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Thiruvannamali Temple

Thiruvannamali Temple

Annamalaiyar Temple, also known as Thiruvannamalai Temple, is one of the most worshipped Hindu temples. The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva. It is located on the Arunachala hill of the city Thiruvannamalai in the Tamil Nadu state of India. It is the most important place for the devotees of Shaivism as the temple is associated with all the five elements: the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of fire, or Agni.

The idol of Lord Shiva in the temple is mentioned as Agni lingam, and his wife Parvati is portrayed as Unnamalai Amman.

Architecture of temple

The temple covers an area of over 10 hectares, making it one of India's largest temples, and the temples have four entry gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest one is the eastern tower which is 66 meters long. This tower was constructed on the orders of King Sevappa Nayakkar (Nayakar dynasty); this tower is among the tallest temple tower in India. The temple has numerous holy places, among which the most important are Arunachalesvara and Unnamalai Amman. The temple also has several sitting auditoriums, one of the most known among them is the thousand-pillared hall constructed during the Vijayanagar period.

Thiruvannamali Temple

The stone art structure that is present in modern time was constructed in the late 9th century on the orders king of the Chola dynasty, following to these there were several expansions assigned to the rulers of Vijayanagara from the Sangama Dynasty between 1336-1485 of the common era and a ski the temple was taken care by the kings of Tuluva Dynasty from 1491-1570 of the common era. Currently, the temple administration and architecture are maintained and governed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department with the help of the Tamil Nadu government.

Regularly, six different temple rituals are performed between the period of 5 a.m and 10 p.m., and also the 12 ritual festivals are celebrated every year. The most prominent festival among them is Karthigai Deepam, and this festival is celebrated between November and December. In this festival, a huge beacon is lightened up at the top of the nearby hill; this beacon can be seen from miles and is worshipped as the symbol of Shiva Lingam of fire merged with the sky. The festival is attended by over 30 lakh pilgrims every year.

Mythological Story of The Temple

The mythological belief behind the worship of this temple is that once Parvati was the wife of Hindu Lord Shiva. Fully joyfully covered the eyes of Shiva while sitting at Mount Kailash. Despite the fact Goddess Parvati only covered his eyes for very few seconds, In a result, all the light instantly disappeared from the whole universe and the earth; the whole universe got immersed in darkness for years.

Then for correcting her mistakes, Parvati worshipped Shiva with his other devotees. Then Lord Shiva appeared as a huge fireball at the top of the Annamalai hills, which helped return the light of the universe. Following this, Lord Shiva made a fusion with Parvati, known as Ardhanarishvara, the body with a half male and half female. The world-known Arunachale or red mountains also lies behind the Arunachalesvara Temple, and because of that, there are quite similarities in both names.

Thiruvannamali Temple

Another mythological story behind the temple is that once the Lord Vishnu and Brahma fight for superiority over each other, the lord Shiva enlightened himself as fire and went on earth and got appeared as a flame on the hills and asked the two other Gods to find the source of light, and for finding that Brahma Ji took the avatar of Swan and Vishnu Ji took the avatar of Varaha. These scenarios are known as Lingodbhava and are sculpted in most of the Shiva prominent temples.

History of the temple

The description of the temple is done in several ancient records. The oldest among them is the record from the 1st century, written by the ancient Tamil scholars like Nakkirar, Kapila, and Paranar; all these writers have described the temple shrines like Annamalaiib in their records. Following these in the 7th century, the two-member of the poet group Nayanar saints Sambandar and Appar has also written about the Thiruvannamalai temple in their poetic work 'Tevaram' and the Sekkizhar a modern author time also mentioned in one of his books that both these poet-saints also worshipped in the Thiruvannamalai temple.

Thiruvannamali Temple

Several records related to the temple were inscribed and documented by the king of different centuries. One of the biggest collections of these is from the kings of the Chola dynasty who ruled over these places for more than 4 centuries; in their records, we can see their donations towards the temple like land, sheep, cow, and oil.

Later on, during the period of 14 th century, Thiruvannamalai was also used as the capital city by the kings of the Hoysala dynasty. There are numerous inscriptions of different period rulers but majorly are from Sangama Dynasty, which has over 42 inscriptions, Tuluva Dynasty has over 55 inscriptions and many other rulers.

Later on, during the early 17th century, several Hindu temples, along with the Thiruvannamalai temple, came under the charges of the Nawab of the Carnatic because the Mughals dynasty came to its end the nawab started losing its control over the town completely after 1753, there was also a time when both Hindu and Muslim rulers control the temple. Following these, European involvement also started getting increase. Then in 1957, the town was attacked by the French, and in 1960 along with the town, the temple also came under the control of Britishers.

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