Updated May 30, 2023
About Arunachaleswara Temple
The Arunachaleswara Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is significant to the Saiva philosophy and is one of the largest temples in India. The temple complex covers an area of 10 hectares and is one of India’s most visited religious sites. It is also one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where three of the most revered Nayanars (Saivite saints) have glorified the temple with their songs.
History of Arunachaleswara Temple
Arunachaleswara Temple is an ancient temple in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India. The Hindu god Shiva has a dedicated temple in India, which the Chola kings are believed to have constructed in the 8th century. However, evidence of its existence dates back to the 2nd century BCE, making it one of the largest temples in India. It has four gopurams (gateways), and a massive wall surrounds it. The temple contains several shrines dedicated to Shiva, as well as shrines dedicated to other Hindu gods and goddesses. The temple is also home to the renowned Annamalaiyar Temple, a shrine dedicated to Shiva’s consort Parvati.
Architecture of Arunachaleswara Temple
- The Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva, known as the Arunachaleswara Temple or Annamalaiyar Temple, is located at the base of Arunachala Hill in the town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India. The temple complex covers 10 hectares (25 acres) and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The eastern tower has 11 stories and a height of 66 meters (216 feet), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India. The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Arunachalesvara and Unnamulai Amman being the most prominent.
- The temple has several inscriptions from the Chola period and a granite wall around the complex was also built during the same period. The Vijayanagara rulers set up the present masonry structure during the 16th century, while later expansions are attributed to the Madurai Nayaks. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu maintains and administers the temple.
- The temple is the most prominent landmark and one of the most visited tourist sites in the city. It is one of the most prominent Shiva temples in South India and has influenced temple architecture over the centuries. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where the four most revered Nayanars (Saivite saints) of the 7th–8th century CE have glorified the temple with their songs in Tevaram.
Best Time to Visit
The temple opens from 4:30 am – 12:30 pm and 4:30 – 9:30 pm on all days. The temple performs aarti three times during the day. People celebrate a special festival called Karthigai Deepam during the Tamil month of Karthigai by lighting a massive beacon atop the hill.
The Arunachaleswara Temple holds great importance in South India, and people consider it one of the five holy PanchaBhoota Sthalams representing the five natural elements of the universe. People consider the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva one of India’s holiest shrines. According to belief, the great sage Agastya conducted an ancient yajna (sacrificial fire) at this site. Those who worship the deity at this temple may receive the highest level of spiritual enlightenment. Thousands of devotees visit the temple each year because they consider it a powerful place for performing spiritual austerities.
The Arunachaleswara Temple is one of India’s oldest, most important, and most visited temples. Its grand towers, intricately carved stone sculptures, and the majestic idol of Lord Shiva make it an architectural marvel. It is a place of worship and pilgrimage for millions of devotees and a spiritual and cultural inspiration for many. Its special place in the Hindu religious and cultural life makes it a must-see destination for anyone visiting India.
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