Arunachaleswarar Temple ( Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu )
Image credit : Girish
The temple at Tiruvannamalai is one of the biggest and grandest temples in South India. With the hill as back ground it gives the appearance of a fort to those who see it from a distance. It is unique on account of its stately towers, high rampart walls, broad quadrangles, spacious gateways, large mantapams and fine tanks. It has also much architectural importance and sculputural beauty.
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Tiruvannamalai should have been under the sway of the Pallava Kings who ruled from Kancheepuram before the ninth century A.D. We do not find any inscription in the temple prior to A.D.850 and hence the present temple could not have existed then. Saint Sambandar in his Thevaram relating to this place mentions a temple. Saints Appar and Sambandar belonged to the Seventh Century, Sekkizhar, the renowned author of Periapuranam mentions that both the Saints Appar and Sambandar worshipped Arunchaleswarar in the hill Temple.
Image credit : Ramana
The Chola Kings ruled over the country for more than four Centuries from 850 A.D. to 1280 A.D. Some earlier Kings of Vijayalaya dynasty must have begun to construct the inner shrine(Garbegraha). In the fourteenth Century the Hoysala Kings had their capital at Tiruvannamalai. Afterwards the Kings of Vijayanagar and Nayak Kings of Thanjavur ruled over this part of the Country. In the Seventeenth Century it came under the sway of the Nawabs of Carnatic. There was confusion and chaos after A.D. 1753. Muraru Raya, Krishna Raya, Mrithis Ali Khan, Burkat Ullakhan, French Soupries and Sambrinet, English Captain Stephen Smith besieged this place and had their successes and defeats. In A.D. 1790 it was captured by Tippu Sultan. During the first half of the nineteenth century it came under the British rule.
The Temple is situated east at the bottom of the hill half a mile west of the Railway Station. It faces East. It has got four stately towers on all the four sides and four high stone walls just like the rampart walls of a fort. The Eastern Tower called the Rajagopuram is the Highest. The Southern tower is called Thirumanjangopuram, that iin the west is called Peygopuram and that in the north is called Ammaniamma Gopuram. The temple occupies an extent of about 25 acres of land. The walls on the East and West measure 700 feet each. The South wall is 1479 feet long and North wall is 1590 feet. The Rajagopuram which adorns the East Gateway is 217 feet high with 11 storeys, its base measure 135 feet by 98 feet. This tower was built by King Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagar and completed by Sevappa Nayaka of Thanjavur. Krishna Devaraya also constructed the Thousand Pillared Mantapam and dug the tank opposite to it . Ammani Ammal a Sanyasini built the North Gopuram which is called after her name.