Structure of the Shrine :
Of the great temples of Tamilnadu, Annamalaiar temple is one. It is spread over an extent of 24 acres.
Like all other temples, this Annamaliar temple too has a sanctum, Muha mandapam, corridors, and walls of enclosure.
This temple further has sports pavillions, several circumambulatory passages, subsidary shrines, Thousand pillared mandapams, Hundred pillared mandapam, sacred tanks, gopurams, etc.
As renovation occured during several periods, the old structure has been changed a little. Yet, the sanctum retains the old pattern. This is corroborated by inspections. The "Kodungai" or the roof edge is formed of Yali friezes and the vimana of mortar.
There are six enclosures in the Temple :
The number of Gopurams are 9 in all. Of these, four are in the midst of the walls.
Raja gopuram is the name, by which the big tower in the east is called. It has 11 tiers, with a Width of 135 ft by 98 ft at the base. The Tanjore Big temple erected by the Chola monarch Raja Chola Soars 216 ft high. Just to compare and rival that height, one more foot has been added to the elevation of this temple making it 217 ft. And this tower provides the main entrance to the temple.
Ammani ammal gopuram, Thirumanjuna gopuram and pey Gopuram are the names of the north, south and west towers respectively.
As its name erroneously indicates. There is neither pey (ghost) nor devil in it. In olden times, Tamil scholars with literacy aspirations have named this tower as mel gopuram (western tower). But as years passed, this name got corrupted into pey gopuram!
The first and second enclosures with their enclosing walls are the oldest. The third enclosure were erected by Kulottunga as evidenced by the epigraphs in kili gopuram.
The fourth enclosure, the wall abutting it, the fifth enclosure, the thousand pillared hall the Big nandi, the sivaganga Tank, the wall enclosing huge structures and the tower, all belong to the 16th century.
The Outer Enclosure :
The outermost corridor called the outer enclosure has a granite wall. It is not only very high, wide and strong but also links the entrance gopurams.
The massive wall is about 30ft high. At some places in this wall, portrait images of kings are seen. The inscriptions found in the wall, portrait images of Kings are seen. The inscriptions found in the wall are disjointed and broken.
The Thousand pillared Hall :
On entering the temple through the East tower the big structure one faces in the right is Thousand pillared Hall. There are indications that it was built by krishna Deva Raya.
This Thousand pillared Hall sports exactly 1000 pillars. The pillars are curved, with sculptures of Naik period and some divine images. Sages, Vishnu's incranations too find a place with floral designs.
The basement of this mandapa is adorned with the design of girls playing kolattam, Warrior's sports etc.
This Mandapam is used for the Deities to be seated for ablution and worship on Ani Thirumanjanam, and day of Thiruvathirai.
Kambathu IIayanar :
The sannadhi of Kammbatthu IIayanar is located opposite to the Thousand pillared Hall closely connected with the life of Arunagirinadar. This mandapa exhibits the image of Muruga in a pillar in north.
Puranas proclaim that Muruga gave darshan to prouda Deva Raja in response to a song of Arunagiri nadtha.
The Tank - Sivaganga :
The sacred pool, Sivaganga, is to the south of the Kambathu iiayanar mandapam with enclosed corridor. This tank is used for sacred abulations to the Deities in the temple.The tank, with steps all round present a panoranic view.
Inscriptions reveal that water to this tank was provided by digging a cannal called Thirumalai amman Devi Samudram.
The Shrine is in the northern bank of the tank. Sivagangai Vinayagar is another name by which this Vinayagar is known. He is in a seated posture.
The Mandapa encircling the sanctum are filled with various images of the later Naik periods in the roof.
The Big Nandhi :
Passing across the Sivaganga Tank, and Vinayaga Shrine, we accost the beautiful Mandapa with a big Nandi, the bull 6ft long which was erected by Vallala Maharja.
IIayanar Koil of the Gopura :
The Gopura IIayanar koil is opposite the Nandi mandapa. It is built in the outer courtyard of the north enclousere .
It is in this place that Lord Muruga gave darshan and blessed the poet Arunagiri. In the Samadhi is God Muruga with his two spouses. There is also a copper image of Arunagiri here. The mandapa too is near by and this fact has been expreesed by Arunagiri in one of his songs.
The Sannadhi of Kalyana Sundarar :
To the south of the Gopura is situated the shrine of kalyana sundarar. In this shrine are the Linga, the Devi and the Nandi. In front of The sanctum is a marriage mandapam linked and in this mandapa devotees perform marriages.
Kala Bairava :
The Kala Bairava Shrine is located in the north enclosure attached to the south wall of the tower of Vallala Maharajah. The kala Bairava presents a terrific appearence in a standing pose with a halo round his head.
Possessed of eight arms, armed with Udukkai, kapala, Sword, Sheild. Parrot, Bell and Sula spreading his legs He stands. A halo of lamps encircle his head, and tounges of Fire shoot out from that halo. Protruding teeth, anklets, and third eye complete His appearence.
Brahama Tirtha :
This sacred pool with beautiful steps is in front of the Bairavar temple. In this tank too, the sacred ablutions of the Deities are performed.
Puravi Mandapam :
The roof of the mandapa exhibits paintings of the Naik period. Most of the murals are in black pigment. The scene of churning the milk ocean are painted in series.
Thirai Konda Vinayagar :
Yanai Thirai Konda Vinayaga temple is in the south of the steps of Killi gopura. This Vinayaga Shrine has been exquisitely wrought. This God, Vinayaga threatened a king with evil propensities, in dream. The king naturally frightened paid a ransom of several elephants. Hence this Vinayaga (the Vinayaga who got ransom of elephants).
The shrine is to the right of kili gopura and to left is Pichai IIayanar sannadhi .
Subsidiary Shrines :
Next to the Puravi Mandapa is a small Nandi. To the South arae Brahmalingam (Mukalinga), Vidyadareswarar, Vinayagar, Naleswarer respectively.
In the Shrine of Naleswarar, images of Durgai in exquisite form are in ghosta.
Third Enclousere :
On passing through the Kiligopura one accosts the Katchi mandapa first. This mandapa has 16 pillars. It is from this Mandapa, that the Pancha Murthis (five deities) give darshan on the day of Kartigai. Ardanariswarar too gives darshan from this place. Exactly in front are Bali Peeta, Nandi, and Flag-staff. This is the third enclosure.
To the south of the prakara is the place where food is prepared for the Lord. In the north mandapa is the the officer for administering temple affairs. To the east and west of this mandapa i.e. at the north end of the Kiligopura are Chidambaresvarar. Jambukesvarer, Ekambaresvarer, and Pidari shrines.
The imges of the saptha mathas chiselled in seperate stones, are in the shrine which faces north. Inside Nadambasudani gives darshan with 8 arms.
In a Stone here only the head of Renuka Devi is seen. It is about 2 1/2 ft high. It is a beautiful image. The nose is slightly damaged.
In the administrative office, the room for Yagasalai and the sanctum of Kalathiswara to the right are located. The Sacred Bull in the Sannadhi of Kalathiswara is very long and have short horns.
To the south-west in this Prakara is the Thiru Kalyana mandapam (marriage Hall). Formed in Vijayanagara art, the pillars have been smmothly polished in subsequent times. This mandapa is of exquisite beauty. Within this Mandapa is the Bhimeswar Linga and a dais in front. Several paintings of Charm adorn this mandapa.
Patala Linga :
Ramana Maharishi stayed in this cave for several years and did penance. Gifted by Tarapore, it was opened by Rajaji.
Sambanda Vinayagar :
Sambanda Vinayagar's shrine is located to the north of the Flag staff and Bali peeta. To the south is palani Andavar.
Sambanda Vinayaga looks crimson smeared with saffron. Of huge size he is in a siiting pose. It is related that this Vinayaga killed an Asura and smeared the body with his blood.
And inscription Saka 1262 (1340 A.D) of the reign of Vira Ballala Diva is found here. From this epigraph we learn that one sambundanadar lived in the temple of Thiruvannamalai. He was very influential in the temple of Annamalaiyar. He was also the head of a Mutt. Because this sannadhi was erected by him, it got the name Sambandha Vinayagar.
Second Enclosure :
While circumambulating this prakara on a raised platform can be seen Sanakesvarer, Sanantesvarar,sanatanesvarar, Sanatkumarar, Kowsikesvarar, Kutcarisvarar,Valmi Visvanadar, Naradesvarar, Kasilingam, Vaisambadanesvarar and sixty three Nayanmars like Sundarar etc. Thambureswarar also is here.
Adjoining it are Sapta Mathas chiselled in Stone. Goutamar (2ft) and Durvasa (4ft) are here in a standing pose.
In the West row, are the Festival Idols of Somaskanda, Venugopala Sannadhi and sanctum of Arumauga. To the left are several Lingas. In the north now are the Bhiksadanar, Shanmugar, festival idls of 63 Nayanmars etc.
The image of Kalasankara 3ft high armed with Mazhu, pasa, Sula and Kapala is in the act of killing Yama. This is a very beautiful image.
The image of Bhairava of 3 1/2 high (105 cms) is armed with Uddukai, Pasa, Sula and Kapala . The image of Dog is nearby. The fire halo and a necklace are his ornaments.
Sthala Vinayaga :
The sanctum of this vinayaga is in the south west corner of the southern end in the west of the second prakara. This was erected by Semibiam Ma Devi of Kandaraditya Chola.
First Prakara :
Glass Lights, Pendants Lamps and Kuthu Villaku adorn the first and second prakara.
Dakshinamurthi is enshrined in the ghosta of the sanctum in the first prakara. This deity is decked with Snake, Fire, Rosary and Book and is in a seated pose. Benath him are the Muyalkan and the four sages.
Lingodbava is seen with vishnu in the form of a Boar digging the earth and as a Swan.Usually the Swan will be seen only in a flying pose. But here, peculiarly it is found seated on His head.
Brahma with rosary, Kamandala in two hands and bestowing Abaya by the other hand is seen standing.
Durga Devi is standing on the head of a Buffalo, Abaya and Katyavilambita are the poses featured by Her hands.
As is found in all other temples Chandikesvara is present in a seperate shrine.
Friezes of Buta (Ganas)
The Ganas found in the Vimana are seen some supporting the structure, some playing the flute, some drumming, some dancing, some clapping etc.
The two Dvarapalakas in the first Prakara is 10 ft high (3mt). He is adorned with Jata Mukada, Mazhu, Danda and displays Tharjani, mudra, leaning on the Danda, The Dvarapalaka on the left has a snake.
The Dvarapalakas in the Sanctum has only 2 hands.Holding a snakein his hand, he has a Gadtha and exhibits Tarjani mudra.
The sanctum of the sacred Annamalaiyar is reached by the main entrance in the east.
Within the sanctum Annamalaiyar, Personified, is present in Linga form. While the Avudiyar is round, the Rudra baga is covered with gold plate.
None but the initiated Sivachariars could touch the Linga. Nearby is Mekku chakra - the Bed room Idol and a bronze idol of Yaga sakti Amman.
Unnamalai Amman :
The Devi shrine is a deperate structure, opposite this shrine is a big mandapa.Besides these are the Flag staff Nandhi and Navgrahas. The Dvarapalakas are armed with Gadtha, exhibit Tarjani mudra and has a crown.
The entire Devi shrine has been renovated last century by Nagarattars and display later day architecture. In the prakara around this sanctum the festival idols are kept; in the west Lingodbava, processional idol of vinayaga Somalinga, Cheralingam, Brahmi and Durga are housed.
All round the sanctum and in Antarala are five Sakti Ammans in ghostas, Each image is 1 1/2 ft tall.
In the sanctum is enshrined Unnamalai Amman, 3ft (90 cms) tall, radiating peace. The Mandapa outside the sanctum has beautiful pillars worked with exquisite art. Because of Astha-Lakshmi here, the Mandapa is known as the Astha Laxmi Mandapam.
TEMPLE MODEL :
Names of God and Godesses :
The Deity enshrined in this sthala, who bestows grace, has innumerable name : Annamalaiyan,Adhirunkazhalan, Kannaramuthan, Kaliyaga meyyan, Thiyagan Devaroyan, Parimala Vasantha Rajan, Abinaya Bhujagarajan, Vasantarayan ,Puzhugn, Iraivan, Puzhugani Pradhapan, Malaimel Maruthan, Manmadanathan, Vasantha Vinodhan, Vizha Azhagan etc.
Thiruvannamalai Andar, Thiruvannamalai Mahadevar, Thiruvannamalai Alwar, Thiruvannamalai udayar, Annanattu udayar are the names of this Deity as gleaned from epigraphs.
Unnamalai Ammai, is the name of the Goddesses who sheds Her grace, enshrined in a seperate temple here. The inscriptions speak of her name as Unnamalai Nachiar, Thirumakottamudiya Thambirattiyar.
Names of Images :
In the Annamalaiyar temple are several mandapas like jnanapal mandapa. Tirthavari mandapa, Thiru Arul Vilasa mandapa, several gopurams like Raja Gopuram, Kili Goupra etc; five Prakaras and several subsidary shrines like Pidari Koil, Kambathu Ilayanar Koil, and some sacred pools like Sivaganga Tirtha, Brahma Tirtha etc. In these are enshrined several images. They can be classified thus :
1. Raja Gopuram
1. Gopura Ganapathi
2. Viral Minda Nayanar
2. Kambathu Ilayanar Koil
2. Kambathu Ilayanar (Mulavar)
4. Surasamhara murthi
3. Sarva Siddi Vinayagar Koil
1. Sarva Siddi Vinayagar
5. Big Nandi
6. Bali peeta
4. Patala Lingesvarar
1. Patala Lingesvarar
5. Gopura Ilayanar Sannadhi
2. Gopura Ilayanar
6. Kalyanasundaresuvarar Sannadhi
4. Ucchi pilliar
5. Vanni Tree Vinayagar
7. Bank of Brahma Tirtha
1. Kala Bairavar
5. Brahma Lingam
6. Bali peeta
7. Yanai Thirai Konda Vinayagar
8. Kili Gopura (North)
3. Pichai Ilayanar
6. Bali Peeta
9. Third Prakara
1. Pani Ponn Pottu Kottum Vinayagar.
2. Dakshinamurthi under the Magizha tree
3. Vinayagar under the Magizha tree
4. Jalakantesvarar under the Magizha tree
5. Nandi under the Magizha tree
10. Thirukkalyana Mandapam
11. Thrid Prakara (West Side)
2. Big Nandi
3. Small nandi
12. Third Enclosure (North Side)
2. Big Nandi
3. Small Nandi
13. Pidari Temple
2. Renuka Devi
3. Puja of Kannappar
11. Ashtabuja Pidari
13. Bali Peeta
14. Chidambareswarar Temple
15. Jambukeswarar Temple
16. Ekambareswarar Temple
17. Sambanda Vinayagar Sannadhi
1. Sambanda Vinayagar
18. Flag Staff Mandapa
1. Front Bali Peeta
3. Undi Vinayagar
19. Dhandapani Temple
20. Second Enclosure
1. Adhikara Nandi
2. Indra Lingam
7. Thriunavukarasu swamigal
8. Sundaramurthi Swamigal
9. Thirujnana Sambanda Swamigal
10. Manickvachaka Swamigal
12. Kuthsarishi Esvarar
14. Agni Lingam
18. Kasi Lingam
Row of Arupathu Muvar
1. Sundrarmurthi swamigal
2. Thillai Vazh Andanar
3. Thiruneelakanta Nayanar
4. Eiyarpagai Nayanar
5. Ilayangudi Nayanar
6. Meyporul Nayanar
7. Viral Meenda Nayanar
8. Amarneedhi Nayanar
9. Eripatha Nayanar
10. Enadhi Nayanar
11. Kannappa Nayanar
12. Kungilya kalaya Nayanar
13. Manickanchara Nayanar
14. Arivattya Nayanar
15. Anaya Nayanar
16. Murthi Nayanar
17. Muruga Nayanar
18. Rudra Pasupathi Nayanar
19. Thirunalayaippovar Nayanar
20. Thirukkurippu Thonda Nayanar
21. Chandesvara Nayanar
22. Thirunavukkarasu Nayanar
23. Kulachchirai Nayanar
24. Perumizhalai Nayanar
25. Karaikkal Ammayar
26. Apputhi Adgal Nayanar
27. Thiruneel Nakka Nayanar
28. Nami Nandi Adigal Nayanar
29. Thirujnana Sambanada Swamigal
30. Aeyar Kon Kalik Kama Nayanar
31. Thirumula Nayanar
32. Thandi Adigal Nayanar
33. Muruga Nayanar
34. Somasi Mara Nayanar
35. Chakkia Nayanar
36. Chirapuli Nayanar
37. Siruthonda Nayanar
38. Cheraman Perumal Nayanar
39. Gananadha Nayanar
40. Kurruva Nayanar
41. Poyydimai Illadha Pulavar Nayanar
42. Pugazh Chola Nayanar
43. Narasinga Munaya Nayanar
44. Athipaththa Nayanar
45. Kalikamba Nayanar
46. Kaliya Nayanar
47. Saththi Nayanar
48. Iyadigal kadavar kon Nayanar
49. Kanam Pulla Nayanar
50. Kavi Nayanar
51. Ninra Chir Nedumara Nayanar
52. Vayilar Nayanar
53. Manai Aduvar Nayanar
54. Kazharchinga Nayanar
55. Idankazhi Nayanar
56. Cheruthunai Nayanar
57. Pugazhthunai Nayanar
58. Kotputi Nayanar
59. Nesa Nayanar
60. Ko-Chengat Chozha Nayanar
61. Thiruneelakanta Yazparna Nayanar
62. Sadaya Nayanar
63. Poosalar Nayanar
1. Paththarai Panivar
2. Paramanayich Paduvar
3. Chithathai Sivam Paley Vaithar
4. Thiruvaroor Pirandar
5. Muppozhuthun Thirumeni Theenduvar
6. Muzhu Neeru Poosia Munivar
7. Appalum adi sardandar
9. Isai Jnaniar
11. Yama Lingam
12. Kasi Lingam
13. Kasi Lingam
14. Kasi Lingam
15. Kasi Lingam
28. Sthala Vinayagar
30. Nrita Lingam
Second Prakara (West)
1. Venugopala Swamy
Festival idol of Somaskandar
1. Dvarapalakas (2)
2. Varuna Lingam
4. Vyasa Lingam
6. Vikra Pandisvarar
7. Vanitta Lingam
13. Sahasra Lingam
14. Satha Lingam
15. Sri Devi
16. Jesta Devi
17. Vayu Lingam
19. Kubera Lingam
22. West Side of Bed - Chamber (Palli Arai)
4. 108 Lingam
9. Bairavar (separate shrine)
10. Isana Lingam
22. First Prakara
1. Ratha Lamp Nandi
2. Ratha Lamp Bali Peeta
4. Ganapathi in ghostas
5. Dakshinamurthi in ghostas
6. Lingodbava in ghostas
9. Bali peetas in 8 directions (8)
24. Maha Mandapa
1. Pradosh Nandi
2. Bali Peetah
3. Dvrapalakas (2)
1. Annamalayar (Main Deity)
26. Devi Shrine Flag staff mandapa
1. Vijayaragava Vinayagar
3. Flag Staff Nandi
4. Bali Peeta
7. Adi - mudi Ariunadevar
(one whose beginning and end cannot be fathomed)
27. Ashta Laxmi mandapam
2. Bali peeta
7. Choza Lingam
8. Chera Lingam
28. Ghosta Sannadhis
5. Siva Durga
7. Bali Peeta (8)
8. Unnamulai Amman (Main Deity)
9. Navagrahas (9)
Bronze Idols :
In this sacred temple of Annamalaiyar, are several bronze idols many centuries old. These bronze idols inclusive of the enclosing arch-work are very heavy.
All images appear red as bronze is mixed in greater proportion in the mixture of five mineral elements. Most of the Images are provided with parta peeta or padma peetah. During times of festivals all these idol are decked in jewels and fine cloth to the taken in procession.
These images provide the opportunity for the Lord gracing the sanctum to come out inprocession. For every Deity existing in stone inside the temple there is a counter part in bronze.
These idols are brought out during festivals with the intention that even people outside the temple should have darshna (see) and be enlightened and blessed.
As this Thiruvannamalai sthala has several festivals every month, all the bronze idols appear clean and bright.
Some of the bronze idols in this shrine have gold sheaths. Vinayaga and Biksatana images present themselves with gold covering. This golden sheath is used during important days.
All bronze images except the bed chamber Annamalayar (Palli-arai) are as exquisite as those of other temples.
Most of the images are only in the Mandapa called Pokkisha mandapa (Treasure Room), Big Somaskanda, Thani Amman, Ardanarisvara, etc. are in the Mandapas of the Corridar.
Images of Devis like Para-Shakti are in the Amman shrine.
The images of Arda-narisvara and Arupattu Muvar (63 Nayanmars) come out in procession only once in the year.
The bronze diol of Ganapathi is about 2 ft high (60 cms) and is in a standing pose. He has Ankusa in the upper right arm, Pasa in the upper left arm, the tusk in the lower right hand, and the modaka in the lower left hand. He presents a charming picture with a Siras-Chakra and a bell in his trunk.
This bronze idol about 2 ft high (60 cms) is called Sri Mula nayagar. The image of Chandrasekara and the Devi nearby are seen standing in one parta peeta. Lord Siva is seen with Axe, Deer and Abaya Mudra. His left hand is embracing the Devi. The idol is used to be taken in procession inside the temple during Prodosha. It is never taken outside.
Loard Muruga cast in bronze has six arms and stands as Devasenapathi. Single faced. He sports six arms wielding vajra, sword, dagger, and shield exhibiting Abaya and Simhakama mudras.
The peacock is behind the Lord who stands on the patra peeta. Valour anklets, symbol of valour, sacred thread, Udara Banda, and Patra Kundalas adorn Him.
The bronze image of Valli, stands adorned with patra Kundalas, in her ears, covering for breasts.
The bronze idol of Deivayanai is ornamented with Makara Kundalas, sacred thread across her breasts, bangles in her hands, anklet, ring, Hara and Siras-Chakra.
This image of bronze has Vinayaga in front and Rishabavahana behind and is taken out during festivals.
Chandrasekarar in bronze presents himself in a standing pose, with Jatmakuta, axe, deer, exhibiting Abaya Varada mudras. Clad upto knees, he is decked with udurapanda, sacred thread and ornaments in chest. He is about 3.5 ft high (105 cms)
There is another image of Chandrasekarar of 15-16 th century. This is smaller than the former Chandrasekara. Hence this is called Chinna (small) Chandrasekarar.
This Devi, is seen standing without any covering for breasts, makara kundalas in ears and an ornament in her waist. This image in 3 ft. (90 cms ) high.
In her waist the dress is fashioned in Simha Muka knot. The deer, in katri Mudra seen standing it is two fingers with its two legs planted.
The finger prints in the hand are unique unlike usually found in other idols. Siras-Chakra and many jewels adorn the image.
The other Devi, near the small Chandrasekarar, is in a standing pose bereft of the covering for the breasts, cloth extended to the knees the sacred thread across the chest, curved kolusu and padukam in the legs. It is 2 1/4 ft high.
The idol ardanarisvarar is seen standing in Parta Padma Peet, attached with the enclosing Tiruvasi (Arch). His coiffere is Jata Makuta. Slightly unaligned wielding axe, lily, Abaya hasta, the left lower arm poised on the waist, He presents himself.
Makara Kundalas adorn the ears. Sacred thread, Siras-chakra are the ornaments.
Tiger skin covers the right leg upto the knees, and the left upto the ankle. The left chest portray feminine features. The circular indentures in the neck look like ornaments.
This bronze idol is not used for festival processions. Only during the Jothi Darshan of Karthigai, it bestows darshan within the temple to the Pancha Murtis, the legend of bestrowing the left hald of the body to Uma. Then the image is taken inside.
The Deity seated in Sukasana Pose on Padma peets, Wields axe, deer, and Abaya-Varada mudras. Jata-makuta and Makra kundalas also adorn. Kapala, Snake, Moon and Ganga are found in the jata-makuta.
The Devi with Simha-karma and Varada mudra is neaby. Greeta-makuta and the covering for breast is absent. This is dangling the left leg. The hair is beautifully partitioned.
In between them in the front, Kanda is found standing. He holds lilis in both hands. It is not clothed, and stands in Padma Pita to ha height of 11/2 ft (45 cms).
The Deity and th eDevi stand to a height of 2 ft (60 cms) each.
In the Padma peeta of Kanda, the worked 'Thiruvannamalai Subramaniar' and in the peeta of the Deity 'Thiruvannamalai Vumanama' are engraved.
This bronze image of 31/2 ft(105 cms) height, is seen standing on the padma Peeta. It is clothed upto its knees. It has a Siras chakra too. Two rows of gem garlands encircle the neck. Patakam and kolusu adorn the legs. The arms are decked with Vahu Valai, Karai, and finger rings.
This idol is taken in procession during fetivals in Ani andMarghzi. This comes twice in the first festival and only in the evenings during the second festival.
In some festivals, the big Somaskandar too is taken out.
This Deity is seated in Padma peet wielding Axe. Deer and Baya mudra. The Jata makuta and the padma peeta are unique. Udarabanda and tiger-skin too adorn the image.
The Devi sporting Karanta-Makuta dangles her left leg. Lily and Varada mudra are exhibited in her hands, and She presents a very charming pose in her seated posture.
Kanda has padma flowers in both hands. A waist band circles his waist. Padma Kundalas are his ear ornaments. This is the main Somaskandar. Diamond diadeem and Hasta are some of its ornaments.
This image of 4 ft (120 cms) hight slightly inclined forward, presents a very charming sepectacle and looks as if holding something. Karanta makuta, Makara Kuntala, and Siras Chakra enhance her beauty. The arms are long and reach below the knee. The fingers of the left arm seen to be linked.
Baktha Anugraha Somaskandar
This idol is the oldest image in this temple. This image of the 11th century is exceedingly charming to behold. A unique feature in this is the presence of both Kanda and Ganapathi. This is never taken out in any procession.
In the Jatamakuta of the Deity are found the Moon, Snake, the Third eye, sacred thread and Udarabanda. The affire falls upto the thigh. A gem in the right leg, there necklaces in the neck, axe, deer and Abaya mudra are some ornaments.
The Goddess poses Simha karna Mudra and Varada Hasta.
In between is seen Skanda of five feet height and holding padma flower.
To the right of the Deity towards the end of the peeta the crawiling of Ganapthi is of unparralled beauty.
The single Devi linked with the above mentioned Somaskandar, is about 2.5 ft high(75 cms) and is adorned with Makara Kundalas.
This bronze idol of 3 ft (90 cms) height is seen feeding grass to the deer in theright side and a dwarf gana (11/2 ft 45 cms) is stationed towards the left. This image is used for taking out in procession. Wielding Udukkai, Sula, Tender shoots and Kapala, wearing a wooden sandel in the legs, holding a staff padakam, kazal, and gem adorning the legs, He is in the act of stepping out. Bereft of any attire, only a snake (with its hood hear the left arm) girdles his waist.
The deer too is decked with Silambu in legs and germs around the neck. Rings sparkle in his fingers. The dwarf gana holds in left a pan.
The Udukka is found lether bound. Jata para kundalas, Vahuvalai, Siras-chakara, a gem necklace and symbol of valour are some of his adornments. The Kapala in the centre of his head, Ganga to the right, and the crescent to the left, and anake are also seen.
This idol is taken in procession on the golden hued Meru in Karthigai festival.
The bronze Chandikesvara wields the Axe and sports a jata-makuta. A sacred thread runs athwart his Chest. In the big festival during Karthigai month, the last day festival belong to him.
This vinayaga seen standing, wields Ankusa, Pasa, Tusk and Modaka.
This image takes part in the festivals of Vinayaga Chathurti in Avani and on the first day festival of the great grand utsava of Karthigai.
This idol of 3.5 ft (105 cms) comes out only once in festivals of the year. Ablutions are performed for this image in a grand scale on all the six days of Kanda Shasti on the sixth day it is taken out in procession.
Lord Shanmuga is seated on the peacock in Sukasana pose, The snake is entwined in its legs and mouth. Sporting six faces and twelve arms, Shanmuga is decked with Vira Khazhal. Vajra, Sakti, Bow, arrow, sword, shield, wheel, cock ensign Axe, pasa and mudras of Abaya and Varada are exhibited in his hands.
The idol of Valli, as usual is in a standing pose wearing Thodu in her ears.
The image of Deivayanai bereft of breast covering, holds the lily and has Siras Chakra.
The four smayacharayars are stationed opposite the Treasury Dais in the second prakara.
The image of Appar clothed only upto the knees, has the shrub remover in his shoulders. Seen in a standing posture, he has the Rudraksha bead garland, Kuzhais hang in his ears. Two rows of Rudraksha beads adorn his forehead.
This bronze image of Sambandar holds a pair of cymbais in both his hands. His jata makuta is formed into a knot scred thread, a dollar necklace, attain to th eknees and anklets form his decoration.
This idol of Sundarar, with his coifferun formed into a knot makara kundalas, udarabanda, sacred thread and Vahu valai adorning stands in supreme majestly. Attire to the knee and many jewels add to his charm.
A rudraksha bead on the forehead with beautiful curls is present on Manickavachaka. A tuft is seen on the head, while the robes fall to his knee wearing a sacred thread. He exhibits Chin Mudra and Rosary. His left hand holds manuscripts, in which is written the word 'Namasivaya'. His fingers are decked with rings.
The four images of these four Nayanmars commencing from Thillai Vazh Andanar to Sekkilar are about 11/4 ft (37 cms) high each. All these idols are taken out in procession on the 6th day of the Karthigai festival in the morning.
The bronze pidari amman, in Sukasana seated pose wields flame in head, tusks, Udukkai, pasa, Sula and kapala. It is abot 11/2 ft high.
Besides these some more idols are found in the Aman shrine.
The image of thei Devi is never taken out for precessions. Wielding Ankusa, Pasa, Abaya, Varada, she stands 31/2 ft (105 cms) high. A bewitching smile pervades her face. Attired only upto the knee decked with many jwels, she exudes a beauty of her own. A unique ornament like the kumudam flower atop her ears adorns.
Both the big and small Parasakti idosl are very old. But this Prasakti is a little new, being cast in this century. It is taken out during the Adi-Poora festival and finds a place in Navaratri functions and the Floating festival. Devoid of breast covering, she is found holding jatamakuta, Ankusa, pase, Abaya and Varada. In her neck dangles the Mango chain. The design of the Thali proclaims that it is of recent times.
Bed - Chamber Amman
This idol is of later date one and quarter feet (37 cms) high, it is decked with Kirta makuta, breast cover, makara kundala, kolusu and padakam. The image is taken to the bed chamber at nights and taken back during mornings.
Nataraja is seen trampling Muyalaka with his right leg and dance the Ananda Tandava with his left leg. Peacock feathers, makuta, four braids (two on each side) adorn Him. Gems on riht leg and tiger skin to the thigh are further decorations. Gudara banda closely twisted Uttariyas circular back each with fire blazes as halo, kapala in the crown datura flowers, cresent, makara patra kundalas, Udukkai in hand, fire, Abaya mudra are all the decorations providess. He is holding the fire in his palms. Ganga is enmeshed in his locks. An enigmalic smile crosses his lips. Five feet high, He is in Padma peeta.
Every year six ablutions are performed for this Nataraja. Of these the Ani Thirumanjana and Arudra Darsana stand foremost and take place in the thousand pillared Hall. A street procession also takes place.
Sivakami ammai is seen standing and holding something. In her neck are the Thali and Pottu necklace. It is about four and hald feet high and makara Kundalas, Siras Chakra, Karanta makuta and many more jewels adorn.
The image of small Nataraja is 2 ½ ft tall tall and is linked with the surrounding Arch.
Bed Room Deity
In the sacred sthalas the mountain itself is yhe form of God. It looks like a Sivalinga stationed on 3 crests. One cannot come across such a unique feature anywhere else.
Sacred Tanks :
A place acquires sanctily due to a temple, Deity and Tank. In some places, the temple will be famous, in some the Deity, temple and tank. In this Sthala, the Fame is because of the deity, temple and tank(s). There are several sacred pools in and around Thiruvannamalai.
Sivaganga Tank :
The Sivaganga Tank is located within the temple south of the Kambathu IIayanar shrine. This is a very picturesque pool. It is the general custom that one should bathe in this tank and then worship Annamaliar.
This tank has been provided with steps all round, and a Mandapa. Its sanctily is immesaureable. This tank was constructed by Nagarthars and supervised by Swamimalai Sri Narayana Swamy Iyer.
Brahama Tirtham :
This sacred pool is situated within the temple, opposite to the Kala Bairavar shrine. This is Provided with beautiful steps.
The ablutions for the Deity takes place in Sivaganga and Brahma Tirtha pools. Hence these are deemed to be vey sacred.
Mountain Springs :
The tank located near the temple of Ani Annamalai is a Sacred one. Manickavachaga Swamigal in his song commencing with the words "Painkuvalai" mentions it as Pongu; "Mada" means Tank. It is prescribed that one should bathe in this tank firat and then worship Ani Annamalai Nadhar.
Katka Tirtham :
The Katka Tirtha is near the Durga Temple. Legends proclaim that Durga worshipped God with water spring from a crift created by her sword thrust, to get rid of the sin of slaying Mahisasura. This tank is relic of This legend.
The holy tree of this sthala is "maghizam". This sacred tree in the south corridor of the third enclosure.
Sorrounding Shrines :
Ani Annamalai temple :
Anni Annmalai temple is one of the three temples in this sthala which showers grace. This is an old temple existing prior to Annamalaiyar temple and is called Adthi Arunachala.
This shrine is located in the north-west of Thiruvannamalai town, about 6 miles on the circuit route of the hill towards the west.
The legend declares that in ancient times, Brahma got infatuated with Thilottama, his own creation and got rid of his passion only by worshipping a Sivalinga installed by him. In the East the Deity worshipped by Thirumal came to be known as Annamalai Nadhar, and that in the west worshipped by Brahma came to be callled Ani Annamalai Nadhar.
The Lord enshrined here is Ani Annamalai. The temple also known by the same name.
Here we see a temple for Manichavachaka, a shrine for Mariamman and two tanks.
In this temple, Ani Annamalai Nadhar is in the form of a sivalinga in the sanctum and the Devi Unnamalai Ammai has a seperate shrine. Within this templein the north of the main threshold is Palani Andavar and Sambanda Vinayagar in the south. The paintings of the 63 Nayanmars can also be seen. Images of Nalvar and Somaskandar are also kept here. As seen in other temples here too we find Ganesa, Chanrasekara, small Chandrasekara, Astra Deva, Subramania, Shanmuga, Gjalakshmi, Navagrahas and Chandikesvarar.
Thirunavukarasu Swamigal mentions in his Thevaram Hymns in seven Songs about this Ani Annamalai. Manichavachaga Swanigal sang Thiruvembavai only here. A shrine has sprung in the very place he composed Thiruvembavai.
During Karthigai festival day all festivities that happens in the Annamlaiyar temple occur here too. The idols of Ani Annamalaiar join the procession of Annamalai Nadhar.
During the day of Karthigai village folks light lamps of Thinai flour and worship.
This Ancient temple of Ani annamalai has been renovated by Nagarattars in the 20th century and has been completely remodelled.
Sanjiviroyar Temple :
The Sanjiviroyar temple is about 2 furlongs to the east. At present it is known as iyyanakulam. Indra Tirtha is here. The shrines is on the west banks of this tank.
Sanjiviroyar temple is one of the sub-shrines of Annamaliar temple. In this temple is one of the sub-shrines of Annamalaiar temple. In this temple are the Main Deity of Sanjiviroyar and festival idol.
Durga Shrine :
The village Deity for Thiruvannamalai is the Durga. This temple is located very near the Annamalair temple. The Deity is Papasana Eswarar and the Godesses is Annapoorni.
Devotees throng this temple during Fridays. The Navaratri festival is held in all pomp and glory for nine days. The Deity Durga is a veritable symbol of valour and heroism. Only after worshipping this Durga all festivities of Navaratri are conducted in other places.
The Flag is hoisted on Panchami Tithi during Karthigai festival for Annamaliar. The festival for this Durga takes place here 3 days before the first day for Durga, next day for Pidari, third day for Vinayaga. It is only on the fourth day that the Karthigai festival for Annamaliar commences.
Inscriptions are also a form of history. All such inscriptions are found in temples in Soth india. The inscriptions are found in Annamalaiar temple are of great historic importance. The Archeological Department have copied 119 epigraphs of this temple. Most of them pertain to the Cholas who ruled for a long time.The rest belong to Kopperunjinga Pallava, Pandayar, Hoysalas, Vira Vallala Deva Vijayanagara rulers, Krishna Deva Raya, Tanjore Nayak Kings, Seveppa etc.
The oldest inscriptions are found in the walls of the Sanctum : Those of latter date are on the walls of the built Prakara. The inscriptions of recent times are on thefour entrances. The inscriptions reveal the growth of this temple through different periods.
Perusing from a historical angle, it is seen that only the sanctum was of stone upto the perood of Rajaditya Chola (955 AD), the son of Parantaka I
In the wall of the first corridor is found the inscription of Rajendra Chola I (18th Year) The inscription of Kulottunga III , Rajaraja III, and Kaulasekara Pandia e\are also found. There are 33 inscription in Killi Gopura. Of these, the oldest belong to King Vira Rajendra Chola (1063 AD). This Gopura must have been built either in his time or a little earlier.
The inscription of the year 1377 a.d is found in the walls of the Vallala Maharaja Gopura. In the wall of the West tower of the second circuit theinscription of the year 1388 A.D. and in the wall of the Pey Gopura in the west of the third corridor is an inscriptions reveal that this tower and its walls were built in 14th century A.D.
Krishna Deva Raya, the Vijayanagara King, erected the Thousand pillared mandapa and the Sivaganga tank opposite to it. He also made preparations for erecting the Big Rayar Gopura in the east.
The work commenced by Krishna Deva Raya in ereting the East Gopura, was finished by Sevappa, the Tanjore Nayak King.
These inscriptions thus reveal the gradual growth of the sanctum, Wall, gopuras, Mandapas and Tanks.