Spiritual Thiruvanamalai


The holy town of tiruvannamalai surrounds mystical, magical Arunachala Hill, The abode of shiva , a premier place of pilgrimage for Shiva worshipers. According to puranas this place is where Shiva appeared to Brahma and Vishnu as a pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma were disputing which was the greater God, the story goes, when suddenly a seemingly endless pillar of fire appeared before them. They agreed that whoever could find its end would be acknowledged as the greatest. Vishnu took the form of a boar and burrowed into the earth, while Brahma took the form of a swan and flew upwards. Neither succeeded. Upon their return, Lord Siva revealed Himself from the pillar of fire, and both Gods acknowledged Him as supreme. Each fall this event is celebrated during the Karthika Deepam festival, which attracts over three million devotees. An enormous pot of ghee is ignited on the hilltop, creating a pillar of fire that can be seen for miles.

At the base of the hill sits Annamalaiyar Temple. Of the five elements temples to Lord Shiva—air, earth, fire, water, and space all located in South India—The fire temple is covering the land of 25 acres, it is the sixth-largest temple in India. In recent times the town gained fame as the residence of Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950). His ashram remains the most popular destination in the area Hundreds of thousands of devotees assemble here each full-moon day to do girivalam, the barefoot nine-mile circumambulation of Arunachala Hill. Tiruvannamalai is world famous for SRI RAMANA ASHRAMA, which experiences a constant stream of Indian and international visitors. Thiruvanamalai town also has “astha lingas” ,eight famous shiva lingas, consecrated by various god’s, located around holy arunachala mountain. Thiruvanamalai is also famous for its beautiful forest which surrounds this holy town.

Greenery around the town makes thiruvanamalai beautiful and serene place to visit, Thiru forest also has many variety of species of animals & vegetations, group of beautiful deers can be seen while walking holy girivalam path. Thiruvanamalai is a town which has seen many Yogi’s & siddhas such as man with golden hands, shree sheshadri Swamigal who performed many miracles infront of thousands of people of thiruvanamalai, who helped & protected young Ramana Maharshi in Thiru , his ashram is just next to Ramana Maharshi & one of the most beautiful ashram to visit where his presence is felt at his samadhi, where morning and evening is being offered at his samadhi place of beautiful stone lingam on it (very much south indian style) , after sheshadri Swamigal Ramana Maharshi is someone who doesn’t need any introduction also spent almost all his life at holy thiruvanamalai town after he got enlightened at the age of 16 after having death like experience out of severe sickness. However, there many Siddhas are living in arunachala mountains .

Which makes Thiruvannamalai very unique and special. Lord Shiva is living as a mountain. There are countless invisible Siddhas in this mountain which makes this land of siddhar enlightened beings (called siddhar in Tamil). They help the devotees in strange and mysterious ways here, and many have experience this , Sometimes those Siddhas appeared infront of devotees too. Not only Thiruvannamalai hills but the Annamalaiyar temple & thiruvanamalai is also considered a place of blessings of Siddhas. Inside the temple, there is a place where one of the eighteen Siddhar, got the light of the temple.

Thiruvanamalai is the only town where enlightened beings like topi Amma (wandering lady siddha of Thiru who is in avdhoota state ) ,mauna swami (yogi with many siddhi’s , the one who is in silence & not laying down since last 15 years & doing intense tapas, another living Siddhas of Thiru is vaddakam shiva who lives on girivalam path and pretends like a ordinary sadhu greets evryone saying “waddakam shiva” or keeps repeating “ in Tamil “ Elle vi kuppam “means evrything is garbage”.. Thiru is the only place where seekers can have darshan of these living enlightened beings who are still in their phycial form and wants to remain as simple as possible.

arunachaleshwar (agni lingam)

Arunachalesvara Temple (also called Annamalaiyar Temple) is a Hindu temple dedicated to the lord Shiva, located at the base of mystical Arunachala hill in the Holy town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India. It is significant to the Hindu sect of Shaivism as one of the temples associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhuta Sthalams, and specifically the element of fire, or Agni. This temple represents Agni (fire) emement and main deity shiva is worshipped here in the form of shivlinga famously known as “Agni lingam” a ellipsoid of fire 🔥

Shiva is worshipped as Arunachalesvara or Annamalaiyar, and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Agni lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamalai Amman or Apithakucha Ambal.

The temple complex covers 10 hectares, and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the eastern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 66 metres (217 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India built by Sevappa Nayakkar (Nayakar dynasty) The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Arunachalesvara and Unnamalai Amman being the most prominent. The temple complex houses many halls; the most notable is the thousand-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagara period.

Arunachala, Mountain of Light

There is a famous Tamil saying: “To see Chidambaram, to be born at Tiruvarur, to die at Banaras or even to think of Arunachala is to be assured of Liberation.” “Even to think of” arunachala represents direct path, path of self inquiry in the case of the direct path physical contact is not necessary. Hence, it was no accident that shree Ramana Maharshi made Tiruvannamalai and its sacred Arunachala Mountain his home. The Maharshi Ramana is called Arunachala the spiritual Heart of the world. Aruna, which means ‘red, bright like fire’, does not signify the mere fire that gives off heat. Rather, it means Jnanagni, the Fire of Wisdom, which is neither hot nor cold. Achala signifies a hill. Thus, Arunachala means ‘Hill of Wisdom’.

There is a famous Puranic (old) story about the origin of the hill. Once lord shree Hari Vishnu and shree Brahma dev were disputing about whom was greater. Their dispute brought chaos on earth, so the Devas approached all mighty Shiva and besought him to settle the dispute. Shiva manifested himself as a column of light from which a voice was heard declaring that whoever could find its upper or lower end was the greater. Vishnu took the form of a boar and burrowed down into the earth to find end of the nether world while Brahma took the form of a swan and soared upwards to seek its summit. Vishnu failed to reach the base of the column but “beginning to see within himself the Supreme Light which dwells in the hearts of all, he became lost in meditation, oblivious to the physical body and even unaware of himself, the one who sought”. Brahma saw the flower of an alse plant falling through the air and, thinking to win by deception, returned with it and declared he had plucked it from the summit.

Vishnu admitted his failure and turned to the Lord in praise and prayer: “You are Self-knowledge. You are OM. You are the beginning, the middle and the end of everything. You are everything and illuminate everything.” He was pronounced great while Brahma was exposed and confessed his fault. The legend goes, Vishnu represents the intellect and Brahma the ego, while Siva is Atma, the spirit. The story is such that, because the lingam or column of light was too dazzling to behold, Siva manifested himself as the Arunachala hill, declaring: “As the moon derives its light from the sun, so other holy places shall derive their sanctity from Arunachala. This is the only place where shiva have taken this form for the benefit of those who wish to worship him and obtain illumination. Arunachala is OM itself. He will appear on the summit of this hill every year at Kartigai in the form of a peace-giving beacon.” This refers not only to the sanctity of Arunachala itself but also to the pre-eminence of the doctrine of Advaita and the path of Self-enquiry of which Arunachala is the center. One can understand this meaning in Sri Bhagavan’s saying, “In the end everyone must come to Arunachala.”

Seshadri Swamigal Ashram

Seshadri Swamigal Ashram – The mystical world of Seshadri Swamigal Ashram is located in the serene town of Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. The ashram is named after one of the most revered saints of South India, Shri Seshadri Swamigal. Visiting the ashram is a journey that will leave you transformed both spiritually and mentally.

The Seshadri Swamigal Ashram is located in Tiruvannamalai, very close to Ramanasramam. It is a small yet very powerful place for intense seekers where presence of Shri Sheshadri Swamigal can be felt strongly. They have “samadhi” of Shri sheshadri Swamigal here in traditional South Indian style with shivlinga on top of his samadhi, they have special puja’s (religious offerings) & Aarti (fire ceremony) evryday twice in the morning & evening time.

The Seshadri Swamigal Ashram is surrounded by the majestic Arunachala hills and is home to a plethora of greenery, birds, and animals. Seshadri Swamigal Ashram is a place of complete relaxation and rejuvenation – a place where you can leave behind the worries of your mundane life and immerse yourself in spiritual practices that have been practiced for centuries.

who is sheshadri swamigal

Sri Seshadri Swamigal, also known as the “Saint with a Golden Hand”,He was born in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, who predominantly lived in Thiruvannaamalai where he attained Samadhi (state of meditative consciousness).He performed enormous amount of miracles here at Thiruvanamalai and become famous as Yogi with golden hand’s.

Seshadri Swamigal and Ramana Maharshi were contemporaries. Seshadri arrived at Arunachala six years earlier than Ramana. When Ramana Maharshi came to Tiruvannamalai seven years after Seshadri Swami gal’s arrival, Seshadri took care of Ramana Maharshi. Sri Seshadri tried to protect the young swami, who seemed entirely unaware of his body and surroundings. He cleansed Ramana’s blood-oozing wounds and revealed Ramana as a [saint] to the world.

shri ramana maharshi ashram

Sri Ramana Ashram, also known as Sri Ramanasramam, is the ashram which was home to modern sage and Advaita Vedanta master  Shri Ramana Maharshi from 1922 until his death in 1950. It is situated at the foot of the holy Arunachala hill, to the west of Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu,  lakhs of spiritual seekers visits thiruvanamalai & Ramana ashramam every year to quench their spiritual thirst  His samadhi shrine continues to attract devotees from all over the world and one can often see thousands of devotees from western countries here.

Ramana Ashramam is not just a physical journey; it is a spiritual journey that takes you deeper into the mysteries of the universe. It is an opportunity to awaken your inner self and connect with the higher consciousness. It is a journey like no other, filled with love, compassion, and divine grace.

Ramana Maharshi Ashram is a place of immense spiritual significance that has been a source of inspiration and guidance for generations. It is a place that welcomes everyone with open arms, regardless of their background or beliefs. A visit to the ashram is an opportunity to connect with your inner self, find inner peace, and experience the mystical world that lies within all of us.


One of the most important features of thiruvanamalai town is Giri Pradakshina (pradakshina (circumambulation)of holy arunachala mountain) and the most beautiful part of this holy girivalam pradakshina (circumambulation around holy arunachala mountain) is the Ashta linga ,the eight mystical ancient shiva temples situated around arunachala mountain.These lingams are placed symmetrically at each one of the eight geographical directions based from the mountain of Arunachala – East, South-east, South, South-west, West, North-west, North, North-east. Ashta means eight in Sanskrit. In Hinduism, the directions play a vital role and each direction is governed by its own cardinal deity who is propitiated in a fitting way when that particular direction is undertaken for any purpose.For example, if you have to make an east-bound journey then you would worship Indra who is the god governing the eastern direction and pray that he blesses your journey and keeps you safe from danger etc. In Arunachala the Ashta Dik Palakas (the gods of the eight directions) have a special role since

(1) while performing the circumambulation one has to cover all the eight directions and

(2) the deities themselves having a special connection with Shiva Arunachala have manifested at the appropriate centre and worshipped Shiva in form of lingam which is why we have the Ashtalingams consecrated respectively at each one of these spots.



Lord Indra is the king of Heaven according to hindu mythology. His consort is Indrani. His vehicle is the celebrated four tusked white elephant Iravathi. Indra manifests seated on his elephant wielding in his hand the weapon Vajra with which he destroys ignorance and bestows the light of knowledge on his deserving devotees. He offers the sweet nectar of spiritual knowledge to those who are fitting and ripe.

Indra lingam is situated on Car street in the town of Tiruvannamalai close to the eastern tower of the Big temple and not far from the vegetable market.


Lord Agni, the god of Fire has 7 hands and 7 tongues. He is the God of the fire of knowledge, the keeper of knowledge and the ambassador of both man and god, he who submits the petitions of humans to the concerned god. Agni is the light of the lives of all creatures. His vehicle is the compassionate goat Saga who has long legs and a warm body which is also known as Ajam and serves as the sacrificial beast in the auspicious fires of Homa (ritual vedic fire ceremony). It is of the greatest importance to worship and invoke Agni in the performance of Homa. The reason being that Agni is none other than the chain which connects the two realms, the realm of humans with the realm of Gods. In all hindu temples it is a renowned tradition to invoke Agni and perform Homa. The offering which is made in these homas to Agni is called Aahuthi and is believed to reach the gods themselves.

Agni lingam is situated on Seshadri street close to Seshadri ashram on Chengam road.


The lord of the southern direction is none other than Yama the god of death. He is portrayed with 2 monstrous dogs and sitting on his mount, a powerful black buffalo named Mahishan. He is supposed to carry a huge lasso with which he drags each being at the time of death to face heaven or hell according to the being’s karma. Even though he is a merciless judge, he is famed for his integrity and equity. When humans, believing in maya get carried away by sensual pleasures, he serves as a check to them by reminding them of the endless cycle of birth and death in which they are getting enmeshed.

There are two famous legends in hindu mythology when Yama actually gave up his death victim whom he was carrying away to its death according to its fate. One is about the young teenage boy Markandeya who was an ardent devotee of Shiva. At the time of his death which occurred at the very young age of 16, Shiva and Parvathi show up in person and literally save him from the jaws of death by yanking him out of Yama’s grasp! Shiva in this role earns the title of KalaSamharaMurti which means destroyer of death.

The other is about Satyavan, husband of the beautiful princess Savitri. They were a newly wed couple frolicking in the forest when Satyavan is suddenly assailed by death. Undaunted Savitri follows Yama as he walks away with the life of her husband almost upto the ends of the earth. Yama is willy-nilly pleased at her perseverance and grants her a boon in which she may ask for anything except for the life of her husband. Savithri cleverly asks to give birth to a son. Now how could a wife conceive a child without her husband? And so Yama is outwitted and being a god of honour, he is obliged to keep his word and give her back the life of her husband. Savithri is still extolled as the paragon of wifely devotion and virtue and till today Brahmin married ladies in Tamil Nadu celebrate her feast in the month of March.

Yama lingam is situated most appropriately beside the cremation grounds on Chengam road.


Nirudhi is the king of the Asuras or the demons and he jointly rules the southern realm along with his friend, Yama. He too has a dog beside him. He is known to be the governor of the emotions and sentiments which create worldly desires in humans and enchain them to the cycle of birth and death.

Nevertheless by worshipping Nirudhi lingam in Arunachala, it is believed that he will counter-produce these emotions and actually help one in getting renouncement or detachment which is the way to liberation. Nirudhi lingam is situated on the giri valam path right after Sonagiri and Shanthi malai compounds.


The lord of the western direction is Varuna, the king of appreciation and enjoyment. He governs the whole world. How? Because he is the god of rain, god of all the waters, rivers, lakes and oceans in all the three worlds.

Varuna’s vehicle is the crocodile Makara on whose back he rides furiously at a breath-taking pace. Makara lives both on land and water. He surveys the deeds of man according to his karma and keeps them under his control. Legend has it that the eye of Varuna is Surya and when Surya appears in the constellation of Makara, it is a special event and honoured as Makara Sankarathi. This days falls each year in mid January and is celebrated as the pongal festival in tamil culture. Varuna lingam is situated on the giri valam path 1 km before the village of Adi Annamalai.


Vayu the lord of the open spaces is the god of wind. Vayu travels through space at great speed mounted on his swift deer waving his four hands about. He is the god of wind and provides creatures with vital life-giving breath thus sustaining the entire universe.

In the shrine of Vayu lingam one is always greeted by a rush of wind as if to prove that Shri Vayu is present there and making his respects to Arunachala. Vayu lingam is situated by the village of Gosalai on the giri valam path.


Kubera is the god of wealth and prosperity and so he is greatly sought by all. He is also the chief of the yakshas who safeguard the riches of the devas. He is a very friendly with Shiva. He has 3 legs and 8 teeth. His vehicle is a plump female goat. His abode is in the capital of the Himalayas. His consort is Yakshi.

Legend has it that Lord Kubera himself is beholden to Arunachala for the continued strength of his wealth and thus he worships Him from his ordained direction. Kubera lingam is situated on the end of the giri valam path before reaching town.


Isanyar is one of the 7 seven Rudras of Shiva. He is covered with ashes and surrounded by ghosts, he has matted locks and fierce eyes and is seated on a tiger skin. He holds the crescent moon and the river Ganga in his locks. His body is adorned by coiled serpents. In his hands he holds the mortal drum and the trident of Shiva.Isanya lingam is situated on the road to town beside the old cremation grounds by the new bus stand.

References : Arunagirivalam by Iswari Kamalabaskaran