Thiruvannamalai – Annamalaiyar Temple

Annamalaiyar Temple is located at the base of Annamalai hills in the town of Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.

The Annamalaiyar temple is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams, or five Shiva temples, with each a manifestation of a natural element: land, water, air, sky or fire. In Annamalaiyar temple, Shiva is said to have manifested himself as a massive column of fire or Agni. The main lingam in the shrine is referred as Agni Lingam, and represents duty, virtue, self-sacrifice and liberation through ascetic life at the end of the Agni kalpa.

Shiva is worshiped as Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar, and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Agni lingam.  The Annamalai mountain, lies behind the Annamalaiyar temple is sacred and considered a lingam, or iconic representation of Shiva, in itself.

The temple complex covers 10 hectares, and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway gopurams. The tallest is the eastern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 66 metres (217 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India.

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