Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend resurrection -Thiruvannamalai, Part III/III

Continued from here: Weekend resurrection -Thiruvannamalai, Part II 
Of course, no trip to Thiruvannamalai is complete without visiting the caves where Ramana Maharshi meditated for years. One of these caves is the Skandhasram and the other is called the Virupaksha cave. These are located on mount Arunachala and accessible on foot (it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get there) from the Ramana Maharshi ashram. Ideally, one need to walk barefoot to get there. However,for those not used to walking barefoot, canvas shoes may be an option.  

Ramana Maharshi Ashram and Mount Arunachala in the background

Since the caves are open from 8 am to 5 pm - depending on how you take the walk -you may start walking by around 7.15am to reach in time and be among the first few when the premises is opened in the morning. Post 10 pm, there are a lot of devotees at the caves. So reaching there early is a good idea. These caves are (at least the  Skandhasram is) protected monuments under ASI. The insides of these caves have been preserved as it was at the time of Ramana Maharshi. The exterior has been modified for protection and safeguarding it for posterity.

The path to the caves

The view of the top of the hill is quite spectacular, as you can see from the two photos below. It was not warm for an early October in Tamil Nadu. However, a month later it could be colder and may need a cardigan.



At Skandasharam.The cave is behind the grills

At Virupaksha caves

While the path from Ramana Maharshi asharma to Skandasharam is quite walkable the same cannot be said of the 10 to 15 minutes walk from Skandasharm to Virupaksha caves. It is quite  steep and at times a little slippery. One does need to take additional care while walking this stretch.

Inside the cave, the original environment has been retained. It is quite hot inside. However, it is very peaceful and easier to meditate.

As with other journeys, the return journey to the main asharam appeared to take much less time.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Flood relief - contribute wisely

One day salary contribution is nothing. Ensure that these two boxes " Instant file clearance" & "Quick file clearance" are displayed prominently under your table. A day's collection will boost the calamity fund corpus.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sitback, relax and enjoy the fight - III/III

                              Boarding for a dogfight over Pakistan

   Welcoming you aboard for a catfight over Pakistan

Sitback, relax and enjoy the fight - II

Channel 1 for Hindi movies, channel 2 English movies. channel 3 for airshow pilot view, channel 4 for airshow downward view. channel 5 for crew fight - cockpit view, channel 6 for crew fight - cabin view. Channel 7 is a paid channel - Airfrance cockpit view. Feeling lucky - channel 8 - you never know what you may see!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sit back, relax and enjoy the fight - I

"Passengers are requested to fasten seatbelts as the aircraft is experiencing turbulence due to a fight in the cockpit. Service will commence once the crew have settled their dispute. However,for the safety and comfort of passengers, the aircraft is now on autopilot. Sit back, relax and enjoy the fight."

Weekend resurrection -Thiruvannamalai, Part II

..Continued from: Resurrection over the weekend -Thiruvannamalai, Part I

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 - Thiruvannamalai
This 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

More later....