There are many spiritual cities in India, considered as epicentres for spiritual learning and practices. This summer, “Kashi” , one of the celebrated spiritual city , came to limelight of media, for the great political battle around election 2014. But before that , Kashi was known to be “Shiva ka Nagri” one of the most important spiritual city of learning, encouraging different streams of Spiritual practise. Many people believed that dying in “Kashi” , helps one to get salvation. In contrast, in “Tiruvannamalai” , one of the greatest spiritual cities in the world , people believes, one gets liberation while living, a phenomenon known as “living liberation” in spiritual context.
Historically , Tiruvannamalai, has been ruled by many South Indian kings, for nearly 1000 years , who has patroned the Annamalyair Temple, latest being Tipu Sultan, who has ruled the city from 1750-1799 , before it come under British Empire, and finally become one of the important Temple town in Indian Republic, alongwith a important Shaivate pilgrimage in the state of Tamilnadu, associated with the fire element.
According to Arunachala Mahatamaya in Skanda Purana’s Maheswara Kanda, Tiruvannamalai was the first spiritual city, which was build in the response to Maharishis Gautama’s queries, which he placed before Arunachala Shiva. [ Mentioned on the my last writing in the series – The Glory of Arunachala XXXIII , Worshiping Arunachala –V]
Mt Arunachala which has height of 2,669 ft (814m), revealed himself as Swayambhu lingam to Maharishi Gautama, when Gautama wanted to know about the ways of worshipping Arunachala.
Even today, in the Girivalam path, which was the main circular road in the Tiruvannamalai city , there were places like Nandimukha, where one could get the vision of Swayambhu lingam, with Bhagavan Nandi sitting in the front of the Syambhu lingam, which was shown to Maharishi Gautama. In July,2012, when Sri Joydip Ashram conducted its first Guru Poornima Retreat in Tiruvannamalai , while circumbating the hill with the participants of the Guru Poornima Retreat, I also came to see for the first time , the Ganesha mukha, a little ahead of the old Annamalyair Temple and before “Ramana culvert” [ Named after Ramana Maharishi, who use to sit down on that Culvert, and meditate in silence, on Arunachala for long period, whenever he use to go for circumbating the hill,with his disciples ] , where the Mt Arunachala exactly look like Lord Ganesha.
It is said that listening to the prayful questions of Maharishi Gautama, Lord Arunachala Shiva ordered Visvakarma [ The divine architect who has been also responsible for building “Indraprastha” another Spiritual City for inhabiting the Pandavas – the descendants of King Pandu of Kuru Dynasty, as mentioned in Mahabharata , which is presently known as New Delhi- the capital of India] as follows:
“You must create here a divine and noble city named Arunachala. You must also build in it a divine temple adorned with jewels. Arrangements should be made in the temple for chanting the Vedas, and for singing, dancing and playing musical instruments as part of my worship.”
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