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The kings of the Chola created the Annamaliyar Temple in Tamil Nadu, India as early as the ninth century. The temple complex in Thiruvannamalai, about 185 kilometers south of Chennai, remains a holy destination for devout Hindu pilgrims and curious tourists. The temple sits at the base of 2,600-foot Annamalai Hill.
Annamalaiyar Temple honors Lord Shiva. It is best known architecturally for its four, immense gopurams or towers.
During full moons, thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of Shiva devotees walk around the base of Annamalai Hill barefoot, a 14 km trek. During Karthikai, the Tamil month that spans November and December, a 10-day Deepam celebration takes place. On the final day of the 10-day event, a huge caldron filled with ghee is illuminated at the top of Annamalai Hill.
The spiritual tourist stop is accessible by car, bus or train. Thiruvannamalai is located at the intersection of National Highways 66 and 234, the Pondicherry Krishnagiri Bangalore Highway and the Magalore-Villupuram Highway.