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Thiruvannamalai the home of Annamalayar or Arunachaleswarar and Unnamalayal, is an ancient city named after the holy mountain. Thiruvannamalai is one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalangal representing the fire element and also a historic pilgrim centre, located about 175 km from Chennai and 66 km from Pondicherry. It is the Mukthi Sthalam (Place of Salvation) for several saints like Ramana Maharishi, Arunagirinathar etc. Every full moon day(Pournami), thousands of pilgrims worship Shiva by circumambulating the Arunachala hill barefoot.

Annamalayar Temple

Of the great temples of Tamilnadu, Annamalayar temple is one. It is spread over an extent of 24 acres. 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. Ammanaiammal gopuram, Tirumanjana gopuram and pey Gopuram are the names of the north, south and west towers respectively.

Girivalam

The Holy Mountain of Arunachalam rises up with an elevation of 2669 feet (800 m). The Road encircling the mountain where devotees circumbulate is 8 1/2 miles which is 14 kms long. On Full Moon(Pournami) days and festival days (like Karthigai, first day of the Tamil month, Tamil New Year day) hundreds and thousands of devotees circumbulate (GIRIVALAM) the mountain and get the blessings of the Lord Arunachalam. The Annamalai Hill was Agni (fire) during Kirthayugam, was Manikkam (Emerald) during Threthayugam, was Pon (Gold) during Dwaparayugam and rock during Kaliyugam. There are eight lingams located at the eight directions and provides an octagonal structure to Tiruvannamalai Town. The eight lingams are: Indra Lingam, Agni Lingam, Ema Lingam, Niruthi Lingam, Varuna Lingam, Vayu Lingam, Kubera Lingam and Esanya Lingam.

Karthigai Deepam

The Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai. The festival begins in the uthiradam (star) day in Karthigai and winds up with the Bharani Deepam lit in the early hours of the tenth day. The Deepam is lit at dusk, Coinciding with a full moon, after the Ardhanareeswarar deity is taken to the "Katchi Mandapam" where the Panchamoorthis have already been kept. In all nine days Poojas will occur both in morning and evening. On seventh day five wood cart(marathier) for each Vinayagar, Murugar, Annamalayar, Unnamalai amman and Sandigeswarar.