamalai (base of the mountain)
  • Annamalai Hill was Agni (fire) during Krithayugam, was Emerald during Threthayugam, was Gold during Dwaparayugam and rock during Kaliyugam(current age) according to ancient legends
  • Lord Siva presented himself in the form of Fire atop the hill and merged Goddess Parvathi on the left half of his body.
  • and many more that I don't know ......

For many interesting stories and fact about this temple, please visit the temple website here.
This is what wikipedia has to say of this temple.

The main Deities of the temple

Let's now begin the travel.

Though this place is relatively in close proximity to Chennai, I have visited this place only a couple of times (It is worth visiting many a number of times).As usual this visit of mine was also about to be cancelled,since my son pulled out of the trip in the last minute and a few guests visited us unexpectedly. But I was determined this time and persuaded the guests into joining the trip... Myslef, my wife and the guests (My wife's mom and a couple of her relatives) finally commenced the trip early in the morning at 6am from Chennai..!

Thiruvannamalai is 190kms from Chennai, I took the NH45 (GST Road) and proceeded straight on. The road to Thiruvannamalai off the GST Road is on the right, just 5kms ahead of  Thindivanam. Accommodations are aplenty in thiruvannamalai. Excepting on full moon days and festivities, it should be easier to get accommodation. Ramanashram and Seshadri Ashram also rent out accommodation. While accommodation at Ramanashram is quite good, it is very difficult to get as one would have to book one month in advance writing to them.

All of use got up pretty early in the morning for the early morning start and I was soon looking out for a suitable spot for our breakfast (My wife got up pretty early to make some nice soft idlies for breakfast en-route..! ), I spotted this beautiful lake that I just stopped by to take a look at..!

We passed by this picturesque Gingee fort that I am yet to visit and sure will visit and post here sometime soon enough..!

By the time we are on the thiruvannamalai road, we all could no longer bear..and I was frantically searching for a suitable spot - a tree on the side of the road - to have our breakfast...Lucky I was able to spot a beautiful farm house. I stopped the car and stepped into the farmhouse hesitantly..fearing a dog or something..I was pleasantly suprised  to be greeted by a friendly villager Mr Kasi -the caretaker of the farm. He readily invited us and asked us to find a spot of our choice.

Kasi and his wife Kamalam politely declined our invitation to join us for the breakfast saying that it was too early . I insisted on them accepting a few idlis and somecurd rice and tamarind rice from our lunch.(Yes.. my wife is a smart cookie..! She could pack some lunch too before 6am..!).. I love our innocent hosts who also insisted on our carrying some tamarind fruits from the nearby trees..!

Tell me if my attempt to to bring below  the beautiful and natural ambiance of the place here virtually has succeeded or not..!

We planned to stay overnight at thiruvannamalai to have an evening Dharshan as well. I decided to stay at Seshadri Swamigal ashram, though decent, not great. Since it is beneficial to stay overnight at adhishtanams (Samadhis of great souls), I preferred staying here and I don't regret the decision though the ashram in itself does not contain anything more than the Adhishtanam of Sri Seshadri Swamigal.
A few pictures below will give you a fair idea of this place full of vegetation I was not allowed to click near the adhishtanam and hence refrained from taking pictures near it.

Lets have Arunachala Dharshan now..!

I also visited Ramanashram and took a quick Girivalam by Car before returning to Chennai via Thennangur. These places, I would cover soon in subsequent posts.... Until then, enjoy this and let me know what you think..!