Tirunnamalai - Ramana Maharishi asrama
It is at the foot of Mt Arunachala and is one of the largest temples in all of India. It has a 60m (198 ft), 13-storey high, beautifully sculptured gopuram and a thousand-pillar hall. The Vijayanagar ruler Krishnadeva Raya (1502-29) built most of the temple, but the inner part of the temple dates back to the 11th century. The temple has four enclosures.
In this temple is one of the five element lingas, the fire-linga. There are also temples dedicated to Subrahmanya and Parvati on the premises. There is an intertwined neem and bodhi tree on the north side of the temple, which devotees circumambulate and then make an offering to have a happy marriage and healthy children. If you enter the temple from the eastern gate, on your right is a thousand-pillared hall, which is where the temple elephant usually hangs out. On your left are the large Sivaganga tank and a Subrahmanya shrine.
Just before you enter the next enclosure, on your right is the Parthalia-linga. Within the next enclosure is a shrine dedicated to the consort of Lord Siva and a Nandi bull facing the temple of Lord Siva. Within the enclosure are deities on the walls, such as Siva, Parvati, Subrahmanya, Ganesh, Venugopala (Krishna) and Lakshmi. The inner shrine dedicated to Lord Siva is open for non-Hindus. Thousands of visitors come during the 10-day Kartika Deepam (Karttigai) celebration in November/December, during which, a huge bonfire is lit on top of the hill. This fire represents Lord Siva. The fire burns for many days and can be seen for kilometres. The temple is located about 2km from the railway station and bus stand.
Ramanashram This is the ashram (222-2491) where Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) lived for the last 20 years of his life.
He stayed in Tiruvannamalai for almost 50 years.
There is no spiritual head of the Ashram, no lineage successor to Bhagavan in human form. The Presence of the Maharshi is so intensely powerful and all-pervasive that it is clear to all his devotees that the Mighty Impersonality that Ramana was is the eternal Guru and presiding deity here.
The spiritual instructions that he has left behind are complete in every way and spiritual support comes directly from him; all that is needed is practice.The ashram is located at the base of Mt Arunachala about 2km southwest of town. Open: 8 am-11am @ 2pm-5pm.
It is possible to stay in the ashram, but it is best to reserve a room in advance during the winter as it is often full at this time. You are supposed to write in two months in advance for reservations and then you will be sent a confirmation letter.