The Saivite pilgrim site at the foot of the holy Arunachala (Annamalai) hill is considered to be one of the most sacred towns of South India. The annual Karthikai Deepam festival held on full moon night in Nov. Dec. is a major event of the town. A huge Deepa (lamp). with 30 meters long wick and 2000 liters of ghee are lit on the Arunachala hill and pilgrims undertake 14 kms. a long journey on foot around the hill. The lamp burns for several days and its light can be seen for at least 10 kms.

Arunachaleshvara Temple: It is dedicated to Sri Arunachaleswara (the fire incarnation of Lord Siva) and is one of the largest and most revered temples of South India. The huge temple complex covering an area of about 10 hectares was built during the 11th century and several additions were made to it by the successive kings of South India. There “are four large gopurams, one at each cardinal point and several smaller gopurams. The 13 storeyed main Rajagopuram on the eastern side rises to a height of 66 meters. The main sanctum enshrines Tejo Lingam (fire lingam) encased in gold.

Around Tiruvannamalai

Gingee (Senji) (37 kms.)

The historical town is known for the 700-year-old fort, sprawling over three hillocks. It was built by the Kone Chiefs and remained the stronghold of the Vijayanagar Kings, Marathas, Mughals, Carnatic Nawabs, the French, and the British. It gained popularity under Raja Design, the chief of Nawab of Arcot. Within the fort are two temples and a mosque. Kalyan Mandapam, the court hall is the finest monument here.

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