The Largest Temple Dedicated to Lord Shiva – Tiruvannamalai Temple or Arunachaleswarar Temple

Arunachaleswarar temple alias Tiruvannamalai Temple is believed to be the largest temple in the world dedicated to Lord Shiva,  at Tiruvannamalai alias TV Malai in Tamilnadu state, India.  “Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple” is the official name of the temple.

Arunachaleswarar Temple or Tiruvannamalai Temple
Arunachaleswarar Temple or Tiruvannamalai Temple

Tiruvannamalai Arunachalam temple is situated on a hilltop on a 10-hectare land. The history of the temple dates back to more than a millennium.  Thevaram, seventh-century devotional poetry, and  Thiruvasagam, ninth-century Tamil hymns composed by the Shaivite poet Manikkavasagar, mention this temple.

Devotes call God Shiva as Annamalayar or Arunachaleswarar here. According to the official website of the temple, the Legend behind the Annamalaiyar temple is as follows.

Bramha took the form of a swan and flew to see the crown of Siva. Unable to see the crown, Bramha saw a thazhambu flower which had decked Siva’s crown falling down. He asked the flower as to the distance of Siva’s crown whereby the flower replied that he had been falling for forty thousand years. Bramha, realizing that he would not be able to reach the crown asked the flower to act as a false witness.

The thazhambu flower acting as a false witness declared that Brahma had seen the crown. Siva became angry at the deception and cursed that Bramha should have no temple on earth and that the thazhambu flower should not be used while praying to Lord Siva. The place where Lord Siva stood as a column of fire to eliminate the ego is Thiruvannamalai.

Arunachalam Temple God

Gajasamharamurthy – Sculpture on the Gopuram of Arunachaleswarar Temple. Image Courtesy: V Gopalan

Lord Shiva along with his concert Parvati are the main deities at TV Malai Arunachalam temple.

There is a beautiful sculpture of Lord Shiva killing an Elephant by crushing the Elephant with his feet, on the Gopuram of Arunachaleswarar Temple. See the image given above.

You can see God Shiva’s concert, Goddess Parvathi, holding Lord Ganesha on her hips.


Coloring different parts of the sculpture is done by the photographer to identify it better.

Gopuram is the pyramidal tower at the entrance of any temple.

Tiruvannamalai Girilvalam

Arunachaleswarar Temple is famous for the Thiruvannamalai Girilvalam among Lord Shiva devotees. It is the process of circumambulating the 14-kilometer path along the temple’s outer boundary (walking around the temple compound) on a full moon day. Devotees believe that Girilvalam will bring many benefits to them. Benefits include long life, fame, relief from diseases, health, wealth, peace of mind, etc. Tamil film Superstar Rajnikanth has contributed more than a million Indian rupees towards illuminating the Girilvalam pathway.

Thiruvannamalai Deepam Festival

Thiruvannamalai Deepam festival is very famous among the devotees. Three million devotees have attended the last Deepam Festival on the Karthikai Deepam or Karthikai Vilakkidu day. It will be on the full moon day, in between November and December. You can see the huge beacon lit atop the hilltop from miles away. It symbolizes the Shiva lingam (Associated with lord Shiva) of fire joining the sky.

How Do I Go to Tiruvannamalai Temple or Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple?

Tiruvannamalai to Chennai distance is around 194 kilometers.  Tiruvannamalai Pincode is 606601.

Vellore is around 92 kilometers distance from the temple.

Tiruvannamalai Railway Station is around two kilometers from the temple. It is on the Katpadi-Villipuram route. The railway station code for is Tiruvannamalai is TNM.

The nearest major airport is at Chennai.

Resorts & Hotels in Thiruvannamalai

Sparsa resort Thiruvannamalai is an Eco-friendly resort. There are many other hotels also near the temple.


Thiruvannamalai Temple is the largest Lord Shiva Temple and Karthikai Deepam is the main festival here.

Are you going to the next Thiruvannamalai Deepam Festival? Please let me know this in your comments.


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