Arunachala Mountain
Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu


Arunachala, the holiest mountain in India

Arunachala Hill is, in the Hindu faith, revered as the holiest mountain in India. It is a very important pilgrimage place where Lord Shiva, in his aspect of fire, is revered as Arunachaleswara. Arunachala Hill (the "Red Mountain"), which forms a backdrop to the town, Tiruvannamalai, is said to be the site where the fire manifested by itself, and is thus percieved as the light of God himself. The Arunaleswara Shiva Lingam has named the huge Arunaleswara Temple in Tiruvannamalai. Each fullmoon thousands of pilgrims flocks the city and walks around the base of the hill, a walking distance of 14km. Several shrines, Shiva Lingas, Ramana Maharshi's Ashrama and Sri Seshadri Ashrama and other holy places are situated around the mountain, and you are able to worship at each one of them.

"The land within a radius of three Yojanas (30 miles) of this place
is famous as Shivabhumi (the land and dwelling place of Shiva).
Those who resides within this limit will certainly attain Liberation."
- Skanda Maha Puranam

"Aruna Sadashiva"

Listen to the Mantra "Aruna Sadashiva" on the official website og Ramana Mahrashi:


Column of fire on the mountain

Legend has it that Lord Shiva appeared as a column of fire (Sthavara Linga) on Arunachala, to assert his supremacy over Brahma and Vishnu. The Katthikai Deepam festival, which is celebrated in November or Decembers full moon, is highly significant in Tiruvannamalai. People decorates their homes with lights to celebrate the birth of Murugan, the son of Shiva. A huge fire, lit from a 30m high wick blazes from the top of Arunachala for several days, burning 2000 litres (528 gallons) of Ghee (clarified butter). The fire symbolises the light of Shiva, which eradicates darkness and evil.

Up to half a million people arrive at festival times, the huge Shiva temple is crowded and processions and rituals go on from early morning to late evening.

The upward path steps quickly turns into jagged and unstable rocks. The treck to the top of Arunachala takes about 4 hours going up and 4 hours going back. It is nessasary to start early in the morning, even before sunrise, as there is no shade and the heat can get relentless. The journey must, according to tradition, be undertaken with bare feet, as a mark of respect to the deity. None of these requirements deters the thousands of pilgrims who joyfully make their way to the top and the abode of Shiva.


Going to Arunachala

Coming from Bangalore to Tiruvanamalai the landscape is dominated by small mountains or hills, which gives you the first sense of what may lay ahead.

With the holiness of Arunachala it is with great anticipation that your watchfull eyes want's to appoint the hills on the road to Tiruvannamalai to also be the sacred Arunachala!

Arunachala? ... no ...

Arunachala? ... no ...

Arunachala? ... no ...

Arunachala? ... no ...

Arunachala? ... yes finally!!

Arunachala at the outskirts of Tiruvannamalai ...

... and the first you meet is the Simha Teertham, a bathing tank at the city limit



The Arunachala Giripradakshina

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Marharshi said:
"Pradakshina is "All is within me". The true significance of the act of going round Arunachala is said to be effektive as a circuit round the world. That means that the whole world is condensed in this Hill."
Skanda Maha Purana says:
"A devoote, who circunambulate the Hill on a:
Sunday, penetrates the region of the Sun and attains liberation. 
lives free from the afflictions of the old age and death. 
is released from all debts and becomes an emperor. 
, becomes omniscient and wise.
Thursday, is worshipped by all the devas and attains fame as a Guru.
Friday, will be brought prosperity and will be taken to the abode of Vishnu.
Saturday, will obtain worldly succes and will be rid of the ill-effects from the planets in his horoscope."

"If those who suffer from physical and mental ailments, as well as those who are weak and emaciated, circunambulate Me, their ilments are cured."

"Aruna Sadashiva"

While watching this webpage, you could listen to the wonderful recitation of the Mantra "Aruna Sadashiva"
on the official website of Ramana Maharshi:


Tiruvannamalai processions

Tiruvannamalai is a very holy city and pilgrimcenter. Numerous pilgrims, saints and masters have visited this area since time immemorial to be near the sacred Arunachala Mountain. The Shiva Temple is very rich. It has numerous procession idols, Mantapas and chariots to carry the holy load. These idols are brought out on special Hindu holidays and in Tiruvannamalai you can witness big processions in the main streets, going around the temple premises, quite often.

Procession in the main street

Ganapati always comes first ...

... in more than one form.

The main deities for the procesion ...

... is brought forward under great festivitas.

The main deities with the holiest of mountains in the background

Women waiting for the chariot, carrying the Utsava idols, to stop in front
of their entrance. A small Puja and Arati is performed
and the procession continues to the next house.

First glimpse of the eastern gate of huge Shiva Temple
which dominates the entire city.

Nandi Bull, the vehicle of Lord Shiva, is guarding the procession  ►  created by BP