Arunachalais a mountain of great spiritual significance and power located in Tiruvannamalai, South India. It is praised in many ancient scriptures such as the Vedas. The hill was also the abode of many great saints and sages throughout the centuries. In the 20th century, this includes Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, who, during his lifetime, never left the base of the mountain and whose ashram is still there.
Arunachala is a spiritual center for millions of seekers every year from all around the world. Hundreds of thousands walk around it in Giripradakshina every full moon. Moreover, every year Arunachala attracts millions of devotees during the most ancient festival in South India, called Karthagai Deepam.
Arunachala obviously qualifies as a sacred site. It is one of the oldest and most sacred holy places of Lord Shiva in all of India.The Puranas narrate the story of how Brahma and Vishnu (two of the Divine Trinity of Siva, Vishnu, and Brahma) were bestowed the vision of the immeasurability of Lord Shiva as an endless cosmic pillar of light. This pillar became the Arunachala Hill.
Over the centuries, many sages and saints, including recent ones like Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, as well as ancient ones such as Guhai Namasivaya, have been attracted by the magnetic pull of Arunachala.
Places To Visit
Arunachalam Temple is an important Shaivite temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located in Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, this temple belongs to the list of Pancha Bhoota Stalam (the five Shiva temples dedicated to the five elements of nature). The presiding deity is in the form of Agni Lingam (fire element).
According to history, Goddess Parvati once playfully closed Lord Shiva’s eyes and the universe plunged into darkness. Realizing her mistake, she performed penance and Lord Shiva manifested himself as a column of fire atop a hill. The column became AgniLingam and the hill became popular as Tiruvannamalai.
Another legend says that Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma once competed against each other to decide who is the greatest. Then they requested Lord Shiva to be the judge. Lord Shiva set the challenge – the one who reaches his crown and feet first will be the winner. He then took the form of a long column of fire or the Agni Lingam.
During the ascent, Lord Brahma saw a flower – the Thazhampu, fall from the crown. He then asked the flower how long he should fly to reach the crown. The flower replied that it had been falling for thousands of years and still hasn’t reached the ground.
Further, Lord Brahma conspires and manipulates the flower and takes it to Lord Shiva. Lord Brahma then claims that he has got the flower from Lord Shiva’s crown. But Lord Shiva sees through the lie and curses both Lord Brahma and the flower.
Ever since, Lord Brahma has no temples dedicated to him, and people don’t use Thazhampu for worship. This story is in the Lingothbhava and Tiruvannamalai Arunachalam Temple murals.
Arunachala stands about 1000 meters high (3000 feet). People of all ages have climbed to the peak. It’s worth the effort. Beautiful energy and views! Spend time in peace at the top, have a puja at Siva’s feet, drink mountain chai, meditate.
Sacred Caves of Arunachala
There are many caves, many of which have been used by Enlightened masters for meditation. They still hold the energy of high consciousness, which was experienced within. Also visit Skandashram, Sri Ramana Maharishi’s first little ashram on the mountainside. It is dug into the rock of the mountain, and there are some powerful caves nearby.
Sacred Sites of Sri Ramana Maharishi
An important site of Sri Ramana is his birthplace and home near (1) Maduarai. (2) Tirukovilur was the spot Sri Ramana first stopped on his way to Arunachala mountain. He spent time at a couple of the temples there, where there are stories of extraordinary things happening while he was there. When Sri Ramana arrived in Tiruvannamalai, he spent his first many months living in a cellar room at (3) Arunachaleshwar Temple. After leaving the big temple, Sri Ramana went and stayed at (4) Pavalakundru,which is a small hilltop Shiva temple. Next he went to (5) Mango Tree Cave, and then on to (6) Virupaksha Cave. Next he was built his first ashram, (7) Skandashram, built into the mountainside. From there he continued to roam around Arunachala, spending time at other caves, springs and walking on and around Arunachala mountain.