The Saiva cult is a world phenomenon. Thiruvannamalai is the capital of Saivism. The South Indian deity Siva is the God of all countries. Annamalaiannal is the most sacred of the names of the manifestation of Lord Siva.
Saint poets Thirugnana Sambandar, Thirunavukkarasar, Sundarar and so on have visited Thiruvannamalai, prayed to the Lord and have composed divine poems. Saint Manickavasagar had lived at Thiruvannamalai for long period and had composed "Thiruvempavai - 20" and "Thiruvammanai". Even today there is a temple for Saint Manickavasagar on the Girivalam path at Adi-Annamalai.
There are 275 sacred places (Lord Siva Temples) which were praised by the hymns of Thevaram and were called "Thirumurai Thalangal". Of these places twenty two are found in Nadu Naadu (a part of Tamil Nadu ). Thiruvannamalai is the most sacred of these twenty two.
SivaPuranam identifies four sacred places for obtaining salvation. Thiruvannamalai is one among them. The significance of this place is that by mere remembrance of Lord Arunachaleswarar at this place gives salvation to all souls (Ninaithale Mukthi Tharum Thiruthalam).
The earth is formed by five basic elements namely land, water, fire, air and ether. Our ancestors called them "Pancha Boothas" and associated them with five sacred places for worshipping Lord Siva. The center of these five elements fire is identified with Thiruvannamalai.
Thiruvannamalai is the "Manipooraga Sthalam", which is one among six athara sthalams. Thiruvannamalai is so sacred that even Gods, and celestials offered their prayers. Tradition has it that Sun, Moon, Eight Vasus, Brahma, Vishnu and so on have worshipped here.
Thiruvannamalai has been the abode of Siddhars. Idaikkattu Siddhar, one of the eighteen Siddhars, belongs to this sacred soil. Thiruvannamalai has the honour of providing an abode for saints such as Arunagirinathar, Vitpatchathevar, Gugai Namachivayar, Guru Namachivayar, Deivasigamani, Arunachala Desikar, Mahan Seshadri Swamigal, Bagawan Ramana Maharishi, Sri Yogi Ram Surathkumar and the like.