Tiruvannamalai is one of the greatest Saivite shrines in Tamil Nadu,India, on a sprawling 24 acre temple campus, drawing hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every full moon. The hill here is considered to be a manifestation of Shiva. Tiruvannamalai is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams signifying the 5 elements of wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikka), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Chidambaram). Kartikai Deepam festival here is of great significance. Manikkavacakar composed his Tiruvempavai here.The Paatala Linga shrine is connected with the spritual savant Ramana Maharishi. Arunagiri Nathar began composing his Tiruppukazh here at this temple.
The temple has 9 towers and seven parakrams. The main tower (Rajagopuram) is 217 feet high with eleven stories, and is the second largest tower in South India.
This temple, dedicated to the god Shiva, was built between the 16th and the 17th centuries by the kings of the Vijayanagara empire. The temple is famous for its massive gopurams. The 11 tiered East Rajagopuram towers to a height of 217 feet, while the fortified walls pierced with 4 gopura entrances offer a formidable look to this vast temple complex . The Pei Gopuram, Tirumanjana Gopuram and Ammanaiammal gopuram are the other three. The 1000 pillared hall and the temple tank were built by Krishna Deva Rayarar of Vijayanagar. Each of the prakarams has a huge Nandi and several towers such as the Vallala Maharaja Gopuram and Kili Gopuram It is one of the panchabhoota sthalam - representing five basic elements. This is the Tejo Sthalam among the Pancha Bootha Sthalams representing Fire. The others are - Tiruvanaikavil (Appu sthalam - Water) Kanchipuram (Prithvi sthalam - Earth) Kalahasti (Vayu sthalam - Air) Chidambaram (Akasa sthalam - Space)
Town is well connected to many cities and towns in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh by road. It lies on the junction of the Chittoor - Cuddalore state highway and the Puduchery - Bengalooru national highway (NH 66). The TNSTC operates many bus services to the different towns and cities in Tamil Nadu.
Bus : 122P and 122PP buses run at regular intervals between Chennai (Koyambedu bus station also known as Mofussil Bus Terminus) and Tiruvannamalai from 5 AM in the morning till 10 PM in the night.
Bus : KSRTC[www.ksrtc.in] runs many buses daily including Air-Conditioned Volvo bus.
Train : Tiruvannamalai is connected by a Tri-weekly train, Chalukya Express(Train No. 11005/11006). Tirupati - Puducherry (Weekly) Express (UnReserved)/17413,17414. Rameswaram - Tirupati (Meenakshi) Express/16780,16779. Villupuram- Katpadi Passenger (UnReserved)/56882,56884,56886, Katpadi- Villupuram Passenger (UnReserved)/56881,56883,56885. Pamani Express/17408,17407. Mannargudi/MQ to Tirupati.Villupuram - Purulia Weekly SF Express/22606,22605. Villupuram-Kharagpur Biweekly Superfast Express/22604,22603.
The relatively quiet part of town around Ramana Ashram is where you can see lots of middle- to old-aged foreigners in white cotton clothes, especially during the the winter season. Many are long time stayers and come to meditate in the Ashram, on the mountain and to attain spiritual gatherings with local and foreign teachers. The area features many good restaurants, health food shops and so on. Check it out, it's pleasantly quiet compared to downtown Tiruvannamalai and has some good accomodation options!
Once a year, Karthigai Deepam is a very famous event: hundreds of thousands of people used to go for Girivallam, around the mountain.