28.10.2014 ( Day 22 )
Thiruvannamalai is famous for its temple, holy mountain, Ashram of Ramana Maharshi and lots more. The main agenda for the day was to go around the holy mountain and after that scale the holy mountain. It was an ambitious plan considering the distance around the mountain and height of the mountain. The walk around the mountain itself is around 15km. But anyway we, my two travel companions and I decide to do it.
The mood of the mountain looked promising. Wasn’t raining too.
In this place the Holy hill itself is the Deity . People worship the mountain itself as Deity. So people circumambulate the mountain. The circumambulation path is 14 kilometers!
There were actually two paths, one is inner path and the other is the outer path. The inner path is through the forest with raw uneven forest trails, while the outer path is the well maintained highway, the tarred road.
We were adventurous and wanted to try the forest road which unfortunately was closed by the authorities. Upon enquiring about the reason for closing down the inner path, some one told it was because of the forest fire caused by some random traveler sometime ago. Other one told it was because they spotted some wild animal in the forest. Some other told it was because of excessive littering done by the tourists. Anyway the forest department didn’t allow to walk around the mountain through the inner path, and if found breaking the rule they might charge a heavy fine. Two of us wanted to break the rule and pursue the adventure, but the third one wasn’t interested!
After confusion and persuasion we decided to check out the forest path. We found some path cut out on the rocks and followed it.
Surprisingly we had company. There were more people breaking the law! We were not the only ‘adrenalin junkies’!! 😛
But soon we realized that it wasn’t the law forbidden forest path. This path was leading to the top of the mountain. Oh, time for plan B.
That is the beauty of not having a plan. Wherever you reach, you can call it your destination!
So we decided to follow the path and go to the top of the mountain. On the sides of the path there were a few people trying to sell stone, marble and granite artefacts.
And on other side there were monkeys which are notorious for grabbing any food items even from your backpack!
And we walked toward the top.
There comes my partners in crime.
We reached our first view-point. The view from here itself was good!
The clouds, the mountain range in the distance, the nearby town, the reflection, it was a beautiful view.
Even the path ahead was so beautiful with shades and greenery.
And the path did lead me forward to the next view point. And it was..
The Annamalaiyar temple towers, up close and personal for you.
And the town
We spent quite a long time at this point. But still we had quite a long way to cover before it is too hot.
We were heading towards two ashrams. Before talking about the ashrams, we need to know about Sri Ramana Maharshi. (I just realized that ashram has become an English word!!)
Ramana Maharshi widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding spiritual gurus of modern times who believed in the Advaita Vedanta. Read More on Wikipedia..
Sri Ramana Maharshi stayed at various places in Tiruvannamalai and then in several caves on the Arunachala Hill until he finally settled at what came to be called Sri Ramanasramam where he lived until his Mahanirvana in April 1950.
Sri Ramana Maharshi started to live in different caves on the slopes of Arunachala, the holy mountain. The cave where Ramana stayed longest (17 years),Virupaksha Cave, is on the south-east slope.
After that Sri Ramana maharshi moved from Virupaksha to Skandasramam, a little higher up the Hill. [Read more: Source ]
First we reached the Skandasram through the path that started from Sri Ramana ashram, which was our starting point.
Photography was not allowed inside and I didn’t click anything from inside. We spend some time here feeling the peace and vibration of the place and headed towards Virupaksha cave.
I wondered how someone could live in such tiny spaces for years! We could only spend some time there and then we headed towards the peak of the mountain.
To get much better views..
But Sun started working its magic and my partners in crime were not interested in getting cooked in solar energy!
So we spent some more time at the view point before we came back. On return journey we took another route. And we ended up some place with lots of garbage. As it was a holy trail we decided to do the walk without footwear. But this part wasn’t very holy I guess.
After passing through some narrow streets and local houses at last we ended up reaching the town near the temple. We decided to rent bicycles. Even though it is a holy, spiritual and peaceful place, the people were more interested in materialistic things like getting more money out of the tourists, selling things at higher price etc! So we thought bicycles could save us from the highway robbery of auto rickshaws aka tuk tuks. Even the cycle rent was a bit over priced in comparison with our previous destination, Auroville. It was ₹50 per 6 hours for bicycle here while it was ₹40 for a moped per day at Auroville.
We then went to the Annamalaiyar temple, the temple towers you saw in the bird’s eye view
In the temple, Photography and half trousers were not allowed! And both affected me badly! I am having a camera that count be hidden in any pockets and I was having a pocket on half trousers!
But luck did favor that time. Before coming here. we were looking for a laundry place and had a few clothes with us. So I ended up wearing a girl’s pants 😛 Out of all the male species in that temple that day, I had the flashiest long trousers 😛 The guards at the gate , both male and female ones who sent us away because of my half trousers were giving me ‘some’ different kind of smile upon my re-entry 😉 I was super self-conscious the whole evening! 😀
Anyway we could go inside the temple and enjoy its the majestic grandeur. And the colorful views both inside and outside. Again no pictures from inside.
After the super funny temple run episode we explored the town on our bicycles in search of our dinner and next day’s breakfast. It is always better to make/cook your own food if possible rather than eating out. It will be economical and healthy.
We found out a local market somewhere far from the center of the town and spent ₹100 to buy some fruits and vegetables.
See what we made for our dinner.
This eventful day started with morning walk almost came to an end..
But you never know what can happen next!! So wait and see