Annamalaiyar Temple in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu is an ancient Hindu temple dating back to thousand years. The behemoth temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The main deities of the temple are Annamalaiyar (Shiva) and Unnamamulai Amman (Parvati).
This grand South Indian temple with stately towers on all the four sides has majestic hill as back ground. The temple is unique for its architectural beauty and sculptural splendour. The vast temple complex spread over 10 hectares features tall fortification walls, broad quadrangles, expansive gateways, large pavilions and fine tanks. The 11-tiered highest Eastern Tower known as ‘Rajagopuram’ soars to a height of 217 feet. The thousand-pillared hall built during theVijayanagar period is a notable structure in the temple complex.
The Legend behind the Temple
Brahma, the Creator God, and Vishnu, the Preserver God were once engaged in a blatant argument as to who was the superior. Lord Siva was asked to be the judge in this contest for ascertaining their greatness. Shiva immediately transformed himself into a huge pillar of flame and challenged them to find his source. He told that whoever was able to see his crown as well as his feet would be termed as the greatest.
Vishnu took the form of a boar and started digging deep to find the feet. Brahma became a swan and started flying high to find the head. Vishnu accepted defeat after a futile attempt to find the bottom end of the pillar of fire. Brahma was reluctant to accept defeat. Brahma asked a falling thazhambu (screw pine) flower about the distance to Shiva’s crown. The thazhambu flower was an adornment on Shiva’s crown. The flower answered that it had been falling for forty thousand years. Realizing the futility of flying high further, Brahma requested the flower to give false witness to Shiva. The flower lied to Shiva that Brahma saw the pinnacle of the flame pillar. This deception infuriated Shiva. He cursed Brahma saying that he would have no temple on earth. He cursed the thazhambu flower saying that it would not be used while praying to Lord Siva. This incident established the supremacy of Shiva over the Trimurtis.
The temple site is believed to be the place where Lord Siva stood as a column of fire. On the request of Brahma and Vishnu, Shiva took the form of a Sivalingam at the foot of the Annamalai Hill, where the Arulmigu Annamalaiyar Temple is located. The main lingam in the shrine is referred as ‘Agni Lingam’ (‘Agni’ means fire).
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