Temples in and around Thiruvannamalai
Last updated on: 28th May 2012
The official website of Annamalaiyar temple is here:
There are huge number of temples and ashrams in the Girivala route and the most important ones are:
- Ashta (eight) lingams at the eight directions with each one being associated with one or more birth stars.
- Sri Ramana maharishi Ashram – the official website is here
- Sri Seshadhri Swamigal Ashram
- Sri Yogi Ram Surathkumar Ashram
- Plenty of places/ caves connected with Sri Ramana Maharishi
Thiruvannamalai is very much associated with Sri Ramana Maharsihsi, Sri Seshdhri Maharishi and Yogi Ram Surathkumar. The book ‘Arunachala Mahimai’ by Bharanidharan is the book to know about these saints and Thiruvannamalai in detail.
The most detailed Blog on Thiruvannamalai is here
In and Around Vandavasi
Swayambu Jalakandeswarar, Ranganatha Perumal and Kottai Baktha Anjaneyar temples at Vandavasi Fort
All the temples are located within the Vandavasi Fort in Vandavasi town and are being maintained by Archeological Survey of India (ASI). There are stone inscriptions in LIPI language here.
Venguneswarar Temple at Vengundram
Just a km from Thennangur enroute to Vandavasi this Shiva temple at the top of a big and steep hill can be seen from the road itself. It’s a tough hill to climb most part of it don’t have proper steps. It will really be a thrilling and adventures trip for anyone to go there. Make sure to go in a group or atleast minimum of 2 people and avoid children and aged people. Nobody and nothing is available at the top. It seems there is no priest for the temple but a person comes to do pooja once in a month. It is an open temple with a Shiva lingam, Murugan, Vinayagar and some other deities. You can do pooja yourself. The ideal time to visit is in the early morning.
Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar and Lord Venkateshwarar Twin Temple at Avaniyapuram (also called Nava Narasimhar temple and Dakshina Ahobilam)
Located at Avaniyapuram 25 km from Vandavasi, en route Arani and Cheyyar Dam, this is a hill abode of two deities. One has to climb 70 steps to reach the first deity, Lord Narasimha found in a small cave (kudavarai koil), and ascend another 114 to have a dharshan of Lord Venkateswara. The unique feature in this temple is that along with Narasimhar, the Mahalakshmi Thayar also has the face of a lion(ess). There are totally nine Narasimha deities in this temple and so called Nava Narasimhar temple and Dakshina Ahobilam (the main one in Andhra Pradesh with nine Narasimhars).
The abode of Lord Venkateswara is at the top. There is a separate cave like enclosure in the prahara where we see Lord Varadaraja and Perundevi Thayar. Lord Ranganatha is seen on His serpentine bed with Ranganayaki Thayar. Sholingar Yoga Narasimha is in a sitting position along with Amirdavalli Thayar. Thus we see all the main pancha divya desa moorthies – Kanchi, Srirangam, Sholingur, Tirumala and Ahobilam. Avani means lion and the Lord is said to have obliged Brigu Maharishi by appearing before him in the forms of five divya desa deities. The temple is believed to have been built during the Pallava regime. It is heartening to note that all the shrines in the hill temple are well maintained.
Avaniyapuram Avaneeswarar temple
A temple with margatha lingam installed by Sri Aadhi Sankarar is present at the base of the avaniyapuram hill
Sri Yoga Narasimhar Temple and Ahobila Mutt at Sogathur
This is located at about 7 kms to the south of Vandavasi
Vandavasi – Chetput – Polur
Seeyamangalam Cave temple
In the Vandavasi-Chetpat road, you have to travel for about 15 kms and at Mazhaiyur cross road, take a left turn (south) and travel further for around 8 kms via Desur to reach the beautiful Seeyamangalam cave temple facing west. Here 27 inscriptions are recorded from Pallava regime to the Pandya rule. Dwaraplakas, Nataraja and Shiva as Rishabandaka are strikingly beautiful. In front of the garbhgraha, mandapas were added during the Cholas, Pandyas and Vijayanagara periods. A few hundred meters north of this temple in the slopes of hillock Jain relief works were carved in the Pallava age.
Thirumalpadi Sri Ranganathar (Hill) Temple
Sri Ranganayahi sametha Sri Ranganathar temple is located on a hill at 2 kms south-west of Seeyamangalam. There are about 100 steps to climb and was constructed in the year 1136 A.D.
Contact: 99429 37169 / 98654 54998
Shiva Temple at Madam village
Located at about 5 kms North-west of Thirumalpadi Ranganathar temple, this is a very big temple and has sahasra and 108 lingam with very beautiful Nandi. But the temple gopuram was mutilated by Moghuls. Renovation and kumbabisheka work is going on.
Contact: 93448 71762
There is also a Jain temple nearby.
There are ancient Shiva Temple, Perumal temple and Jain temple here
Location: This is located at 3 kms from Peranamallur; 21 kms from Arani and 33 kms from Vandavasi in the Vandavasi to Arani route. This can also be reached through Vandavasi-Chetput (Polur-Thiruvannamalai) route wherein one has to travel for 23 kms from Vandavasi towards Chetput and then turn right (North) towards Peranamallur/ Arani and travel further for 10 kms to reach Injimedu.
Injimedu has a good connection with Ahobila mutt. Sri Sashta Parankusha swamy, the sixth Jeeyar of the Ahobila mutt had constructed and helped almost 60 temples and had put in lots of great scholars who were well versed in vedams to maintain those temples. One such place is ‘Yagnamedu’ which later became ‘Injimedu’. This place was also called ‘Yagna vedhikai’, as lots of yagnams / Homams are performed here. Sri Injimedu Azhagiyasingar is the 42nd Jeeyar.
Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple
Srimath Azhagiya Singar 45th Jeeyar had a great affinity towards Kanchi Sri Varadhar. So, as per his wish, Sri Varadhar and Sri Perundevi thaayar are installed in this temple.
Sri Yaga Samrakshana Ramar
From the time of Sri Sashta Parankusha Yatheendra Maha Desikan, it is said that Sri Ramar of this sthalam has found lots of Yagams and Vedams. Sri Ramar is said to be found almost 1500 years back and it is said that he emerged from a yagam, so he is called as “Sri Yaga Samrakshana Ramar”. Problem in marriage, Puthra Bhagyam, etc., are said to vanish if we visit this sthalam and get the dharshan of this Sri Ramar. Specifically, if people born in Moola, Aayilyam stars have any problem in getting married, they can visit this sthalam, to get their problems solved.
Sri Thirumanicherai Udayar Temple at Perumalai
Temple: This small 200ft high hillock top temple has about 51 covered steps. So rain or sun will not affect the devotees. This is a 2500 years old temple which got ransacked about 700 years ago by various invasions. The Thirumanicherai Shiva lingam which was left alone without any pooja/ worship for nearly 700 years, finally got a facelift and the Kumbabhisheham took place in 1999. Sanghu theertham is present in the hill in the shape of Sanghu. It is said that there is a spacious cave here where Pampatti Chithar is living in the form of a snake.
Legend: Agasthiar worshipped here. Once on an ego battle between Brahma and Vishnu, they set off to reach the top and bottom of Shiva as a competition. During that time Thazamboo gave a false witness to Shiva that Brahma had reached the top of Shiva. Knowing this, Shiva cursed Thazampoo that it should not be used in any Shiva pooja. In order to get rid of the curse, it stands here as the Sthala Vruksham. Nandhi’s footsteps are seen here.
Sri Yoga ramar temple at Raghunatha Samudhram
This small Yoga Ramar temple is present at around 8 kms from Nedungunam. The temple was built by King Ragunathar and is around 600 years old. the main deity is Sri Seetha Lakshmana Hanumath sametha Sri Ramar in sitting yoga posture. One of the very few temples where Sri Ramar is in yogic posture. Thayar is Sri Padmathri. Also Sridevi, Boodevi sametha Sri Varadharaja Perumal is present.
Contact: Sri R.V.Parathasarathy Bhattacharyar @ 98420 61688 / 04181 248224
Yoga Ramar Temple
This temple is located at 28 km from Arani and 27 km from Vandavasi (4 km before Chetput) in the Vandavasi – Chetput- Polur (Thiruvannamalai) route.
* One of the biggest temples for Lord Rama
* The biggest Vaishnav temple of Vellore and Thiruvannamalai districts
* Lord Rama is seen in a rare posture as Yoga Ramar in a sitting meditative posture without His usual Kothandam
Legend says that after the Vibhishana Pattabhishekam in Sri Lanka, when Rama was returning to Ayodhya, He notices on the banks of the Kaliyar, Sukha Brahmar, a saint in the form of a parrot, offering prayers to Him. The Lord alights from His chariot and just stands before the saint whose joy knows no bounds. The place where Sri Rama blessed the saint came to be known as Nedungunam, meaning noble quality. Although He was in a hurry to go to Ayodhya to save Bharata, Rama did not fail to pay heed to the prayers of a devotee.
The Kaliyar river starts from here through the waters of the nearby Dheerkachala hill and ends at the Maduranthaham lake near Chenglepat which was protected by Eri Katha Ramar. So both the temples are connected by legend.
Contact: Badhri Bhattachar 94452 15776
The nearby hill called Dheerkachala Hill is in the form of Parrot face and it is said that the hill is nothing but the form of Sage Sukha Brahmar. On top of the hill, the feet of Ramar is present in stone in open without any shrine and can be worshipped at any time of the day.
The Dheerkachaleswar temple is situated at the Esanya corner of Nedungunam village near the Ramar temple.
Arulmigu Periyanayagi Amman and Kanagagreeswarar Temples at Devikapuram
Location: This twin temple is located at 40 km from Vandavasi, 40 km from Thiruvannamalai, 37 km from Arani in the Vandavasi – Chetput- Polur (Thiruvannamalai) route.
* The 2nd biggest temple of Thiruvannamalai district, next only to Thiruvannamalai temple
* One of the few exclusive (big) temples of Amman like Kanchi Kamakshi and Madurai Meenakshi
* An exquisite artistic marvel with excellent sculptures, edicts and mandapams
Temple: The Kanagagreeswarar Temple is located on top of a small hill called Kanagachalam or Ponnmalai and the Periyanayagi amman temple, the more popular one is located at the base of the hill in the center of the town. These temples date back to 15th Century Vijayanagara Period.
The Periyanayahi Amman temple is filled with excellent highly skilled sculptures with big mandapams, huge walls and a big Rajagopuram. There is a stone chariot fully sculpted in a single stone in such a way that it drags a mandapam with couple of horses.
In the Kanagagreeswarar temple there are three lingams in the sanctum sanctorum. One is a Swayambu lingam called Kanagagreeswarar and another one is an ancient Kasi Viswanathar lingam worshipped by Periyanayahi amman. Since there should not be two lingams, another lingam made of Rudraksha has also been installed in the wall behind the Kanagagreeswarar.
Arunagirinathar sang verses on Lord Muruga of Kanagagreeswarar temple
Kotteeswarar Temple at Peruvallur / Peravlur
A Sambuvarayar temple
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple at Polur
The hill is called Sampathgiri and the main deity is the Swayambu Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy facing south towards Thiruvannamalai along with Kanagavalli Thayar. Sage Pulathia Brahma worshipped here. Achutha Thasar, Sri Gnanananda Swamigal and Siddhar Vittoba (a contemporary of Sri Seshadri Swamigal) had meditated in caves here. 2 water streams (sunais) are present. There is an Anjaneyar shrine at the base of the hill and there are 840 steps to climb.
Contact: Sekar Bhattacharyar at 98423 07594; 94430 98358
Polur – Thiruvannamalai
Kadina Kujambigai sametha Thirukkameshwarar Temple at Kappalur
Vilvarani Murugan Temple
Murugan temple on a hillock
Vishnu moortham at Melvanniyanur
A 70 feet unfinished Vishnu moorthy is present here. If 4 people can sit in His hand, you can imagine the magnanimity of the moortham.
Kettavarampalayam Sri Rama Navami Mandapam / Temple
This holy village is synonymous with Lord Sri Rama and Bhajans and is very popular for its Sri Rama Navami celebrations. Every year all 10 days of Sri Rama Navami is celebrated with utmost devotion by the natives. Though most of the native villagers have migrated and settled in various places, everyone gathers during these 10 days of Sri Rama Navami to celebrate Sri Rama.
It is said that this village was once called as Kashtaharampalayam (a place where ones difficulties are overcome) and in later days known as Kettavarampalayam (means granting boons as per wishes) as many devotees’ wishes were granted by Lord Sri Rama here.
This is one place where one can hear, see and feel Sri Rama Nama round the clock on all the 10 days of Sri Rama Navami.
Parvathamalai is located at Thenmahadevamangalam village which is about 20 kms off Polur. Polur is about 35 kms north of Thiruvannamalai. There’s a very powerful Lord Shiva temple at the top of the Parvathamalai hill. Numerous Siddhars and spiritual beings from the celestial worlds worship here every night. Reaching the hill is somewhat difficult. Hence it is better to start early in the morning and return as early as possible. During the Full moon day, this hill attracts a lot of devotees. This is a place vested with a lot of spiritual power.
Kailasanathar Temple at Narthampoondy
Thiruvannamalai – Chetpat
Avalurpet Murugan Temple
This is a temple on a very small hillock with a big temple tank at the base in a beautiful location at around 25 kms from Thiruvannamalai.
Muthalamman sametha Agastheeswarar Temple – not sure whether it is a separate temple or within the same Murugan temple campus.
Links: Location Travelogue
Tindivanam – Gingee
Bhuvaneshwar Temple at Peramananthur
6 kms west of Tindivanam; Goddess: Bhuvaneswari
Sri Nerkuthi Vinayaka temple at Theevanur
Contact: 04145 – 235265 / 94427 80813
Chokkanathar Temple at Anankur
Goddess: Meenakshi amman
14 kms east of Gingee
Mel Chittamur is 20 km west of Tindivanam and 10 km east of Gingee. Head quarters of Digambara sect in Tamilnadu with the Jinakanchi Matha presided over by the Pontiff. Two temples, one dedicated to Parsvanatha and other known as ‘Mailanatha’ temple was originally a boulder containing rock cut images of Bahubali, Parsvanatha, Adinatha, Mahavira and Ambika yakshi carved in the 9th century AD. Rebuilt in the 16th century and renovated in the present century.
Shiva Temple at Anangur
Rishabapureeswarar Temple at Mel Sevur
Location: 10 kms Southeast of Gingee, on the southern bank of Sankaraparani (Varaha) river
Significances: Thevara Vaipu thalam, Swayambu lingam
Legend: This is mentioned as Thiruvidaiyur in Sundarar’s Pathikam
Temple: 50 feet Rajagopuram with two praharams. Pandy kings worked on this temple
Mallinathar Jain Temple at Perumbugai
Main deity is Mallinathar. Also old Mahaveerar statue, Brammadevar with elephant and Dharadevi statues are also present. Long back when it was an small temple, Mahaveerar was the main deity. Later after renovation main deity was changed to Mallinathar. The place where the old temple was located was made as garden now and it is inside the temple
There is a Pachaiamman Temple in the Gingee fort half way to the hill top. This is considered to be in worship by the Siddhars. 7 Jadamuni shapes of pachaimalai are in the back side.
An ancient temple with an empty sanctum sanctorum is the top most point of Gingee fort.
There is a popular Hanuman temple at the hill base in a beautiful location with a pond by the side.
Chakkarakulam and chettikulam are the two famous ponds in this fort. Chettikulam was built by Raja shetty during the Maratha occupation of the place, towards the end of the 18th century. To the north of this pond is a platform believed to be Raja Desingh funeral pyre, where his young wife committed sati (self immolation).
The Venkataramana temple is the largest temple in the fort, built by Muthiyalu Naicker (1540 -1550 A.D). It contains a number of Tamil inscriptions. Quite a few monolithic pilliars were removed from this temple to Pondicherry and planted as a peostal around the duplex statue after the French occupation of Gingee in 1761.
Sri Selva Lalithambihai Temple
Located in Gingee town
Twenty four Theerthangarars at Thiru nathan kundru
It is 2 km north of Gingee town. The hillock on the western side of the road has two Jaina caverns and a huge boulder containing sculptures of all the 24 Theerthankaras in the 9th Century style. It is only place where all the 24 Theerthankaras are shown in a single large composition. An open rock nearby was the place where monk Chandranandi observed 57 days of fasting and died (5th- 6th century A.D).
Sri Maddileshvarar Sikhari-Pallaveshvaram Shiva Cave Temple at Melacherry
There is another village with same name, Melacheri, near Seeyamangalam and so don’t get confused with this.
Located at 4 km North-west of Gingee, this temple of Lord Ranganatha, the tutelary god of Raja Desingh is on a hill top with about 150 steps. It is a good specimen of South Indian type of rock cut shrine. The idol of Lord Ranganatha, in a reclining posture, measures 24 ft. in length which together with the inner sanctorum, is carved out of a single rock. It is said to be bigger than that of the idol in Srirangam. Like Thiruvananthapuram Ananthapadmanatha Swamy, the head, chest and leg portions of this Perumal have to be worshipped through 3 separate entrances. Mangalasasanam was done by Sri Ramanujar.
Located at about 10 kms north-west of gingee, this is a beautiful village with a small river, lake, dam, checkdam and ancient temples
a) Sri Agastheeswarar temple
This is a small ancient temple in a beautiful location
b) Murugan temple on a hillock
c) Venkatesa Perumal Temple
Murugar Temple at Mel Olakkur
Sri Valli Devasena sametha Sri Subramaniya Swamy Temple at Pasumalai
15 kms north-east of Gingee, this is a Murugan temple on a hill in a beautiful location. There are about 410 steps to climb.
Contact: 99623 44722
Sri Ranganathar Sculpture at Vinnamparai (Thondur)
Very old Ranganathar sculpture belong to Pallava period, is nicely carved on a single rock and is standing in the midst of green fields in a beautiful ambiance. Being maintained by Archeological Survey of India. 2500 years old Brahmmi inscriptions are also here.
Route: Tindivanam – Nattarmangalam – Panapakkam – Aviyur – Agalur – Thondur. 34 kms from Tindivanam
Sri Angala Parameswari Temple at Melmalayanur
Located at 20 kms North-west of Gingee and 30 kms North-East of Thiruvannamalai, the temple of Angala Parameswari is situated here. In the inner sanctum there is a snake pit which is being worshipped. Vinayaka is present in a standing posture. There is a congregation of devotees on every new moon day.
Gingee – Thiruvannamalai
Aala Kaala Easwar Temple at Alampoondi
10 kms to the west of Gingee en route Thiruvannamalai, this is an ancient Shiva temple. The recently renovated temple here is Arulmigu Aalakaala Easwaran Thirukoil and His consort is A/M. Mangalambigai. This temple is around 800 years old and was fully ruined by passage of time. With some good souls, the temple was renovated in 2008.
Contact: V.Dhandapany, Secretary, Aalakaala Easwaran Thirukoil Trust, Alampoondi Village, Gingee Taluk, Villupuram Dist. Pin code 604151 email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sundareswarar Temple at Veeramanallur
16 kms west of Gingee, Goddess: Soundaravalli
Gingee – Villupuram
Shatru Malleswaralayam Rock cut temple at Thalavanur
This is located at 16 km from Gingee in Viluppuram District and was built by the Pallava King Mahendra varman (B.C.580 to 630). Sculptures and Tamil and sanskrit inscriptions are found here.
A famous Archeological Temple site is 20 kms from Villupuram and 17 kms from Gingee in the Villupuram – Gingee road. It is a 100 ft hillock, where the Mahendraverma (I) of Pallava king, (580-630 AD) made a cave temple. Currently there are no deities here.
Marudeeswarar (Shiva) Temple at Sangeethamangalam
A Pallava Temple
Ramanatha Easwar temple at Anniyur
The temple with the Swayambu lingam was built by Pallavas.
Goddess: Thiripura Sundari amman
Ramar worshipped Shiva here.
Sthala Vruksham: Vilva tree
Theertham: Rama theertham
Note: There is also an ancient Perumal temple at Anniyur
Ramalingar Shiva Temple at Kanjanur
Brahmmadesam – Ennayiram – Esalam
This is the area connecting Ginee-Villupuram road and Tindivanam-Villupuram highways. It can be reached either by a) branching off at Perani junction in the Tindivanam-Villupuram highways and travelling through Periya Thachur or b) branching off at Nemur in the Gingee-Villupuram road. Note that there are many Brahmmadesams in Tamilnadu.
This is a very important location from the archaeological and historical front and most of the temples in this belt are being maintained by ASI with plenty of important inscriptions and idols unearthed. In 1987, a big treasure trove was found containing 23 bronze images, temple utensils and copper plate charter (royal order). The Esalam copper plate grant of Rajendra Chola is the third charter of the ruler to have been found so far. The Thiruvalangadu plates issued in his sixth year, and the Karandai (Tanjore) copper plates issued in his 8th year are the two charters of this ruler found earlier. The Karandai plates is by far the biggest royal charter to have been found inscribed on copper sheets-anywhere in India.
Ennayiram in tamil means 8000. According to local belief, 8,000 Jainas were executed here. There is another story that the Jains were not executed but they embraced Brahmanism. There is one more version that there were 8000 Brahmin- settlers from North India who were invited by Rajendra-I. In any case, there is a sect in Brahmin Iyers called Ashta Sahasram (meaning 8000) and this could be their root. Ennayiram was a flourishing educational centre during the Chola period. There are inscriptions about an university for teaching the Vedas with 270 students, hostel, hospital and doctors with their wage details. The Tamil poet, Kalamegam, famous for his puns, belonged to Ennayiram.
Brahmmapureeswarar Temple at Brahmmadesam
Brahmmadesam is very much connected with the Chalukya King Pulikesi II. This is a very big temple with the huge main deity (lingam). The temple is under control of Archelogical Survey of India (ASI) and is being renovated.
Padaleeswarar Temple at Brahmmadesam
This is another Chola temple under ASI control and under renovation.
Semmaneri Andavar Temple at Ennayiram
Located in a beautiful environment of lake, huge banyan trees in the backdrop of hill, this is the family deity for many and is a very busy temple on holidays.
About 100 meters from here there is a small mandapam called Ramanujar Padham where the foot prints of Sri Ramanujar is being kept.
Azhagiya Narasimha Perumal Temple at Ennayiram
The Chola temple of Narasimha swamy temple was built by Rajaraja Chola 1 (985 –1014). When the floor of the “mukhamantapa” (entrance hall) was being removed, ASI found the longest “meikeerthi” (various titles and exploits) of a Chola king. The inscription actually runs to 80 lines, but only lines from 54 to 80 are unearthed and lines 1 to 53 are yet to be located.
The sanctum sanctorum has the idol of Lord Paramapathavasan and Consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi. The presiding deity is Lord Azhagiya Narasingar. The temple also has a shrine for the six-feet high idol of Lord Varahamurthy. Special puja is performed on every Thiruvatirai Nakshatram day.
Saint Ramanujar preachings converted the Jains as Vaishnavas. Koorathazhwar also visited this temple.
Darshan timings: 7-11 a.m.; 4-7 p.m.
Sri Ramanatha Easwar Temple at Esalam
The temple was built by Rajendra Cholan I (1012) and there are inscriptions in Sanskrit with grantha characters. The vimanam is of stone construction. This is supposed to be one of the last small temples Rajaraja built before venturing into the Tanjore Big Temple.
Thirukkovilur – Manalurpet – Thiruvannamalai
Sri Ranganathar Temple Aadhirangam
Location: 16 km from Thirukkovilur and 28 kms from Thiruvannamalai in the Thirukkovilur -Thiruvannamalai route via Manalurpet and near Jambai.
* considered more ancient than Srirangam
* the biggest Perumal in Tamilnadu
Temple: The temple, on the banks of river Thenpennai, is called Uthira rangam and is more ancient than Srirangam. The main deity Sri Ranganathar in reclining posture is a suthai chirpam and is the biggest Perumal in Tamilnadu. Lord Vishnu takes the anantha sayanam position after every avatar. The ancientness of this temple can be well understood with the fact that this temple is believed to be after the first Vishnu avatar whereas Srirangam, Trichy is after the 7th avatar. A visit to this temple, by itself, is a great boon.
There is a musical sculpture here and if you strike it at different places, different swarams come out. This temple is not part of the 108 divya desams but many say that there are inscriptions that this place has been done mangalasasanam by Thirumangaiyashwar in 10 pasurams.
A Swayambu lingam; the construction of this east facing temple was started during the 9th century A.D Chola period and continued to the Vijayanagara age.
Sculptures here belong to 10th Century A.D
By M.GANDHI, CURATOR RTD., DEPARTMENT OF MUSEUMS, VELLORE:
Jambai is an important place from the historical and archaeological front. There is a small hillock in the north east of the village. Between two split areas of this hillock there are signs of megalithic period settlement. Before this in the hillock cave there is an inscription of Athiyaman in Tamil, which is considered to be the earliest inscription in Tamil.
West of this hillock in a small stone boulder is an inscription of Rashtrakuta Krishna III along with the 10th century A.D relief figure of Jyesta devi.
South of this inscription is a lake, in the middle of which is a stone mortar with inscription.
Manalurpet is 25 kms from Tiruvannamalai and 15kms from Thirukkovilur. Manalurpet is famous for the River Festival taking place in the month of January every year, second day from Kanum pongal (Fifth day of Tamil month Thai). During the festival Lord Annamalaiyar will come from Tiruvannamalai.
Also this town has many temples like
- Agastheeswara Temple – A Swayambu lingam
- Perumal Temple
- Sani Bhagavan Temple and
- Around 40 feet Anjaneyar Temple
Thirukkovilur – Villupuram
This place is connected with Sri Krishna Premi Swamigal or Sri Sri Anna as he is affectionately called. The official site http://www.srisrianna.org/srisri_paranoor1.html talks a lot about various spiritual activities. It seems Sri Krishna Premi Swamigal comes here on every Ekadhasi day and does Unjavridhi and the bhajans. I understand the place will be brimming with activities when he is present but otherwise is deserted as I saw during my visit. Better call up and go.
Shiva temple at Sidhalingamadam
- Main deity is Vygrapathar as Swayambu lingam with Goddess NeelaVisalakshi amman. Sage Vygrapathar got the Shiva dharshan here and hence the name of the main deity.
- Vinayagar argued with Sundarar and made him sing a hymn and so the Vinayagar is called ‘Vadhadum Vinayagar’.
- A Thevara Vaipu Sthalam.
- Sri Gnananandha Swamigal, before settling at Thirukkoyilur Thapovanam, stayed here for quite some time.
Agastheeswarar Temple at C.Meyyur
A Swayambu lingam at 1 km east of Sidhalingamadam
Murugan Temple near C.Meyyur
On a hillock right in the middle of Pennaiyar river
Sri Idaiyatru Nathar temple at Thiru Idaiyaru
The temple is located between South Pennai and Malattaru, on the banks of South Pennai and the main deity is the Idaiyatru Nathar as a Swayambu lingam. On a Swathi star day, Shiva gave dharshan to Sukha Brahma rishi and taught Jothidam to him here.
Sukha Brahma Rishi is an expert in changing forms and once he changed into a parrot. He flew to Kailayam where he saw Lord Shiva was preaching ‘Shiva secrets’ to Parvathi devi and Sukhar wanted to know the secret. So he was flying around between Lord Shiva and Parvathi Devi. Parvathi Devi got angry and cursed him to be in the Parrot form itself. Sukhar then pleaded pardon and Shiva gave some relief to be in human form but with Parrot face. Sukhar penanced here Sukha Brahma Rishi is a devotee of Lord Rama.as well and he got Ramar’s dharshan at the Yoga ramar temple at Nedungunam
Sri Lakshmi Narayana Perumal Temple at Kappur
Located in a beautiful location
Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Perumbakkam
This 400 years old temple is at Perumbakkam, 7 km from Villupuram on the Villupuram-Thirukovilur Highway. The temple is associated with several Jeeyars of the Ahobila Mutt. Sri Injimedu Azhagiyasingar, the 42nd Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt, has proclaimed this village as the ‘Dakshina Ahobilam’.
According to legend, Lord Varadaraja appeared in the dream of a Vedic scholar and directed him to retrieve the idols buried in his land called `Thoramaniam’ and build a temple for Him and His Consorts. Accordingly, the idols of Venkata Varadaraja Perumal with Sridevi and Bhoodevi were retrieved and the temple was built. As per the inscriptions found in the temple, the main shrine of Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal with His Consorts was built with special granite brought from `Kalpattu’, with ardhamandapam, mahamandapam, etc., in the year 1605 A.D., and other shrines for Perundevi Thayar, Andal, Bashyakarar, Nammazhwar, Vedantha Desikar, Adivann Satakopa Yathindra Maha Desikan, the founder and the first Jeeyar of Sri Ahobila Mutt and the front mandapam were all added later.
Perumbakkam has the unique distinction and honour of being the venue for choosing Sri U. V. Gopalacharya Swami as the 37th Peetathipathi of Sri Ahobila Math, by convening a sadas when the 36th Jeeyar, Srivann Satakopa Sri Srinivasa Yathindra Mahadesikan passed away without nominating a successor in 1898 when he camped here for nearly an year and performed Mangalasasanam to Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal. Sri U. V. Gopalacharya Swami assumed the thirunamam, Srivann Satakopa Sri Veeraraghava Satakopa Yathindra Maha Desikan. A staunch devotee of Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal, he adored Him as the replica of Kanchi Sri Varadaraja, on whom he has composed several slokas. Even though this Jeeyar adorned the peetam for only 11 months, he stayed in the village and worshipped Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal.
In and Around Thirukkovilur
Athulyanadheswarar temple at Arakandanallur
Location: The temple is located at about 3 km from Thirukkovilur towards Villupuram. The temple is located in a beautiful location on a hillock adjacent to the South Pennai river and is visible from a distance across the river. There are two entrances, one through the main road and the other through the river which is very scenic.
* One of the 275 Shiva temples glorified by the Thevara hymns
* Ramanar has meditated in this temple when he was a young boy.
* It is believed that the Pandavas visited Arankandanallur and that the temple tank close to the cave in which they stayed was created with Bhima’s mace. There are two sunais (water streams) on the hillock which are said to have been used by Pandavas and Draupadi.
* There is an imprint of Thirugnana Sambandar’s feet here. Sambandar is said to have miraculously moved a huge rock that had been placed to block the shrine. Thirugnana Sambandhar worshipped Thiruvannamalai from this hillock top.
* Worshipped by Prasanda rishi
The Temple: The 160 feet high Gopuram in this shrine (dating back to the 7th century) with three prakarams Rich in inscriptions, it received Royal patronage from local chieftains, the later Cholas and the later Pandyas. This is the south most rock-cut cave temple of Pallavas, with the solitary exception of Tiruchirapalli. Thiruvannamalai is visible from this hill. There is an idol of Ramanar as a young boy in a meditative posture and the temple is visited by many Ramana Maharsishi followers.
Anthili is a village about 2 kms south of Arakanda Nallur on the banks of the river South Pennai.
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple at Anthili
Legend: Lord Maha Vishnu in the form of Narasimha came out of a granite pillar to kill Hiranyakasibu, the father and the tormentor of Prahalad. In this avtar, the Lord rushed to help
Prahalad without calling his vahanam, Garuda. So also in Gajendra Moksha. These caused much anxiety to Garuda who felt extremely depressed on being left out. He left Vaikuntam and was doing penance at Anthili. The severe penance of Garuda pleased the Lord and He gave dharshan as Lord Narasimha with Mahalakshmi seated on His lap. Due to Garuda’s penance, Anthili thus became a sacred spot for all pilgrims.
The Madhwa seer Sri Vyasarajar visited Anthili and had dharshan of the Lord on top of a small hillock that looked liked Garuda to him. The same Vyasarajar became Sri Raghavendra in his next birth.
Temple: Subsequently, due to continuous raids by infidels, the temple lost its glory and importance. Paranur Sri Krishna Premi Swamigal renovated the temple and the kumbhabhishekam took place in 2004. At the temple, the Lord is with Mahalakshmi on his lap. The idol is small but the Lord’s glory is great.
Conatct: Baktha Jana Sabha at 04153-254098
Veera Anjaneyar temple
The Madhwa seer Sri Vyasarajar consecrated this temple during the glorious reign of the Vijayanagar Emperors.
This is situated in the Cuddalore – Chittoor trunk road, 37 km from Villupuram and about the same distance from Thiruvannamalai. This town has two parts Kizhur and Melur. While Ulagalandha Perumal temple, one of the 108 Divya desams is located in Melur, the Veeratteswarar Temple, one of the 275 sacred Thevara temples is located in Kizhur. This is the birth place of Rajaraja chola. Meiporul Nayanar ruled this place.
Ulagalanda Perumal temple
- One of the 108 Divya desams
- Vamana Trivikrama Avathara Sthalam
- One of the five Krisharanya Kshetras.
- It was here that the three Mudal Azhwars (Poigai Azhwar, Bhoodathazhwar and Peyazhwar) met one night in a small room.
Temple: The presiding deities of the Temple are 21 feet Thiruvikrama Swami and Pushpavalli Thayar. The Moolavar is in Nindra, Nadantha (Ulagalantha) kolam facing East direction with his right leg lifted up towards the sky. Mahabali’s pride bit the dust in this kshetra. Unusually, the Sangu and Chakrams of the moolavar have changed places and is seen with Sangu on the right hand and the Chakkaram on the left hand.
The temple was built about 2000 years ago in stages. Among the four towers that adorn the temple, the biggest one is in the eastern side that scales 195 feet and is the third highest structure found in Southern India. The courtyards in the temple are very large and present an exquisite feast to the eyes. The broad mandapam in front of the Thayar Shrine, especially, throws a challenge to the modern architecture, which is built in the cantilever system and affords a surprising sight. There are several sacred theerthams in the temple.
Sri Vishnu Durga: Worshiping “Goddess Durga” in a vaishnavite temple is unique. Usually, the Durga’s sanctum will be present as Koshta God in most Shiva temples. But here, the sanctum is right in front of the sanctum of Lord Vishnu. After the Thiruvikrama Avataram, Goddess Durga sought permission from Vishnu to go back to Vindhya Mountain but Lord Vishnu advised her to stay here and bless the devotees. It was said that the Goddess is guarding the Lord Thriuvikrama shrine
Azhwars: During a dark and stormy night, the three azhwars Poigai Azhwar, Bhoodathazhwar and Peyazhwar reached Tirukkovilur separately by different routes. They found all houses shut, all choultries locked up except a narrow passage in the front portion of an ashram belonging to Mrigandu Maharshi. The first to reach was Poigaiazhwar, prepared to spend the night lay down. Sometime later, Bhoodathazhwar too discovered the same place. The space which was just enough for one to lie down is now just enough for two to sit. Later the third Azhwar, Peyazhwar also arrived in seeking shelter and now the three could at least stand comfortably. The famous phrase ‘Oruvar padukka, Iruvar amara and Moover nirka’ refers to this incident.
All of a sudden, they felt rather tight pressed. Where they were standing comfortably earlier, they now felt that the available space had diminished, as if a fourth person had entered the narrow passage and was crowding them. Apparently, someone had sneaked into the already constricted space without announcement and was standing as one with them. Later they found that it was none other than the Paramatma Sriman Narayana with Sri Mahalakshmi adorning his broad chest.
The three azhwars, inspired by the grand spectacle of Emperuman’s glorious form in their midst, poured out their devotion in a hundred beautiful verses each, brimming over with bhakthi. These are the Pasurams which served as forerunners of the “Four thousand nectarine verses” that were to be composed by the other azhwars.
- One of the 8 Veeratta Stalams of Shiva
- One of the 275 sacred temples glorified by the Thevara hymns
Location: The temple is located in a place called Kizhur or Kizhaiyur.
Legend: The eight Veeratta Sthalams are where Lord Shiva vanquished various demons. Here He vanquished Andakasuran. The Periyanai Ganapathi shrine here had been worshipped by Poet Avvaiyar. Since it was getting late for the Poet to go to Kailayam, this Vinayagar is said to have lifted her up and placed ahead of Sundarar en route Kailayam.
The Temple: The moolavar here is a big Swayambu lingam. During the Kumbabhisheha work, when the area around the lingam was dug up, the base of the lingam was going well below 25 feet and so it was left untouched further. Although much in need of repair, frescos on ceilings are of interest. The Rajagopuram is about 70 ft in height and the temple has 2 praharams. Inscriptions from the Pallava, Vijayalaya I and Paranthaka Chola I periods are found here.
Durgai koshta God is here is very special since Her eyes appear with white eyeballs as real eyes though the idol has been sculptured in black granite stone. It’s a wonder indeed! The Ambal temple is located separately.
This place, being maintained by the state Archaeological Department, is near the Veeratteswarar temple and is situated in the middle of the river Pennayar. After the death of Pari, the King who is said to have given his chariot to a jasmine creeper for its support to grow, his daughters Angavai and Sangavai had suffered a lot. The saint poet Kabilar, a good friend of Pari and the caretaker of the girls could not bear the pain of the sufferings of the girls had immolated himself on this rock.
The history of the Matam, takes us back to the times of Adhi Shankara. Adhi Shankara established four Peetams of which Jyotir Matam is one, with Thotakacharya as the main functionary (Thotakacharya was Sankara’s disciple). In this lineage the Fifth Peetathipathi was Sri Sivaratna Giri Swamiji. Sri Gnanananda Giri Swami was his principal disciple viz. Sixth Peetathipathi.
When His Guru attained Samadhi on a Chitra Pournami day, Sri Gnanananda Giri Swami was unable to bear the separation of his Guru and so left the Peetam and went to Manasarour, handing over the charge to his disciple. At Manasarovar, he practised vigorous penance for a number of years and travelled by foot to a number of places in India, Malaya (now Malaysia), Burma (now Myanmar) and Sri Lanka, and interacted and blessed his devotees. At last he reached Thirukkovilur and established the Ashram at the Thapovanam. He is a Siddha Purusha, transcending time and space.
Sri Rahothama Swami Moola Brindhavan
The Samadhi of Swami Ragothama, worshipped by the followers of Madhwas and others is situated on the bank of the river South Pennai.
- Kugai Namachivayar Samadhi in the North street
- Aadhi Madalayam near the Veerateswarar temple