Tiruvannamalai or Trinomali is a pilgrimage Temple town and special grade municipality in Tiruvannamalai district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the headquarters of the Tiruvannamalai district. As of the 2011 census, Tiruvannamalai municipality had a population of 3,85,000. Truvannamalai is a cosmopolitan town, peoples from various parts of the states and country come for their spiritual tourism and education. Tiruvannamalai (Special grade municipality area) consists of Vengikkal, Gandhinagar, Kilnathur, Nochimalai, Thyagi annamalai Nagar, Melathikkan, Thenral nagar, Navakkarai, Adi Annamalai, Palayam, Thenimalai, Athiyandal, Saron, Adaiyur, Thenmathur.
Thiruvannamalai is situated 185 km from Chennai and 210 km from Bangalore. Saathanoor Dam across Thenpennai River is a tourist place near Thiruvannamalai. The height of the Annamalai hill is approximately 2,669 feet. Gingee Fort is another popular tourist destination located on the Tindivanam-Thiruvannaamalai road, 40 km from Thiruvannamalai. Tamil is the official and most widely spoken language. Other languages spoken include the languages of the nearby states; Telugu, Urdu and Kannada. The city is traditionally known for its religious and linguistic harmony.
Thiruvannamalai is one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalangal representing the fire element along with Chidambaram, Sri Kalahasti, Thiruvanaikoil and Kanchipuram representing space, wind, water and earth respectively. Four Brahmotsavams are celebrated every year, the most famous of which is the one celebrated during the Tamil month of Karthikai (November/December). The ten day event culminates on the day of Karthigai Deepam. On that evening, a huge lamp is lit in a cauldron with three tons of ghee at the top of the Annamalai hill.
Every full moon night, tens of thousands of pilgrims worship Shiva by circumambulating the Annamalai hill barefoot. The circumambulation covers a distance of about 14 km. On the yearly Chitra Powrnami (full moon) night in the Tamil calendar year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from across the World visit the sacred town. Advaita Vedanta guru Ramana Maharshi lived in Thiruvannamalai for fifty three years until he dropped his mortal coils in 1950. His ashram, Sri Ramanasramam, is located at the foot of the Annamalai hill, to the west of the town. Seshadri Swamigal and Yogi Ramsuratkumar are examples of two other gurus who lived in this city.
Karthigai Maha Deepam Festival:
Karthigai Maha Deepam is a great grand fest in Thirvannamalai and the North Arcot region. On this day Thiruvanamalai town, having a population of 5 lakhs, accommodates over 86 lakh people. This great grand fest reaches its high spirituality by lighting Mahadeepam at Thiruvannamalai mountain which is 2900 feet high. The Great grand fest of Karthigai Mahadeepam is celebrated for 10 days.
The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built between the 9th and the 10th centuries by the Chola kings of the Tamil empire. The temple is famous for its Massive Gopurams. This has been determined from an inscription in the structure that was made during the reign of Chola kings who ruled in the ninth century A.D. The 11 tiered East Rajagopuram towers to a height of 217 feet, while the fortified walls pierced with 4 gopura entrances offer a formidable look to this vast temple complex . The Pei Gopuram, Tirumanjana Gopuram and Ammanaiammal gopuram are the other three. The 1000 pillared hall and the temple tank were built by Krishna Deva Rayarar of Vijayanagar. Each of the prakarams(outer courtyard) has a huge Nandi and several towers such as the Vallala Maharaja Gopuram and Kili Gopuram.
The city experiences wet winters and dry summers and has an elevation of about 224 meters with the north-east monsoon the highest contributor to rainfall. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures during summer and winter varies between 38.5 °C and 18.95 °C. Highest temperature ever recorded is 45 °C and lowest is 10 °C. The humidity ranges are 40% - 63% during summer and 89% - 96% during winter. The average annual rainfall is 1987.7 mm. The maximum rainfall occurs during October and November through the North-east monsoon. The area experiences rainfall during the South-west monsoon as well.