Visit to Tiruvannamalai

Om Arunachaleshwaraya Namah!

My first visit to Thiruvannamalai & Arunchaleshwarar Girivalam

It all started when I visited an old temple of lord Shiva at Koyambedu (Kurungaleshwarar), my urge to visit more Shiva temples increased and grew manifolds. I managed to visit a few within Chennai in a short time

· Shri Kurungaleshwarar Temple – Koymabedu
· Thirumasilamaneshwarar Temple – Thirumullaivoyil
· Shri Pallikondeswarar Temple – Suruttupalli (AP)
· Shri Agastheeswarar Temple – Pancheshti
· Thiruvedhapureswarar Temple – Thiruverkadu
· Thiruvalleswarar Temple – Thiruvalidhayam, Padi

All the above temples are truly awe-inspiring and gives me goose pimples anytime I think about the Shiva lingams in each of these places. I definitely wanted to blog about these visits as well.

Thanks to “Raju’s temple visit” a blog which was very helpful in planning my visits. One of my colleague Murali was infact the one who encouraged me in my above pursuit, he also ridiculed me for not having visited Thiruvannamalai yet and told me that if you are a true shiva devotee you should first do Girivalam and so my visit to Thiruvannamalai was planned.

originally I wanted to visit the temple on a full moon day which happened to be the Maha Deepam day and every soul whom I met heavily discouraged to travel during Maha Deepam as more than 10 lakh people visit Thiruvannamalai during this time.

Finally my ex-colleague Sridhar (a banker, and a young ambal upasagar about whom I can write pages and without whom the trip would not have been truly memorable), my colleague Jagan, My brother –in- law Raja, four of us decided to travel on the Saturday afternoon . Our plan was like this, first to visit Annamalai Temple and then do the girivalam. Just opposite to the routine.

Raja could not join us for the trip so three of us with our driver Jenson Ganesh Button started exactly at 2pm on the travel day (during peak Emakandam). We reached thiruvannamalai at 5.30pm with a couple of pit stopping once for having tea (the tea was too good) and next to help Sridhar come out of his vomiting sensation which was created by Ganesh’s F1 driving skills on the highway.

Arunachala – the Hill 

Arunchala Hill

Temple Gopuram with the Arunachala Hill in the background

I had the first glimpse of Arunachala Mountain, which brought in a sense of peace and calmness into me. We didn’t know till we reach there that it was Maha Radh Day and our vehicle was not allowed near the temple. The bylanes are so cramped and chaotic and we got struck in the traffic jam. We got down at one junction and asked Ganesh to park the vehicle. Since the gentleman Mr. Balu from Arani was to help us have a faster and a proper darshan could not reach on time we decided to wait outside the main entrance. I felt like Human River flowing in the street and we literally swam across the road to reach the main entrance. We thought that the temple would be equally crowded and worried if we will be able finish in time to start THE GIRIVALAM.

Lord Annamalai

Balu arrived around 6.30pm and we entered the temple immediately. The enormity, sculpture, architecture of the temple is truly marvellous and unfathomable. In order to get faster darshan Balu took us inside the moolavar sanidhi apragharam (anti-clockwise) way, which was quite disturbing. The moment we had a glimpse of Lord Annamalai we lost ourselves in the divinity and the godliness. Words can hardly describe our feeling. After worshipping Vinayagar, Dhakshinamurthy, Urchavar, Brahma & Vishnu we searched for Sandikeshwarar & Durgai but somehow could not locate them or they were not there.

Raja Gopuram

Inside the temple Left to Right - Balu, Jagan, Sridhar & Dhanasekhar

Unnamulai Amman

We came out and entered the Unnamulai Amman Sannidhi. We had a quick and good darshan of ambal which comparatively small but very beautiful. Here I saw the sandikeshwarars’ idol (or I presumed so) in the ulpragharam of ambal, which was very different, and also here the Ambal Vaganam is a Nandhi instead of a Lion. Kala Bhairavar statue is too good and we have not seen any idol of Bhairavar so big and beautiful. Bhairavar sannidhi is right next to the temple tank. I have the habit of meditating inside the temple by chanting ‘om namashivaya’ 108 times. This time while was meditating outside ambal sannidhi I had a soothing effect inside my whole body, a feeling, which I could not explain in words and I did not experience it in any other temple so far. I do not know the reason either……

As per Balu’s advice we entered the temple all over again to make up for the apraghara darshan. Each and every idols or sculptures are full of life and very beautiful. I mentally decided I should visit the temple all over again and spend more time but of course without anyone’s help/influence for a quick/apraghara darshan.

Tank view inside the temple with beautiful serial lights in the background

It took us 1 ½ hour to complete the temple visit. When we came out we were so tired and hungry. With the belief that Lord Shiva would forgive us, we decided to have small bite before I start my bon girivalam.

Bon Girivalam
I had to too many questions/doubts inside me as I was going to walk 14kms at a stretch for the first time. Though two days before I managed to walk 3 & 7 kms respectively at a stretch. But for sure I know its not going to be easy since we have already been walking inside the temple for 2 plus hours. We started walking exactly at 8.30pm. There were little/no crowd doing girivalam that day.

As warned by Raja, we missed sighting the Indira Linga temple, which was the first of Ashtathisa Lingas. Agni Linga was the next one; I have never seen a linga which is so beautiful in a red background. I sat down there for a couple of minutes before moving on admiring the sheer divinity and the serenity it creates in your mind. It was now that I realized that the previous days walking instead of helping me started giving pain and 2 hour walking before Girivalam also playing a part in it and I actually started limping. Diversion techniques was not helping much may be because Im too much excited about the girivalam or the distance to travel boards are creating a fear. That’s when Sridhar pitched in with his latent knowledge on purana stories, he asked me; do you know the relation between King Vikramathithya and Adhi Seshan? And I gave him a blank look. He shared the Purana story on Pathanchali avatar of Adhi Seshan because of his desire to witness the nataraja thandavam at Kailash. So I slowly started concentrating on Sridhars’ discourse admiring his memory power and narration skills.

Next was Yema Linga, in the hindsight I started thinking about the fact that when you a long term goal you may need to break it into short term small goals so that you don’t loose focus. Ashta Lingas are the small short term goals while go on your girivalam.

To be Continued………

6 Responses to “Visit to Tiruvannamalai”

    Dear Sir,
    Congratulations for having visited the Dakshin Kailayam and got dharsan of Siva Sakthi, a way to attain the Parapirammam. Your narration with photos take the readers to the spot and induce to visit the spot. Wish you Good luck and good health. Let us pray for attaining the abodes of Lord Siva.
    Thanking you,

  2. lk says:

    Congratulations on completing your very first Girivalam. May be the stories on the website – – will inspire you to do more.

  3. K REKHA SWETHA says:

    no words to say, my life after i got the blessings of my arunaachaleshwarar is really miraculous, even others say these are all co-incidents, i alone know the power of girivalam. An essay like this only changed my life. I am really grateful for people like you. please do write more.

  4. hiro bachani says:

    dear sir, your blog is fantastic- congrats for the Giri valam- of Arunachala Hill Shrine- my query might seem strange- as we are overseas and may not come to south india for some years- is it possible to find any honest person in india who can do the pilgrimage and Giri Valam for us, on our behalf- — we can cover their entire costs and more- pls guide- rgds- hiro

    • aryam0403 says:

      Dear Hiro, the essence of girivalam is understood/enjoyed when you do it yourself. Nevertheless, when me or any of my friends do the girivalam, will pray for you and your family and try to do archanai at the shrine. Do share your details like star, zodiac & gothram to my personal id ( There is no cost associated with this. As you know India is known for its honesty but unfortunately many a times we end up reaching wrong persons to disprove this. rgds

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