The Mountain's grandeur :
The mountain in this Annamalai sthala is full of unequalled greatness. In Krita Yuga, the Lord stood in the form of Fire, hence it became the Fire Mountain. In tretha Yuga, it was a Mountain of precious gems (rathna). In dvapara Yuga it stood in the form of Bronze and now in Kaliyuga it has become a stone hill. This is the substance of Arunachala Purana.
It is said that while Kailas is a place where Lord Sivaresides, this mountain in Siva himself.
It is customary to install Nandi in front of Lord Siva. The images of Nandi are Found around the Hill innumerably. One can see them, while going round the hill.
In the eight cardinal directions, eight Lingas are enshrined in stone edifices, and there is a sacred pool by the side of each. They are named Agni Linga, Yama Linga, Niruti Linga, Vayu Linga, Varuna Linga and Kubera Linga respectively. Daily worship is conducted for some, but many are devoid of any worship. Some of them do have a Vimana, Antarala and a Sanctum.
One should bathe, Smear the Sacred ash, foot bare, lips muttering the sacred hymns of this sthala meditating on Annamalaiyar -- the sacred hymns of this sthala meditating on Annamaliyar - this is ritual for making a circuit of the hill.
When one circumambulates the hill of the Lord who was the Prime cause of a dispute between Brahma and Vishnu who were unable to fathom the beginning or end of Him, it should be Borne in Mind that the Devas and saint also follow us invisibly. Naturally on should have a pure mind and start the circuit from the East.
While thus coming round we see the Indra Tirtham closely. Nearby is the Samadhi of Seshadri Swmigal.
Adjacent to this are Ramana ashram, the places where he sat for penance, the seats he occupied while meditating , are all there.
In the same west street, is the temple of saint Manickavachaka, whose Hymns of Thiruvembavai and Thiruvemmanai drip like honeyed nectar into our ears.
Sadasiva Murthi with five faces is enshrined in the north street abutting the hill. proceeding further we come across Isanya Mutt sacred pool. The first seat of Deivasigamani Desika Paramacharya Swamigal, places connected with Guhai Namsivayar, and Muttambikai are housed under the slope of the hill.
While performing Girivalam there is a particular place where we see a Nandi in the top of the hill that has been formed naturally.
All round th hill are eight Lingas, eight Nandis, more than 360 holy tanks, many mandapas and Ashrams.
The mountain rises up with an elevation of 2665 ft. (800M). The road encircling the hill where devotees circumbulate is 8 1/4 miles (13 kms) long.
Anga Pradakshna :
The custom of circling the hill by the unique way of rolling with the entire bidy has been in vogue for a very long time. This way of circumbulation with the entire bidy is alled Anga Pradakshna. Peopale who observe this ritual will roll a coconut and stand where it has stopped, bow to the hill and continue with their circumbulation.
The firm belief is that barren couples will be blessed with offspring if they go around the hill with devotion in their heart. And it is Deemed to be specially sacred to go round the mountain in the month ippasi, Karthigai, And Margazhi. It is certain that such devotees will be blessed with divine grace. In other parts of the year , the first day of Chitirai, on the the Sivaratri Day in the month of Masi, on the monthly karigai days, on Full Moon Days, it is equally holy to go around the hill.
Legends declare that those who make a circuit of this hill on Sunday after a holy bath and making gifts will attain liberation. It is customary to poetically describe it as securing Sivahood after piercing through the Sun's Cosmos.
Similarly a circuit on Mondays with Wet clothes will Secure the State of Siva after reigning over the seven worlds like Devendra.
Tuesday Circuits confer freedom from poverty and the cause of Births and deaths that follow eternally like a chain.
Circling the hill on Wednesday will make scholars proficient in four Vedas, six Sastras and Sixty four Arts, They are propelled towars Mukti - liberation.
Thursdays are equally effective in elevating one to a staus equal to Devas and praised by sages. Fridays elevate one t the Vishnu Padha. i.e. grace of Vishnu.
Those who go round in the dawn on Saturday will secure the grace of Navagrahas.
The first day of Chitirai, the three months commencing from iyappasiconfers special boons on those who circumambulate.
As Devas and sages also Circumambulate this hill in invisible form, mortals should avoid carriages, blankets, umberlla, Sandal, betel etc. while going round. Their heart should be entirely filled only with thoughts of Arunachaleswara. While coming round, any noise sounded in Palani Andavar Sannadhi will echo.
Even lame devotees undergo this penance. The Arunachala Purana describes that when a lame devotee was cirumambulating with the aid of wooden sturt, Lord Siva appeared before him and blessed him with legs.
On the way round, near the Chengam route on the left is the Vair Kannu. Here stones suitable for making images are found. The work relating to Valluvar kottam at Madras was carried on only here.
Milestones have been fixed all along the route around the hill. They are 700 years old, and they carry insciptons of 13 th century ad. in Tamil. They have a great historical importance.