One of the most ancient heritage sites in India, the temple town of Tiruvannamalai is home to arguably the largest Siva temple in the world. A town filled with monolithic temples and hills Tiruvannamalai has been and continues to be a leading spiritual destination and major attraction in Tamil Nadu. The stand-out feature of the town is the towering Arunachalam Hill – the temple mountain that is worshipped by circumambulation to seek the blessings of Lord Arunachala, in a tradition known as Girivalam.
In many holy places, the deity or the temple is found at the summit of a hill, but it is only here in Tiruvannamalai, and entire hill is worshipped as a deity. The name Arunachalam comes from the word “Arunam”, meaning “sun”, and “asalam” meaning mountain. There are eight lingams located at 8 places around the Arunachalam Hill, and one can encounter all of them on the 14-km girivalam, around the hill, which occurs every full-moon day of the year.
Apart from the famous Arunchaleshwara temple, which is well renowned for its architectural and sculptural beauty and a hall of 1000 pillars, there are several other temples in the area, for the religiously inclined. One cannot leave Tiruvannamalai without visiting the famous Sri Ramana Ashramam, the former meditation site of the renowned sage Sri Ramana Maharishi.
The town and its surrounding areas also boast of several historically and culturally significant sites like the Sathanur Dam, Virupaksha Cave, Jawadhu Hills, Tirumalai Jain Complex and more.
State: Tamil Nadu
Destination Type: Heritage
Destinations Nearby: Gingee Fort, Tirumalai Jain Temple, Sathanur Dam
Languages: Tamil and English
Nearest Railway Station: Vellore Railway Station
Nearest Airport: Chennai
Summer: March to May. Temperature ranges between 21°C to 44°C.
Monsoon: June to September. June to September. The heavy rainfall adds a refreshing dimension to the experience.
Winter: November to February. Temperature ranges between 14°C and 31°C.
The most famous temple in Tiruvannamalai is this shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, at the base of the holy Arunachala Hill, in the heart of Tiruvannamalai.
One of the 5 main Shaivite holy places in South India, the Arunachala Hill in Tiruvannamalai is the most popular tourist site in the area.
This is the ashram which was the home to the modern sage Sri Ramana Maharishi, who was popularly regarded as an avatar and enlightened being by many devotees. His shrine attracts devotees from across the world.
An extension of the Eastern Ghats, the Jawadhu Hills are a beautiful range of bluish gray granite that have peaks averaging 3800 feet in height. The hills are known for their breathtaking verdant beauty.
Gingee Fort is also known as the “Troy of the East”. One of the surviving forts in Tamil Nadu, it was ranked as the “most impregnable fortress in India” by Chhatrapati Sivaji.
A Jain site with over 2000 years of history, Tirumalai – literally, “the holy mountain” - is situated 51km from Tiruvannamalai. Dating back to at least the 9th Century, Tirumalai has been an important Jain center since ancient times.
Around 4500 ft above sea level, Paravathamalai Hill is supposed to be one of the most sacred sites in India.
Sathanur Dam is one of Tamil Nadu’s most important dams. An engineering marvel, it has been built over the River Thenpennai, 30km from the town of Tiruvannamalai.
This incredible star-shaped temple dedicated to the Goddess Maha Lakshmi, was constructed by the Vellore based charitable trust – Sri Narayani Peedam. Over 1500kg of gold has been used in the intricate work done by the artisans on this temple.