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Thiruvannamalai

3.2 /5 40 votes

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Best Time: Oct-Mar Read More

Ideal duration: 1-2 days

Nearest Airport: Chennai Check Flights

"Home to the Arunachala Temple"

Thiruvannamalai Tourism

A town that offers a significant history adorned in its countless temples and ashrams, Thiruvannamalai is where Hindu Mythology takes the form of stunning architecture

Perched on top of the Malai hill, Thiruvannamalai is a holy town, most famous for its Arunachala temple among numerous other temples and ashrams dedicated to saints of olden times. Sri Ramana Ashram, Sathanur Dam, Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram are some of the important tourist spots as well as significant areas for followers. A colourful side of the area is seen during the days of Arunachaleswarat temple festival.

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History of Thiruvannamalai

The historical lineage of Thiruvannamalai includes great dynasties like the Cholas, the Pallavas and the Vijayanagara. The earliest recorded inscriptions date back to the Chola rule in the 9th century, in the city’s famous Annamalaiyar Temple. It is believed that the most famous of the Vijayanagara rulers, Krishnadeva Raya, was also a patron of the city, and the town was of both military and religious significance during this time. During the Mughal period in India in the 17th century, Thiruvannamalai was under the rule of the Nawab of the Carnatic. Following the decline of Mughal influence, a period of chaos followed with many Hindu and Muslim forces vying for control in the city. This was followed by a brief period of French rule, and then the British. Tipu Sultan invaded the city in the second half of the 18th century, and it remained under his control until he was defeated by the British in the 19th century.

Legend of Thiruvannamalai

The legend of the city is closely intertwined with that of its famous temple, the Annamalaiyar Temple. The temple is located near the sacred Annamalai hills, which is considered to be a lingam of Lord Shiva. There are many interesting legends associated with the temple. One story speaks of the time when the Goddess Parvati playfully closed her husband Lord Shiva’s eyes which resulted in the world being plunged into darkness. The Goddess then performed penance and the Lord then appeared as a flame atop the Annamalai hills, restoring light to the world. A second legend speaks of when Lord Shiva challenged the Lords Brahma and Vishnu to find his source, as a he appeared as a flame to them.

Culture of Thiruvannamalai

Thiruvannamalai has a rich culture surrounding its popular Annamalaiyar Temple. The temple is regarded as one of the five Shiva temples, or Pancha Bhoota Stala, where the Lord manifests Himself in the form of one of the five natural elements. Here, he is believed to have appeared as a flame, or fire. It is one of the tallest temple towers in India and is famous for its 1000 pillared hall of the Vijayanagara period. The temple attracts a large number of people during the Karthikai deepam festival celebrated during November-December. A huge Deepam is lit in the temple with almost 3 tons’ worth of ghee, and pilgrims walk many miles barefoot around the hills - an act which is believed to be a penance to rid themselves of any sins. The Ramana Ashram located near the hills is also another cultural attraction in the city, as are other temples around the city worshipping Lord Vishnu.

Major Pigrimage Centre

Thiruvannamalai is known as one of the major pilgrimage centres of India. Due to the presence of a large number of temples, a lot of religious people make their way towards Thiruvannamalai to get the blessings of God. Annamalaiyar Temple is one of the most famous temples of India. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is among the 5 temples of Lord Shiva which represent the 5 elements of nature. This temple is also known for its gorgeous architectural style, as it was built during the rule of Vijayanagar empire. Other temples like Tirumalai and Arunachaleshwara Temple are also among the famous temples of Thiruvannamalai. There are some ancient caves in Thiruvannamalai which are dedicated to great saints and some Ashrams for a spiritual retreat.

Restaurants and Local Food in Thiruvannamalai

You may not find great restaurants with hygienic facilities but the local South-Indian food will be good. Small restaurants will be the safest options and will provide you authentic and lip smacking traditional delicacies and maybe even a subtle variety. The typical South-Indian platter consists of Idli, Dosa, Chutney, Vada, Sambhar, Rasam, Upma, Sweet Pongal, Payassam, Kesari.
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Suggested Itinerary

Day 1- Reach Thiruvannamalai and check in to your hotel. Begin the day by exploring the spiritual side of Thiruvannamalai. Visit Annamalaiyar temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Day 2- Go to Arunachaleshwara Temple which is among India's biggest temples. Dedicate the rest of the day to visiting famous Ashrams of Thiruvannamalai. First, visit Ramana Ashram which is nestled in the laps of Aruchana hills. Then head towards Seshadri Swamigal Ashram which is dedicated to a saint of the 20th century who was known by the same name.
Day 3- On the third day, you should visit the popular caves of Thiruvannamalai. Vist Skandashramam caves which are associated with Saint Ramana. The next stop is Virupaksha Caves which are present in Arunachala Hill. Shop at the local market of Thiruvannamalai and buy souvenirs. Finally, get ready to leave Thiruvannamalai.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

The temples of Thiruvannamalai reflect the Tamil style of architecture. Have spiritual importance due to the presence of a lot of temples with most of them dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Close to the heritage and culture of India.

What's Not So Great?

Thiruvannamalai might not appeal to you if you are looking for a more happening place like other South Indian cities. Does not offer a vast array of options in terms of cuisine.

For Whom?

Thiruvannamalai is a great place for those people who would like to explore the Southern part of India. It can appeal to people who like to study India's native architectural style. Thiruvannamalai is also an abode to various temples, so people who are inclined towards spirituality and religion can visit these temples. Moreover, if you'd like to know more about the history and culture of India, then you must visit Thiruvannamalai.

How To Reach Thiruvannamalai

Thiruvannamalai can't be reached directly via airways. Chennai International Airport is the closest airport. Many trains come to Thiruvannamalai railway station on a frequent basis. TNSTC Bus Service is also available for Thiruvannamalai. Many private buses also take you to Thiruvannamalai.
The long Puducherry-Krishnagiri Highway passes through the city of Thiruvannamalai, so it enables the travellers to reach Thiruvannamalai easily.

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