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 sacred hill is located in the temple town of Tiruvanamalai, and geologists claim that it is one of the oldest mountains in the world. The Annamalaiyar Temple, a temple of Lord Shiva is located at the base of the hill. The hill is also known by the names Annamalai, Arunagiri, Arunachalam, Arunai, Sonagiri, and Sonachalam. Many sages and saints are drawn to this mountain owing to the sacred and spiritual nature of the place. Usually temples are found at the very top of a hill and hold a sacred place in the hearts of devotees, but it is only here in Tiruvannamalai an entire hill is considered sacred and worshipped as a symbol of Lord Shiva, or a lingam.
Girivalam is an ancient tradition performed by devotees, that involves circumambulating the holy Arunachala Hill in Tiruvannamalai. The Girivalam Road is a 14 km long route, with 8 different lingams en route. Girivalam is usually done every Full Moon day, and lakhs of devotees partake in this spiritual walk.
Good to Know:
Location: 4km from Arunai Anantha
Best time to visit: Oct – Feb
Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple2 hrs
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.
Sri Ramana Ashramam2 hrs
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.
Jawadhu Hills3 hrs - 2 days
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 Fort3 hrs
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.
Tirumalai Jain Temple2 hrs
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 Dam2 hrs
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.
Sri Lakshmi Narayani Golden Temple3 hrs
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.