Heart-Centre of the Universe
In the inner courtyard of the Arunachaleshwarar Temple in Tiruvannamalai during the annual Kartikai Deepam Festival, devotees swirl about the sanctum sanctorum, garba griha, as Mt Arunachala looms more than 2,800 ft into the darkening sky, the giant flame of ghee, clarified butter, lit upon its peak to commemorate the cosmic peace established by Lord Shiva, who ended the epic quarrel between Brahma and Vishnu by manifesting as an infinite pillar of light, embodied in this age by Annamalai, the mountain Arunachala itself.
The ‘sthala vriksha’ or ‘tree of Arunachala,’ in the inner courtyard of the Big Temple, all lit up for the Deepam Festival.
Botanical name: Mimusops elengi. Also known as Spanish cherry. Called ‘bakul’ in Hindi.
Flowers white and fragrant.
Five of the nine gopurams (entrance towers) of the Big Temple. On the left, the north tower: Ammani Amman Gopuram and its relatively small companion tower. In the centre is Killi Gopuram, “Parrot Tower.” Then Vallalar Gopuram and at far right the main entrance to the Big Temple, the Raja Gopuram in the east.
More photos at Deepam Festival illuminations at Arunachaleshwarar Temple