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Arunachaleswar Shiva Temple

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Karur, India.

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There are three categories of Shiva Lingam sites in India: the Jyotir Lingams, the Swayambhu Lingams and the Bhuta Lingams. Located in five south Indian temples, the Bhuta Lingams are places where Shiva manifested himself as the natural elements. The temples and their respective elements are Chidambaram (Ether), Sri Kalahasti (Wind), Tiruvanaikka (Water), Kanchipuram (Earth), and Tiruvanamalai (Fire).

The Shiva temple in Tiruvanamalai is situated at the foot of Arunachala hill. Sprawling over 25 acres, with an unknown date of founding, the complex grew over millennia and the large towers, called gopurams, were erected between the 10th and 16th centuries. The tallest gopuram is over 60 meters tall and has 13 stories. The central temple enshrines images of Shiva as Lord Annamalai and his consort as Unnamalai. Every year during the Hindu month of Kartikai (November to December), the great Deepam festival is held to celebrate Shiva's manifestation as the light of Arunachala. For ten days the city of Tiruvanamalai is alive with celebration, processions, dancing and singing. On the final day of the festival, the eve of the full moon, a huge beacon fire is ignited atop the hill in commemoration of the fire left by Shiva. Arunachala hill is considered a miraculous healing place, especially for ailments of the lungs and barrenness in women. The hill of Arunachala is also a symbol of spiritual knowledge and several great sages have lived here, including Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950).

More about the Arunachaleswar Shiva Temple.

Written by  Martin Gray.

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