Tiruvannamali Arunachaleswarar Temple

Arunachala Temple Architecture
Tamil Version

Thiruvannamalai Temple ArchitectureThe Lord Arunachaleswarar temple has a unique architecture. It is backed by the contributions of various skilled workmen employed by different dynasties. There was a steady activity of constructions carried out for the last one thousand years of period at this Tiruvannamalai temple. The greatness of this temple architecture is well described by the Tamil poets of the seventh century in their works of literature. Few of the famous legendary poest who glorified this Lord Arunachaleswarar at Tiruvannamalai were Sambandar, Sundarar, Appar and Manickavasagar. They were world renowned Saivaite saints from Tamil Nadu. Even today their works are considered to be marvelous and they are regarded to be immortal and unparalleled master pieces.

Another great Tamil poet Arunagirinathar also wrote volumes about the uniqueness of this Lord Arunachaleswarar temple at Tiruvannamalai. It was here that Saint Arunagirinathar composed Thirupugal, a magnificent work in Tamil language which stands testimony to several centuries for its greatness. Kriti Arunachalanathan was created by another Tamil stalwart and composer Shri Muthuswamy Dikshitar.

As of today the temple plan includes five Prakarams in total. And in each Prakaram there are Nandhi statues placed facing the Lord Arunachaleswarar temple. The fifth Prakaram is the outer most Prakaram and it has four Gopurams on all four different sides of the temple. They are the Thirumanjana gopuram, Ammaniammal gopuram, Pei gopuram and the Rajagopuram. The Rajagopuram is an imposing 217 feet tall with a 11 tier gopuram. This is considered to be the second tallest temple gopuram in South India. This splendid temple architecture owes its due to King Krishnadevarayar of the Vijayanagaram kingdom. At this fifth Prakaram there is also a thousand pillared mandapam besides a holy tank called Shiv Ganga tank.

This thousand pillared hall is very aesthetically designed with all the stone pillars finely sculpted by veteran artisans. This mandapam is used specially on Thirumanjanam that coincides with the appearance of Thiruvathirai star. Thousands of devotees sit on this day to worship Lord Arunachaleswarar together at this mandapam. There is a under ground chamber known as the Pathala lingam chamber. This shrine contains the Shiva lingam. Shri Ramana Maharishi in his early days sat in deep meditation for long hours and days in this Pathala lingam.

Next important landmark in this Prakaram is the Kambattu Elayanar Sannathi. This magnificent Sannathi was built by King Krishnadevarayar. This Sannathi has four chamber. The third chamber is used for prayers, the fourth one is the moolastanam where Lord Muruga’s shrine is placed. The chamber that which is first contains many sculptures that are acquisitively created and from here it leads to the second chamber. Behind this Kambattu Elayanar Sannathi and in front of the thousand pillared mandapam stands the sannathi of Siva Ganga Vinayagar. It has a imposing vimanam with plenty of colourful deities.

Another important structure is the Arunagirinathar Mandapam. Here Arunagirinathar is in a standing posture offering his prayers to Lord Karthikeya. This is also called the Gopurathilayanar sannathi. Next comes the Kalyana sudarsana sannathi. This sannathi faces the Vallala Maharaja Gopuram from the south side. There is a marriage hall in this sannathi where many devotees came to perform marriage. There are also idols of Lingam, Nandhi, and Goddess Devi in this sannathi. The Vallala Maharaja Gopuram was constructed by King Ballala. The uniqueness of this Gopuram is that the Lord Arunachaleswarar takes the role of King Ballala’s son to perform the funeral rites of the king since the king was childless.

In the fourth prakaram, Brahma Theertham is located. On the east side of the Vallala Gopuram, the king Ballala’s statue is placed. In the third Prakaram there are many shrines for Lingam which dates back to twelth century period. And we find also the Kili Gopuram entrance. On the eastern side, the flag staff is located and the huge Unnamalai Amman shrine is on the north side. The second prakaram has several forms of Shiva Lingam and other deities. This Prakaram is the inner most and lies closest to the Lord Arunachaleswarar temple.