temple occupies an area of about 25acres with four
large 'gopuram' on each side. The largest 'gopuram'
is above the eastern entrance which is the main
entrance. There are five 'praharam' or corridors
around the central structure with a high wall
running on all four sides at the edge of the outer 'praharam'.
There are numerous shrines for other deities in the
temple complex and Goddess Parvathy has a separate
shrine on the third 'praharam'. She is worshipped as
Annamalai achieves its importance as a venerated and
holy place as it is mentioned in Hindu mythology and
legends and also by its association with saints,
sages and religious men and women who have sung the
praises of the deity in their devotional
outpourings. The temple also has an important place
as a repository of historical chronicles with its
large amount of inscriptions on its walls and
pillars. These are studied and researched by
historians in an attempt to understand the life in
the country centuries ago.
Once there was a dispute between Lord Brahma and
Lord Vishnu as to who was superior. This created
untold suffering among all living things as their
respective duties of creation and protection were
being left unattended. Lord Shiva in order to put an
end to this dispute appeared before them as fire in
the shape of a glowing mountain.. The two who were
quarrelling did not realise who or what this
'mountain of fire' was. So they decided to search
for the 'Aathi' (beginning) and the 'Antham' (end)
of this 'Jothi' and whoever succeeded first would be
declared the superior god. Lord Brahma took the form
of a swan and flew upwards in search of the
beginning and Lord Vishnu took the form of a 'Varaha'
(wild boar) and went burrowing in the earth in order
to find the end. Each after flying high and
borrowing low failed in his attempt to find the
beginning or the end. Brahma did not want to concede
defeat. While coming down he saw a petal of 'Thalampoo'
floating in the air. He asked the flower to be his
witness that he had seen the beginning. The flower
agreed to his request. They arrived together and
found Lord Vishnu and told Him that Brahma had seen
the top and this flower 'Thalampoo' was the witness.
At this juncture the 'Jothi' transformed itself as
Lord Shiva and admonished Brahma for telling lies
and the 'Thalampoo' for bearing false witness. He
also decreed that no temples would be dedicated for
Lord Brahma and that 'Thalampoo' should never be
offered in worship.
Brahma and Vishnu realising
their mistake prayed to Lord Shiva to remain
there as a 'Jothi lingam'. Thus every year
during the Tamil month of 'Karthigai'
(November/December) on the 'Karthigai' day a
blazing fire is lighted on the top of the hill
to celebrate the appearance of Lord Shiva as 'Jothi'.
This occasion is an important day in the
calendar of Thiruvannamalai.
There is also another legend that says that
Goddess Parvathy once playfully closed the eyes
of Lord Paramasivan. This caused the entire
universe to become dark and all activities to
cease. This made Lord Shiva angry and in order
to chastise Parvathy, she was banished to the
earth. She came upon this earth and arrived at
Kancheepuram. Here she fashioned a Sivalingam in
sand and prayed to Lord Shiva to forgive her and
take her back. Lord Shiva was pleased with her
devotion and prayer and asked her to go to
Thiruvannamalai and pray to Arunachaleswarar.
Goddess Parvathy arrived at Thiruvannamalai and
was finally united with the Lord by taking half
his body on the left. This transformation of
half Parvathy and half Shiva is called 'Arthanareeswarar'.
Though this temple is famous as a Shiva temple,
there is a shrine dedicated to Lord Subramanya
in the outer 'veethy' The deity is called 'Kambaththu
Ilayanar'. This is where Lord Subramanya
appeared on a pillar. The legend is as follows.
Arunagirinathar, the saint poet and an ardent
devotee of Lord Subramanya, lived in
Thiruvannamalai. He had squandered his wealth by
his youthful waywardness and had contracted an
incurable disease as a result. Finally he got
fed up with his lot and climbed a temple tower
and jumped from there in an attempt to kill
himself. Lord Subramanya stopped him falling in
mid-air and blessed him with wisdom and set him
in a path of piety and devotion. From that day
he brought forth his devotion and piety in the
form of devotional verses called 'Thiruppugal'.
This brought fame and respect to Arunagirinathar.
A court member of the king of Thiruvannamalai
named Sambathanthan got jealous of
Arunagirinathar. He was a devotee of Goddess
Sakthi. He challenged Arunagirinathar for a
contest. He said that he would make Goddess
Sakthi appear before him and challenged
Arunagirinathar to do the same with his Lord.
Arunagirinathar accepted the challenge. When
Sambathandan prayed to Goddess, She appeared in
front of him but only he could see her. When
Arunagirinathar prayed to Lord Subramanya His
figure appeared on a stone pillar for everybody
to see. It is this pillar with the image of Lord
Subramanya which is installed in the sanctum of
Kambathu Ilayanar temple.
Temple Opening Hours and