Pachaiamman Temples
At Kailash, Lord Shiva and Parvati blessed the world with peace, prosperity and happiness. Goddess Parvati, deciding to shower her bountiful grace on human beings by enacting a drama, closed the eyes of Shiva with her hands. As a result the Universe was engulfed in total darkness. The Devas and other celestial beings flocked to Kailash and Shiva gave asylum to them and opened his third eye thereby dispelling darkness and bathing the area in brightness.

The Goddess, in the form of Pachaiamman, prostrated at the feet of Shiva, who knew of her Divine design, to establish peace and harmony in the world. Since she was responsible for drowning the world in darkness Lord Shiva wanted her to atone by proceeding to the world in order to perform penance.

The Goddess appeared in many spots which became holy by her presence. She appeared in Kasi and spread the Vedas and Sastras and also at shrines at Thirumullaivaayal and Mangadu. The Goddess also went to Kanchi to perform penance under a mango tree to propitiate her Lord Shiva. At Sengodu, near Tiruvannamalai, she observed tapas standing on a needle. It is believed that she performed penance at Arunachala, at an Ashram located in what is now known as Pavala Kundru.

The Goddess was victorious in all her endeavours. Since she is believed to appear as Pachaiamman in Thirumullaivaayal, she has a famous Temple dedicated to her there which is situated near Vaishnavi Devi Temple near Ambattur, North Chennai. Pachaiamman is called the goddess of marriage and blesses those entering wedlock.

Pachaiamman Temple at Arunachala

The Pachaiamman Temple is situated in the north east of the Arunachala Hill and lies to the north of the main town of Tiruvannamalai. It is located in a green, wooded area with Arunachala as backdrop and several water tanks close by.

In 1996, the Sri Pachaiamman Mannarswami Trust was formed comprising 6 hereditary Agamudaiyar families of Tiruvannamalai whose ancestors have been traditionally serving Goddess Pachaiamman at a location at the south east slope of Arunachala for many generations. The site of the current Temple is believed to have originated sometime during the Chola period (8th to 11th Century). But the Temple, as we now know it, is only about 120 years old. In 1904 it was known as "arthamandapam", however a recent development at the Temple has led to the new name "mahamandapam". The new enlarged Pachaiamman Temple was inaugurated in 2004, and additional development continues.

A legend of Pachaiamman (an aspect of Parvati) has it that after completing her penance at Kanchi, the Goddess started off for Arunachala. She travelled with 7 rishis and 7 virgins (Sapta Kanniyars) as part of a protective entourage. Halfway from Kanchi to Arunachala, the entourage stopped and made camp at the village Vazhapanthal. At that place the local king tried to molest the Goddess and the 7 rishis became as munishwaras (guardians) and killed the king.

In the Pachaiamman Compound there are 14 statues of Pachaiamman's warrior guardians set out in two lines, with two representations of each warrior.

There are also statues of Lord Munishwara's vahanas (vehicles) in the form of an elephant, a dog and five horses.

Pachaiamman means 'Green Mother' and there are several stories connected with this Goddess which explains the history of her name. In one story, the sage Gautama Rishi in preparation to receive the Goddess at his Arunachala Ashram (believed to be located at the place that the now Pavala Kundru Temple is situated) arranged a 'parnasala' (a holy seat). For this purpose durbai grass was used (a variety of pale yellow green grass used for yagnas). When the Goddess arrived and came to the 'parnasala', the durbai changed colour from the pale yellow-green to an intense green.

Another story of how the Goddess received the name Pachaiamman, is that during her journey from Kanchi to Arunachala, while staying at Vazhapanthal, Amman sat under a covering of lush green banana leaves - hence her name.

Part of the various works at Pachaiamman Temple have been the elevation on the eastside of the mahamandapam including the construction of 6 pillars and 150 statues and the creation of God statues at the Water Tank inside the Temple Compound.

Other work (which has been partly funded by the Shantimalai Trust, includes; tiling for weather protection on top of the Temple's concrete roof, grills throughout the Mandapam, elevation work on the north, west and south sides of the Temple. A Community Hall (for marriages and functions) has also been developed next to the Temple's Water Tank. The local Panchayat has agreed to construct a new, shorter roadway to the Temple thereby giving easier access to pilgrims and eliminating the need for them to climb the current long steep hill to Pachaiamman Kovil.

Pachaiamman Temple and Sri Ramana Maharshi
In 1905 when there was a plague crisis in Tiruvannamalai, Ramana Maharshi moved to Pachaiamman Kovil for six months during the worst of the epidemic and returned to the caves on the south side of Arunachala when the plague crisis was over. Again between January and March, 1908 Ramana Maharshi returned to Pachaiamman Kovil and lived there with Ganapathi Muni and others for that period.

When asked how the goddess got the name Pachaiamman, Sri Ramana said, "Pachai means emerald colour. When Parvati came to Gautamasrama to perform austerities to appease Iswara, her form was of emerald colour and she performed austerities at that place. Then, it is said that she went around the Hill, stayed at several places at different times continuing her austerities, and finally merged into Siva as half of His body and came to be known as 'Apita Kuchamba'."

It is recorded that Sri Ramana would visit this temple for oil baths. On one such occasion around 1915 or 1916, the Maharshi, Palaniswami, Vasudeva Sastri and others left Virupaksha Cave and proceeded to Pachaiamman Kovil taking oil and soap-nut powder for an oil bath, as facilities for such a bath were ample at that place.

It was on the way back from such a trip than Ramana had his 'second death experience' at Turtle rock.