Virginie Gaines

Written by Virginie Gaines

Modified & Updated: 29 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


The Annamalaiyar Temple, also known as the Arunachaleswarar Temple, is a famous Hindu temple located in the town of Thiruvannamalai in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. This magnificent temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered one of the largest temple complexes in the country. The Annamalaiyar Temple is renowned for its rich history, impressive architecture, and spiritual significance. It attracts thousands of devotees and tourists from all over the world who come to seek blessings, witness the grand rituals and immerse themselves in the divine aura of the temple. In this article, we will explore some enigmatic facts about the Annamalaiyar Temple that make it a truly unique and awe-inspiring place of worship. From its sacred legends to its architectural wonders, this temple has captured the fascination of people for centuries. Let’s dive into the mystique surrounding this remarkable temple and discover the secrets it holds.

Key Takeaways:

  • Annamalaiyar Temple is a thousand-year-old marvel dedicated to Lord Shiva, with towering gopurams and a sacred hill, offering spiritual purification and divine blessings through rituals and festivals.
  • The temple’s enigmatic lingam, golden chariot procession, and sacred Panchamrita add to its allure, making it a must-visit for both spiritual seekers and architecture enthusiasts.
Table of Contents

The Ancient Origins of Annamalaiyar Temple

The Annamalaiyar Temple, also known as the Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple, stands as an architectural marvel and a spiritual hub in the town of Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India. It is believed to have been built around the 9th century AD, making it a thousand years old.

A Shrine Dedicated to Lord Shiva

Annamalaiyar Temple is one of the largest Shiva temples in India and holds significant religious importance. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, specifically in the form of Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar, which symbolizes the element of fire.

The Magnificent Gopurams

The temple boasts of towering gopurams (gateway towers), which intricately showcase the rich Dravidian architecture. The main gopuram, known as the Raja Gopuram, stands at an impressive height of 66 meters, making it one of the tallest temple towers in the country.

The Lingam that Never Changes Size

One of the intriguing aspects of Annamalaiyar Temple is the lingam (an abstract representation of Lord Shiva) known as “Manikkavacakar’s Lingam.” It is said that this lingam remains the same size, despite repeated attempts to measure it.

The Sacred Hill of Annamalaiyar Temple

The temple is situated at the base of the Arunachala Hill, which is considered holy and is believed to be an embodiment of Lord Shiva. Devotees often undertake a circumambulation around the hill, known as “Girivalam,” to seek blessings and spiritual purification.

The Karthigai Deepam Festival

One of the most significant celebrations at Annamalaiyar Temple is the Karthigai Deepam festival, which falls during the Tamil month of Karthigai (November-December). During this festival, a giant lamp, consisting of several liters of ghee, is lit atop the Annamalai Hill, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle.

The Golden Chariot Procession

Another highlight of the temple is the Golden Chariot procession, known as the “Rathotsavam.” During this grand event, the deities are placed on a beautifully adorned chariot and taken on a procession around the temple complex, accompanied by traditional music and chanting.

The Sacred Panchamrita

The Annamalaiyar Temple is renowned for its divine offering, the Panchamrita. It is a mixture of five ingredients – milk, curd, honey, ghee, and sugar – which is considered sacred and believed to bestow blessings to the devotees who partake in it.

The Thousand Pillar Mandapam

Annamalaiyar Temple features a stunning mandapam (hall) known as the Thousand Pillar Mandapam. This intricately carved structure showcases exquisite sculptures and provides a mesmerizing experience for visitors.

The Akka Mahadevi Cave

Within the premises of the temple lies the Akka Mahadevi Cave, named after the renowned saint and poet Akka Mahadevi. It is believed to be the place where she attained spiritual enlightenment.

The Spiritual Significance of Girivalam

Girivalam, the circumambulation around the Arunachala Hill, is considered a powerful spiritual practice. It is believed to cleanse the soul, remove negative energies, and bring divine blessings to the devotees who undertake this sacred pilgrimage.

These 11 enigmatic facts about Annamalaiyar Temple showcase the rich history, architectural beauty, and spiritual significance that make it a revered pilgrimage site. Whether you are a devotee seeking divine blessings or an admirer of ancient architecture, a visit to Annamalaiyar Temple is an experience that will leave you in awe.


In conclusion, the Annamalaiyar Temple is a truly enigmatic and awe-inspiring place of worship. Its rich history, architectural marvels, and cultural significance make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the wonders of ancient Indian temples. From the massive gopurams to the fascinating rituals and festivals, there is something truly magical about this sacred site.Whether you are a devout follower of Lord Shiva or someone seeking to immerse yourself in the vibrant traditions of South India, a visit to the Annamalaiyar Temple promises an unforgettable experience. So, make sure to add this iconic landmark to your travel bucket list and prepare to be captivated by its mystical aura.


1. What is the significance of Annamalaiyar Temple?

The Annamalaiyar Temple is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for followers of Lord Shiva. It is believed to be one of the five elemental manifestations of the deity and holds great spiritual significance.

2. How old is the Annamalaiyar Temple?

The temple dates back to the 9th century and has a history of over a thousand years. It has undergone various expansions and renovations over time, making it a stunning blend of architectural styles from different periods.

3. Are there any rituals or festivals celebrated at the temple?

Yes, the temple is known for its elaborate rituals and vibrant festivals. The most significant festival is the annual Kartikai Deepam, where a giant lamp is lit atop the Annamalai hill, creating a breathtaking spectacle.

4. Can anyone visit the Annamalaiyar Temple?

Yes, the temple is open to all visitors, regardless of their religious beliefs. However, it is important to respect the customs and traditions observed at the temple and dress modestly when entering the premises.

5. How can I reach the Annamalaiyar Temple?

The temple is located in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, and can be easily reached by road or rail. The nearest airport is Chennai International Airport, which is approximately 180 kilometers away.

6. Are there any accommodations available near the temple?

Yes, there are several hotels and guesthouses in the vicinity of the temple that cater to the needs of tourists and pilgrims. It is advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak pilgrimage seasons.

7. Can I take photographs inside the temple premises?

Photography is generally not allowed inside the inner sanctum of the temple. However, you can take photographs of the outer structures, architectural elements, and the temple complex from designated areas.

8. Are there any restrictions on entry for non-Hindus?

The Annamalaiyar Temple does not impose any restrictions on entry for non-Hindus. However, visitors are expected to maintain decorum and respect the religious practices followed at the temple.

Annamalaiyar Temple's enigmatic allure captivates visitors, leaving them eager to explore more spiritual wonders. Delve into the captivating world of Hindu temples with Eklingji Temple's mesmerizing architecture and rich history. Uncover the profound connection between Lord Shiva and devotees at Baidyanath Jyotirlinga, where faith and mystique intertwine. For those seeking to immerse themselves in South India's cultural tapestry, embarking on a journey through Tamil Nadu promises an unforgettable experience filled with ancient traditions and breathtaking landscapes.

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