Thiruvannamalai is a pilgrimage, a temple town in the state of Tamil Nadu. The place is the headquar-ter of the district sharing the same name with an area of 16.3 k.m. sq. While the place sees a continu-ous flow of pilgrims and tourists year-long, it is particularly during the festive season of Karthigai Deepam festival that the number of pilgrims and backpackers simply rises to millions. Perched on the foothills of the mystic Annamalai Hills, the place is tranquil and a lush and greenery rich area. It has been a significant place since long and over the course of time was ruled by Pallavas, Cholas, Vijaya-nagar Empire, Tipu Sultan, and finally the British. It is most known for its immense religious signifi-cance, particularly for the highly revered Annamalaiyar Temple around which the initial town was built.
Although there is a small railhead in the vicinity to serve the town, Tiruvannamalai largely depends on roadways for connectivity. The good thing is that the roads are motorable and quite ideal for long drives especially in the time between November and December. There is a large number of buses and taxis linking the pilgrimage to rest of the state as well as neighboring states. Tiruvannamalai railway station is a small railhead and has very few trains, basically tri-weekly trains to serve it. Bangalore and Chennai are the two most popular modes to access the temple town. One could easily get taxis and buses from the bus junctions of the two cities.
There is a large window of Thiruvannamalai hotels to pick from. Being a hub of visitors continuously flocking the place, the result is the high concentration of hotels in the town. Most of the hotels are lo-cated near to the Annamalaiyar Temple as the temple is the nerve centre of the place. One will also find good number of hotels and other lodging options near bus stand.
For the backpackers, Thiruvannamalai is perhaps the best place to explore and relish the culture of Tamil Nadu. Religion evidently dominates the culture here and is in fact the biggest reason for tourists to visit the town. The Annamalaiyar Temple is the most important temple here. The temple complex is one of the largest in India housing numerous shrines. It has four large gateway towers that are called as gopurams. The prime presiding deity of the temple is Lord Shiva who is believed to have manifested himself in the column of fire. It is the site of the annual Karthigai Deepam festival which is celebrated during November and December on the day of full moon. It is the festival of peace and immense faith on the Lord. A large lamp is lit containing 3 tons of ghee atop of the Annamalai hills during the festival. Pilgrims visit in the counts of thousands and worship the deities; a tradition that has been carried down from several centuries.
Additional to the temple, the other significant shrines and places of interest that are must-visit include: Ramana Ashram, Arunachala Mountain, Skandasramam, Virupaksha Cave, Sattanur Dam, Mamara Guhai, and Gingee Fort.
The best time to plan a tour of the place is during winters because summers are hot and humid. It is better if summer is best avoided. Besides, it is during the winter season when the Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated. Simply visit the holy town for a refreshing vacation and pick from the best hotels. The budget hotels in Thiruvannamalai are the most in-demand hotels as they charge reasonably and offer a satisfactory stay.