We went to Thiruvannamalai and couple of near by historic places for a week end trip. It is 4 hours drive from Chennai and had pleasant weather welcoming our visit. Every day life gives so less space to be in outdoors or mingle with people outside of home. It creates the need to travel more often than earlier. Travel expands our inner circle a bit.
We visited ‘Arunachala hill’ in the morning from the inside of Ramanashram. It is more than 1 Km uphill walk to Virupaksha cave and Skandashram. Ramana Maharishi stayed in both of these places for more than 25 years. Walk up and down takes easily more than an hour. There are no constructed steps, but rocks and stones are placed to make the climb better. This small hill was barren before 40 years and the time when Ramana maharishi lived. With forest department’s continuous effort, this hill is now turned to a beautiful forest. Our uphill climb was pleasant and had to thank the efforts taken.
There were sculptors sitting alongside the path and peacefully making small idols of Gods. It is the work they do or the gods they create bringing calmness to their faces. There were lot of monkeys in the hill. Other than the sound of monkeys, the hill was silent as if the saint still mediates there. We can see devotees sitting inside the caves in meditation for hours. We as visitors can only go see the places that seemed impossible for someone to live in there for decades. Why would some one isolate from the world and live for decades? If the profound thinking cannot be achieved when lived in harmony with others, then how come the preaching can be adopted by common people? If its only for learned few, then why is that people flock the place in thousands everyday!
In the evening, we visited Gingee fort which is close to an hour drive from Thiruvannamalai. There are 2 hills – Raja kottai and Rani kottai few hundred meters away. One has to be there before 3 pm in order to climb the hill. We were late and had to view the places at the foot hill. It easily takes 4 hours to climb up and down the hill.
Marking the climb for next time, we visited Rani mahal, Elephant bath and stable, granary and gym. ASI is still excavating sites near by and it is always pacifying to see the effort taken to preserve such historical sites. Ended the day with visit to Annamalaiyar temple.