We had booked at Sparsa Resort - since Ramana Maharshi ashram was full. Run by Auromatrix Hotels, with resorts in Kanyakumari, Chidambaram and Thiruvannamalai Sparsa Resorts is a clean friendly resort. Perhaps,the only other star type of hotel with an air of modernity is Hotel Arpana.
Hotel Arpana - ThiruvannamalaiThis hotel is in the middle of the congested and noisy town. On this account alone, I do not recommend it.
The previous evening, I only had a desire to make a trip to Thiruvannamalai - no plan. This was since no accomodation was available at the ashram and my son has his accounts tution. It is true "if you truly desire something, the universe conspires to give it to you". Never before has my wife, Rama, stumbled or discovered something (say hotel accomodation) on the internet, which has met my approval. In this case she did, but mentioned it to me past 7.30 pm the previous evening. The resort's website had only their Chennai office number which no one answered since it was past office hours.On the final attempt someone did answer to say that the office was closed but gave the mobile phone number of one Mr.Balraman Krishnan at the resort. Balraman Krishnan took a booking on the phone promising to convey this to the resorts resevations - which he did. My son's tution got canelled as his tution teacher had to make an urgent out of town trip. Truly, someone conspired to make this trip happen - which was in planning for several months.
We left home at 6.45 am on Saturday the 26th September - holiday. It took at good hour, at this hour, to reach Electronics City. A 45 minutes halt at Sarovar Portico for breakfast. We were at Sparsa before 1 pm though I follow road and speed regulations to the t. A 2 minutes ,on the house, foot massage and lunch followed by an afternoon siesta.
A view of Sparsa Resort
We were now ready for the Girivalam or the circumambulation of the holy mountain - a 14 km barefoot (in hindsight, canvas shoes will be easier on the feet since some part of the walk in through the city which has roads completely dug up and walking on road with w-i-p is not the simplest task) walk. We began the barefoot walk at Ramana Maharshi ashram. It was only after completing the circumambulation that we realized that the correct place to begin the walk is from Arunachala Temple. The correct procedure for the Girivalam is here.We completed the Girivalam at 9.30 pm i.e. in 5 hours.
One of the many temples on the Girivalam route where one has to stop for a brief prayer