22 March 2015

Parvathamalai: Girivalam, Accommodation, Routes

As Parvathamalai is within the radius of the power of Arunachala, as set out in the Skanda Purana, and as it is becoming increasingly more renowned in these modern times, I have already made several postings on various aspects—see below: 

To read an earlier post about Parvathamalai setting out its spiritual significance and some of its history, go to this link here:

To learn about the Siddhar Thavathiru Veera Vairakiya Moorthy with miraculous powers who lived on Parvathamalai in ancient times, go to this link here:

This new posting gives more practical advice to pilgrims eager to visit Parvathamalai, with details of accommodation available at that place, photographs and information about both climbing the Hill and also regarding circumambulation of the 25 km perimeter of the Hill base. As this posting will be quite long, I will make an additional posting with photographs of the Temple on top of the Parvathamalai Hill at a later date. 

--- oOo --- 

To the northern side of Tiruvannamalai there is a place which has the sacred blessing of Lord Shiva and which used to be known as Trisula Paaruvatham. Today this sacred place is called, Parvathamalai. It is an ancient Hill which has a beautiful Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara located on its summit. This sacred Temple is believed to have originated over 2,000 years ago. The Hill is surrounded by forests and mountains and is known as Thirumoolaarenyam. 

A number of Siddhars and Maharshis have performed Thaavam at this place. A famous Rishi known as Mirukaandu Muni, lived on this Hill and with his power of thaavam a river originated nearby called Mirukaanda River which now flows all through the forest. Agathir Maharshi and Kaanuvar Rishi have performed thapas and stayed for sometime at this sacred place. Even today a number of Siddhas and Rishis are believed to be residing at Trisula Paaruvatham. The Universal Guru, Aathi Shivalinga – Chariya Peruman Gurupeetam is at that spot even now. 

It is reputed that there are Siddhars who have made this Hill their home and who keep their presence a secret only choosing to reveal themselves to very few devotees of the Divine. It is believed that these Siddhars visit the Temple on the top of Parvathamalai at midnight to worship the presiding deities there. Though no one are able to see them in physical bodies, Villagers around ‘Parvathamalai’ down below say that they can clearly hear the sound of ringing bells, blowing conch and beating drums exactly at midnight when pujas are performed by siddhars. Devas and spiritual beings from other lokas are also believed to worship on the Hill every night. 

"Siddhars have spoken volumes about Pancha Nathana Nataraja. They say that this deity is such a rarity in the Universe that even the Devas would give anything just for the chance of worshipping him. They say that on the Nataraja Abisheka days which occur in certain Tamil months (Chitra, Aani, Aavani, Purattaasi, Margazhi and Maasi), the Devas perform their worship to this deity in subtle form. This kind of worship is similar to the sookshma worship done by the Devas at the peak of the Arunachala Hill and on the Parvathamalai Hill." 

It is reported by visitors that at night many paranormal activities occur on Parvathamalai. That it is possible to experience both Jyoti Darsanam at night and also to imbibe an almost other-worldly intoxicating scent of flowers. The Goddess idol at the Temple has a dazzling smile and Divine light can often be seen on her face and cheeks. When the devotee walks away from Goddess Brahmarambika in the sanctum sanctorum, the size of the deity instead of diminishing, appears to increase in size and it seems as if the Goddess steps forward and approaches the devotee. 

On the top of Parvathamalai Swami Mouna Vithoba lived for 16 years attending to his sadhana and helping to maintain the beautiful Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara located on the Hill’s summit. After living for 16 years on the summit the saint came to the bottom of Parvathamalai Hill and performed intensive sadhana for 4-5 years engaged in puja and worship of the murti of his Goddess Sri Rajarajeshwari. 

Swami Mouna Vithoba

This saint deceased sometime during 2001-2002 but the work at the top of the Hill is continuing in his name. 

In this respect a renovation Trust named ‘Triplicane Sri Paruvathamalai Adiyargal Thiruppani Sangam’ has been set up to: 

(1) continue improving the walkways to the top of Parvathamalai, 
(2) develop and maintain Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara Temple on the summit, 
(3) complete construction of the Mouna Guruswamy Ashram on summit and, 
(4) continue managing the completed Mouna Guruswamy Ashram at foot of the Hill. 

Ashram at base of Hill

When Swami Mouna Vithoba passed away (at his place) at the bottom of the Hill, an ashram slowly developed and on January 29, 2012 a grand Kumbhabhishekam function was performed at the samadhi of Mouna Vithoba Swami at what is now an Ashram dedicated to him at the foot of Parvathamalai. 

Food and accommodation is available at the Mouna Guruswamy Ashram at the bottom of Parvathamalai. To make enquiries please call the person in attendance at that place Sri Ramesh at (0)9843417989. 

Samadhi of Swami Vithoba

10 years ago work started on making an Ashram on the top of Parvathamalai. The ashram is still under development, however even now (in its unfinished state) it offers food and accommodation to pilgrims But call first and speak direct to these managers if you hope to enjoy the facilities of either of these ashrams during a visit to Parvathamalai. To get in touch with Mouna Guruswamy Ashram (which is currently under development) at the top of Parvathamalai please call Sri Sridhar at (0)9688505403. 

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The sacred place of Parvathamalai is under 30 kms from Arunachala and infused with Arunachala’s radiating spiritual power. The Sage of Kanchi (Kanchipuram) the great Sri Sankaracharya Chandrashekarendra Saraswati twice undertook pilgrimages on foot from Rameshwaram in the far south of the Indian peninsula to Benares in the North. On one of those pilgrimages (written about in Paul Brunton’s “In Search of Secret India” book) he visited Parvathamalai Hill after his time at Arunachala. When he saw Parvathamalai he declared that it was in actual fact itself a Siva Lingam and proceeded to walk the 25 kms circumference of the Hill. From that time the fame of girivalam at Parvathamalai (in modern times) has spread. 

“On the first of Margazhi month in 1944, His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal fondly known as Maha Periyava performed Girivalam of Parvathamalai which is located in the Thiruvannamalai-Chengam Road. His Holiness started on foot from his camp at Kadaladi accompanied by the devotees and went round the mountain through jungles and hills and reached the camp back late in the night.” 

Consequently each year on the first day of the Tamil month of Margazhi, a special girivalam has been organised (including food) since 2009 by Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. On this day many thousands of devotees arrive and perform a ‘special girivalam’ of Parvathamalai. 

Nowadays many devotees and pilgrims visit and climb the hill to worship at the Temple on the summit in order that they may attain bliss and enlightenment. Others following the example of Shankaracharya prefer not to walk on the Hill itself but instead choose to perform the 25 km (approximately 8 hours to complete) girivalam around its base. The busiest times at Parvathamalai are the days of full moon, no moon and new moon. 


The height of Parvathamalai is over 4,000 feet. It is part of Javadhi Hills and accessible through Kadaladi village 25 kms north of Tiruvannamalai or through Thenmadimangalam. Parvatham means mountain and Parvatha Malai as it is called, connotes “Hill of Hills” or “Queen of Hills”. Parvathamalai presents eight different shapes from eight directions around the hill. 

There are three ways of climbing Parvathamalai 

1. Through Thenmadimangalam Village (new way): 20 kms from Polur. Most devotees come this way. It is the route most recently created. When coming this way one can take darshan of the Pachaiamman and Veerabhardran Shrines at the foot of Parvathamaiai. 

2. Through Kadaladi Village (old way): Going by this route one can visit the Ashram at the bottom of Parvathamalai and leave one’s vehicle there. There are facilities for devotees to stay overnight. This route is more appropriate to trekkers. 

The same Trust that is developing the Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara at the top of Parvathamalai Hill, is also helping to make access to the Hill summit easier by the continued development of a Hill pathway. 

3. Kandha Palayam: Kandha Palayam village is located 10 kms after Kadaladi Village. A Saint used to live in this village who would regularly climb up the Hill. Even now there is a path but it is very steep. There is an Ashram and Temple in this village. 

The distance of the trek to the top of Parvathamalai is about 6 kms and will take about four hours for a reasonably fit person to ascend and approximately three hours to return back down to the base of the Hill. The walk starts on a pathway which gradually becomes filled with rocks and boulders. The incline is noticeably steeper and the last 2000 feet of the climb is assisted by iron rods and chains embedded into the rocks. 

The route to the top of the Hill is marked by white arrow markers painted on the rocks. There are some small shops and vendors at the earlier part of the climb where the Kadaladi trek pathway meets with the Thenmadimangalam route. 

 Pathway to the top of Parvathamalai

Direction Board

Beginning of Hike

Pathway with Rocks and Boulders

Beautiful Views Throughout Climb

Stones Painted with Direction Markers

Small Shop Enroute

Rocky Pathway Continues

Interspersed with Beautiful views

The last 1/4 distance consists of "Kadappaarai padhai" (the path supported by iron rods) and "Aghaaya padhai" (where the gap between the rocks is bridged by iron plates). There is an option to select between the steps or the Kadappaarai padhai. One has to be very careful throughout this part of the trek, especially during rains, as it may get slippery. 

Steps leading up the Hill


Reaching the top

Guru Mounaswamy Ashram

Lord Mallikarjuna Ishwara Temple

[I will be soon posting additional information and photographs of the Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara Temple at the top of Parvathaimalai] 

21 March 2015

Pradosham March 18, 2015 -- Arunachaleswarar Temple

Below are some beautiful photographs of the March 18, 2015 Pradosham as celebrated at Arunachalaeswarar Temple here at Tiruvannamalai.

Aarti at Arunachaleswarar Pradosham

The Lord with golden Nandi as his vahana

Pradosham at Arunachaleswarar Temple is always well attended

Below is a legend about Nandi and his power of surrender which illustrates why he is example to many as an epitome of ultimate devotion to the Lord.

The Power of Surrender 

When the positive forces, the devas, and the negative forces, the asuras joined together on a rare occasion to churn the ocean with a mountain to obtain the nectar of immortality they utilized Vasuki, the serpent, as the rope. The devas pulled from one end and the asuras from the other. Lots of precious herbs and gems were produced during the Churning and one of them was a poison (halahala) which became human karma. This "poison" was so dangerous that none of the devas or asuras wanted to go near it. It was extremely sticky and coming into contact with this poison, i.e., human karma, would drag the divinity down to the realms of human suffering and ego. 

As everyone else ran away, Lord Siva, followed by Nandi, came forward to help as he was the only one who could counteract this deadly poison. Siva took the poison into his hand and drank it, the descent of the poison was in turn stopped at His throat, by His divine consort. Siva is therefore also known as Nilakantha (the blue-throated one) and Visakantha (the poison-throated one). Nandi saw some of the poison spill out of Siva's mouth and immediately drank if off the ground. The devas and asuras watching were shocked and wondered aloud what would happen to Nandi. Lord Siva calmed their fears saying, "Nandi has surrendered into me so completely that he has all my powers and my protection". 

Maharadham's New Garage

On my way to the dentist located off Sannidhi Street decided to make a quick detour to check out if the new "garage" has yet been completed for the Maharadham. The view and darshan of the Hill from this place is spectacular--can never take too many photographs!

Previously the Radhams (wooden chariots) for the Panchamoorthies (5 idols) have been covered with aluminum sheets and left on the side of Car Street. The sheer size of these enormous wooden chariots limit where they can be stored, but at last there has been a rethinking about exactly how they should be stored. In this respect the largest chariot used during the Deepam Festival i.e. the Maharadham has just been allocated a nice, new garage on Car Street. 

Spectacular new garage for the Maharadham

Posting the below photographs to show how devotees access the gigantic wooden chariot during the Deepam Festival. 

Climbing into the Maharadham during Deepam

Tunnel between the Yellow Building and Radham at Deepam

Devotees taking Deepam darshan before the Maharadham set off

4 Panchamoorthi Radhams await their own new garage

7 March 2015

Postings on my Arunachala Blogs from Thursday January 1, 2015 to Saturday March 7, 2015

Readers may wonder why I write so frequently about Arunachaleswarar Temple on Arunachala Grace. It is because in the Puranas and Holy Books and from advice and guidance of Saints and Sages, it has been established throughout the history of this place, that there is absolutely no difference between Arunachala Hill and Arunachaleswarar Temple. 

In the legend of Shiva as a manifested column of light, which neither Lord Vishnu or Lord Brahma could find from whence it came or to where it went, in answer to the prayers of the Gods, Shiva himself created a lingam for the devotees to worship on the southeast plain in front of Arunachala Hill. Legend reports that it is this very lingam that Lord Shiva created, around which our own Arunachaleswarar Temple has developed. 

I am currently working on a comprehensive Arunachaleswarar Temple section for my website Arunachala Samudra, which will include narratives, rare information, photographs, and interactives. More details and information on this work’s progress soon. 

As well as the continual development of Arunachala Grace, in 2015, I will be making regular postings on Arunachala Birds, Arunachala Mystic, Arunachala Land and the new blog; Arunachala Satsang.

Arunachala Grace 

Soma Pradosham, March 2, 2015 -- Arunachaleswarar Temple: Explanation about significance of Soma Pradosham. Narrative and Photographs. Legend of “How the Moon fell in love with the Sun”.

Walkabout in Tiruvannamalai: Morning shopping in the streets near the Big Temple. Narrative and Photographs. 

Photographs of  2015 Mahashivaratri at Arunachaleswarar Temple: Narrative (with links) and observance of devotees during Mahashivaratri at the Big Temple. Including Lingodbhavamurti Puja.

2015 Mahashivaratri at Arunachaleswarar Temple: Photographs and narrative (with links) of the night of Mahashivaratri as celebrated at the Big Temple.

February 16, 2015 Pradosham at Arunachaleswarar Temple: Narrative and photographs of the first Pradosham in February, 2015 at the Big Temple.

2015 Arunachaleswarar Temple Mahashivaratri Programme: Times and Schedule of the functions at Arunachaleswarar Temple during the night of Mahashivaratri.

Visit to a village shrine: Goddess Shrine off the Nallan Pillaei Petral village road. Narrative and Photographs.

View of all 9 Temple Gopurams: Explanation and photographs of where to stand inside the Arunachaleswarar Temple from where one can see all nine Gopurams of the Temple.

Life of Ammani Amman (Arunachaleswarar North Gopuram): Life of the woman Saint who constructed the North Gopuram of Arunachaleswarar Temple. Photographs of Gopuram and saint Samadhi.

2015 Maruvoodal -- Arunachaleswarar Temple: Narrative and Photographs of the renunion of the Divine Couple.

2015 Arunachaleswarar Thiruvoodal Enactment: Narrative with links about the enactment of the “tiff” between the Gods here at Arunachala. Photographs.

Happy 2015 Pongal from Arunachala: Explanation about Pongal and Uttarayana in Tamil Nadu. Photographs of decorated Nandis Arunachachaleswarar Temple. Narrative.

Thiruvathira Festival and Saint Manikkavacakar: Festival of Saint Manikkavacakar poet of the Hindu bhakti revival movement. Information and Photographs.

Nataraja Abhishekam during 2015 Arudra Darshanam: Arudra Darshan, also known as the Thiruvathira Festival, celebrated in a grand manner at Arunachaleswarar Temple during the Tamil month of Margazhi. Photographs and Narrative.

January 2, 2015 Pradosham -- Arunachaleswarar Temple: Photographs of puja and crowds at Temple for Pradosham.

Sorgavasal Thirappu 2015: Mukkoti Ekadasi or Sorgavasal Thirappu (Celebration of Lord Vishnu) at Arunachaleswarar Temple. Narrative and Photographs.

A Blessed and Auspicious 2015 from Arunachala: Greetings and photographs of New Year Arunachala. 

Arunachala Mystic 

Visit to Siva Siddhar Mona Swamigal: Narrative of a visit to this Swami. Photographs of him and his Ashram in the Arunachala countryside.

Uttarayana – Hoisting of Flag at Temple: Explanation of Uttarayana and photographs inside Arunachaleswarar Temple of hoisting the Flag.

Aldous Huxley describes the aspect of Lord Nataraja: Video in which the great writer Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, The Doors of Perception etc) describes the "Dancing Shiva" image of Lord Nataraja and its immense significance.

Arunachala Birds 

White Rumped Shama: Narrative and photographs of the life cycle of the White Rumped Shama. Video of this beautiful songster.

Arunachala Bird List 2015: Comprehensive up-to-date alphabetical list of bird species sighted in Tiruvannamalai up to 2015.

6 March 2015

Soma Pradosham, March 2, 2015 -- Arunachaleswarar Temple

Hinduism propounds the idea that the (nine) Navagrahas (of which Chandra is one) are 'markers of influence' -- living energies which put out waves which affect our awareness by seizing our consciousness when we come under their influence. Reports of psychics and seers agree that Grahas cause a direct energy influence upon the energy bodies and minds of all life on earth. The nine planets (Navagrahas) are transmitters of Universal, archetypal energy and the qualities of each planet helps maintain the overall balance of polarities in the solar system. 

Lord Shiva wears on his head the crescent of the fifth-day moon. Placed near his fiery third eye this shows the power of Soma, the sacrificial offering, which is the representative of Moon and signifies that Shiva possesses the power of procreation co-existent with that of destruction. Chandra has the following associations: the colour white, gender female, metal silver, gemstones; pearl and moonstone, element water, direction north-west, season Winter, body part blood, food rice, taste salt, day Monday, guna Sattwa. The sun is the indicator of the soul and the moon is the vehicle of the mind that receives the light of the soul. Even though all the Navagrahas are represented at Arunachala, the moon with its particular association with Lord Shiva (Chandrasekhara) has an extraordinary influence. 

The first Pradosham of March 2015 was celebrated on a Monday, so imbibed many of the particular qualities of Lord Shiva’s association with the moon. To find out in more detail the significance of Soma Pradosham, please go to an earlier posting on Arunachala Grace at this link here

Nandi abhishekham

Aarti -- Nandi, Arunachachaleswarar Temple March 2, 2015

Walking perimeter of Siva Sannidhi, March Soma Pradosham

To read about a legend of Moonlight go to this link here.

And read the below to find:-

How the Moon fell in love with the Sun

Eons ago, when the Moon and the Sun were still young, they never saw one another. The Moon would look upon the world and see creation change and grow, till one-day man was brought forth. The Moon would hear man talking about the Great Sun and all he did for them. He brought warmth to them, helped the crops grow and was their protector by day as in the night; evil things would prey upon them. This hurt the Moon terribly and for the first time, she turned her back to the world and man. When the Great Sun heard what man had done, he was angry. He said to the world, "You fools. Don’t you know how fortunate you are to have her in the night? She is your light, your guide and the protector of the night. She gives you, every night, all her light and protection she can. She is a heavenly body, the most beautiful of us all and you shun her. Now you wonder why she has turned her back on you? I should do the same!" 

Man, fearing the turning of the Great Sun, begged the Moon to return to them. "Oh, Great Moon, whose light and protection you grant on us, please return and guide us once more. We are bowed low in your Grace and Love. Please Great Moon, return and save us from the wrath of the Great Sun. We have shamed him in the way we have treated you and he will turn from us, as you have done. Please Great Moon, return!" 

The Great Moon, having heard the call of the world and what the Great Sun had done, began a slow turn to the world. Unsure if she wanted to trust the world again. But as she turned, she would hear more about what the Sun had done and said. Her heart grew warm with his words and longed to see him. In simple words, she was falling in love with the Great Sun. She moved through the night, faster. Trying to see him, her love! Till at last, when the day and the night over lapped, she saw him. The Great Sun turned to her and smiled. He was so please to see her. 

"Great Moon", he said. "You have come at last! I have longed to see you." The Great Sun spread his warmth to the Great Moon and embraced her. His warmth filled her and caressed her. Slowly they came together, their first true embrace. From that day forward, when the Great Moon and the Great Sun would come together, we, the world, would call it an eclipse. For their love would shadow the earth in darkness and allow us to see true love! 

24 February 2015

Walkabout in Tiruvannamalai

I had to go into Tiruvannamalai today to take care of a few chores and decided to bring my camera and take some snaps.

I started my chores in a small well frequented lane near the East side of the Temple. Its the place to go when shopping for electrical items and also has a pot pourri of essential stores, including a very good ayurvedic shop. 

Small shopping Lane near Temple

There is something about the quality of light at Tiruvannamalai, because I have never seen a place so well suited to having blue skies. The Temple and Hill always look so pretty with the azure backdrop. Lovely.

The below photograph is really fabulous. Its taken from the North side of the Temple with Ammani Amman Gopuram in the distance. You can get an idea of the massive walls of the huge 25 acre Arunachaleswarar Temple. Even though the Temple is the centre point of Tiruvannamalai, once you pass into the Temple Compound, those massive walls act as sound proofing and you can't hear the noise and chaos of the busy town outside. 

Temple North Side, Ammani Amman Gopuram

One chore for me today was visiting some fancy shops on the North Side of the Temple. These particular fancy shops are a favourite stop-off for visitors with young kids -- as they are a veritable Aladdin's Cave with their mixture of costume jewellery, hair ornaments and Mehndi transfers. 

A Line of Fancy shops

Like an Aladdin's Cave that young girls never want to leave

Before heading off away from the Temple area decided to stop off near the East Side and Raja Gopuram to take photos of the flower sellers outside the Temple Main Gate. On my way enjoyed looking at the juxtaposition of stalls with stuffed and plastic animals and in the background one of the most famous, ancient Temples of India. 

Lovely juxtaposition of the toys with Temple as backdrop

After passing the stalls I got to the front of the Temple and the Raja Gopuram with its line of flower sellers outside the Main Gate. 

Temple Flower Sellers

Making Jasmine Garlands -- a nice way to spend the morning

23 February 2015

Photographs of 2015 Mahashivaratri at Arunachaleswarar Temple

The below photographs are of the recent 2015 Mahashivaratri function celebrated at Arunachaleswarar Temple at Tiruvannamalai. To learn more about the legends and significance of Mahashivaratri as is observed at this place go to this link here.

The first photograph is of devotees performing worship by lighting camphor outside the main Raja Gopuram East Gate of the Temple. 

Main Temple Gate on Night of 2015 Mahashivaratri

Devotees going through the Temple Vallala Maharaja Gopuram

Generally both Theerthams inside the Temple Compound are closed to devotees, but on the evening of Mahashivaratri around 6 p.m. the gates of the Brahma Theertham traditionally open to allow devotees entry to light and place their individual Deepamas at the side of the tank. 

Lights around Brahma Lingam Tank, Arunachaleswarar Temple

Throughout the Temple Compound various groups of devotees engage in their own devotions throughout the evening of Mahashivaratri -- one of the Festivals celebrated at Arunachaleswarar Temple during which the Temple gates stay open all night. 

At the auditorium some devotees are watching cultural programmes. In the Moolasthanam others are attending the Kala Pujas and later on the Lingodhavamurti Puja. Other devotees are silently sitting in quiet spots in meditation. In the below photograph a small group of devotees are gathered in front of the Brahma Lingam Shrine in satsang and are observing the night of Mahashivaratri, singing bhajans dedicated to Lord Shiva. 

Singing bhajans in front of the Brahma Lingam Shrine

Devotees coming up from Tank after lighting their Deepam

Cultural Programme, Arunachaleswarar Temple Auditorium

Traditionally large kolams created by using salt rock crystals are made in the morning of the first day of the Festival. After their creation, devotees place small clay deepams around the kolam perimeters. The below depicts Saint Arunagirinathar -- who has many legends associated with this Temple. 

Arunagirinathar Kolam

Lingodbhavamurti Puja 

On the Night of Mahashivaratri, which in 2015 was observed on February 17th-18th, an abhishekham and puja ritual commenced at 12 midnight at the Sri Lingodbhavamurti. 

The manifestation of Shiva in a column of fire, carved in stone is known as the Lingodbhavamurti. It is always enshrined in the rear niche of a Shiva Lingam sanctum. Since most temples face east, the Lingodbhava faces West. The non-anthropomorphic form of the Shiva Lingam is a representation of this infinite cosmic column of fire, whose origins were not traceable by Brahma or Vishnu. The Shiva Lingam is the centre of reverence and worship in all Saivite temples. 

2015 Lingodbhavamurti Puja, Arunachaleswarar Temple

Lingodbhavamurti located outside the back of the Moolasthanam

Arti at 2015 Mahashivaratri Puja at Lingodbhavamurti

To learn more about the Lingodhavamurti at this Temple, and the legend of the Ketaki flower and why it is only used in Shiva worship one time a year -- i.e. the night of Mahashivaratri, visit my earlier posting at this link here

17 February 2015

2015 Mahashivaratri at Arunachaleswarar Temple

The below photographs are of the 2015 Mahashivaratri Festival as observed at Arunachaleswarar Temple.

At around 6 p.m. this evening, the gates to the Temple tank were opened to allow devotees to place and light their deepam clay pots around the perimeter of the tank. The tank gates stayed open till about 9 p.m. But it wasn't just around the Temple Tank that one could observe the small deepam lights, as little ghee deepam pots were twinkling everywhere throughout the Temple compound.

Devotees lighting their own clay lamps around Temple tank

Devotee creating his version of the Amarnath Ice Lingam

Lingam display at the Mahila Maram trees, Third Prakaram

As tradition dictates, in the daytime of Mahashivaratri (this year February 17) both ladies and gentlemen created a number of beautiful kolams (also known as rangolis) on the floors of the Temple Compound which depicted scenes from the history and mythology of Lord Shiva. Instead of kolam powder, all the large kolams were made using rock crystal salt to make the kolams look shiny and also to ensure that they last longer. 

Tonight, in accordance with the Mahashivaratri Programme there will be pujas inside the Siva Sannidhi and various cultural programmes at the Temple auditorium. 

To find out more about the Mahashivaratri Festival celebrated at Arunachala, please visit my website Arunachala Samudra at this link here