28 October 2007

Adi Annamalai Temple

The name of this Temple, Adi Annamalai means 'first' or 'ancient' Annamalai (Arunachaleshwarar). Its size is small and it occupies only 1/2 acre in size – compared with the 25-26 acre size of Arunachaleswarar Temple on the Tiruvannamalai side of the Hill. The legend of Adi Annamalai recounts that Brahma, after His dispute with Vishnu about the fiery column, made a lingam and went to the other side of the Hill to worship Shiva. Thus, this lingam is supposed to be the first, ancient and original lingam of Annamalai and hence the name Adi Annamalai.

It is reported that the vision of Arunachala from this Temple is known as Siva Yoga Muka Darshan and the great Siddha Thirumoolar saw this aspect. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi who used to camp at Adi Annamalai for up to 2-3 nights while performing Giri Valam was reported to have said that while at the Temple he heard the celestial recital of 'Sama Veda'.

In spite of its illustrious history and position as one of the foremost Temples at Arunachala, the Adi Annamalai Temple was sadly neglected in the 20th Century. The last time Adi Annamalai Temple was renovated was during the years 1903-1918 when work was financed by a group of Chettiar devotees. A subsequent Kumbabhishekam was celebrated in 1967; but the puja was neither proper nor performed in the correct way. Since that time no substantial renovation or maintenance work has occurred at this Temple.

Swami Ramanananda (well known in this area) would meditate at Adi Annamalai Temple from between 1988-1992 for up to 4 hours a day. While at the Temple he couldn't fail but notice the whole of it was in a bad condition; there was only meagre lighting as the entire electrical wiring was in a damaged condition and the Temple was full of bats and had a very bad smell. Even though, the Adi Annamalai Temple falls under the aegis of The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, at that time, it was not properly maintained. As a result of a near electrocution of an innocent visitor, our Swami became inspired to take action. He found out that the necessary electrical work for the Temple would cost Rs.75,000/-, so went about utilising contacts to raise the amount. Within 6 months money was raised and the work of installing new electrical wiring throughout the Temple completed.

At the electrical inauguration, The Temple Board Deputy Commissioner coincidentally visited Adi Annamalai and while there spoke to Swami saying, "Swami you should now do the full renovation of this Temple and also arrange the subsequent Maha Kumbabhishekam". Swami was perplexed as he had raised Rs.115,000/- for the electrical work and ceremonies but found that the estimate for a full Temple renovation and lavish Maha Kumbabhishekam would come to 30 Lakhs – and there was only Rs.25,000 remaining from the electrical work collection. However after prayful meditation, Swami became convinced that he had the Grace and Blessings of Sri Ramana Maharshi to undertake the work, so went about raising funds and overseeing all renovation and rebuilding work at Adi Annamalai Temple. Ganesha Puja was performed on January 26th, 1993 and in February 7th, 1994 Temple work officially started. The work to be undertaken: wiring, rebuilding crumbling stucco idols at all Towers, new flooring, roof tiled with brick tiles, rooms renovated including all doors and all palanquins (for procession of idols) to be repaired and painted. The entire work took 2½ years to complete and cost approximately the 30 Lakhs that was originally estimated (i.e. U.S.$75,500).

Previously few pilgrims visited Adi Annamalai Temple, however nowadays during Poornima (when about 5 Lakhs visit Tiruvannamalai) about 50,000 pilgrims come to take darshan at Adi Annamalai Temple


Balasubramanian said...

interesting and inspiring info. tks indeed.

Balasubramanian/ Delhi

Claire Channing said...

I have visited Adi Annamalai on several occasions and find it truly inspirational, so am happy to hear that more people are being attracted to visit the Temple. It has such a unique, mysterious atmosphere about it - almost like its another time - when you are inside the Temple it just doesn't seem like 2007.

Arunachala Living said...

I totally agree with your comments about the mysterious atmosphere - definitely feel the same way.