see special feature on Tiruvannamalai
Tiruvannamalai is one of the greatest Saivite shrines in India, on a sprawling 24
acre temple campus, drawing hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every full moon. The hill
here is considered to be a manifestation of Shiva. Tiruvannamalai is one of the Panchabhoota
Stalams signifying the 5 elements of wind (Kalahasti),
water (Tiruvanaikka), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Chidambaram).
Deepam festival here is of great significance. Manikkavacakar
composed his Tiruvempavai here.The Paatala Linga shrine is connected with the
spritual savant Ramana Maharishi. Arunagiri Nathar began composing his Tiruppukazh here at
Legend here goes that Shiva assumed the form of a
huge column of fire, whose origins Bhramma and Vishnu failed to trace.
Architecture: The 11 tiered East Rajagopuram towers to a height of 217
feet, while the fortified walls pierced with 4 gopura entrances offer a formidable look to
this vast temple complex . The Pei Gopuram, Tirumanjana Gopuram and Ammanaiammal gopuram
are the other three. The 1000 pillared hall and the temple tank were built by
Krishna Deva Rayarar of Vijayanagar. Each of the prakarams has a huge Nandi and several
towers such as the Vallala Maharaja Gopuram and Kili Gopuram.