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Thiruvannamalai – The Most Sacred Piligrimage Center Of South India
Prominent Places of Tourist Interest
Gingee Fort: The fort is also famous by the name of Chenji Fort, and is the only oldest fort in Tamil Nadu that has not been destroyed. The British were known to refer to the Fort, which is located in Villupuram district, as the ‘Troy of the East’. The original fort, constructed in the 9th century, by the rulers of the Chola Dynasty, was not really big. The current fort which is much bigger was constructed much later in the 13th century. Even Chatrapati Shivaji referred to the fort as “one of the most impregnable fortresses of India”, and made a significant contribution towards giving it its present form. Although the fort today is not very well preserved, it still presents a great architectural sight to visitors.
Virupaksha Cave: The cave gets this name from its unique shpe which is like an “OM”. Being located nearly 200 ft beneath the Skandahram, the Virupaksha cave features a Gopuram, which is placed in its eastern region. The cave hares its name with Virupaksha Deva, who was a famous 13th century saint. According to local legend, the saint spent a major part of his life within the cave and after he too Samadhi, his body turned into ashes inside the cave itself, which is why it was named after him. The devotees still consider the caves auspicious and hold pujas and religious ceremonies here.
Mamara Guhai: The literal meaning of Mamara Guhai is mango tree cave, which what this ancient cave temple located on the hilly landscape of Thiruvannamalai is known as. For six years the caves were the meditation place of Saint Ramana Maharshi. Located within the temple are the idols Lord Shiva and two incarnations of Goddesses Rajarajeswari and Annapoorna Devi. The temple is believed to be a protective sanctum for Vishwaanthar, which is an incarnation of Lord Shiva and means “Lord of the World” in local language. In addition the temple also features the Lingams of the Siddha Gurus, who are worshipped by the Siddhars present in the region.
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