Tryst with Tiruvannamalai

Tripoto
14th May 2013
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Ramana Towers

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Sri Ramana Ashram

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Outside the Ashram

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Ramana Ashram schedule

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Arunachala Mountain

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Idukku Pillayar

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Eesanya Lingam

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Arunachaleshwar Temple

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Mattha's of the temple

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Inside the temple

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Inside the temple

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Outside the temple

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Flower market near the temple

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Tiruvannamalai (courtesy- Google)

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Adi Annamalai Temple

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Twin Lingam in the temple

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Lingam with a flower offering

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Lingam with Lord Shiva's face

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

Deity with three faces

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

backside of the temple

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

In the orphanage

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

school of the orphanage

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

(courtesy- Google)

Photo of Tryst with Tiruvannamalai by Srishti Mehta

So being a North Indian, chances are very less to attend a proper South Indian style wedding and if such opportunities to attend these kinds of weddings, knock your door and that too in a town of  Tamil Nadu then which explorer or culturist would miss chance like that?

So it was an unexpected tryst with a small town in Chennai, Tiruvannamalai, on account of the marriage of my cousin. It was a 3-4 hour bus journey from Chennai airport to Tiruvannamalai; and Ramana Towers (Hotel) was our first and only stoppage. The hotel was very near to a famous Ashram known as Sri Ramana Ashram. This tranquil ashram in green surrounds 2km southwest of the city centre and is named after Sri Ramana Maharishi, one of the first Hindu gurus to gain an international following, who died here in 1950 after half a century in contemplation. You’ll find people from all around the world coming here and spending a few days in pure peace and simplicity in Ramana Ashram. While taking early morning strolls around the ashram, I found two foreigners on a bicycle and very pleasingly they greeted me and asked me to be a part of the evening Mahapuja in the Ashram. So there I was in the Ashram with people from different backgrounds and culture, and amidst them I found myself as an individual, an individual who is independent of her surname and all the things/notions/culture/beliefs that she is born with, I found myself there only as a person who has grown up with her own set of beliefs and learnings from her life, something that is truly hers. And this realization of being there just as ‘me’ was a beautiful one. The puja was divine and so was the taste of this city’s divinity!

South Indian weddings are mostly conducted in the morning. So my first day in Tiruvannamalai still had a few hours to end and since it was a full moon day on that day, the bride’s family and our family decided to spend the night taking a 16km walk around the Arunachala Mountain. This city has grown all around this mountain and people believe that Lord Shiva resides in the existence of this mountain. It’s said that if you walk bare footed around this mountain on a full moon night then your wishes become true and you are blessed with good health and fortune. Now I don’t know how much of the ‘wishes and fortune’ thing is true, but the ‘to-be-bride’ told me that there is a scientific explanation to the ‘health’ thing. Now the mountain has a lot of herbs and medicinal plants grown all over it and when the moon light falls on them and we inhale that fragrance while taking a walk around it, it is good for health. Moreover, this mountain is surrounded by nine Lord Shiva lingams. They are considered to be symbols of five elements of human body and four symbols of human life, and while taking a walk around the mountain, you have to visit these nine lingams. One of the lingams was present in a graveyard (as per Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva resides in graveyards as well) known as the ‘Eesanya Lingam’. Imagine… full moon night and graveyard… spooky right? But it wasn’t like that when you have a lot of people following your footsteps around that place. There was also one interesting site that caught my eye. I saw a lot of people getting out of a hole from a tiny pillar known as Idukku Pillayar. When people come out from the other end of this hole, it is believed that they have crossed all their sins and they feel a little light. But the myth was again broken by a scientific explanation that after all that tiresome walking, when you pass through that hole, then your muscles are stretched and when you come out, you feel a little light! Though it was a tedious walk but it was a walk to remember.

The following morning was the wedding day. After the wedding, we had lunch at Adyaranandha Bhavan. It was a filling luncheon with the famous south Indian Kara Kuzhambu curry, Sambhar and Rasam. Also Mysore Pak, a sweet dish, won my heart the moment it dissolved into my mouth. After a hearty lunch, we all went to a famous temple in Tiruvannamalai known as ‘Arunachaleshwar’ temple. The mountain and this temple are named after Lord Shiva’s other name Arunachaleshwar. It was a beautiful temple with an exquisite ‘mattha’ (mattha is the head of south Indian temples) where deities were carved with a lot of precision and beauty. Tiruvannamalai is a very hot place. And since it was 4pm, the temple land beneath our feet was burning even more. We had good darshan of Lord Annamalai (Lord Shiva) and Goddess Unnamalai (Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife). While waiting in the line inside the temple, I was told that the city is named after Lord Shiva where ‘Tiru’ means ‘Mr.’ and ‘Annamalai’ is ‘Shiva’ so that is Tiruvannamalai viz. Mr. Shiva literally! The lingam in this temple was a symbol of fire and it is believed that Lord Shiva resides in Tiruvannamalai in the form of fire. After the darshan we came out from the main temple and I was tempted to take a walk around the temple to marvel a little of its architecture and the mini little temples of other deities it enshrines. But my relatives were a little apprehensive on getting their feet burned so they ran outside the temple and I was in the middle of the temple, standing alone under the gleaming sun with the temple land burning under my feet. Feeling a little sunlight on my face I felt the presence of Lord Shiva under my feet and above me in his absolute form: his fire form, the form in which he resides in this city! This revelation gave me Goosebumps. For my relatives, the weather was burning and for me that burning had the presence of Lord Shiva. Our perceptions have so much to do with our sufferings and bliss.  This was, for me, the real taste of this small but valuable city.

The next day was our last day in Tiruvannamalai and I was tempted to get more from the city so I headed toward the Adi Annamalai temple. This temple is the oldest temple in the city and predates Arunachaleshwar temple. This temple was built 2000 years ago. ‘Adi’ means ancient/old and ‘Annamalai’ is Lord Shiva hence Adi Annamalai is indeed the ancient temple of the city. It is a beautiful temple painted in subtle orange and yellow hues. My last stop in Tamil Nadu was Udhavum Karangal orphanage. Udhavum Karangal means ‘Helping hands’. It’s not entirely an orphanage but houses and serves orphans, single mothers and infants born to their psychiatrist patients. You can spend a day there, interacting with kids, playing with them and taking elementary classes. These organization people are really doing a great work, providing education and taking the responsibility of so many lives and that too so responsibly. The way they pray in unison before the meals, study hard and try different hairstyles is a sight in itself.

My three days in Tiruvannamalai were full of learning and revelations. It’s not one of the developed cities of Tamil Nadu but surely is a city to meet and spend a few days with its nature, temples and food! 

Ramana Towers Hotel is very close to Ramana Ashram. Its a good hotel as far as food and room services are concerned. Also inside the hotel you find a small Kashmir handicrafts shop which might stimulate your shopping instincts. The best feature of this hotel is its location since its very near to the Ramana Ashram, which makes it flexible for travelers to attend pujas and events in the ashram.
Photo of RAMANA TOWERS, TSR Nagar, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
Photo of RAMANA TOWERS, TSR Nagar, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
This tranquil ashram in green surrounds 2km southwest of the city centre and is named after Sri Ramana Maharishi, one of the first Hindu gurus to gain an international following, who died here in 1950 after half a century in contemplation. You’ll find people from all around the world coming here and spending a few days in pure peace and simplicity in Ramana Ashram.
Photo of Sri Ramanasramam, National Highway 66, Thamarai Nagar, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
Arunachala Mountain walk (16 km around the mountain) (stopping for Idukku Pillayar and Eesanya Lingam) Its a 16 km walk around the mountain which is considered auspicious when done on a full moon day. There are 9 Shiva lingams around the path too which are symbols of human life and the 5 elements of human body. You will also notice many Sai baba temples on your way.
Photo of Arunachala, Annamalai R.F., Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
Its a South Indian Restaurant also known as 'A2B' restaurant. Its very famous for its South Indian platter, dry fruits, snacks and sweets. Its a reasonably tasty eatery. Its outlets are spread all across this district so is reachable and reasonable.
Photo of Adyar Ananda Bhavan, NH 45A, Manjakuppam, Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Adyar Ananda Bhavan, NH 45A, Manjakuppam, Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
Photo of Adyar Ananda Bhavan, NH 45A, Manjakuppam, Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
Tiruvannamalai (Thiruvannamalai) is a world renowned temple town in TamilNadu which is synonym to deepam(fire). Here Shiva (Arunachaleswar) is worshipped in the form of fire. This temple enshrines Lord Annamalai (Lord Shiva) and Goddess Unnamalai (Goddess Parvati). Ashes and Kumkum are offered as prasad or blessing to devotees in Annamalai lingam and Unnamalai temple respectively in the Arunachaleshwar temple. Note: Arunachaleswar Temple daily opens at 5.30 a.m. and closes at 9.30 p.m. During the midday period of 12.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. all the shrines inside the Temple Complex, including both Shiva Sannidhi and Unnamulai Shrine, are closed. However several of the Gopuram Gates to the Temple are continuously open throughout the day, so one can enter and exit the Temple Complex without interruption.
Photo of Arunachaleshwar Temple Kulam, Pavazhakundur, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
This temple is the oldest temple in the city and predates Arunachaleshwar temple. This temple was built 2000 years ago. Turning off the Hill Round Road (Girivalam Road), going through the small village of Adi Annamalai, you come to the temple, with its tower visible from far away. The architecture of the temple is such that stories of different deities are illustrated in the form of images in the temple. Also there are many mini Lord Ganesha's statue in the temple.
Photo of Adi Annamalai, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
On our way tot the Chennai airport, we stopped at Udhavum Karangal Orphanage. It has one more branch in Tamil Nadu. Udhavum Karangal means ‘Helping hands’. It’s not entirely an orphanage but houses and serves orphans, single mothers and infants born to their psychiatrist patients. You can spend a day there, interacting with kids, playing with them and taking elementary classes.
Photo of Udhavum Karangal, NSK Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by Srishti Mehta
2 Comment(s)
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Photo of Sathya Renu
Sathya Renu
Wowwww...the city looks more beautiful when i see thru your eyes and words !! Fantastically potrayed !! :)
Tue 05 27 14, 06:56 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·
Photo of Sathya Renu
Sathya Renu
Wowwww...the city looks more beautiful when i see thru your eyes and words !! Fantastically potrayed !! :)
Tue 05 27 14, 06:56 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·