One of the most powerful temples of Lord Shiva emanating strong vibes is the Annamalayar temple, located at the base of the Arunachala hills in the town of Tiruvannamalai. Believed to be the largest temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with a history dated back more than 1000 years.
The temple is not as well known as some of the other temples of the Indian subcontinent, but it said to be very powerful in its aura and vibes attracting devout Saivite followers from all over the southern subcontinent. The town itself does not give any touristic feeling and has the air of simplicity. There is an air of mysticism around the temple, the hill and its environs. The temple is built on the same lines as are the other valves of this era and is provided with four Gopurams ( entrances ) in four directions which lead to the temple complex. The Eastern Gopuram is the tallest of them all which was constructed by the Vijayanagara empire during its rule, each of the Gopurams hold an image of a massive Nandi bull, the closest devotee of Lord Shiva. The initial temple was built in the 6th century.
The inner sanctum is some distance from the entrance and one needs to pass through various compounds (05 to be precise) which have other deities being worshiped. These complexes known Parakarams consist of pillared halls, water tanks and various smaller shrines while the inner sanctum houses the main idol of the Lord and that of Unnamulaiyaal(Goddess Parvati )
The devout carry out a complete circumambulation of the Arunachala hills prior to offering prayers in the temple, the red hill signifies the lingam itself. During the full moon it is said that there is a huge fire lit on top of the hill which is visible for miles around and signifies the Shiva lingam. This temple is one the Pancha Bhoota stalams i.e. one of the five elements (about which I had mentioned in my previous post) signifying the element fire or Agni. Shiva is worshipped as Arunachalesvara(Annamalaiyar) .Tiruvannamalai is the capital of Sivaism and Annamalai is the most sacred name of the manifestation of Lord Shiva.
Legend says that this is the place where Goddess Parvati claimed the left half of Shiva and transformed him into Ardhanareswara; this is the place where Shiva destroyed the ego of Lord Brahma and even to this day this place is where most of those who have attained enlightenment of their souls come to . The Tamil history speaks a lot about this temple, the great Saivite saints have glorified this temple and it is at this temple that Arunagirinathar began composing his immortal work Tiruppugazh and it no wonder that for someone who understands hardly anything from the Vedas or Tamil language , a walk within the temple complex sparks something within which is difficult to explain, maybe it is the lack of the tourists or tourist stalls which one sees in most iconic temples but there is something which is different. After Kedarnath it is this place which has most moved me.
Quite surprising is the elaborate puja that is offered at the temple, in fact there are 6 times that prayers are offered and is the religious energy is worth experiencing but then I understood that Shiva was most happy with a prayer that went from the heart and that is what I believe in, all said and done this is a must visit shrine in case you are visiting this part of the world.
The town is quite well connected with the road network and one can easily come here from Chennai as well as there is a rail head too , so yea that can also be utilised. There are several budget hotels to stay and most of the booking sites have got affiliations out here.