Thiruvannamalai is one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalangal representing the fire element along with Chidambaram, Sri Kalahasti, Thiruvanaikoil and Kanchipuram representing sky, air, 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 Arunachala 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 his death in 1950. His ashram, Sri Ramanasramam, is located at the foot of the Arunachala hill, to the west of the town. Seshadri Swamigal and Yogi RamSurat Kumar are examples of two other gurus who lived in this city.