Tiruvannamalai readies for Kumbhabhishekam

It is over 1,300-year-old and still going strong.

Chennai: It is over 1,300-year-old and still going strong. Known to devotees as Annamalayar or Arunachaleswar, the temple dedicated to Lord Siva in Tiruvannamalai is said to be the largest shrine in the world raised for the Lord. This temple which finds mention in the Thevaram and Thiruvasagam, is getting geared up for the Maha Kumbhabhishekam on February 6.

Temple inscriptions on the prakara walls and copper plates refer to a period of thousand years from 750AD, thus indicating that the greatness of Arunachaleswarar was known to the kings in the past. The Skanda Purana not only extols the greatness of the place but also explains the significance. Narrating sanctity of the spot and how it came into existence sage Gautama says that in ancient days Brahma and Vishnu, who had come into existence from a part of the effulgence of Siva, but who had become egotistical, fought with a desire to conquer each other. In order to subdue their pride, Sadasiva, assumed the form of a column of fire without beginning, middle or end, and stood between them, illuminating the ten directions. Upon being requested Devesa (Siva, the Lord of the devas) assumes the form of a motionless lingam (now) renowned as Arunadri.

The temple located at the base of Annamalai hills in the town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, representing the element of fire, or Agni (His idol is referred to as Agni lingam and His consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamulai Amman) covers 10 hectares. It houses four gopurams and the tallest is the eastern tower, with 11 stories and measures a height of 66 metres (217 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India.

There are numerous shrines, including Annam-alaiyar and Unnamulai Amman besides the thousand-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar period. Among the festivals Karthigai deepam is famous here Girivalam is a common practice of the devotees to circumnavigate the temple base is popular form of worship. It is said the present masonry structure was built during the Chola dynasty (9th century), while later expansions are attributed to Vijayanagar rulers of the Sangama, Saluva and Tuluva dynasties. The temple is administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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