ARUNACHALESWARA TEMPLE, THIRUVANNAMALAI
Virtual Tour of Arunchaleswara Temple, Thiruvannamalai - through our website you can walk-around the Arunachaleswara temple virtually and get feel of being there in the Temple.This town is known for its Shiva temple, one of the largest in southern India. A great Hindu festival takes place here in November-December, accompanied by a popular cattle fair. O the night of the tenth day , ahuge bonfire is lit on the summit of the rocky hill above the town. This fire burns for many days and is visible from a long distance. Devotees postrate themselves at the sight of the flames, which are considered to be the manifestation of Shiva's fiery linga.
Other smaller shrines within the town are dedicated to Durga and Subramaniya. Tanks or tirthas are associated with three of the directional guardian divinities:Agni, Indra and Ishana. Float festivals regularly take place here. The ashram of the celebrated guru Ramana Maharishi, who died in 1950, is located on the outskirts of the town.
This complex is remarkable foor the clarity of its layout. Three sets of walls define concentric rectangular enclosures, with the eastern portion of each expanded to form large courts. The complex is entered from the east; in front of the principal gateway there are two adjoining colonade has a corbelled timber ceiling supported on curved brackets; the other has a painted stone ceiling.
Of the four gopuras in the outermost enclosure walls, those on the east and north are the largest. The former is an immensestructure rising no less than 66m(217ft) high. The lower portions of the gopuras date from the late Vijayanagara period but the towers are later; some are still being renovated. The ornamentation of the lower granite elements is highly elaborate, with decorated basements, pilasters and eaves. Finelt carved panels are inserted into the outer walls of the eastern gopura; for example,Shiva as Bhikshatanamurti (middle of north side) and Shiva dancing with the skin of the elephant (south corner). Ten diminishing brick and plaster storeys rise above to create the soaring pyramidal mass of the tower. This is capped by a vaulted roof with arched ends. Within this gopura, and also that on the north, doorway jambs and wall pilasters are covered with figures of Shiva, dancers and maidens clutching branches of scrollwork. Relted themes illustrating Shaiva subject are carved on the ceilings; there are even traces of paintings in the east gopura.
Passing through the east gopura, the outermost of the three courts is reached. immediately on the right (north) is an immense thousand-columned mandapa belonging to the Vijayanagara period. Piers have typical yalis with riders; there is a raised dais in the middle. On the west side of the mandapa is a linga chamber, its roof now partly obscured by the raised floor of the hall. On the south of the court is a small but ornate shrine dedicated to Subramaniya. The intricate carving of the columns and outer wall is typical of the later Vijayanagara style. South of this shrine is a largest stepped tank.
Four smaller gopuras with less decorated walls date mostly from the 14th century; the plaster carvings on the towers, which have been recently renovated, lead into the intermediate court. Here there is another stepped tank and also large columned mandapa with an open porch facing south.
Access to the innermost enclosure is provided by a single gateway on the east; this is a modest unadorned structure, probably dating from the 11th-century Chola period. The two principal shrines of the complex are located within this enclosure. The one dedicated to Shiva is situated on an axis with the gateway. The principal sanctuary is a Chola structure, approached through a long antechamber. Stome images set into the outer sanctuary walls include Dahshinamoorthy (south), Shiva appearing out of the linga(west)and Brahma (north); a linga is enshrined within. This sanctuary is bounded on four sides by extensive corridors. These date from the 17th-century Nayaka period and have characteristic perspectives of receding piers overhung by projecting brackets.The corridor leading up to the santuary doorway is adorned with brass frame demarcates the doorway. Stone lingas and metal images,particularly of Shaiva saints, are housed in the surroundings colonnades. Two small but delicately decorated shrines dedicated to Ganesha (left) and Subramniya (right) flank the outer porch. A brass lamp-column and a Nandhi image are positioned in front.
The goddess shrine is set back to the right(north). The almost three dimentinal carvings on the interior piers are fine examples of the Nayaka style, which illustrate different aspects of teh goddess. Other smaller shrines, dating back to teh 12th- 13th centuries are preserved nearby.
ADDRESS : 13,Manthoppu,Road, Tiruvannamalai – 606 601.
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