We made it to Tiruvannamalia – a spiritual place I have been interested in for quite awhile. This is where Sri Ramana Maharshi lived. He was alive 1879-1950. At age 16 he had a spontaneous death experience during which he became enlightened. He then left his home and went to Tiruvannamalia and Arunachala where he spent years in solitude and silence. Check out more about him and the ashram here.
We ended up staying 6 nights in Tiruvannamalia. We were only going to stay 3 and then go to Puducherry for 3 nights but once we arrived we decided we didn’t want to move around so much and would rather stay the whole time in Tiru. The mountain Arunachala is here. Sri Ramana Mararshi called this mountain the spiritual Heart of the world. Aruna, which means ‘red, bright like fire’, does not signify the mere fire that gives off heat. Rather, it means Jnanagni, the Fire of Wisdom, which is neither hot nor cold. Achala signifies hill. Thus, Arunachala means ‘Hill of Wisdom’.
We were fortunate to meet up with Ramesh, a friend of a friend. Ramesh is from Tiruvannamalia and knows the area and the mountain well. Walking around the Hill is called Giri Pradakshina. Pradakshina means the act of walking around any holy place in a clockwise direction, with one’s right side facing the object of adoration. ‘Giri’ means hill; so giri pradakshina refers to walking around the Arunachala Hill.
We did Giri Pradakshina on Christmas Eve with Ramesh as our guide. We were a little surprised when he suggested we meet at 8pm to walk the 14 km distance around the mountain but as has been my recent practice we went with it. And I am so glad we did! WOW. What an experience. Most people were barefoot. The mountain is considered a temple and people take their shoes off in temples. And I am sure there are numerous other spiritual benefits to walking barefoot. But since we’re not accustomed to walking barefoot for long distances, David and I had our sneakers on. Ramesh was barefoot. We also stopped to pay respects to a silent swami along the way.
Arunachala is believed to be a vortex with some intense energy. We were so glad we decided to stay longer here because we got a little sick the next day. It felt flu like or head cold and we spent a couple days resting and not doing much at all. Arunachala is a vortex that amplifies whatever a person maybe experiencing. I think it was my body processing the mountain, this intense spiritual energy, and apparently clearing some old patterns. After a few days rest we hiked to 2 caves on the mountain. Sri Ramana Mararshi spent some years living in these caves.
We did this hike with Ramesh and a women staying in our guest house. We hiked to Skandashram Cave where he lived for about 7 years and then Virupaksha Cave where he lived for 17 years. We took some time to sit and meditate at each one.
I am still in awe ……..What an amazing mountain! It did a number on us and I continue to feel it’s impact even days after leaving the area. OM NAMO BHAGAVATE SRI ARUNACHALA.