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Arunachalam Temple – Thiruvannamalai

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About Arunachalam Temple

Lord Shiva is known by many names in Hinduism and one of his names is Arunachaleswar. Hence, the Arunachalam Temple located in Thiruvannamalai, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known to be the largest temple in the whole wide world to be dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The trace of the existence of this temple dates back to thousands of years wherein the temple was mentioned in famous Tamil literary works such as the Thevaram and the Thiruvasagam.

The temple is an architectural beauty and many visitors have stated that due to the backdrop of hills, the temple looks like a fort to the viewers from a distance.

All popular Hindu festivals like the Mahashivratri, Navaratri, Diwali, etc are celebrated in high spirits over here. The place also has a list of other temples for offering prayers, nearby.

Why is Arunachalam Temple Important?

Another name for the Arunachalam Temple is the Annamalaiyar Temple. It’s located at the foothills of the Annamalai Hills in the present-day Tamil Nadu state. This state is in South India.

The temple may be for followers and worshippers fo Lord Shiva but it’s also associated with the five elements of nature. These are known as the Pancha Bhoota Stalas (in Hindi!)

You’ll find Lord Shiva represented in this Temple in a special shrine. An erect lingam rests in this shrine and is said to have special religious significance.

Maybe that’s why the locals refer to it by two names – Annamalaiyar and/or Arunachaleswarar. You’ll also find a fire that’s always burning in the shrine. The reason why is because it’s Lord Shiva’s special symbol. This eternally burning fire is referred to as Agni Lingam.

If you walk through the shrine, you’ll find the Goddess Parvati accompanying Lord Shiva. She was his consort or ‘special girlfriend!’ Locals adore her and worship her as Unnamulai Amman.

The Arunachalam Temple is currently managed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department. The department is run by Tamil Nadu’s state government.

Arunachalam Temple History

The temple itself was initially built in the 9th century C.E. Walk through the temple and look on its walls and you will see inscriptions on them. According to these inscriptions, the Chola dynasty commissioned the building of the temple and additional structures.

The temple was later expanded upon and renovated by subsequent dynasties. Namely the Vijayanagara, Salua, and the Tuluva Dynasties.

But you would find out other interesting things about this temple if you read its wall inscriptions in detail. For example, you’d learn that the area was ruled by the Pallava Dynasty before the Arunachalam Temple was commissioned to be built.

You’d also learn about two dark age Hindu Tamil saints. Their names were Appar and Sambandar respectively. They worshipped the original idol of Lord Shiva (Annamalaiyar) when the temple was first built.

Another interesting thing to know about Arunachalam Temple is that the Cholas (the Dynasty that originally built the temple) worshipped in it many times. The Cholas ruled in South India for more than 400 years.

However, the temple was subjected to brute force by Muslim rulers. This occurred in the mid-1600s. It was then that Muslims were starting to cement almost a thousand years of rule in India. Most Muslim rulers (though not all) were very hostile towards Hinduism. This hostility extended towards major and minor places of Hindu worship.

Well, the Nawab of the Carnatic overran Thiruvannamalai town and Arunachalam Temple. This may have only occurred for a few years, but the fact that it even happened was very significant for the temple and its followers.

Many Hindu and Muslim rulers exchanged control of Thiruvannamalai and Arunachalam Temple until the British finally took over in the 19th century.

The legend that inspired the temple

The temple’s inspiration comes from ancient Hindu legend. Legend has it that Parvati and Shiva used to live in Mount Kailash. Well, one day, they were playing hide and seek, and Parvati closed Shiva’s eyes.

It may have only been for a few seconds, but since Shiva was one of the givers of light for both the universe and Earth, it translated into many years of darkness for both the universe and Earth.

You should visit Arunachalam Temple

There is no reason why you should not visit this temple, after all, it is one of India’s most significant temples in Hinduism. A visit here would have you learning more about Hinduism and about the culture, history, and people of India!

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