29 March 2007

Arunachaleswarar Temple

Arunachaleswarar Temple at the foot of Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai, is one of the largest (27 acres) and oldest Temples in South India. The tallest tower (Gopuram) of the Temple is 13 stories (60 metres) high.

The Temple occupies a special place in the Saivite realm and is regarded as one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams (one of the five great Temples associated with the five basic elements). Arunachaleswaraar is related to the element Fire and the other four Temples are: Tiruvanaikkaval (Water), Chidambaram (Space), Kanchipuram (Earth) and Sri Kalahasti (Wind) respectively.

The mythlogy surrounding the Temple goes that after Shiva promised his effulgent form would shine forever as the eternal immutable Arunachala, the Gods Brahma and Vishnu asked that He moderate the effulgence of the Hill, to make it more bearable. They thus requested Shiva should make his eternal abode at Arunachala in the form of a Shiva Lingam on the eastern site of the Hill. The Lord agreed and immediately appeared in the form of a Shiva Lingam. To house the Lingam, Arunchaleswarar Temple was gradually formed around it. The Lingam is now situated inside the Shiva Sannidhi of the Temple.

There is an air of deep mysticism around the Temple and it has been been known for its long association with Yogis, Siddhas, and the well known spiritual savant Ramana Maharishi. The origin of the Temple dates way back in time, although much of the Temple structure as seen today, is a result of building activity over the last one thousand years.

To read more stories adapted from the Skanda Purana about the mythology of Arunachala, please visit this link.

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