Tiruvannamalai (Tamil Nadu)
Tiruvannamalai is situated 188 kms from Chennai. One of the most important Shiva temples in South India, the temple of Arunachaleshwarar is situated here at the foot of the hill known as Arunagiri. The Shiva Lingam, one of the Pancha Lingams in the aspect of Tejo Linga(incarnate as fire) is one of the largest in South India. Its mighty outer walls, its imposing gateway, its thousand pillar hall and the 70 metres high main tower with eleven storeys, possess uncanny magnificence. On the occasion of the Kartigai Deepam festival held here on the New Moon day (November-December), a huge becon is lit on the top of the hill, which can be seen from a long distance. Thus it got the name as the Hill of Holy Becon.
Tiruvannamalai is also widely known because of the Ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi who lived here and taught the virtues of philosophy only through silence and meditation. After his passing away in 1950, a Samadhi has been erected at this Ashram which is visited by many devotees from India and abroad. The Ashram is situated at the foot of the hills, outside the town. A few guest houses and a group of rest houses have been built at the Ashram to provide accommodation for the devotees. On the Arunagiri hill, somewhere in the midway, a cave is preserved as the sage Ramana Maharshi stayed at this place before the formation of the Ashram. This is a popular place for silent meditation and experience the spiritual life.
Satanur Dam: Situated 32 kms from Tiruvannamalai, the dam at Satanur across the river Ponnai is set amidst hills and picturesque surroundings in a reserved forest area. The left bank end of the masonry dam provides an attractive view of the lake and its surroundings. The site below the dam has been developed into an attractive garden with a swimming pool and looks like a miniature Brindavan Gardens of Mysore. There is a spacious guest house at the dam site and a dormitory with all modern facilities. This is an excellent place for picnic.
Gingee Fort: Situated a little away from the town of Gingee and 36 kms from Tiruvannamalai, the ruins of the Gingee Fort can be seen from the main road itself. A series of detached hills runs from Gingee south-west. Here the hills have a central core of gneiss surrounded by huge boulders bare of soil and vegetation. This ancient fortified city closely connected in popular tradition with Desing Raja. Its renowned chief, possesses palatial buildings of great importance in architectural value. The fort is one of the ancient places of historic interest which has been preserved in all its ancient glory. It consists of three strongly fortified hills in close proximity to each other. They are called Krishnagiri, Rajagiri and Chandra Durg. There are many monuments, granaries and temples in these hills. The tombs of Desing Raja and his wife are within the fort area.
How to reach Tiruvannamalai
Tiruvannamalai is connected by rail as well as by good road. Many buses operate to this place from various parts of the state and adjoining states also. Taxis and auto-rickshaws are available for local transport. Visitors can stay either at the Ramana Ashram or at the lodgings in the town.