Swami Sivananda: “The popular saying goes — “He who dies in Banares with Ramanam in his lips and heart, attains salvation. He who remembers Arunachalam or Tiruvannamalai attains Mukti. He who gets Darsana of Nataraja attains final emancipation.” (pg. 67, Lord Siva and His Worship)
Tiruvannamalai is a celebrated place of pilgrimage in South India. It is a Railway station on the Villupuram-Katpadi line. The Arunachala hill is 3000 feet above the sea level. The temple lies at the foot of the hill. It is dedicated to Lord Siva. The Linga represents the element fire. It is a Tejo Lingam.
In days long gone by there was a dispute between Brahma and Vishnu as to their relative superiority. Siva became a huge column of limitless flame and said to them that he who succeeded first to find out the limits of His form would really be the superier one. Brahma took the form of a swan and flew upwards to find out the top of the column of flame, while Vishnu assumed the form of a boar and penetrated into the earth to find out the base of the column of light. Both of them failed in their attempts. This legend intimates about tbe greatness of Lord Siva.
Arunagirinathar, author of Tiruppugal lived here.
The Karttikai lightning festival is the most famous one. It attracts a large number of pilgrims.
(Temples in India by Sri Swami Sivananda)
124. Swamiji! I find a few places like Nagore, Shirdi, Tiruvannamalai and Rishikesh ever full of Shanti and a kind of spiritual bliss. May it be, Swamiji, that these places which have had the impress of the saint’s personality, his Tapasya and Siddhi, on the very atmosphere, retain that sanctity for a long time?
Swami Sivananda: “Yes, yes. And not only that. The saint himself may live in those places. The liberated sage has the option to merge in Brahman or to live in a subtle form and carry on the work of Lokasangraha, guiding aspirants, awakening in people a religious fervour and so on. This motive is manifested in some Jivanmuktas in accordance with God’s supreme will. Therefore, the place in which the saint practiced Tapas and attained Siddhi, which might again be chosen by the invisible spirit of the saint as its permanent abode, becomes the abode of the saint’s divine qualities— peace, bliss and wisdom.” (pg. 102, May I Answer That?)