Go to the Dawn Mountain

25 Mar

In January 2016, I got a copy of INDIA: A SACRED GEORGRAPHY by Diana L.Eck (Published 2012, Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House Inc., New York).

As a student of Indian History and Political Science, I have been fascinated by the spiritual unity of India despite diversity in climate, language, food, religion, social organisation and political divisions.

Although I went to school in Nilgiris District of Madras State and attended four years of college in Madras city, there were many parts of modern Tamilnadu I had not visited… like Vellore District and Tiruvannamalai District.

On one of my visits to the territories of the erstwhile Nawab of Arcot in March 2012, I spent a night at Tiruvannamalai with a plan of visiting the ancient Annamalaiyar Temple and getting photographs of Annamalai Hill – the Mountain of Light. The legend is that Shiva appeared here as as a column of fire at the top of Annamalai hills.

Those interested in this remarkable temple can look up:


The present masonry structure of the temple was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Vijayanagar rulers of the Sangama Dynasty (1336–1485 CE), the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty (1491–1570 CE).

The priests at this temple belong to the Shaivaite community, a Brahmin sub-caste.

The western world learnt of Tiruvannamalai during the mid 20th century, through the work of Ramana Maharishi (1879–1950 CE). The cave where Ramana meditated is on the lower slopes of the Annamalai hills, with the ashram further down at the foothills.

I stayed at a small hotel named Aakash Inn. [Address: 79/1, Chengam road, (Opp to shree ramana maharishi ashram), Tiruvannamalai, 606601, India] which was very clean with well equipped air-conditioned rooms. The quality could be explained by the number of foreign tourists who were staying there, although obviously no-frills customers who had come to the Jyotirlinga (the lingam of light) in search of spiritual solace.

The annual festival of Kartikai Deepam falls in the lunar month of Kartikai, spanning November and December. The festival celebrates the manifestation of Shiva in the form of a column of fire for the sake of mankind. He is believed to have later transformed into the sacred Hill Arunachala.

“You must create a Divine and Noble town named Arunachala. You must also build in it a Divine Temple adorned with jewels. Lord Shiva said: Gautama! You must worship Arunachala Hill, which appears as a lustrous and immeasurable Linga on earth, for the welfare of the entire world. Let MY power (Shakthi) which is inseparable from ME and sustains the glory of this temple be installed on MY northern side and worshipped as Apithakuchambal (Unnamulai Amman). Since Bala Ganapathi is the bestower of all prosperity, let HIM be well adorned and worshipped in front of ME.”

After circumambulating the temple (with my shoes on) ), I enjoyed drinking “Kumbakonam Degree Coffee” at a small restaurant just outside the temple premises.




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