Annamalaiyar Temple – Girivalam
The Annamalaiyar temple at Thiruvannamalai is a very ancient temple in Tamilnadu. It is said to be around thousand years old and patronized by the great saints and poets of Tamil Nadu. The prominent among them are Appar, Sambandar, Sundarar and Manickavasagar and Arunagirinathar. This has great reputation among all Shiva devotees since Annamalaiyar is prayed here in the form of fire, fire being one of the five elements that composed this universe. The other four elements of the Panchaboodhas are Vayu, akash, jalam and earth. This beautiful temple is located at the foot of the Annamalai hills that falls under the Thiruvannamalai district about eighty kilometers away from Vellore town by road.
This temple city can also be reached from Chennai the capital of Tamil Nadu that is around 185 kilometres by road. It is believed that Shiva is also in the form of a hill and hence it is called as Annamalai hill. Anna means all powerful in Tamil and malai means hills. Since this god is considered very powerful thus it is compared to the mountain that cannot be moved and strong. This god being believed to be part of the hill, hence it is also called as Annamalaiyaar among its devotees.
Annamalaiyar temple has six prakarams around the temple excluding the Girivalam Path. Every full moon day of the month Girivalam is undertaken by the pilgrims. Lakhs of devotees participate every month in this healthy ritual. This word Girivalam is the origin of the Tamil word Giri meaning hill and Valam means coming around. Hence coming around the hill is called as Girivalam in Tamil.
To come one full round (Girivalam) the road round the hill, it is around 14 kilometres. And people both young and old religiously go round on the full moon day. It is said to bring in abundant peace or calmness for the mental well being and also refreshing for the physical fitness.
"Arunam" means sun and denotes the red colour of fire. "Asalam" means "Giri" or "malai" (mountain). Thus "Arunachalam" means the Holy hill which is red in colour. The Holy hill is 2668 feet High.
The circumambulation path is 14 kilometres. History has it that even today a number of Siddhars are living on the hill. It is auspicious to perform "Girivalam" during every Full moon day which would do immense good. It is because during Full Moon Day Siddhars movement would be there and the whole atmosphere would be filled with perfumes of herbal plants. This will provide peace of mind and good health to body. It is a proven fact that on every Full moon day lakhs of devotees circumambulate the Hill and get all benefits by praying to Lord Annamalaiyar.
This abode of Annamalaiyar, the Annamalai hills at Thiruvannamalai has varied interpretations over the years. It is believed these hills took different forms at different period of time and age. During the Krithayugam it was in the form of fire. The next Threthayugam it took the form of emerald, known as Manikkam in Tamil. In the course of Dwaparayugam it existed in the form of gold. Now in Kaliyugam it has taken the state of rocky hill.
At Annamalaiyar temple there are eight lingams known as Ashtalingam. They are positioned at different locations and facing various directions. Each lingam signifies different directions of the earth. These lingams are named as Indralingam, Agnilingam, Yamalingam, Niruthilingam, Varunalingam, Vayulingam, Kuberalingam and Isanyalingam.
Each lingam addresses different aspects of man’s life and they bless the devotees with different types of benefits. It is believed to be installed by various gods. Also these lingams have a dominant navagraha and praying to each lingam brings forth various benefits that are being bestowed by that navagraha on the devotees who prays to that particular lingam to achieve the desired results.
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The circumambulation path has been provided with sodium lamps at the expense of 12 lakhs donated by Rajinikanth. This benefits pilgrims who perform circumambulation during night times. On behalf of Town administration bore well pumps are erected to supply drinking water to pilgrims. Moreover for the benefit of the devotees during special occasions Annadhanam is performed by Sri Agasthiar Ashram, and so many donors. Milk is distributed by certain well wishers.
To enable the devotees to worship Lord Annamalaiyar and Goddess Unnamulai Amman quickly and comfortably ceiling fans are provided and the queue lines using GI pipes have been installed at the expense of temple administration. Exhaust fans have also been provided to send out hot air.
For the benefit of devotees roofed queue lines around Swamy Sannathi have been formed with the contribution from donors. In addition to this, in prakarams water tanks have been provided to ensure continuous water supply.
The temple authorities have provided accommodation at nominal cost for the benefit of the devotees.
The rent for the rest houses is Rs. 400 and Rs. 300 per day.
The rent for the rooms at Appar Illam is Rs. 250 per day.
The rent for rooms at Unnamulai Amman Rest House is Rs.250 (Double room) and Rs.100 (Single room) per day.
Apart from this private accommodation is available in and around the temple.