Published: January 16th 2010
January 8th 2010
Perhaps this was the shortest trip we have ever made. This time to Thiruvannamalai around 300 kms from Chennai which is famous for the Annamalai deity and the Ramana Maharishi Ashram. We set off on a Saturday early morning headed towards the National Highway - NH 45. The roads were good and being early morning no traffic and I could maintain good speed all the way.
We stopped over on the way at Acharapakkam for break fast at Brindavan hotel, it was ok and then started off towardsThiruvannamalai.The road is straight till Dindivanam and here there is a right turn and a drive for around one and half hour’s before you hit the small town of Thiruvannamalai. Before we reach Thiruvannamalai we pass through the Ginjee fort We just passed through this magnificient fort as we planned to cover it on return.One can see lots of foreigners here also on their way to the Ramanashram.
We had booked in a small lodge near the ashram which was simple, yet neat and clean. This place had no restaurant or luxury facility but it’s a good place. The address and phone number of Ms Jothi - which i got from one
of the blogs !
It is possible to stay in the ashram, but it is best to reserve a room in advance during the winter as it is often full at this time. You are supposed to write in two months in advance for reservations and then you will be sent a confirmation letter. Those who stay at the ashram can also take meals there. Write to Sri Ramanashram, Ramanashram PO Tiruvannamalai 606603.
SESHA BHAWAN , OPP TO SESHADRI ASHRAMAM, straight down , turn right and to the first left, third house to your left ! is the Vallalar House , Phone no’s 04175 / 236983 Contact person is Mrs. Jothi.
Now some facts on this town and the Ashram.
I have read the biography of Ramana Maharishi by Arthur Osborne which gives a vivid account of the saint's life. Its worth reading.
We went around the Ashram after having some food nearby. The atmosphere in the Ashram is very calm and quiet and one can feel it. The ashram has the meditating hall, the Bhagwan’s resting place and also his mother’s resting place. There are also graves of his pet animals cow, deer
Sri Ramanashram entrance.
Must see place during the trip
and a dog. He loved animals and this can be understood more by reading his autobiography. It is said that the saint was never harmed by the wild animals or snakes . You should also read the book a compilations on the Maharishi titled " Forvever is in the now " by A R Natarajan.
It is also informed that when the Maharishi passed away there was a sudden stopping of the peacock's noice or the bird's chirping as narrated by a devotee who was close to him during his last minute. In other words everything was standstill for a while , as if the clock has stopped a while. Well when a noble sould is departing the animals and nature have moaned. What a great sould he was.
One can also stay in the Ashram by booking in advance , there is a exclusive web site At this point one could get a fantastic birds eye view of the town and also the whole temple complex.
It was awesome and I did take some good snaps. Behind the ashram there is a route to the Skandashram and Virupaksha cave where the saint had stayed and did
penance for over two decades. We enquired if we could go up and trekked up to the cave. The surroudings were green and stone steps were there to climb up. The Maharishi walked up daily to reach the cave at the age of 70.
It was indeed a bit tedious for us - not regular trekkers. I enquired with the people coming down as to how far it is more, most of them said its just 10 more minutes but for us it toolk quite long. We first reached the Skandashramam cave set amidst rocky mountains this cave was a fanastic location for the saint to meditate. Shri Ramana Maharishi lived here for 7 years and did meditation, We clicked some snaps and some persons were meditating in side the cave which was a very small 100 sq ft area and hardly 4-5 ft height. It was so cool inside and absolute silence was maintained , a real divine feeling was experienced. The very look at the saints photograph gives you a sense of calmness. The two photos of the saint at the end are from the laminated photos being sold at the ashram. I wanted to write this
as the travel blog shows as this is photographed by me but it is not !
After this we moved on to the Virupaksha cave which was a deviation from here after going through a slope. The cave is maintained well with the Saints books and teachings on a table for reading. The saint lived here for 17 long years and meditated. I was really amazed at the divine power of the saint and imagined how around 70 years back when the place would have been a dense jungle with more trees and rough path the Maharishi managed to stay for such a long time and meditated. Even snakes used to be near by when he was in deep meditation . We saw a british couple sitting and meditating on the plain seat like rock and also some of them inside. I had left my mother in the car at the foot hill as she cannot climb and was worried that it was over 2 hours since we left the base. As luck would favour I bumped in to a Tamil family on the way and requested them to tell my mother that we are on the way and
would be back very soon.
Thousands of devotees perform 'Giri Pradakshinam' also known as 'girivalam'( a walk around the hill) on every full-moon day .This is believed to bestow innumerable benefits on the devotees. The main temple is of Annamalai and the other important custom which people do is the GIRIVALAM that is going around the Annamalai hill which is around 17 kms. I had gone around by walk taking 4 hours. We can also go around by car and autorickshaw ( the local three wheeler taxi ) Enroute to this 17 kms walk one comes across around 8 Lingams that is the Lord Shiva’s idol. Thiruvannamlai is the place which is belived to be the place of Fire . Going around the hill is also known as Girivalam or Giripradhakshana. At Tiruvannamalai it is great sanctity to go girivalam during every full moon day of a month or during the annual Tiruvannamalai deepam day.
It was in the late evening we planned for the temple trip and had to spend a good one hour in the long Q to have a glimpse of the Lord Annamalai. The temple has eight gopurams and also a Nandi ( The
huge bull statue ) One cannot miss the Pathala Lingam the underground Lingam where the saint Ramana Maharishi meditated for months, the medidation was so severe that even ant hill mounds and plants had covered him. I was awewstruck at the sight of the temple and the 8 gopurams in it. It is one of the biggest temple in South or could be in Asia even. The majestic Arunachala mountain in the back drop gives a marvellous sight.
I want to go again for a long medidation on the hill particularly in the Virupaksha cave where there is place for few to sit and medidate. It was indeed a divine experience. If you have not been to this temple town do plan a visit it is really a amazing experience.
There are more photos below