Posted by: Richard Clarke • Dec 22nd, 2008
As we have been exploring Arunachala we keep finding ‘caves,’ some already widely known, and some not. A friend suggested that we put this onto the blog. This seems a good idea, and this is the first attempt in so doing. We can find nothing like this available now.
Our exploration of Arunachala is ongoing, and any more caves we find will be added to this. I will often refer to other postings where there may be more photos and information about specific caves.
I put quotes around the first instance of ‘caves’ since what are called caves here are often nothing more than a sheltered space under a big rock.
Is some cases the individual caves already have names in common use. Most do not, and for the purposes of this listing I am calling these by names that I made up. If other caves are known, or names of caves shows are known, I ask that you let me know, and I will update this listing.
Caves Associated with Sri Ramana Maharshi
Virupaksha is, for most, deeply associated with Sri Ramana Maharshi. Ramana lived where he lived for 17 years [1899-1916].
Below is a famous photo of the young Ramana at Virupaksha cave.
The cave is named for a famous saint, Virupaksha, who lived in this cave in the 1500′s, around the same time as Guhai Nama Shivaya lived nearby (see below). At Virupaksha’s demise, called here ‘maha samadhi,’ it is said that his body was transformed into vibhuti (sacred ash). In the interior of this cave there is a mound in the shape of Arunachala. It is said to be made of this vibhuti.
More on Skandashram is in the post Walking up to Skandashram.
Sri Ramana lived at Skandashram from 1916 to 1922. His mother joined him during this period, and for the first time cooking was done there. This is where the mother had her maha samadhi in 1922. Her room is now a shrine.
Mango Tree Cave
Sri Ramana lived here during the summer during the Virupaksha days. I do not yet have a photo. This will be added soon.
Guhai Nama Sivaya
This is another cave in which Ramana lived in 1899. It is here that he wrote the notes which later because the pamphlet, Who am I?
A bit more on this cave is in the post New Access to Ramana Sites below Virupaksha.
A short clip from Arunachala Grace Blog:
Guhai Namasivaya is known to have been born around the year AD 1548 in Karnataka to a pious Saiva couple. His spiritual nature became evident at an early age: he was virtuous in his conduct, adept at his studies and evinced no attachment to worldly matters.
He practised his system of yoga for many years and as a result of the dream guidance of Lord Mallikarjuna, the presiding deity of Sri Sailam, Guhai Namasivaya came to Arunachala and remained as a Guru, giving teachings to mature disciples who approached him.
Seven Springs Caves
The next four caves are shown in the Seven Springs posting. They are all located on the hill above Skandashram, one of the paths that goes to the top of the hill.
This is a cave, said to be greatly improved by the work of David Godman in the 1980s. Maybe ten people can fit into this cave.
Altar in the cave.
Looking out the entrance. John, the archivist at Ramanasramam, stands outside the entrance.
Seven Springs 1
This is first of three caves found at Seven Springs. There is a stone entrance built, and a good altar in the cave. Maybe four people can fit in here.
Up the hill you can see stonework.
The entrance, from the inside.
Richard, offering incense to the altar.
Carol, exiting the cave.
Seven Springs 2
This is a small cave, behind Seven Springs 1. Maybe two people fit inside. Many stone and concrete improvements have been made.
Richard, meditating in the cave.
Ramana’s resting cave
I call it ‘Ramana’s Resting Cave’ since this is the cave that is documented in writing about Ramana where he was known to rest, while others made the climb up to the top of Arunachala.
It is in the shade all day with a nice breeze through it, and a view out through green trees.
The entrance is a bit tight, though.
Caves below Virupaksha Cave
These caves are described in the post New Access to Ramana Sites below Virupaksha.
Below Virupaksha 1
This cave is big enough that one or two people can sit in it.
Below Virupaksha 2
This cave is very small. One person can lie down in it.
Below Virupaksha 3 – Associated with Ramana?
This cave is said by local villagers to be one used by Ramana in the early days. Recently, people have built walls and a door and an altar in it.
Caves on Papaji’s Knoll
Papaji’s Cave 1
The first ‘cave’ of Papaji’s is in the area where part of his ashes were scattered. This is a nice place to sit and meditate at the altar that has been set up there.
Papaji’s Cave 2
The next of the caves named for Papaji, and one that he is said to have lived in, is near the first cave, down the rock and a bit up the path.
Carol enters the cave from the path.
Richard and Carol, meditating in the cave.
Below is part of a mother goddess statue, placed in this cave.
Aum Amma’s Cave
Aum Amma’s cave is the most developed of any cave we have found so far (except for those, like Virupaksha, which have had buildings constructed around them).
Many bags of cement were carried up the hill to make these cave improvements. Aum Amma lived her for several years until just a few years ago.
Stairs lead down into a main room.
There is a good view out the “window” in the main room. It looks like sometimes that people sleep in this cave, though you are not supposed to, and if you stay too long, the Forestry Department people will chase you out.
Caves in Kattu Siva area
Kattu Siva Cave
This cave is shown in the post Kattu Siva Cave.
There is a nice cleared area around the cave. this is good place to come during the heat of the day. There is plenty of shade.
Climbing over the rocks at the end of the clearing, a hole in the rock appears.
This is Kattu Siva’s cave. A big rock, in front of Richard, has fallen into the cave. Will someone be able to remove it?
On the top of the rock over the cave, a cement water catching area was made. The photo below looks over this to the Arunachala hillside behind Kattu Siva’s cave.
Cave Above Kattu Siva Meditation Perch
This is a small unused cave. Rocks need to be cleared from the floor to make a good sleeping area.
This cave is shown in the post Kattu Siva path Renewal – Part 1. It is under a rock that looks like a natural lingam as you approach this cave.
Cave next to Inner Path near Kannapar Temple
This cave is shown in the post Inner Path – Around Parvati Hill.
A path leads to it from the Inner Path.
This cave was improved with a stone and cement wall in front.
A nice cement floor has been put in the cave.
More caves to find, more of Arunachala to explore
I have heard of more caves. I have been told:
- There are four caves on the hill above the Mountain of Medicine Arunachala reforestation facility.
- There is another cave high above Papaji’s cave.
- There are three caves on the north side.
- There is a cave near Virupaksha occupied by a sadhu that does not like to be bothered.
What else is there? We have to explore to know more. If you know of any more caves that haven’t been listed, please let me know.