Bairavar Shrine Brahma Teertham Mani Mandapam Puravi Mandapam Auditorium Pichai Ilayanar Yanai (Elephant) Thirai konda Vinayagar Naleswarar Shrine Vigneswarar Shrine Vidhyadareswarar Brahman Lingam Amavasya Mandapam Vinayakar Shrine Adimudi Temple Paadam Shrine Lord Murugan Shrine Karthigai Mandapam Small Nandi Kili Gopuram

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Arunachaleswarar Temple Outline

Bairavar Temple
Kalabhairavar is the God whose main duty is to determine time. His mount is the dog. The Bairavar shrine is located between southwest of Vallala Maharaja Gopura and on the north east bank of the Brahma Teertham.

Shrine adjacent to Brahma Teertham

The Shrine is rectangular with a square open mandapam supported by eight pillars. 

Bhairava (Fierce Aspect of Siva)

Powerful Shrine in 4th Prakaram

In the inside of the Mandapam eight pillars each support different manifestations of Lord Bhairavar, namely:-

Each pillar supports an aspect of Lord Bhairavar

Niru Bhairavar, Kapali Bhairavar, Bhisha Bhairavar, Krothana Bhairavar, Asitharga Bhairavar, Samkara Bhairavar, Unnathu Bhairavar, and Sandai Bhairavar

On the ceiling of this mandapam are four paintings that refer to the origin of Arunachala. Only two of the original four paintings have escaped damage from the continuous use of camphor during aarthi.

The four original paintings are as follows:-

1.    Depicts the argument between Brahma and Vishnu surrounded by many celestials. Both Gods are trying to decide which is the greater.

2    Portrays the creation of Bhairavar by Siva in order to remove Brahma’s head, after lying about seeing the top of the column of light.

Creation of Bhairavar by Lord Siva

3.    Bhairavar seen to enter Brahma Loka, where he nicks the tuft of Brahma’s fifth head with his finger nails

4.    Brahma realises his error and falls at the feet of Lord Bhairavar, begging for forgiveness. Brahma is spared by Siva and blessed by Bhairavar.

Brahma begging forgiveness

The statue of Kala Bhairavar at this Shrine, is in standing position with height of three and a half feet. The Lord’s face expresses intense anger. He has eight arms carrying a small drum, skull, knife, shield, parrot, bell and trident. Around his head there is a halo of fire. His canine teeth are visible. He has three eyes and wears anklets. The utsavamurti of this deity belongs to the 13th or 14th Century A.D.

Fierce aspect on roof of Shrine

Formerly Kala Bhairavar was situated in the second Prakara near the Palliarai (sleeping chamber of the deities). The reason for the change in location goes as follows:-

“After an untoward incident according to a legend a child was left inside the second Prakara but when the mother came to reclaim her child after the doors had been closed she was advised by a voice from inside to come and take back her child in the following morning and reassured that her child would be safe. But the mother insisted and so the voice angrily told her to take her child and proceeded to throw it out with torn limbs—and the child was dead. This was supposed to be done by Kala Bhairavar who is the guardian of the Temple. Hence this powerful statue was shifted to the fourth Prakara. Kala Bhairavar is one of the fierce manifestations of Lord Siva.” [From: Ramana’s Arunachala Page 123]

Brahma Teertham
This tank is located at the south-east of the fourth prakaram. It is adjacent to the Kala Bhairavar Shrine. The tank is square and on the northern side there is a flight of steps leading down to the teertham. At the beginning of the steps there is a four pillared mandapam called the Thirthavari Mandapam. During solar and lunar eclipse thirthavari takes places here.

Brahma Teertham, 4th Prakaram

This tank was dug by King Venudaiyan, son of the Kadava King Koperunsinga (1230 A.D.) The tank was previously known as the Perumal Teertham.

Puravi Mandapam
Across from the Brahma Teertham is the Puravi (horse) Mandapam, earlier it was known as the Perumal Mandap. It is a rectangular hall with a front mandapam.
Puravi Mandapam, Vallala Gopura background

The hall opens on the southern side into the square mukha Mandapam which has openings on the east-west side. The Puravi Mandapam contains ornamental pictures (from the Nayak period) on the ceilings. Most are in black pigment and include scenes of the churning of milk from the ocean (Samudram Manthan) which are painted as a series.

It is believed that this mandapam originally was used for the stabling of horses thus the name Puravi (i.e. horse). It was built by the Kadava King Koppersunsingam and images of him and his son Venu Udaiyan are carved on one of the pillars of the Puravi Mandapam facing north.
Rukku, Arunachala’s favourite Elephant

It is now famous as the day shelter for Rukku, the Temple Elephant.

Mani Mandapam adjacent to Theertham

A small mandapam known as the Mani Mandapam is close to the elephant shelter.
Entrance to Temple Offices

Temple Model outside Office

The 100 pillar mandapam also houses the Devasthanam Office, where all Temple administration occurs.

Adjacent to the mandapam is an open auditorium, which is the venue for cultural programmes and religious discourses during Festivals and special occasions. 

Pichai Ilayanar-Muruga (southern side of Kili Gopura)
The name of this Shrine means “begging mendicant” and Ilayanar refers to Lord Muruga who is the younger brother of Vinayaka. It is located to the north of the Kili Gopuram with its southern side actually attached to the Tower. Lord Muruga with his two wives, Valli and Devasena preside at this modern Shrine.
Pichai Ilayanar-Muruga

Yanai (Elephant) Thirai Konda Vinayakar
The name of this Shrine also means “Vinayaka who got a ransom of elephants”. It is on the northern side of the Kili Gopura and partially attached to it. It has a garbhagriha and a bigger mandapam. In front of the stone mandapam there is an open mandapam supported by four pillars. The Vimana on this Shrine is a replica of the Ekambareshwarar Shrine. Six small steps lead upwards to the raised stone platform of the Shrine.

Yanai (Elephant) Thirai Konda Vinayakar

It has a small aperture and is very dark inside. The legend attached to this ancient shrine is thus:-

A King from Andhra Pradesh having performed a great battle, captured the region and allowed his troops to occupy the area. During the night while everyone slept, the King had a strange dream. He dreamt that an elephant of great strength charged after the troops and sent them scuttling away. When the King asked his advisors the meaning of the dream, the King was told that he had rested his troops on holy ground and the land was protected by Vinayagar, son of Lord Siva. The King upon hearing this, gifted his elephants to the Temple asking for forgiveness. It is possible that the Shrine itself was already there during this time in history when the King and his troops rested at this place.

Naleswarar Shrine
This shrine is situated to the right of the Yanai Thirai Konda Vinayakar Shrine. King Nala worshipped Saniswarar (Saturn) at Tirunallaru to be absolved of the effects of Saturn’s influence in his life. Siva absolved all evil effects of Saturn from Nala. Hence the King has the name “Naleswarar”. In this shrine images of Durgai in exquisite form are found.
Naleswarar Shrine

Vigneswarar Shrine
This Shrine is locally known as the Vinai Theerkum Vinayagar. It has a square cella and rectangular arthamandap. At the corners of the Shrine are pilasters and its Vimana is of the Nagara type. It is situated between the Naleswarar and Vidyadhareshwarar Shrine.
Vigneswarar Shrine

Vidyadhareswarar Shrine
This Shrine is next to the Vigneswarar Shrine. It consists of a square cella and antarala. An open mandapam is attached and supported by two pillars in front. The wall surface has devakostas with corner pilasters and a plinth.

  Vidyadhareswarar Shrine

Popular with visiting pilgrims

Brahma Lingam (Muka Lingam)
This Shrine is situated between the Vidyadhareswarar shrine and the south Kattai Gopura. The Braham Linga Shrine is on a high plinth with kanta structure. It consists of a square cella and an open courtyard supported by 12 pillars on all sides. It has a Nagara Vimana.
Brahma Lingam Shrine

Brahma Lingam Shrine near Teertham

In this Shrine the Linga is carved with four beautiful human faces, each looking towards a cardinal point. These four faces represent Fire, Air, Earth and Water. The Linga is Pancha Mukhi or five faced; the fifth face is Akasha or Ether and this is represented by the top or dome of the Linga. To learn more about the esoteric aspect of the five faces of the Lord, go to this link here.

Line of Shrines 4th Prakaram
The below photographs show the sequence of Gopurams and Shrines in the southwest 4th Prakaram.

From left to Right:
Thirumanjana Gopura, West Kattai Gopura, Brahma Lingam, Vidyadhareswarar Shrine, Vigneswarar Shrine, Naleswarar Shrine, Yanai (Elephant) Thirai Konda Vinayakar.
Photograph showing line of Shrines

Goshala (Cow Shed)
The entire space of the southern prakaram from the Kattai Gopura to the west corner of the second enclosure wall is occupied by the Goshala.
Goshala Entrance

Sri Idaikadar Samadhi
On the side of the Goshala on the outside of the south Third Prakaram Wall is a niche in the wall which houses what is believed to be the samadhi of the great Tamil Saint Sri Idaikadar.
Samadhi outside south Prakaram Wall

Samadhi maintained by Trust

Samadhi Shrine of Sri Idaikadar

Amavasya Mandapam
This mandapam is situated in the south west corner of this prakaram. This is an open square Mandapam reached by a flight of steps. It is supported by 20 pillars on the outside square and 12 pillars in the inner square.
Amavasya Mandapam

There are many carvings on the Mandapam pillars.  There is a small, rare five leafed Vilva tree near this Mandapam. On every poornima (full moon day), Lord Chandrasekarar is brought here.

Vinayakar Shrine
There is a small Vinayakar Shrine next to the Amavasya Mandapam. Adjacent to this shrine is the Adimudi Kana Ammalaiyar Shrine.
Vinayakar Shrine

Adimudi Kana Annamalaiyar Shrine
Tiruvannamalai is above all its mountain, which symbolizes the pillar of fire from which Siva emerged. This myth has given rise to two iconographic representations. One of them is well-known: the Lingodbhavamurti. The other is a later development, specific to Tiruvannamalai, and which does not stretch back earlier than the 16th Century. In this other representation, Lord Siva and the Goddess Parvati are figured on a stele covered with semi-circular incisions to represent the mountain; on the rear face of this stele is a linga, which is visible from the back. This representation is known locally as ‘adi mudi’, the high and the low, after the same words in poems by Sambandar and Sundarar, referring to the directions in which Brahma and Visnu sought the extremities of the Column of Light.
Top of Adimudi Shrine

Adimudi Shrine

“The Adimudi stele is carved on one side with a linga as background and half circles (crescents) representing the mountain.  On the other side Siva and Parvati are seated on the bull, or standing close to the bull. At the top of the stele Brahma is represented as a bird and below Vishnu as a boar. The same two gods can also be standing with clasped hands (anjali) in anthropomorphic form at the bottom of the relief.”
[From: “The Montagne” by Francoise L’Hernault]
Stele at Arunachaleswarar Temple

Paadam Shrine
Siva Paadam Shrine

This Shrine which is located a little further north and directly adjacent to the West Kattai is a small shrine where the two feet of Lord Siva are represented. This Shrine appears to be of recent origin.

Lord Murugan Shrine
Going northwards after the Padam Shrine and crossing the front of the West Kattai Gopura is a small shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan. This shrine is of contemporary origin.

Lord Murugan Shrine

Karthigai Mandapam
Karthigai Mandapam

Situated at the north-west corner, this Shrine is similar in construction to the Amavasya Mandapam. There is a Vinayaka statue in one of the pillars. Lord Muruga is the presiding deity of this Mandapam. On the Krittika Star Day, Lord Subramanya is brought here for darshan. Nearby is a small shrine dedicated to Nagadevata. A nearby well supplies water for garden and shrines.

Small Nandi
This second Temple Nandi is located in a Mandapam with four pillars and situated in front of the 6 storey Kili Gopura. This Nandi was installed by King Vallala. His figure is seen on the structure.
Small Nandi, 4th Prakaram

Nandi with King Vallala bottom left pillar

King Vallala

Kili Gopura

This tower was built in 1053 A.D. by Rajendra Chola who was known as Thirubhavana Chakravarthi (Emperor of the Three Worlds). The tower has five storeys. The inner side walls of the Gopura has inscriptions and the outer base of the Gopura has fish sculptured on it. The ceiling of each storey has wooden beams and rafters. A painting of Mohini (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) in dancing pose, fills the recess within the right arch of the Gopura.

Kili Gopura

Kili Gopuram means Parrot Tower and in a niche in the tower, and perched on the top of the Gopura, there are mortar images of a green parrot. It is believed that the great Saint Arunagirinathar (who composed his famous Kandar Anubhuti as well as other famous poems) is represented by these stone statues of the green parrot.

Kili Gopuram - side view

In a niche at the left side of Kili Gopuram, images of Veera Rajendira Cholan (who ruled around 1063 A.D.) and his ministers are found. The Kili Gopuram was built by Bhaskaramoorthy whose statue along with his wife are also still found at the tower. All idols of the Gods taken from the Temple for procession go through the tower gate of this Gopuram.
Stone Parrot front of Gopura

Stone Parrot top of Gopura

Legend of the Parrot
In connection with this tower, in another legend of Arunagirinathar, when Sambandandan lost a competition with the Saint, he took revenge by telling the blind King:-

'If your highness can persuade Arunagirinathar to bring a parijata flower from svargaloka [one of the heavenly worlds], a few drops squeezed from the flower onto your eyes will restore your eyesight.'

The King, eager to regain his vision, commissioned Arunagirinathar to do the job. In order to reach the heavenly world, Arunagirinathar entered the body of a parrot that had recently died and reanimated it. He left his own body in one of the niches of a Gopura at Arunachaleswarar Temple and flew off to find and collect the flower. After the parrot had departed on its mission, Sambandandan, who had been watching Arunagirinathar's movements, showed the lifeless body of the poet to Pravuda Devaraya, announced that it was dead, and asked for permission to cremate it. The King agreed and the body was quickly burned.

Some time later Arunagirinathar returned with the flower only to discover that he no longer had a human body to return to. He went to the King in his parrot body, restored the King’s eyesight with the parijata flower juice and explained what had happened. Realising that he had been tricked, the King was struck with grief because he knew that it would now be impossible for Arunagirinathar to again resume human form. Arunagirinathar, untroubled by this bizarre turn of events happily spent the remainder of his life in the parrot's body and even continued to compose poetry in praise of Lord Muruga. It is said that he composed and sang his famous work Kandar Anubhuti and several other poems while he was still occupying the parrot's body.

Two large coloured mortar parrots representing Saint Arunagirinathar are on this Gopura.