India (N/A) – One of the most Sacred Hindu Sites in Southern India
Arunachala Hill is the most sacred Hindu mountain in southern India, where it is home to one of the five great Shaivite shrines. Unlike its sacred cousins in the north, which are lost amidst the Himalayas and are largely inaccessible, Arunachala is a semi-solitary peak located just outside of a major city. At its base is the Annamalaiyar Temple, one of the largest Hindu shrine complexes anywhere.
Two legends are associated with Arunachala, one involving the goddess Parvati, the other the gods Vishnu and Brahma. In both stories, the lord Shiva restores light to the world at the top of the mountain. Because of this Aranachala is considered a highly sacred place. Every year in late Autumn, a great beacon of fire is lit at the mountain’s peak in commemoration of this event.
Arunachala Hill towers over the city of Tiruvannamalai immediately to the east, approximately halfway between the cities of Bangalore and Chennai. The Annamalaiyar Temple stands at the foot of the mountain. Both the mountain and the temple are visited by millions of Hindu pilgrims annually.